Turkish and global economies depend on the success of newly established Italian and Greek governments in saving the countries from crisis, a former Turkish minister says
Unless newly established Greek and Italian governments are successful in addressing the countries’ current economic problems, the European economy will enter a serious slowdown period and further negatively affect the Turkish economy, said Kemal Derviş. “If the Greek and Italian new governments are unsuccessful, there will be serious a slowdown in Europe; [economic] growth will stop, while lasting uncertainties and unemployment will probably rise. If this happens, the whole world will be affected, and likely, Turkey will be affected too,” Derviş, vice president of the Brookings Institute and former Turkish economy minister, told the Anatolia news agency in a recent phone interview in New York.
Possible negative effects will not impact just Turkey in particular, Derviş said, but the EU is an important trade partner for Turkey as it is for many other countries. “If the crisis deepens it will affect the global economy, which will in turn affect the Turkish economy. The latter has already started to be affected. The Brazil and U.S. economies will also be affected,” he said.
Turkey’s diversification of trade will help to cope with effects of crisis, Derviş said. The country’s economy was flexible and diversified, thus it would not be dependent on the performance of the European economy. But “[the Turkish economy] is still anyhow linked to the EU’s,” said Derviş, who is also member of the Sabancı University Advisory Board.
European economy not that bad
Eurozone economies are in serious danger due to the present sovereign debt crisis, however, when looking at the European Union economy as a whole, the situation does not appear to be that bad, Derviş said.
“When looking at the eurozone as if it were one country, one notices the per capita debt is much lower than the ratio is for the United States; the current account deficit is also very small,” Derviş told the Anatolia news agency in a recent phone interview.
Some U.S. economists described the situation in Europe as “hopeless,” Derviş said, but “actually, there is nothing like that. The German, Dutch, Finnish and Austrian economies, as well as the economies of Denmark and Switzerland – although these two are not in the eurozone – are very strong.”
The real problem in Europe is the differences between the Irish and Mediterranean EU economies and the rest of the countries, “not because Europe’s social model is deficient or because the European economy as a whole is bad,” Derviş said. The way the EU will manage such imbalances was thus crucial, he said.
A common currency and monetary policy would not fit with independent fiscal policies for individual eurozone countries, Derviş said. “A currency union needs a common fiscal policy as well as a single Central Bank and monetary policy. A very important question stands in front of the EU now: Are [EU member states] willing to integrate further or not?”
Tight fiscal policy must be accompanied with elimination of bad practices such as tax evasion or puffing up of costs in public tenders, and countries with difficulties must also go through structural reforms that encourage economic growth, Derviş said.
The International Monetary Fund must also provide more financial aid for southern European countries to move out of their crises, which means it must increase its finances, he said.
Kemal Derviş was appointed as Turkish Economy Minister after the 2001 economic crisis and prepared a successful economic program to get the country out of crisis.
Drug companies in Turkey might resort to serious layoffs by the end of 2011, following a recent government decision to decrease drug prices.
Name brand drugs that have equivalent generic brands will be sold for a maximum of 60 percent of the reference value to drugstores, according to a Council of Ministers decision published Nov. 11. The rate was 66 percent before this decision.
The new decision was created in the framework of the “global budget,” an attempt by the government to keep health expenditures under control. This is the third decrease in drug prices ruled by the government since the end of 2009.
Drug companies’ revenues and profit margins are expected to be heavily affected by the decision.
“Drug companies will be affected very negatively by the recent changes. …About 2,500 people remained jobless in past years due to decreases in drug prices. Firms tried to minimize costs to cope with such decreases until nowadays. However, there is no space left anymore [with the recent decision],” Secretary-General of the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (AİFD) Alp Sevindik told Reuters in a Nov. 11 interview.
Sevindik said the firms may have to rely on job cuts to face losses by the new regulation. “Local companies may particularly get into a bind.”
In order to define the price of a drug in Turkey, the lowest price for the same drug in Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek markets is taken as a reference price.
