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    We need a new story on incentives
    Güven Sak, PhD 06 April 2015
    The growth rate for 2014 was announced the other day. The Turkish economy grew by 2.9% in 2014. There is no point in dreaming: The annual growth rate of our economy in 2015 will remain even lower than that rate. The administrators of this country are in fact aware of this. The employment and incentive packages and the transformation programs appear to be announced back to back to cheer us up. And do they work? That depends on how you see the issue, in my opinion. If your expectation is for our enterprises to get by through 2015, the employment and subsidy package announced last week seems fit to do the job. The truth is, these measures will not restore our foul mood but may help repair part of the damage done in 2014-2015. But if what you have in mind is renewed enthusiasm and a new start, [More]
    Show trials are bad for the investment climate
    Güven Sak, PhD 04 April 2015
    Looking for an area to really impact the G-20? Look no further than the IMF. The Multilateral Assessment Process (MAP) framework among the G-20 countries is definitely an improvement over the old Article 4 consultation process. It allows us to follow both foreign direct investments (FDI) and outward direct investments (ODI) more easily for every country. The first is about foreigners coming to take advantage of the long-term prospects of your country, while the latter is about your citizens investing in the future of other countries. When I look at Turkey’s ODI-to-FDI ratio these days, I see a trend taking shape. ODI to FDI is about the share of ODI per unit of FDI. It used to be around less than 20 in Turkey. Now that is changing. In 2014, the ratio increased to more than 50 percent. The [More]
    No hi-tech on the horizon without revising this administrative infrastructure
    Güven Sak, PhD 03 April 2015
    Catastrophe after catastrophe shook the country on March 31, 2015. On the one hand, a blackout left the entire country without electricity. On the other, one of our public prosecutors was murdered in his office at the Justice Hall in Istanbul in a terrorist attack. We were saddened by both incidents. My opinion is that both incidents suggest we should give some thought to the administrative system in Turkey and the way this system operates. I believe there are significant similarities between the two incidents in terms of administrative incompetence. I believe both incidents clearly reveal our lack of a smart state. I don’t think Turkey can boost its hi-tech exports in the absence of a smart state. Let me take it one at a time… [More]
    Turkey has changed, the constitutional architecture remained unchanged
    Güven Sak, PhD 31 March 2015
    Turkey had better start thinking about a new constitutional architecture not only to boost its per capita income from $10k to $25k, but also to save the precarious transition process we are going through from additional ambiguities. [More]
    No hi-tech without foreign investment
    Güven Sak, PhD 30 March 2015
    Turkey carried out fundamental policy reforms in the 1980s. First we abolished gasoline subsidies. Then we opened our economy to the outside world. We exported $3bn worth of goods and services in 1980; now the figure has risen to $130bn. 90 percent of the $3bn exports in 1980 were agricultural produce. Since the 1990s, the manufacturing industry has constituted 90 percent of Turkey’s exports. All this happened, but meanwhile the share of hi-tech products within Turkey’s total exports sadly could not exceed some 2 percent. Why? Because Turkey failed to become a country hosting part of the global value chains, obviously. There are no foreign investments flowing to Turkey with this purpose. [More]
    Can you imagine James Taggart guiding the economic policy of a country?
    Güven Sak, PhD 27 March 2015
    Last week I asked, “Can a country be run like a company?” and stressed in particular that the issue raised by Mr. Erdoğan is in fact a very interesting debate from an economic point of view. Towards the end of the article, I asked, “Can you imagine the businessmen in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged running a country?” In fact, I changed the title just to that as I posted the article on Twitter. Then I received a message from Twitter that said, “What do the capitalist heroes of Ayn Rand have to do with this article?” A lot, if you ask me. Let me start once again… [More]
    Turkey doesn’t get the issue of climate change
    Güven Sak, PhD 26 March 2015
    Are you aware that Turkey is an extremely inward-looking country? We do not follow what goes on in the world at all. We don’t pay much heed to the world. We don’t know the debates going around. But somehow, we think that the world is always interested in our country. It feels as if the entire world is eyeballing us. This has nothing to do with the world. This is about us. I’ll explain it some day when I get the chance, but let me just note that’s just not normal. [More]
    First we have to stop dreaming of conquest during this defeat
    Güven Sak, PhD 23 March 2015
    Have I pointed out before that this Twitter is a great communication medium? Well, let me say that again. A while ago, I asked why company managers think they are doing a fine job whereas surveys on how efficiently the same companies operate suggest the exact opposite? The reality was different from the company managers’ dreams about themselves. After I wrote that article I received a message on Twitter saying, “Dunning-Kruger syndrome :)…” I sat down to research the Dunning-Kruger syndrome in social psychology journals. I just couldn’t bring myself to think our case could be as pathetic, so I dumped the issue in one of the “On Hold” folders in my mind.  But now that the university entrance exams have been announced, I recalled that sinister test right away. I began to think to myself that [More]
    Imagine what Turks went through during WWI
    Güven Sak, PhD 21 March 2015
    On March 18, 1915, British and French naval forces launched a campaign on Turkish positions in the Dardanelles. They failed. The date has been ingrained in my head since childhood. Every March 18, my grandfather Ömer Kemal, may God rest his soul, started the day by asking all of us the significance of the date. Later, perhaps budging to sarcastic remarks around the breakfast table, he just put reading material on the table. It was something like a sheet of paper from the calendar with a short story on the Dardanelles. He was trying to share a part of himself too big to fit into young heads – the immense pain of empire lost, and gratitude for what was left behind. [More]
    Can you manage a country like you manage a company?
    Güven Sak, PhD 20 March 2015
    Can you manage a country like you manage a company? The issue raised by Mr. Erdoğan recently is in my opinion a very interesting framework for debate and one that is not alien to economics. Hearing the statement, I remembered an article by Nobel laureate economist Prof. Paul Krugman published in the Harvard Business Review. The article was published in 1996 in the journal and once again issued as a leaflet in 2009 under the Harvard Business Review Classics series. The 1996 article of Paul Krugman was titled “A country is not a company,” and it explained the qualitative difference between designing the economic policy of a country and setting the growth strategy of a company. It was a neat piece of work. Let me go step by step: [More]