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    Desperately looking for positive signs
    Güven Sak, PhD 22 July 2018
    “Tell me something positive” said a western friend entering my office, “so that I may tell it to my superiors, for them to make a more informed decision about Turkey.” I have to confess that it is not getting any easier. Our friends in western capitals are now desperately looking for some positive signs. Why? Just have a look at the events. [More]
    The Indian moment in Turkish democracy
    Güven Sak, PhD 23 June 2018
    This Sunday, voting stations across Turkey are going to set up two ballot boxes: one to choose the president, the chief of the executive, and another to choose parliamentarians, who make up the legislature. Under the new system, a president does not need parliament to form his government, as parliament does not need the president to legislate. A highly likely scenario to come out of this Sunday’s vote is for the president to be elected in the second round and not to have a majority in the parliament. Twin elections will usher in a new era of coalition politics. I see this as the Indian moment of Turkish democracy. Let me explain. [More]
    What recent protests in Jordan mean
    Güven Sak, PhD 16 June 2018
    There were nationwide protests in Jordan recently. People were out on the streets against plans for a new law to broaden the tax base, as well as high oil prices. The result? As of June 5th, Jordan has a new government. Hani Mulki has gone and Omar Razzaz has come as the new prime minister. This is Jordan’s 6th government since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, which started in March 2011, mind you. Six governments in eight years. I think that is telling. Let me elaborate. [More]
    What’s the matter with the Turkish Lira?
    Güven Sak, PhD 09 June 2018
    The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) surprised markets this week with a 125-basis point (bp) rate hike. The bank had already hiked the rate 300-bp two weeks ago. Can this move now boost the value of the Turkish lira against the dollar? I don’t think so. [More]
    Turkey, Argentina and that déja vu
    Güven Sak, PhD 02 June 2018
    Turkey and Argentina were like economic twins back in the 1980s. They shared many stories about the balance of payments, currency crises, and IMF conditionality. The twins diverged later with Turkey seemingly outperforming its twin. But recent events brought them back into the same fold, and this time, Argentina appears to be in a more advantageous position. Let me explain. [More]
    Turkey needs a new story
    Güven Sak, PhD 19 May 2018
    The lira is in free fall, and the entire Turkish economy is reeling from its effects, suffering in silence, praying for deliverance. In his three-day state visit to UK this week, President Erdoğan gave lengthy interviews to financial outlets and met major investors for dinner, presumably to stop his currency’s fall. What happened? The lira lost another 5 percent against the dollar, declining from 23 cents a lira to 22 cents. It seems that we don’t have a good story to tell the world any more, and the world votes with its cash. [More]
    Nation States and MENA
    Güven Sak, PhD 12 May 2018
    Remember what Robert Reich, President Clinton’s labor secretary, said about the Republican-led government shutdown in 1996? “You know, much of what the federal government does in the United States... is to provide what is almost a large insurance policy for people. And it’s only when you get into trouble...that you realize that the insurance policy has effectively been cancelled. And that’s what’s happened now” he said. I think that this is a good way of thinking about the modern nation state. It’s not only about building roads and schools and military bases but also a regulatory edifice to operate the country, oversee markets, and create an environment for your citizens to freely interact with each other. That is what the Middle East urgently needs. [More]
    Ready for cohabitation a la Turca?
    Güven Sak, PhD 05 May 2018
    When asked about the situation in Turkey, I have recently been quoting Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: “You cannot draw the seed up out of the earth. All you can do is give it warmth and moisture and light; then it must grow.” Countries change by interaction, not by design. That is what is happening in Turkey. The country is changing, and if you take the long view you’ll see it’s changing for the better. Let me tell you why I am a cautious optimist regarding the upcoming elections in Turkey.Turkey is due to hold snap presidential and parliamentary elections in less than two months. Many constitutional amendments passed in the April 2017 referendum will go into effect after this election. The world is struggling to make sense of things: Where is Turkey going? Is this the e [More]
    The silent backdrop to the election
    Güven Sak, PhD 29 April 2018
    Turkey is heading into snap elections in less than two months. A glance at the headlines tells us one thing: Afrin is out, elections are in. You can tell a lot about a country by headlines alone. Since 2002, Turkey has had four parliamentary and one presidential election. Issues of identity play a role in these things, but then, as now, one factor is vital: the economy. As in 2002, it’s the current unsustainable state of the Turkish economy that has brought the elections to the fore. Let me elaborate. [More]
    Plunging Lira, early elections
    Güven Sak, PhD 21 April 2018
    President Erdoğan surprised everybody this week by rushing the country into early elections on June 24. That’s in two months, mind you. Why this rush? I think the unbearable and uncontrollable plunge of the Turkish Lira is the major culprit. [More]