Unqualified state land will be subject to sale after new related legislation is approved by the Turkish parliament, generating revenues of 26 billion Turkish Liras.
About 1 million houses and 1.74 million square meters of land whose cadastre works have been completed, all under the status of unqualified state-owned land also known as 2-B land, will open to sale with the amendment of legislation that bans sales of such land.
The Finance Ministry has finalized two draft laws that allow sales of 2-B land and houses to foreigners. The new legislation removes the reciprocity condition that blocked the sales of Treasury land that has lost characteristics of forest land. Preparation of such legislative changes could be made possible only after the amendment of the Turkish constitution in the 2010 referendum.
The final version of the two drafts will be approved today, at a meeting under the lead of Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, daily Sabah reported yesterday. Environment and Urbanization Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, Forest Minister Veysel Eroğlu and other officials will participate in the meeting. The Environment Ministry is expected to submit the two draft laws to the Turkish Grand Assembly by the end of November.
Land subject to the new legislation makes up 3.4 percent of Istanbul’s lands, from which 26 billion Turkish Liras in revenue is expected to be gathered. The value of the land will be determined in accordance with the location of the real estate, according to the news report.
The land in the urban areas will be subject to sales within a month after the legislation enters into power, whereas a three months will be given to prepare lands located in non-urban areas for sale.
There will be no limitations on municipalities regarding the square meters of land for sale in urban areas and containing gardens or buildings.
The fee to apply for the sale of land in urban areas will be 2,000 liras, for non-urban it will be 1,000 liras.
If the public land has been used previously, it will remain to real and legal persons on condition that they have been using land for at least five years before the finalization of cadastre procedures.
Settlement in forest areas will be allowed on lands that have been classified as appropriate and registered as so by the Forest Ministry.
The transfer will be realized based on the square-meter value of the property. In the case of such transfers in the framework of gentrification projects, land owners will be given apartments in accordance with already existing regulations related to urbanization projects.
Turkey ranked 19th in a global list of countries with most valuable brands with a total value of 373 billion U.S. dollars, according to a global brand valuation research.
Turkey ranked 19th in a global list of countries with most valuable brands with a total value of 373 billion U.S. dollars, according to a global brand valuation research. The country ranked 10th in a similar list for European countries.
Brand Finance said the brand value of Turkey increased 19.8 percent over a year earlier to move up the country to the top 20 list for the first time in the world and to the top 10 in Europe.
Turkey overtook many developed countries in Europe such as Austria, Denmark, Finland and Ireland. The top three countries on the global list were the United States, Germany and China.
Following is Brand Finance’s list of top 20 countries in the world according to their brand values:
Brand Value Change (YoY)
Country (Billion USD) (%)
U.S. 12,576 5.30
Germany 3,146 1.50
China 3,001 40.40
Japan 1,940 -25.90
Britain 1,849 -4.90
France 1,673 2.40
Italy 1,515 -12.40
Canada 1,309 2.80
India 1,266 31.60
Brazil 959 21.50
The Netherlands 829 -8.30
Russia 752 11.70
Spain 729 -15.80
Australia 702 -7.30
Mexico 672 18.50
South Korea 605 19.60
Switzerland 551 17.70
Sweden 471 5.40
TURKEY 373 19.80
Belgium 369 -7.10
For most economists, the 17-member single currency area eurozone is bound to collapse and there will be consequences for all the nations around the world.
Yet Turkey, with its strong public finances, low budget deficit and political stability, will be one of the few economies to exhibit a speedy recovery if and when the global economy enters another dark episode with governments, businesses and people forced to swallow big losses. Although it will feel the chill of such turmoil in the short-term like any other economy around the world, Turkey will weather the storm and resume its strong growth performance not too long after the possible crisis’ immediate impact, experts agree.
