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    Why do investors pick Brazil over Turkey?
    Güven Sak, PhD 08 November 2014
    I was at a meeting in Beijing this week. The city had plenty of blue sky and light traffic. I was told that authorities arranged this to fix their image before the APEC meetings. They barred cars from entering the traffic, closed down factories, and sent public employees to a short holiday. For a short time, China created nicer version of Beijing. Here is a country that really wants to create a good impression. [More]
    How to deal with the Jihadist International?
    Güven Sak, PhD 01 November 2014
    The Jihadist International is a growing phenomenon. Like the Communist International of early 20th Century, this movement feeds on domestic inequality, and contrary to popular perception, its breeding ground is also in the West. The front-lines of the Jihadist International are made up of fighters foreign to our region. The western media now accuses Turkey of leniency towards these foreign fighters. I do not think so. The truth is that nobody, not even the mighty states of the West, yet know of a way to deal with this new International. [More]
    Is Kobane a Trojan horse for Turks?
    Güven Sak, PhD 25 October 2014
    Turkey is ambivalent on the siege of Kobane. The city lies in the Ottoman Governorate of Syria and was built in 1912 around a train station along the Baghdad Railway. The city’s name is said to be derived from the German company that worked on building the railway line at the time. By 2004, Kobane’s population numbered around 45,000, and since 2012, the city is controlled by the YPG, a Kurdish defense force. In 2014, the YPG declared that it was administering three Cantons in Northern Syria, which it now calls “Rojova.” The three Cantons are separated by territory controlled by ISIL, and Kobane is the one in the middle. The city is under ISIL siege since mid September this year, while Turkey complains about the refugee inflow into its own territory. Ankara has gotten a lot more worried as [More]
    Is the G20 still policy relevant?
    Güven Sak, PhD 18 October 2014
    The World has changed. In the past, the most powerful 7 countries were enough  to govern the rest of the world. However , now we need more , and policy cooperation is becoming increasingly complex. What was once the G7 is now the G20, which represents more than two thirds of the world economy  and includes  both developed and developing countries. G20 was established in 1999. In the early 2000s, for those who followed global governance the G 20 was significant mainly because of  its potential although the G 20’s  global impact on policymaking was negligible . Then, something happened that was unprecedented in recent history: an economic crisis that spread all across the    global economy. It was the urgency to respond to the crisis  that turned G20 into an effective policy cooperation devi [More]
    How fragile we are
    Güven Sak, PhD 11 October 2014
    I have had a song by Sting stuck in my head for the past two days. Remember the one that goes, “nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could/For all those born under an angry star/ Lest forget how fragile we are.” [More]
    The tragedy of Turkish engineers
    Güven Sak, PhD 04 October 2014
    People talking about the prospects of the Turkish economy these days keep bringing up the country’s skills deficiency. “The average years of schooling in the country is only about 7 years,” they say, “lowest among the OECD countries. Turkey has to increase that number.” I think it’s much more complicated than that though. It is indeed correct that two thirds of the workforce in Turkey has less than 7 years of schooling. But the share of university graduates in the workforce now also amounts to around 20%. That is where you start seeing the problem. According to labor statistics, 37% of female and 49% of male university graduates are underemployed, meaning they are working at jobs below their acquired skills levels. Now, that is also a serious problem. That is what I call the “tragedy of Tu [More]
    ISIL is a threat to Turkey
    Güven Sak, PhD 27 September 2014
    I was just looking at the results of Metropoll’s survey on the ISIL threat. The result is clear: 4 out of 5 people in Turkey considers ISIL a threat. “Any kind of operation against ISIL is welcome,” say 90% of Turkey’s population, according to the survey. The same overwhelming majority agrees that “ISIL has nothing to do with Islam.” Only less than 5% of Turkey has something good to say about the group. They are probably the kinds of people who attacked anti-ISIL demonstrators in Istanbul University this Friday. Good for Turkey, I presume. Why do people on the street consider ISIL a threat? Let me give you three reasons. [More]
    Why are Islamic banks still so small?
    Güven Sak, PhD 20 September 2014
    We do not call them Islamic banks in Turkey. Banks are banks, administrative apparatuses. In the past, they were termed “Special Finance Institutions” and only after the 2005 amendments to the Banking Law are they now called "Participation Banks”. So far so good. As of 2012, however, the share of Participation Bank assets among total banking assets is around 5%, which is not that much. 92% of the assets belong to banks, as we know them across the World. According to the 2014 Global Financial Development Report (GFDR2014) of the World Bank, “Islamic assets” per person are around 500 dollars in Turkey. The same number is around 5000 dollars in Malaysia, 2000 in Indonesia, 150 in Egypt and less than 100 dollars in Tunisia. So one quick glance will tell you that Islamic banks are tiny in Turke [More]
    Growing discontent against Syrians in Turkey
    Güven Sak, PhD 13 September 2014
    I was reading the key findings of the Transatlantic Trends (TTs) 2014 survey the other day. One of them is Turks’ growing discontent with immigrants. People do not seem to be happy with the way their government is handling the Syrian crisis. 75% of respondents to the 2014 survey see emigration as a problem, which is up 29 points from 2013. That increase should ring alarm bells. That is also why the American plan to eradicate ISIL in Iraq and Syria is in Ankara’s interest. Let me explain. [More]
    Of fake housing bubbles and Syrian refugees
    Güven Sak, PhD 06 September 2014
    I have often been asked about the housing prices in Turkey lately. My questioners often want to confirm their sense that the housing bubble is going to burst, that a year or two down the line and they’ll be able to say “I told you so.” Have a look at the table below. It shows the increase in housing prices across Turkey between January 2010 and May 2014. The data is released by Central Bank of The Republic of Turkey (CBRT). So unless there is something terribly wrong with my eyes, there is no housing bubble in the data. I do, however, see Syrian refugees having a considerable impact. Let me elaborate. [More]