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    Why are Africans so optimistic?
    Güven Sak, PhD 06 August 2013
    According to the results of a global poll on optimism, African countries dominate US-based research company Gallup recently released the results of a poll on optimism in countries around the world. According to this, African countries have a high share among the most optimistic 10 countries. This was the most shocking result of the survey to me. I will not talk about Turkey’s ranking in the league of optimism. Rather I will address why Greece and France are extremely pessimistic while Turkmenistan, let’s say, is quite optimistic. While I was checking the poll results I recalled my conversation on a plane from Afghanistan’s capital Kabul with a gentlemen sitting next to me. I will get to that in a minute. But for starters, I believe that the people who intend to govern Turkey must acknowled [More]
    Turkey’s acute shortage of skills
    Güven Sak, PhD 03 August 2013
    It’s the creative class that makes a country tick. I see two trends regarding the one in Turkey. Firstly, in the wake of the Gezi Park incident in Istanbul, Turkey is still pursuing a vendetta against its creative class. Why? It was the creative class that took to the streets in late May and early June. Quarrelling with your best thinkers is a bad idea if you are going for an innovative jump in the economy. That brings me to the second trend: Turkey is suffering from an acute shortage of skills. That is common knowledge, but it appears now that this is getting worse. That is what makes the first trend more dangerous in the short to medium term. I am using the term creative class a la Richard Florida. These are the young urban professionals of Turkey: scientists, engineers, compu [More]
    Neither you, nor the politicians are aware
    Güven Sak, PhD 02 August 2013
    It is expected that by 2018 fifty billion machines will be communicating with each other. The amount of data is astonishing. The world’s population is around seven billion. Out of this, 1.2 billion have Facebook accounts. One billion use Youtube and Google. There are 500 million Twitter accounts, with 200 million actively tweeting. Three hundred million people save and share their documents in the Cloud. We know what others like, wonder, and follow. POS devices connect companies. They can learn instantly what store is on which street, what products are sold faster or what the best location for setting up your supply chain is. That’s not all. The electricity and water meters in your home are now able to communicate with each other. Your mobile phone constantly gives signals about where you [More]
    Credit cards increase women’s employment
    Güven Sak, PhD 30 July 2013
    Credit card usage increases registered employment, both overall and among women. Banks modernize Turkey’s economy. Turkey is at the bottom among European countries in terms of female labor force participation, but it is at the top in terms of POS device usage. It ranks third in Europe in terms of the number of credit card and bank cards in use with two credit cards per person on average. The prevalence of POS devices is promising for women’s employment. Studies reveal that registered employment, overall and among women, increases in Turkey as credit card usage increases. I want to note this down to validate once again that without banks, modernization would be a daydream for Turkey. So, here is the deal: [More]
    What’s wrong with doing business in Turkey?
    Güven Sak, PhD 27 July 2013
    Turkey is the 17th largest economy in the world. Yet, on the Forbes' list of dollar billionaires, the country hit number six recently. In other words, Turkey is not yet the 10th largest economy of the world as envisaged in the 2023 objectives of the government, but it is already easily in top 10 in terms of the number of Turks in the global billionaires list. The country now has 43 billionaires on the 2013 list. The figure was 34 in 2011 and 35 in 2012. 2013 saw a leap forward. Why? The global crisis certainly does not seem to have affected Turkey’s performance in creating new dollar billionaires. What is more interesting to me is a comparison to the number of Turkish companies in the Fortune Global 500 list. It is 1. Let me write it also. Just one. Historically there was only on [More]
    Three children come with $25,000 GDP per capita
    Güven Sak, PhD 26 July 2013
    Turkey has to improve its position in the world human development ranking. Only then can the fertility rate increase to three. I recall an article from three years ago by Umberto Eco when I am talking about certain incidences. One passage of the article said that anyone who started watching Hamlet after the beginning of the second act would not be able to understand why Hamlet was being so rude to his uncle, who seemed to be a decent guy, but who had killed Hamlet’s father and married his mother in the first act. When writing on any issue, one should keep in mind that somebody might have missed the first act. I always keep this in mind. But I realized that the other day when I wrote about the first act, I neglected the possibility that some might also have missed the second one. So let me [More]
    How did the RJD outstrip the TCDD
    Güven Sak, PhD 23 July 2013
    While we are dealing with romantic staff in the Middle East, Russia is building a railway link through its territories between China and Europe. Some five years ago, an American friend of mine said to me, “I don’t understand why you concern yourself with the Middle East. The future of the world and Turkey passes through the Caucasus. You should instead monitor the Black Sea area. One who can find a cheap product transport route from the east to the west will eventually strike gold.” I was not sure what he was talking about then. Now I understand. Turkey has a large production hub in its east and a large market in its west. iPads and other popular electronic devices are produced in China and sold in European centers like Berlin, London, Paris, and Vienna. The route that will transfer iPads [More]
    The EU is finally taking a tougher stance on Israeli settlements
    Güven Sak, PhD 20 July 2013
    Oslo is dead. Yet the temporary administrative structures of the Oslo Accords remain. The West Bank is about 5,400 square kilometers. It is still divided between districts A, B and C. Area A is the land under Palestinian Civilian and Security control. Area B is under Palestinian civilian governance but Israeli military control. Area C is under Israeli civilian and security control. There are about 2 million Palestinians and 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank. Life is hard for all Palestinians, but for the 150,000 of them living in area C, it is even harder. I was horrified when I first heard of this alphabet soup. It makes the place practically ungovernable. Which district are you in? Does the 1967 line coincide with the wall Israel built? How do you define a border [More]
    Who you are is more important than where you stand in the new world
    Güven Sak, PhD 19 July 2013
    What does the word supermarket bring to mind? Countless racks, packaged food, rows of cashiers, right? Not anymore. The supermarket I shopped at the other day in London had self-checkout machines instead of checkout staff. Customers scanned the barcodes of items by the checkout machine themselves and paid the sum via credit card. No cash, no attendants except two people in charge of about 15 checkout machines. One of them was responsible only for detecting the problem and consulting about it with the second attendant when he or she could not solve it alone. It was quite easy to help out first-timers like myself. Harder tasks required the second attendant to step up. Later I found out that the self-checkout system has recently started in some markets in Turkey as well. We are marching towar [More]
    Why Austria is different?
    Güven Sak, PhD 16 July 2013
    Austria’s advantage lies in its vocational education system. For education it is vital to listen to local needs. Turkey is moving at a pace slower than what we are used to in terms of growth. And it appears that this will remain the case for some time more. We all know what happens in such episodes: the unemployment rate starts to increase. When this happens, it is important to give the priority to youth employment. Europe has done this in the last five years. But this has not been the case in Austria. Austria is different. After examining their case, I started to think that it is time to change the image and the content of our vocational training system. I believe vocational education needs rebranding. Let me tell you why and how. [More]