Indeed, the Turkish economy already proved that it has the capacity to quickly recover from a global financial crisis when the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by almost 9 percent in 2010 after it contracted by nearly 5 percent a year earlier because of the global economic turmoil triggered by the US credit crunch. Even accelerating that mouth-watering performance, it became the fastest growing economy worldwide with an impressive 10.2 percent in the first half of this year.
“We have to first acknowledge that there will be uncontrollable and huge consequences for the entire world economy if the eurozone collapses, the likelihood of which has substantially grown in the past two to three years,” says Ankara-based Turkish Economic Association (TEK) President Ercan Uygur, who also teaches at Ankara University, evaluating the latest developments in an interview with Sunday’s Zaman. Cooperating with the International Monetary Fund, the EU has already bailed-out Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
But over $500 billion earmarked for these countries has not proven effective in calming market worries surrounding these three, particularly Greece, where successive governments have misled EU authorities by providing them with inaccurate statistics concerning their budget performance and public debt levels. However, all these countries recently took the back seat when the borrowing rates of Italy –whose public debt is way over its GDP — insistently stuck at levels deemed unsustainable by most economists. The yield on 10-year Italian bonds, for instance, reached 7.5 percent –which forced the already bailed out eurozone members to seek outside financial assistance –last week. Although the country’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi agreed to step down and the prospect of having the president of the prestigious Bocconi University, Mario Monti, also a former EU commissioner, at the helm of the new government have initially calmed markets, there is still little chance that Italy will regain investors’ trust.
And if Italy, the third largest economy in the 27-member EU and the eighth largest worldwide, becomes obliged to ask for foreign financial aid, most observers agree that it will be the beginning of the end for the eurozone. “The first question that should be asked here is what would happen to our banks’ euro reserves. It is so easy to say, “Let’s reintroduce the national currencies for the eurozone nations,” but there is very little knowledge about what the immediate value of those national currencies would be against major world currencies. So the monetary field is where the world will have the first “earthquake,” Uygur notes. For him, the consequences of such an occurrence, “some of which may not be even predicted today,” will adversely affect the entire world and of course there will be both direct and indirect ramifications for Turkey. “However it is true that financially stronger economies will do better than others when this possible crisis arrives,” he says. Turkey’s public debt to GDP ratio was 42.2 percent in 2010 — compared to Greece with 142.8 percent, Italy with 119 percent, Portugal with 93 percent, Germany with 83.2 percent, France with 81.7 percent and the United Kingdom with 80 percent — and its economy produced a budget surplus, albeit small, compared to the wide deficits recorded in most of Europe in the first nine months of this year.
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government only sees a brighter future for the country. According to its Medium-term Economic Program (OVP), the Turkish economy is expected to produce a lower public debt to GDP ratio and lower budget and current account deficits (CAD). The difference between the central government’s earnings and expenses will be equal to 1.7 percent of the GDP by the end of this year and decline to 1.5, 1.4 and 1 percent in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, the program foresees, also pointing to a continuously diminishing public debt-to-GDP ratio until 2015. According to that plan, this ratio will be 39.8 percent by the end of this year and drop to as low as 32 percent in 2014. The program is also optimistic in its CAD estimates for the following three years. Turkey’s CAD, one of the few issues the country faces in the eyes of most observers, is expected to be 8 percent of the GDP next year, and the CAD to domestic output ratio will drop to 7.5 percent in 2013 and to 7 percent in 2014.
Turkey’s export volume reached $114 billion last year from below $100 billion in 2009. In addition, the country is set to earn $135 billion from exports this year; however, despite such a rise in export revenue, its CAD spiked to nearly 9 percent of the GDP due to the rising energy bill and industry’s dependence on foreign intermediate goods to produce merchandise to be sold overseas.
Some say, therefore, that the widening CAD is a problem too serious for Turkey, which is why it will bear the brunt of a possible global crisis triggered by the collapse of the eurozone. According to most observers, however, including former vice-president of the country’s Privatization Administration (ÖİB), Süleyman Yaşar, this interpretation is disconnected from facts. Turkey’s CAD used to be because of its high public debt, but today it has such a gap mainly because of private, not public, indebtedness, Yaşar says, and there is no apparent problem for private entities, including banks and other corporations to pay their debt on time. “Even if they default on their debt, there will be no direct impact on the country’s balance of payments since there is no state guarantee over those private debts,” he added in remarks to Sunday’s Zaman.
