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    Cities need a higher share of the Gezi Park community
    Güven Sak, PhD 17 January 2014
    The current size of the creative class should be improved. Each city should have a higher share of the Gezi Park community. Otherwise, there will be no prosperity. The Gezi Park incident started at the end of May 2013. The park in Taksim was about to fall victim to a profit distribution operation, the kind to which we were accustomed. Then something unaccustomed happened. People began to protest the project and said, “leave this park as it is.” We were not used to taking to the streets for such things. But these people did things like chain themselves to trees. Their response belonged to the twenty-first century. Our administrators, who still live in the first half of the previous century, had difficulty understanding what was going on. It was the first time the routine of politics in Tu [More]
    It all started in 2010
    Güven Sak, PhD 14 January 2014
    Countries which become more unbalanced in an age of declining global imbalances are called vulnerable. It was quite some time ago, in the first years of the twenty-first century, at a meeting in Rome on global imbalances. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state of the US, was in attendance. The popular question was how long the Chinese would continue to finance the high current account deficit of the US. There was an infirm balance, which was not sustainable. A financial crisis in the US was inevitable. It was a casual, brain-storming event where the mavens of the issue discussed prospects and possibilities. [More]
    Turkey in the age of current account reversals
    Güven Sak, PhD 11 January 2014
    We appear to be living in an age of current account reversals. Just have a look at the graph below, taken from a TEPAV study. If you take both the current account surplus and deficit countries, i.e., top 10 from each side, there is a convergence in the past decade. That makes it a period of current account reversal – meaning less macro imbalance in the World. Analysis shows the growth impact of the current account surplus reversals is more benign than that of current account deficit reversals. Turkey has always been, and still is, a current account deficit country. There are countries that took measures to lower macro imbalances and those that did not. Turkey belongs to the second group.Current account reversals in the highest 10 surplus and highest 10 deficit countries (as % of G [More]
    If you don’t have a car, you can’t ride a bike in Turkey
    Güven Sak, PhD 10 January 2014
    While Turkey has yet to deal with the issues brought by the industrial revolution, the questions raised by the ICT response are already waiting to be answered. The industrial revolution changed our lives entirely. Have you ever thought about it? We first settled in urban areas. Waste generation increased. In 1900, when only 13 percent of the population, corresponding to 220 million people, lived in cities, daily waste generation was around 300,000 tons. As of 2000, the number of urban residents reached 2.9 billion accounting for 49 percent of the world population and the amount of waste generated increased to three million tons per day. The World Bank revised its estimate up to 3.1 million tons per day and the number is expected to reach six million by 2025. This is congruent with a 5000 [More]
    Even sharks in Australia are on Twitter
    Güven Sak, PhD 07 January 2014
    We have recently realized with the Edward Snowden case that security organizations have been using a gigantic set of data about our lives without any restriction. I guess I saw it in an Australian paper the other day. Australia is a weird place; it has no interest in the rest of the world. Australian papers are like Turkish ones; it is impossible to find anything about the world on the front page. They have other interesting stuff, though. According to one article, you can follow on Twitter where sharks are. In other words, Australian sharks are now on Twitter! [More]
    Turkey needs a fiscal rule
    Güven Sak, PhD 04 January 2014
    Tapering has revealed the vulnerability of the Turkish economy. What is Turkey’s problem? The current account deficit is going to be too high, the growth rate is going to be too low. You don’t need a Ph. D to know that is not sustainable. The Turkish economic policy makers are very much aware of this vulnerability, if you ask me. That is why they are taking a series of measures to limit credit card expenditures. The new regulation would limit the ability of the consumers to pay for purchases in equal installments in the coming months. In other words, it limits borrowing from the future. However, I find this to be palliative attempts at controlling the abhorrent level of the current account deficit. We have a structural problem here. Let me phrase it this way, “It’s the fiscal po [More]
    Shopping malls are now the world’s biggest buildings
    Güven Sak, PhD 03 January 2014
    I started with shopping malls and digressed to corruption and the parallel state. I feel that I should not go any further. The biggest building in the world is a shopping mall. The New Century Global in Chengdu, Sichuan, in China has a floor space of 1,750,000 square meters. Currently the biggest shopping mall in Turkey is about 175,000 square meters; that is, a tenth of the New Century Global. Of the 1,750,000 square meters, 400,000 is devoted to the shopping mall, while the rest is a common area composed of a hotel, an artificial beach, a zoo, and a picnic area. The rule is, the larger the common area is, the more customers the mall will have. It is reported that the New Century global can accommodate the Sydney Opera House 20 times, Vatican four  times, and the Pentagon three times. It [More]
    If the cities are not child-friendly, shopping malls will proliferate
    Güven Sak, PhD 31 December 2013
    Let me tell you how: be creative and focus on the right measures. Change urbanization policies. “In the heart of Ankara, in Kızılay, stores on busy streets are not worth a hill of beans. Shop keepers are out on a limb.” I heard this observation at a meeting about the retail sector in Ankara. The participant who shared this observation also lived in Ankara. He complained about the mushrooming of shopping malls in the city. The number has almost reached 40 now. As the Ankara mayor has declared proudly, Ankara not only ranks first in Turkey, but also beats the European average, with 215 square meters of shopping mall area per capita. More shopping malls squeeze out the small shop owners and shop keepers. [More]
    Why do the Turks have a fascination with the State?
    Güven Sak, PhD 28 December 2013
    Looking for a difference in attitude between the Turks and the Europeans? Let me tell you one. Turks do not trust each other but have a deep-seated trust towards the institutions of the State. Europeans are just the reverse. They trust one other but have a distrust of all governmental institutions, when compared to the Turks. Deep distrust with respect to institutions of the government is definitely related to corruption. There is a study on that. The European Quality of Life Surveys say that Europeans have this perception, but Turks do not. Does that mean that corruption is less of an issue in Turkey? I do not think so. Just look at the recent corruption allegations in the country. We can discuss the political dimension regarding the timing of the graft probe, but the allegatio [More]
    Why would a Harvard graduate open a kebab house?
    Güven Sak, PhD 27 December 2013
    hat is this about, the quality of the education at Harvard or the investment climate in Turkey? I vote for the second. I have been thinking about this for a long time. It’s been lingering in a corner of my mind. It surfaced again with a recent piece of news. And here I ask: Why would a Harvard graduate return home and open a kebab house? Do you know the story? Let me tell you. [More]