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    Time for a new reform agenda for Turkey
    Güven Sak, PhD 30 August 2014
    Turkey is currently in a political transition process – a very orderly one so far. Let me tell you what we know as of this Friday. We have a new President, a new prime minister and a new council of ministers. The successful Babacan-Şimşek team has kept its portfolio as deputy prime minister responsible for the economy and minister of finance, respectively. So there is no news when it comes to economic policy. No news is good news under these circumstances. So far so good. [More]
    Internal Migration Dynamics in Turkey
    Güven Sak, PhD 23 August 2014
    I think I first heard it from Bernard Lewis – Turks’ endless fascination in moving westwards. He writes of the move from Central Asia into Anatolia and the Balkans, and then ties it to modern Turkey’s bid for the European Union. Regardless of Lewis’ politics, he was on to something. Have a look at the population movements within the country in the last 50-something years. Turkey is a country on the move. Turks, Kurds and others in the Eastern provinces are still picking up and moving West. Even a cursory glance at the numbers will tell you that Western cities grow disproportionately. [More]
    Without Turkcell, Erzurum would cease to exist
    Güven Sak, PhD 22 August 2014
    My niece Ela is seven. Yesterday we were chatting. She said, “my pattern is obvious. First I am skinny, than I put on weight. This is followed by a period of me getting skinny again.” Like this, the pattern of Erzurum city in eastern Turkey is also evident. The population shrinks at a higher rate than other cities. In 1927, 20 out of every 1000 people in Turkey lived in Erzurum, compared to 16 in Gaziantep. By the end of 1980, the numbers grew even, with shares of 18 in 1000 each. By 2012, Gaziantep outgrew Erzurum, with 25 to 10 people in every 1000. Erzurum shrank to almost the half of Gaziantep’s population, contrary to the pattern in the early years of the republic. Gaziantep came out ahead of Erzurum with the transformation of Turkey in the Turgut Özal era. Erzurum has lost relatively [More]
    No victor but so many victims anyways
    Güven Sak, PhD 16 August 2014
    Reading the Obama interview of Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, I have come to the conclusion that we still do not know how to go from diagnosis to policy action. That makes us woefully unprepared for what is happening in the Middle East. [More]
    Part-time terrorists and the dwindling Turkish-Iraqi trade
    Güven Sak, PhD 09 August 2014
    I was lately struck by a rather recent story from Gaziantep, Turkey. It is so ordinary and so horrible at the same time. It is about part-time terrorists and the dwindling Turkish-Iraqi trade. Let me first tell you the story. I find it unreal every time I talk about it. [More]
    The condition of women in Turkey is no laughing matter
    Güven Sak, PhD 02 August 2014
    Our deputy prime minister, Bülent Arınç, recently let slip his opinion that “women should not laugh in front of everybody” Why does he think so? Beats me. I think it’s a weird thing to say. It indicates an anachronism embedded in Turkey’s ruling elite. What’s more though, is that there is a strange connection between laughter and authoritarianism. [More]
    Cohabitation alla Turca
    Güven Sak, PhD 26 July 2014
    Turkey is about to set sail in uncharted waters. Starting August 29, we are going to have a directly elected President. That is the date for the transfer of Office right after the second round of elections in August 24. We will have to learn how to deal with a constitutionally strong prime minister and a directly elected president. This gets complicated considering that the president will be elected, yet constitutionally weak. Turkey still has a parliamentary system, so cohabitation alla Turca is about to start. [More]
    Corruption grows as infrastructure grows
    Güven Sak, PhD 22 July 2014
    I attended a meeting on the need for global infrastructure investments the other day. One of the speakers said, “If corruption were an industry, it would be the third-largest one in the world in terms of income flows.” Research suggests that annual income flow via corruption is worth a little less than $3 trillion. The largest global industry based on income flow is food and agriculture with $4 trillion, followed by transportation and global supply chain management. Global corruption ranks third on the list. The annual growth rate of the sector, as the experts of the issue say, is as high as five percent on average. Apparently, the rate is much higher in some countries. [More]
    How did it happen in Turkey but not elsewhere?
    Güven Sak, PhD 19 July 2014
    On the plane to Sydney, Australia, this week, I took to reading Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s The Time Regulation Institute (1961). I had time; the flight from Abu Dhabi to Sydney takes twelve hours. Penguin Classics recently published an English translation by Maureen Feely and Alexander Dawe. It is a lot of fun to read and I highly recommend it. I am not a literary critic, so don’t expect me to say things about the novel itself beyond this. But I have something to say regarding the experience of reading an old Turkish novel in English. I find it easy to read and understand. Tanpınar’s original work in Turkish was not like that for me. I have to confess that it was much harder to read and understand. Either something, like the style of Tanpınar, was lost in translation or I had difficulty in und [More]
    Why has the number of high school interns been increasing?
    Güven Sak, PhD 15 July 2014
    It was in the Bloomberg Businessweek the other day (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-10/silicon-valley-interns-facebook-welcomes-high-school-recruits): Last November, Michael Sayman, an employee at Facebook, met with the founder, Mark Zuckerberg. “4 Snaps,”  a mobile game developed by Sayman had attracted 500,000 players in the month after its release. On his way to Florida, Michael’s mother had accompanied him as he is a 17-year-old high school student, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The piece also talked about high monthly salaries for interns. So what is going on here? Why are companies head hunting high school students? [More]