Saturday, May 29, 2010
I just read Milliyet economist columnist Gungor Uras's latest book "Bak, Ben Sana Anlatayim" (Let Me Explain to You), and given my usual distaste for his economic arguments, I found it extremely enjoyable.
My aim is not a full book review; if you'd like that and speak Turkish, there is a review by an Econ. professor here. But what I really found enjoyable was not the economic arguments per se, but the way those arguments were presented. The subtitle of the book, "Olaylarla Alaylar" (Mocking with the Incidents) offers a clue to that: In essence, the book is a collection of short (each a couple of pages at most) memoirs on various Economics-related events in the author's life, including his stint in the 60s in the SPO, 70s in TUSIAD and 80s and beyond as an Economics columnist.
Although my own experiences in Ankara and Istanbul would be dwarfed by Uras's, I had been thinking about doing a similar thing for some time. My only concern was that, not having kept a diary or anything of the sort, I would not be able to record the events in chronological order. Neither does Uras, and his book is even a more enjoyable read for the leaps in time, so I have been encouraged by his book to try a similar thing in this blog. So starting next week, I will jot down the interesting events in my short life as an economist whenever I have the time with the tag "memoir".
Coming back to Gungor Uras's book, a Turkish Econ. blogger is very critical of Uras's ideas in the book such as opposing black and white TV, the Bosphorus bridge and FDI. While I do not fully agree with Uras on FDI, he is right that Turkey could have benefited from a more active FDI policy; actually, when you think about it, that's what IDAs in Ireland in Singapore do. I mean, no one is going to stop me if I, as Turk, want to set up shop in these countries, but they will probably be (and have been) more sympathetic to Google or Microsoft or MSD than me, right? As for black and white TV, he is right that it would not have made sense to invest so much into the old technology while the world is about to leapfrog into an entirely new one. And I think the same mistake was done recently with Turkey's TV production (they caught the LCD wave way too late). Finally, it is quite plausible that the Bosphorus bridge played an important role in turning Istanbul traffic into the mess it is in now; this is the familiar chicken-or-egg problem. Due to the so many independent variables in the equation, we'll never the answer for sure, but the mysterious thing about empirical Economics is that it spits out inconceivable results from time to time; in fact so much that the word does not mean what we think it means (thanks Inigo Montoya). For example, do you think that the death sentence reduces crime? Think again.
I am no commie, and neither is Gungor Uras. And neither am I a big fan of his work; on the contrary, I think he has messed up big time with his macro columns quite a few times, to the extent that I stopped reading him, although he does write interesting sectoral stuff on the real economy every now and then. But I think it is just not good manners to dismiss someone as a commie, especially when you haven't read his book. And that's all I have to say about that.
Anyway, I digressed way too much; this post was just to introduce my memoirs, the first of which you'll get soon. And now that I have a great ultraportable I can carry around with ease, I plan to devote all my tiny bits of free time to that, so you should be seeing quite a bit of stuff on that front.