Turkey now less exposed to European financial crisis
One impact, and probably the most immediate one, of a possible collapse of the eurozone might be on the banks in Turkey, but the fact that the country’s banks, including the Central Bank of Turkey, keep very little in eurozone government bonds in their portfolios makes this irrelevant in Turkey’s case. “So, their exposure to possible defaults in the single currency area is not something that can seriously trouble our banks,” Yaşar underlines. Although he acknowledges that a possible financial crisis in the EU, Turkey’s largest trade partner, has the potential to take a bite out of the country’s exports, Yaşar points to the current dynamics for Turkish exports. Turkey has in the past decade embarked on a campaign to diversify its export markets and the importance of the European market, along with other developed economies, is on the decline. What replaces them are emerging economies, such as those in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Central Asian and sub-Saharan African markets. According to the latest statistics of the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TİM), Turkey earned 47 percent of its exports revenue from the merchandise it sold to European countries this year; however, the same figure was nearly 60 percent only 10 years ago. Therefore, Turkey is becoming less and less exposed to a European financial crisis that may also take a toll on the demand for foreign goods across the continent each year, Yaşar notes. “Actually Turkey does not have many expectations from Europe in the long-term, as its eyes have turned to other markets,” he says.
Exchange rates to be at work in tourism, textiles
If the eurozone collapses, the common expectation is, at least among most of today’s single currency area members, that they will reintroduce their national currencies and substantially devaluate them to gain some international competitiveness for their economies. When this happens, Yaşar says, it is likely that Turkey will face some more competition from a number of European countries in the fields of tourism and textiles, since the goods and services of countries competing with Turkey in those markets, such as Greece, Spain and Italy, will become less expensive and may gain a price advantage with their to-be-devaluated national currencies.However in the long term, Yaşar insists that the Turkish economy will remain unscathed from all this turmoil. “The fact that Turkey’s public debt and budget deficit are much lower than most economies around the world produces an important advantage for it. This assured, the immediate changes that may happen as a result of a possible dissolution of the eurozone will not create a long-term impact,” he says.
13 November 2011, Sunday / MUSTAFA EDIB YILMAZ, SUNDAY’S ZAMAN
In a new special report, Fitch Ratings says that Turkish banks’ credit profiles have remained sound in 2011 despite considerable market and regulatory challenges. Fitch continues to view the medium-term outlook for the sector as favourable. However, the near-term outlook for the Turkish economy is uncertain, which in turn clouds immediate prospects for the banks.
Rapid credit growth has created risk management challenges, and led to a moderation of previously very strong capital and funding ratios. However, in Fitch’s view, underwriting standards have generally remained robust, and leverage in the system is still contained. Furthermore, credit growth began to slow in the year’s third quarter, due to regulatory measures and the weaker global outlook, reducing the potential for a rapid build up of risk in the near term.
Turkish banks are having to adapt to a leaner environment, triggered by lower, yet volatile, interest rates and more rigorous regulatory oversight. Margin compression, competition for profitable consumer and SME business, and lower yields on Turkish government securities have all combined to worsen operating conditions. However, performance has still remained solid due to low impairment charges, tight cost controls and the short-term nature of much lending, which permits swift repricing.
Turkey’s gold production increased to record levels in the first 10 months of the year, as the demand for gold has also surged despite the appreciation of gold in value recently, the top manager of the country’s state-run mint says
The production of gold in Turkey’s State Mint has reached an all-time record with 58 tons in the first 10 months of this year, as the demand for gold coins and accessories in Turkey has risen rapidly, according to the mint’s top manager.
