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    Why do oil prices not rise while the Middle East is in flames?
    Güven Sak, PhD 30 August 2013
    The Middle East is not as important for the US as it used to be. It is for China, and unfortunately for Turkey, which has not done its homework. The other day I recalled an interview broadcast on the BBC. I was reading a recent op-ed by Tom Friedman in the New York Times. He was wondering why oil prices did not hike while the Middle East was in flames. If it were in the past, oil prices would have doubled, moving from the current $100 to around $200. But today, nobody seems to be at unease. While I was reading Friedman’s op-ed column, I recalled Zeki Yamani’s words in that BBC commentary I watched a couple of years ago: “The Stone Age came to an end not for a lack of stones and the oil age will end, but not for a lack of oil.” I think we have come to the end of an age, the Churchill age. T [More]
    Why does Turkey have such a short horizon?
    Güven Sak, PhD 27 August 2013
    Making things even harder for entrepreneurs, Turkey is now at the dawn of a new process that will further reduce its horizon. Last week I noted that Turkey is in contact with only a small part of the world. Let me continue from there. Lately, I have been curious about the diameter of the area in which different countries are active. From this perspective, it seems that Turkey is the country with the shortest average export reach. It is sort of the country with the shallowest breath in the world, if you ask me. Figures reveal that Turkey is not very active outside of its borders. This is indeed what I meant when I said that Turkey is in contact with only a small part of the world. But the story does not end there. Turkey is not only the country with the shallowest breath in the world; this [More]
    Last chance in Palestine?
    Güven Sak, PhD 24 August 2013
    Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), was 58 when the Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine were signed. That was 20 years ago. The PA at the time was created as a waning state body for an interim period of about five years. The final status talks were supposed to start no later than 1996. That was the Accord signed by Yaser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, both warrior leaders. Ariel Sharon, another warrior leader, made an attempt to revive the process in 2003, in its tenth anniversary. Look at where we are now. No final status. Still the interim PA body stays intact. No Arafat, Rabin or Sharon. Mahmoud Abbas is now 78, as the Kerry process for a negotiated settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict is starting.I was in Ramallah the other day. I heard many [More]
    Why does no one have confidence in Turkey?
    Güven Sak, PhD 23 August 2013
    Turkey found relief due to the recent actions of the Federal Reserve Bank. Today’s troubles, in the same way, will be because the Bank will alter its course of action. The other day I had an hour-long conversation with a fund manager. He wanted to talk about the Turkish economy. But it did not turn out to be a full-fledged talk on economics. He had one simple question: “Would Turkey prefer a sharp depreciation in lira or a sharp increase in interest rates?” Choosing between a rock and a hard place. He did not ask what the Central Bank would do. He knew the score. Rather he asked what the government would do. That was his only question. Would you quietly watch the depreciation of the lira, or wimp out and immediately raise interest rates? He did not understand Turkey’s sensitivity about a r [More]
    Why is Turkey such a lonely country?
    Güven Sak, PhD 20 August 2013
    On top of this contented solitude, the world is at the dawn of a new era that will exacerbate the isolation of Turkish companies. Are you aware that Turkey is in direct contact with only a small part of the world? If we divide the world into four main trade zones, Turkey is barely active in one and a half of them. All there is for Turkey in the rest of them is a deep solitude. No one cares about us there. And we act like our Ottoman ancestors, who refused to learn foreign languages during the enlargement of the empire. We are not aware that the times have changed. We do not even heed the saying, “if the time doesn’t suit you, you suit the time.” [More]
    Ankara’s bad habits
    Güven Sak, PhD 17 August 2013
    The Wall Street Journal now has an online Turkish portal. It’s very useful. The other day, it carried a piece on the agenda of Turkey’s Cabinet. In 2012, a whopping 60 percent of the Cabinet’s decisions were about construction projects. They actually counted every decision of the body, which is headed by the prime minister himself. I find this rather telling of the Turkish way of doing things. Let me elaborate. Construction projects are inherently local. You first need a piece of land to build something on. Most of the time, there are locals there who need to be consulted and manage the project. Yet, in Turkey’s case, all large-scale construction decisions are taken by the highest administrative body of the country, in Ankara. They know what’s best for you and they will come and [More]
    Why was I a homebirth baby?
    Güven Sak, PhD 16 August 2013
    Since the Gezi Park incident, I have started to differentiate between rural and urban people when thinking about world affairs. The other day I was waiting my turn in a clinic. The registrar lady checking my ID card said, “I guess you were a homebirth baby.” At first, I did not understand what she meant. Then she noted the birth date, “I guess this is not your real date of birth. It is the formal one.” Finally she said, “It was like this in the old times,” reminding me of the fact that I was getting old. Probably that’s why I asked my parents last bayram why I had been born at home. [More]
    Have you seen a map of the Mediterranean railway network?
    Güven Sak, PhD 13 August 2013
    There is a dramatic difference between the north and the south concerning the number of railway connections. North Africa hardly has any. [More]
    Turks have not forgotten the inflation of old
    Güven Sak, PhD 10 August 2013
    We had another lottery millionaire during the holy month of Ramadan this year. The lottery is a peculiar institution: It is about guessing six randomly drawn numbers. You get the full prize if you guess all six of the numbers correctly, and it accumulates each week if nobody is able to do so. It had been accumulating for several weeks in Turkey, making the grand prize about 10 million dollars. Then, just before bayram, we had the winner. Talk shows were abuzz, talking about what one could do with that kind of money. Not surprisingly, all converged on one investment: buying homes. The question was what kind, which cities and neighborhoods, which projects? So forget about dining and traveling around, or private university for the kids. When it comes to investment, you’re talking r [More]
    Why did Jeff Bezos buy the Washington Post?
    Güven Sak, PhD 09 August 2013
    Amazon has begun to move toward producing a light newspaper, or even a magazine. I think it is necessary to look at the purchase of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos within this framework. This is a new and interesting era, one in which even Big Ben has a Twitter account. It bongs every hour and tweets another bong every half hour. Now its chimes can be heard not only in Westminister, but all around the world. You know Big Ben, the famous clock at the Palace of Westminster in London. It is like the trademark of London. It seems to have kept up with the times so as to make its chimes heard. Today everyone puts their twitter account on their resumes. After all, we are talking about 500 million users. Meanwhile, the number of Facebook accounts has exceeded 1.2 billion. This is the reality of [More]