Polarization and the Turkish economy

Polarization and the Turkish economy

The dollar is rising in value and one of the currencies that has lost the most value is the Turkish Lira.

I am not an economist and I will not make an economic analysis here. I simply want to discuss the difference between thinking “politically” and thinking “analytically.”

Business daily Dünya columnist Özcan Kadıoğlu recently wrote that the Turkish Lira had lost 19.5 percent of its value against the dollar over the past year.

In comparison, the Indonesian and South African currencies lost only 1.8 and 2 percent respectively. The currencies of Brazil, India and Mexico have even gained some value against the dollar.

It is important to note all this because a one cent rise in the value of the dollar against the lira costs our economy 2.1 billion Turkish Liras. These figures indicate significant problems for Turkey’s economy.

Pro-government voices tend to ignore the rise in the foreign exchange rate and instead emphasize strong growth figures. Rises in interest rates? That’s all down to the dark work of the “interest rate lobby.” Rising inflation? That is just “seasonal.”

But opposition and pro-government statements often say nothing about the reason behind high interest rates, high inflation, or expensive foreign exchange.

In order to think scientifically, we must first search for the complicated relationship between “causes” and “effects.”

The problem of ‘concrete’

On these questions, I remember the words of prominent businessmen Koç Holding Honorary President Rahmi Koç from February 2016. “We are spending investments in the ground but we have not been able to achieve competitive power.”

Won’t a weakening economy’s competitive power become unstable against the dollar?

There is a complicated cause-effect relation between foreign exchange and concepts such as “competitive power” and the “quality of investments.”

I also remember former Foreign Minister Ali Babacan’s criticism about shopping malls from three years ago, when he warned about the importance of making more investments in industry rather than the construction sector.

Construction certainly is a labor intensive sector, bringing in both employment and votes. But it also has many downsides. Not least, we may eventually see Istanbul finally drowning in concrete, as seems to be slowly happening.

I wish attention had been paid to the criticisms earlier. It can be misleading if we look at everything within the context of politics.

Scientific Journal Rankings data

I recently took a look at the internationally recognized Scientific Journal Rankings data.

In the past Turkey was a long way ahead of Iran in mathematics. But in 2016 Turkey was ranked in 15th place in terms of scientific publications that entered the index in this field, two places behind Iran.

In the engineering category, Turkey is in 19th place and Iran is seven spots above us in 12th place.

In our age, science and technology are key for the “competitive power of economies.”

In Turkey we tend to be far too concerned with politics. As a result, many important subjects go unnoticed until they have really done damage to us.

Justice, science, art, creative thinking, production and competition. Are these issues that can ever be neglected like we so often do?

Taha Akyol, hdn, opinion