Thursday, December 23, 2010

CHP's Economic Policy???

I was going to do a new version of my TSL MPW, i.e. The Sore Loser Monetary Policy Watch, but I need to get something off my chest first.

The main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, had an extraordinary convention on Saturday. The media was quick to jump to headlines such as extra coverage of the new members of the Party Council, the purging of the remaining footsoldiers of the ex-Leader and ex-Secretary General of the party, speculation on who would be one of the fifteen members of the Central Administration Committee, etc etc...

The CHP's economics agenda unfortunately did not get the same attention, although Kilicdaroglu devoted a large portion of his speech to it, making concrete promises: His main focus was inequality, the young & the workers and women. Some of his headlines were a minimum guaranteed income to families (not a good idea in terms of incentives), higher pensions (good luck), end to non-tenured, part-time civil service employment (to make sure everyone there slacks off even more), employment guarantee to all through private and state-sector initiatives (typical politician's promise), abolishing special consumption taxes on gas (go ahead, but you have to increase tax compliance first).

And I am only mentioning the main items. If I were to criticize every little detail of his economics agenda, I'd end up with a book soon. For example, his promise abolishing university fees sounds nice to ears, but does not solve the much-bigger problem that many under-privileged youths are not able to attend university in the first place.

The speech itself confirms U.S. Consulate's take:) on the CHP's economic agenda in its recently-Wikileaked cable on the Turkish economy:
Interestingly enough, the main opposition Republican People’s Party has been unable to spell out a coherent economics agenda so far. As in politics, these elitist ankle-biters are suffering from status-quo bias. Moreover, they have serious issues with main free market economics ideas such as privatization and foreign investment, leaving the business community with no viable alternative to the AKP.
Ibrahim Turkmen points at some of the most obvious inconsistencies in the Economics section of Kilicdaroglu's speech in Today's Zaman. Seyfettin Gursel of Radikal seems to share my thoughts (in Turkish) on the CHP's economics policy. Like him, I will stop here rather than present a fuller analysis like Mr. Turkmen, as the longer I dwell on it, the madder I get. Besides, the party is supposed to publish its Economics Program in full in August. While I'll give them the benefit of doubt by waiting for a full critique until then, I have to say I am not very hopeful at all... 

But at least I have the perfect anti-cyclical fiscal policy at hand, thanks to an email from Hans-Peter Geissen to a bunch of journalists/columnists (in response to Mr. Turkmen's column), including your friendly neighborhood economist:
As to the question how to finance the resulting budget deficits, I suggest to introduce a prayer tax, an elegant multi-purpose financial instrument. For instance, it is basically income-independent. So it doesn't matter if income goes up, or down, whether it is a Thank You prayer or a desperate cry for help, or whatsoever. Tax income per prayer remains the same.
Say, the prayer tax is one lira per prayer. Given the enormous and supposedly rising piety in Turkey, impressive sums may be collected (or not actually collected, admittedly, yet still having a book-value).
You might even see a perfect economic copy of the perpetuum mobile. If the economy takes a rapid downturn when K. approaches the office -as can be expected- people will start to pray more and more, and again more. Hence, the prayer-tax earnings will climb to unimaginable heights, so fueling the state-economic upswing K. plans. It will be a real wealth tax.
On the other hand, sober calculators may embrace atheism so as not to pay the tax (or accumulate tax debts), which in turn favors secular lifestyles. To the contrary, most AKP supporters may pay and pay for K.'s success.
You think that nobody can assess the real number of anybody's prayers? But beware! K. knows how to find any sums, somehow.
This way, as Mr. Geissen notes, there will be enough funds if Mr. Kilicdaroglu is in power. I, for one, am sure to pay shitloads (pardon my French) of this tax, given Mr. Kilcidaroglu's recent words of wisdom that the CHP could easily tackle capital flows after taking control of the Central Bank:) I rest my case....

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