Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Interesting Meeting

One of the advantages of writing at Hurriyet and keeping this blog is that I get to meet a different variety of people than at my previous stints at a think tank in Ankara or as a bank economist in Istanbul. There is nothing wrong with getting to know government officials/bureaucrats or hedgies, just as there is nothing wrong with lahmacun or pizza. But you do yearn for more exotic fare from time to time.

One of those exotics who have contacted me through my columns is Tim Heinemann, a native of Germany who is a PhD candidate at the Department of Geography - Queen Mary, University of London. His research on the Turkish economy and markets, is definitely very different from the usual Econ/Finance research I am used to.

With his permission, I have included below a short abstract and aims of his thesis:

Trading Turkey – Understanding the Social and Material Construction of Emerging Markets

Short abstract
This research examines the social and material construction of emerging markets through privatization, liberalization and foreign investments. The focus is on the relationship between the state, institutions such as central banks, investors and global financial institutions (e.g. IMF) in shaping the current re-construction of these countries. The research aims to understand the development of emerging markets through the concepts of risk, reward, knowledge and trust and their changes. Empirically, it seeks to comprehend the construction of Turkey through government policies and investment practices.

Aims of the project and objectives
The project aims to add to knowledge about emerging markets by focusing on the role of practitioners and policy makers and by focusing on a specific case study – Turkey. In particular, the focus is on three powerful actors; the state, the global financial industry and global financial institutions, their understanding of risk, reward, knowledge and trust and to explain their actions, motivations and relations. Investment decisions are based on the assessment of risk and reward, but in order to understand risks and rewards investors rely on knowledge to assess potential market developments and the creation of trust. Yet, markets do not operate in isolation. Rather, they heavily rely on state action and, in the case of emerging markets, on global financial institutions in turning emerging markets into an attractive place for investments. On the flip side, these policies are again constructed through forms of knowledge which are trusted to support economic growth.

The fieldwork will allow for an exploration of the understanding and practice of these concepts within the finance industry, the government and global financial institutions. It will enable an analysis of how these understandings of markets are changing under the current financial crisis; how and why investment patterns have changed in regards to emerging markets and Turkey. Thus, the research will explore the working practices of the emerging markets industry, what counts as knowledge and why, how is trust created and how these elements create a landscape of risk and reward. Additionally, what is the stake of the government in this process, how are the policies designed towards global financial markets and what is the relation to the IMF and World Bank.

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