Homage to a great economist

Homage to a great economist

Looking to social media, it is easy to see how millions were so fond of economist professor Güngör Uras, who lost his life on Aug. 20.

It seems he somehow found a way to interact with so many people from so many different corners of Turkey.

“I had the opportunity to talk to him in Gaziantep. He was very modest, friendly and genuine. I never missed his articles. He had a talent to explain the most difficult issues,” my journalist friend Aykut Tuzcu from Gaziantep told me.

One of the most important attributes of Uras was his modesty. He was very informed. But he never stopped being curious and being a researcher.

He lost his life during Bayram or Eid al-Adha. He used to give a lot of importance to Bayrams. He used to keep the pulse of the markets, the shopkeepers, as well as of “Aunt Ayşe,” the fictional character he created to represent an ordinary citizen.

He never stopped writing his newspaper columns. His last article is dated Aug. 10.

To pay him my respect, I would leave the rest of this space to one of his past articles on Bayram dated July 2015, which seems to fit in well with the present day conditions of the economy.

Where have the old Bayrams gone?

There are no longer activities in the markets in Istanbul that we used to have ahead of Bayrams. There is not much movement in the traditional neighborhoods with many shopping centers like Mahmutpaşa, Laleli, Fatih, Üsküdar, Bakırköy and the Grand Bazaar.

The shopowners I have spoken to have drawn attention to different reasons as to the cause of the stagnation. “Those who have money in their pocket have gone on summer holidays. The ones who have stayed in the city have no money,” they said.

Some others said, “People have more debt than their income. That is why they no longer have money to spend.”

“The tradition of Bayram shopping is being forgotten,” I heard some saying.

In our country, there is movement in the markets ahead of religious holidays. Sales on consumer goods increase.

Traditions are being forgotten

There is an old habit in Anatolia. The family’s clothing needs are taken care of ahead of Bayram. If the house’s tables, chairs, sofas or carpets need to be renewed, new ones are bought before Bayram. With the increase in the use of durable goods like washing machines, refrigerators and televisions, we have developed the habit of buying them before Bayram. These habits are being forgotten in the big cities, but continue in small settlements.

What is important for our people is to earn an income that can meet their necessary needs and provide honorable living conditions.

People should have an income so they can spend it. There should be spending so the markets can revive. Markets should revive so that production to meet the revived demand can increase. Production should increase so that people should not have bread and butter issues.

The main reason for the stagnation in the market are low-income levels.

When I say low-income levels, I am obviously not talking about everyone. Some 15 million of Turkey’s 75 million population shares 45 percent of the country’s national income while 15 million only receive 7 percent of the national income. Some 45 million in the lowest income group’s share of the national income is 33 percent.

When we talk about “people not having money to spend,” we are talking about low-income groups.

Otherwise, things seem to go well for high-income groups!

Gila Benmayor,