Is Turkey going back to square one after 40 years?
20 January 2018
Turkey has transformed itself from a sleepy agrarian society to a dynamic industrial country. Much of it is thanks to Özal’s reforms that started the transformation process in the 1980s. Then the Customs Union with the EU in 1996 turned Turkey into a mid-tech industrial country. The economic transformation of Turkey has so far been a success story in terms of improving the global competitiveness of the country. Not anymore. As of 2016, Turkey’s competitiveness has declined to lower than global average. Why? Let me elaborate.
The year 2007 was a perfect storm for Turkey
13 January 2018
“Countries don’t disappear, it has been said, but sometimes they do encounter perfect storms.” wrote Jorge Castaneda, a Mexican politician and academic, the other day in the NYT, “these do not threaten their existence, yet they can represent major challenges to their welfare and integrity.”2007 was such a year for Turkey. Let me explain why this is important today.
A tale of three countries: Turkey, China and Iran
06 January 2018
I was in Tehran right after President Rouhani was first elected. The hotel rooms were fully booked, with businesspeople and journalists from across the world. The story was that Iran was deciding to return to our world from the parallel universe the country has exiled itself to around 40 years ago. There is now discontent on Iranian streets. I see this as frustration with the pace of the reform process.
In the Dollar Turks Trust
30 December 2017
I was very surprised the other day when asked whether Turkey would “clam up” economically in 2018, meaning whether it would close in on itself. To give a bit of a background, Turkey started to open up with the Özal reforms in the 1980s, and the process reached its apex in 1989, with the total liberalization of capital account. Ever since, “opening up” to Turk is synonymous to getting freer and richer. “Clamming up” would be the opposite. Let me be very clear: Economically, this is unthinkable. Politically, it would be a suicide. Why?
How is the EU doing post-Brexit?
23 December 2017
Last week, Brussels started an unprecedented process to suspend the voting rights of Poland within the EU mechanism. “The Commission has today concluded that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland,” said the official statement. The Commission, which is the executive branch of the EU, considered Poland’s judicial reforms as a serious breach of Polish courts’ independence. “Not good for European values” says the EU. What does this mean? Let me elaborate.
A Test Case For Globalization: The World Trade Organization
12 December 2017
The global trading system’s rule-making process started with a rigorous effort aimed at multilateralism, which over time became a thrust for plurilateralism. Now the drive is back to plain bilateralism. For more than two decades, global economic relations have been exposed to an era of uncertainty, brought about primarily by the major stakeholders of the system.
Rising US unilateralism is a bad thing
09 December 2017
Ten years ago, I was in Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day, which marks Israel’s “reunification” of the city in 1967. I got into a taxi in West Jerusalem to go to East Jerusalem. The traffic was heavy, with new checkpoints everywhere. “It has been like this every year,” said my Israeli driver, “reunification, my ass.” Jerusalem was a divided city then, and it is one today. Nobody seems to have told Donald Trump that very basic fact.
Take the NATO incident more seriously
25 November 2017
Have you seen that special Eurobarometer survey on the effect of digitization and automation on daily life? It was released this May. Only 7 percent of the participants say that they find news stories coming from social media trustworthy. 93 percent are not influenced. Considering all that talk about Russian interference, the idea may seem comforting. Not so fast. You may think that 7 percent is not that big, but think about acutely divided societies. 7 percent is more than enough to destabilize a country by itself.
Fighting sclerosis in KSA
12 November 2017
There’s a book-turned-Hollywood film called “A Hologram for the King.” Basically, Tom Hanks is a struggling businessman who takes a plane to Saudi Arabia to sell the King a hologram machine. He’s promised a meeting, but once he is in the kingdom, he finds out that it’s harder said than done. He’s constantly shuttled back and forth to places, told that the king “might come today,” made to wait unspecified amounts of time in hotel lobbies and royal palaces. I felt like that when I was waiting for my meetings in the kingdom last year too. My very own “a hologram for the king” moment. It’s a sclerotic place.
Why I felt offended by Macron’s remarks
05 November 2017
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Council of Europe and spoke at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It was the first time a French president was visiting the court. “Today, we are in a situation in which several member states do not respect the terms of the [European Human Rights] Convention in a clear manner,” he said. “For example, with Turkey and Russia, which are not the only examples, the risk is evident,” he added. Despite the note that there were others in apparent violation of the convention, I find this comparison rather offensive. Why?