“We have reached an all-time record level in production of gold in our mint,” said Sadettin Parkmaksız, general manager of the Turkish Mint located in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş-Yıldız neighborhood. While traditionally Turkish people prefer buying gold coins for each other for weddings and special ceremonies as gift, some small investors see the collection of gold coins as a safe and basic way of saving. The State Mint issues its range of gold bullion coins, broadly classified as “Republican Coins,” in two versions: standard (Meskuk) and decorative (Ziynet).
The Turkish State Mint coined nearly 2.3 tons of gold in 1991, and the amount surged to 35 tons in 2001. The total coined amount of gold decreased to 33.78 tons in 2009 from 57.4 tons in 2008. The amount rose to 36.7 tons last year.The total amount of coined gold in the mint rose to nearly 58 tons in the past 10 months, according to official figures of the mint.
“Despite the appreciation of gold in value, demand in the domestic market in gold is still rising,” Parmaksız said.
Talking about the claims that the mint could not supply enough quarter gold coins to some jewelry shops in Turkey, he said, “We are ready for the ups and downs in gold demand.”
The mint has capacity to coin nearly 1.5 tons of gold weekly, according to Parmaksız. “In the second half of the year, the demand in gold coins increased rapidly and some delays occurred, eventually.” Despite the delays especially in August, he said starting from last week, the mint solved the problems with supply and demand and provided the gold coins with no delay to jewelry shops in the country.
Country of gold coins
Anatolia is renowned as the country where the world’s first gold coins were minted to a standard size and weight. Refined from electrum – a mixture of gold and silver – mined from alluvial deposits, the coins were minted during the rule of King Croessus (561-546 BC) in Sardis, the capital of Lydia. The ruins of Sardis are near İzmir, a port on the Aegean Sea and Turkey’s third largest city.
The Turkish State Mint was founded in 1452 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II. The current mint, which is located in the Beşiktaş-Yıldız neighborhood in Istanbul, was previously based in Topkapi Palace between 1723 and 1967.
The first Republican Gold (Cumhuriyet Altını) was minted in the state mint in 1925 and introduced to the founder of the modern Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in those days. Since then, demand among Turkish people for Republican Coins has continuously increased.
Leaders of the 20 biggest countries have failed to agree on concrete steps to prevent the European debt crisis spread. Still, the Financial Stability Board has announced that it will urge 29 crucial global lenders to adopt stricter regulations.
The leaders of the world’s 20 most powerful economies struggled to reach concrete resolutions at their summit in the French resort town of Cannes, which has been overshadowed by Greece’s political turmoil and worries about Italy.
Still, the summit, which accepted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the supervisor of economic reform efforts, failed to come to consensus on how to increase the firepower of the IMF so that it can help stem the European debt crisis.
The leaders, however acknowledged the IMF resources should be boosted.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy failed to get all the G-20 countries to agree on a financial tax. The United States favors a tax on big banks instead.
But Sarkozy said at the end of a G-20 summit that several countries at the summit signed on and can’t “wait for the rest of the world.” He said the European Commission would submit a draft plan and aim to get it in place by the end of 2012. He gave no other details.
Activist groups have lobbied for such a tax, saying that the finance world should play more of a role in helping the needy.
“It’s important that the IMF sees its resources reinforced,” Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, told reporters.
He said the increased resources would be there to help countries around the world, not just the eurozone, indicating Europe is struggling to attract extra help from its global partners for its debt crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said no countries outside the eurozone had committed any money to the region’s bailout fund.
Barroso said several countries had indicated they would provide bilateral loans to the IMF, which would give the fund more resources without collecting money from reluctant members like the United States.
The IMF may also decide to issue more special drawing rights (SDRs), the fund’s own reserve currency that can be exchanged for cash with central banks around the world. SDRs can just be created and do not require new commitments from IMF member states.
Finance ministers will now have to work out the details of how to boost the IMF resources, the two EU presidents said, and Sarkozy said that the G-20 would next deal with the topic in February.
