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    Crisis crier or justified warnings?

    Fatih Özatay, PhD02 April 2009 - Okunma Sayısı: 1204

     

    There are two arguments about the crisis and they are almost bonded to each other. I think they are really interesting. These arguments were stated politically. However, when taking a closer look on them, it is quite weird that these arguments were stated 'even' politically. In other words, the interestingness stems from this weirdness. First is the known 'The crisis was not our fault' argument stated in response to rapidly increasing unemployment rate and falling production levels. Second is the accompanying 'However, 2001 crisis was the fault of current opponent parties' argument.

    Let us focus on one point: Between the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008, it was frequently stated that 2008 growth rate might be highly below 2007. This possibility was also frequently mentioned in this column, emphasizing furthermore that 2008 growth might be below 2007 growth that no one was satisfied with. Moreover, everyone was warned that as of the second half of 2008, as the global crisis accelerates, the growth rate which would fall down in 2008 would be craved for in 2009. Despite all, the global crisis was underrated by authorities for a long period. As the crisis was underrated, naturally no measures were implemented for a certain period. In other words, through if was known in advance that the global crisis that intensified day by day would also affect Turkey, more than one year passed even to acknowledge this fact.

    Nonetheless, it is argued that the 2001 crisis Turkey created alone was the fault of only the coalition government in power back then. To put it differently, while it took more than a year even to acknowledge a giant crisis, people pretend that the economic conjuncture resulting in the 2001 crisis was shaped in just a couple of months; as if it was not Turkey that lost the 1990s, as if public budget did not gradually deteriorate, the big corrosion in the banking sector happened in a couple of years, inflation and real interest rates did not stand at extremely high levels for year and Turkey was not doomed with low growth rates. Or as if all parties that are currently on the political arena and that ranked at tops at the latest elections, or their other forms had no role in that picture. I would like to underline that I am referring to 'all parties that ranked at top at the latest elections.'

    Let us neglect for a while that the corrupted economy constituting the foundations of the crisis was a product of a joint 'effort' of years rather than of a couple of months. Why are we neglecting this important point? Is not it true that those in power when the crisis emerged introduced an important economic program? When were the decisions restructuring from the scratch the banking sector we are now proud of? When where they put into force? In 2001 and 2002.

    Of course the important role of the coalition members in the emergence of 2001 crisis cannot be ignored. However, their efforts to reconstruct the economy and to overcome the crisis cannot be ignored as well. No offense, but the statement 'we did not have role in the emergence of the crisis' reminds me this anecdote: An epidemic disease bumps up in the neighborhood. All the people in the neighborhood catch the disease. My family acts cautiously and avoids eating toxic fruits trying to stay away from the disease. However, the efforts do not pay and the disease also hits out house. Children of the house complain 'we will go down like pins, let us get medicated'. The heads of the family on the other hand insists 'we did not make the disease emerge', underrate the occasion and scold us saying 'do not act like epidemic disease criers'.

    Anyway, it is time to learn lessons from old mistakes and at least start to do what is necessary from this point on. And what is necessary is being argued and presented for months...

     

    This commentary was published in Radikal daily on 02.04.2009

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