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    The current state of doing business in Turkey
    Güven Sak, PhD 08 February 2014
    Looking for a positive figure on the Turkish economy? Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) figures might help. They were around $1 billion per year in the last decade of the 20th century and improved to around 10 billion per year in the first 12 years of the 21st. Not bad, you may say. But Ernst&Young’s Attractiveness Survey for 2013 shows a different country, one with low skills, bribery and influence peddling. Want to get a clear picture of the domestic political debate in Turkey? Let me help.First, why is FDI coming in? The survey first points to the size of the domestic market and the geographic location of the country. Both features are being praised by more than 80 percent of the respondents as being very and fairly important features shaping investment decisions regarding [More]
    Why have exporters become hotel keepers?
    Güven Sak, PhD 07 February 2014
    If you are wondering what has happened in Turkey over the last five years, take a look at the employment statistics. Turkey’s labor force is employed as manual workers in construction. When I was born in the early 1960s, 30 percent of Turkey’s population lived in cities and ten percent had refrigerators in their homes. My dad told me that they had bought a refrigerator after I was born, to keep milk fresh. The brand was AEG. I used it as a student in Ankara in the 1990s. Arçelik had opened its first factory only a couple of years before. Turkey’s industry was newly emerging. [More]
    Why is the Ministry of Family not interested in women’s issues?
    Güven Sak, PhD 04 February 2014
    I think it is time to separate women’s affairs from the Ministry of Family and Social Policy. Women’s issues exist in Turkey. I don’t know if you have noticed this amid the senseless everyday political polemics, but I am sure the administration hasn’t. The present hustle will eventually end, but the women’s issue will remain as a source of dishonor for Turkey. The reason is quite simple: Turkey does not give the women’s issue adequate consideration. The Ministry of Family and Social Policies, which pretends to take care of women’s issues, does not count. The issue cannot be solved by the Ministry’s “we are sincerely sorry for women who are exposed to violence” shows produced just for the sake of appearance. Not without specific policies. Not without the Ministry dealing with Turkey’s indus [More]
    Why Turkey is no Botswana when it comes to corruption
    Güven Sak, PhD 01 February 2014
    Remember the famous mathematical formula for corruption? You have three major variables: sum up monopoly power in decision making and discretionary powers. The higher that number, the lower the limit on the government and higher the corruption in the country. From there, you have to subtract the accountability of the government. The higher the latter, the lower the probability of corruption in the country. It is essentially an attempt at quantifying the authority of a government. First of all, the formula works. Second, let me tell you about the issue of limited powers in Turkey’s government today. Spoiler: They are not very limited at all. When it comes to limiting the powers of the administration, Turkey ranks 68th among 97 countries. Of all countries on the list, Botswana cat [More]
    High school kids are trading bitcoins online
    Güven Sak, PhD 31 January 2014
    Turkey, lacking perspective, puts a stamp on history as the country with the most expensive and restricted Internet. I hate watching news programs lately. There is always a politician talking about something that amounts to a hill of beans. The political class sounds like kids making sand castles at the beach, having their fun. But they are not from the twenty-first century, for sure; because the kids of the present century do not waste time making sand castles. I just learned that my nephew, Mert, has been writing algorithms to earn bitcoins. I remember his infancy! The kids of the twenty-first century are having their fun in front of their computers. Mert, for instance, has opened his computer to foreign companies. He writes algorithms for American and Chinese companies for dat [More]
    Internet in Turkey: Expensive and banned
    Güven Sak, PhD 28 January 2014
    Half of Turkey is not on the Internet. The non-urbanized, eastern, and female half, of course. I saw a tweet about a recent legislation which makes it easier to put an administrative ban on the Internet. “I will pay 57 liras a month to connect and you will decide which pages I visit, ha! This must be a joke.” There was truth in this joke, however, as is in all jokes. [More]
    What’s the problem with coffeehouses and the Internet?
    Güven Sak, PhD 25 January 2014
    What do coffeehouses and the Internet have in common? Both, believe it or not, are mediums of information exchange. What’s the problem with them? Wherever there is a free flow of information, there is an autocrat trying to suppress “rumors” from spreading. Why do rumors spread? Because there is no free flow of information. If you suppress the main channels of communication, people will create their own little black market for it. Under the Ottoman Empire, it was the coffeehouses of Istanbul where you heard the rumors, and furious autocratic Emperors would lash out against them whenever the mill didn’t strike their fancy. The new Internet legislation the Erdoğan government is sponsoring is no different. When it comes to control over free information exchange, nothing much seems t [More]
    Who chooses and places these things all around Ankara?
    Güven Sak, PhD 24 January 2014
    After the Gezi Park incident, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş said, “I won’t even change the location of a bus stop without asking the people.” I think he was right. Have you seen the new clock towers in Ankara? Normally, a city has a single historical clock tower. Big Ben in Westminister, London, for instance, was built in the 1850s. If you think Turkey and England cannot be compared, consider the Izmir Clock Tower. It was built in 1901 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdul Hamid II's accession to the throne. It is literally historical. These are genuine buildings with historical significance. Ankara, however, has one clock tower on almost each street nowadays. When I look at them, I see plastic-like things in awkward shapes and colors. They look like fake historical clock towers. I [More]
    The small grocery stores are still standing
    Güven Sak, PhD 21 January 2014
    The meaning of the grocery business is changing; as is every other form of business. The “small grocery stores against supermarkets” story has caught on. The state-sponsored advertorials recently have had this grocer thing going on.  I guess we all pretend to like the grocers in our neighborhood. We want them to survive, but for some reason we go to supermarkets instead to do our shopping. So, the small grocers are falling into financial distress. This should be the case. Otherwise, there is no point in the commercials. [More]
    Why Turkey is so predominantly urban, male and western
    Güven Sak, PhD 18 January 2014
    The Turkish Statistical Institution released a survey late last year showing the country’s internet population is predominantly urban, male and western. 51% of the population has no access to the net. For women, this increases to 61%. Go to the east of Ankara and that number rises to around 70%. As you move from Istanbul down to the country’s south-eastern corner of Hakkari, connectivity to the internet declines. It overlaps nicely with national export figures, especially with those to the more sophisticated European market. The Customs Union with the EU is also predominantly an urban, male and western preoccupation. Let’s get into some detail.In the case of the export business, Turkey’s industrial hubs are around organized industrial estates (OIE) established in urban centers. Wh [More]