With their own finances already stretched from bailing out Greece, Ireland and Portugal, and traditional allies like the United States wrestling with their own problems, eurozone countries were looking to the IMF to use its resources and rescue experience to help prevent the debt crisis from spreading to large economies like Italy and Spain.
But within the IMF, the powers have shifted.
Until two years ago, the IMF was dominated by the traditional powers in Europe and the U.S. was mostly applied the painful adjustment programs that are attached to its financial lifelines to poor and emerging economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Now, it’s growing powers like China, Brazil and South Africa that have to decide whether helping Europe is a worthy investment.
Compiled from AP stories by the Daily News staff in Istanbul.
“We started to celebrate the Eid two weeks ago,” says a shopkeeper in the Mavi store in İstanbul’s Capitol Shopping Center. “Our sales increased by almost 40 percent in the last two weeks. Once again, this year’s Eid al-Adha has put a smile on our faces.”
The Capitol Shopping Center is jam-packed. Despite plenty of time until the feast, people are shopping like crazy as the sacred days of Eid al-Adha draw near. “It’s hard to enjoy shopping with so many people,” an elderly woman complains to her husband, while cashiers trying to handle the long queue of people carry a smile on their faces.
This year’s Eid al-Adha, Islam’s four-day religious holiday during which animals are slaughtered as a reminder of the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God as an act of obedience and submission, will be celebrated on Nov. 6-9. People have already started to flock to marketplaces, bazaars and shopping malls to buy new garments, candies and delights to “welcome” the spirit of sharing and caring. It is traditional to buy new clothes, called “bayramlık,” to wear on the first day of the feast, when families gather during breakfast.
The impact of the Feast of the Sacrifice on the national economy does not appear to have been underestimated. In his remarks to Today’s Zaman, Meat and Fish Institution (EBK) President Bekir Ulubaş said he estimates that approximately 600,000 cows and 2 million sheep will be slaughtered during the feast. When considering that the price of a sheep varies between TL 500-700, while that of cows can reach up to TL 10,000, at least TL 5 billion will be injected into the Turkish economy just from slaughtered animals. Moreover, assuming that this year people will spend at least TL 2 billion, like they did on last year’s Eid al-Adha, according to the Interbank Card Center (BKM), the Turkish retail sector will have an additional boost.
Although the animal sector is much talked about during the Eid al-Adha, the stimulation of the economy mainly emerges from sales in the retail sector. In a phone interview with Today’s Zaman, leading textile manufacturer LC Waikiki CEO Vahap Küçük said the impact of the Eids on the economy is huge. “Another fact that the economy and especially the textile sector will be positively affected by this year’s Eid al-Adha is that the feast coincides with the new seasonal collections,” Küçük noted. “Interestingly, people living in the suburbs of İstanbul, more specifically the low and middle-income group, spend more than those with a higher income. For instance, a group of people from the district of Esenler [a low-income neighborhood] allocate a higher percentage of their budget to Eid spending than people living in Bakırköy. [Religious] customs are more commonly observed among low-income people,” Küçük said.
03 November 2011, Thursday / YASİN BABACAN, İSTANBUL
The total revenue earned through online payments increased by 52 percent to 16.9 billion Turkish Liras in the year’s first nine months compared to the same period last year, according to data released yesterday.
“Almost one in every five people in Turkey now shops online,” said Soner Canko, general manager of the Interbank Card Center (BKM), speaking at Cardist 2011 International Card and Smart Technologies Exhibition & Summit held in Istanbul. He said Turkey ranked among the biggest markets in Europe regarding online commerce. The number of Internet transactions jumped 37 percent in the first three quarters compared to the same period in 2010, reaching 91.4 million transactions.
Many international finance institutions watched Turkey with interest as the Turkish e-commerce market became promising with high revenue, Canko said.
Turkey’s service sector ranked first regarding spending in online platforms, growing 69 percent compared to the previous period. The total revenue from e-commerce platforms in the service sector reached 2.53 million liras in the first nine months of this year.