A Growing Economy Isn't Enough
In spite of the positive social mood in Turkey as expressed by its up until recently relentlessly rising stock market, apparently not all is well. In recent days violent demonstrations against the government have taken place, which prime minister Erdogan at first blamed on a 'few looters'. After the protests had spread to 67 cities, he implied that they were orchestrated to create a pretext for 'undermining democracy', a hint that the powerful Turkish army may be involved (watch Erdogan's statement here).
That doesn't sound very plausible though, since the army's main concern with Erdogan is that he leads an Islamic party. Turkey's army is not necessarily anti-democratic – rather it sees its role in ensuring that Turkey remains a secular state and doesn't become a theocracy. In short, the army regards itself as the guarantor of Kemal Atatürk's legacy.
“Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Turkey's four biggest cities on Sunday and clashed with riot police firing tear gas on the third day of the fiercest anti-government demonstrations in years.
The din of car horns and residents banging pots and pans from balconies in support of the protests resonated across neighborhoods in Istanbul and Ankara late into the night, as hundreds of demonstrators skirmished with riot police.
Roads around Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office in Istanbul were sealed off as police fired tear gas to push back protesters, and police raided a shopping complex in the centre of the capital Ankara where they believed demonstrators were sheltering, detaining several hundred. Erdogan blamed the main secular opposition party for inciting the crowds, whom he called "a few looters", and said the protests were aimed at depriving his ruling AK Party of votes as elections begin next year.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler said there had been more than 200 demonstrations in 67 cities around the country, according to the Hurriyet newspaper. The unrest erupted on Friday when trees were torn down at a park in Istanbul's main Taksim Square under government plans to redevelop the area, but widened into a broad show of defiance against the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Erdogan said the plans to remake the square, long an iconic rallying point for mass demonstrations, would go ahead, including the construction of a new mosque and the rebuilding of a replica Ottoman-era barracks. He said the protests had nothing to do with the plans. "It's entirely ideological," he said in an interview broadcast on Turkish television.
"The main opposition party which is making resistance calls on every street is provoking these protests … This is about my ruling party, myself and the looming municipal elections in Istanbul and efforts to make the AK Party lose votes here." Turkey is due to hold local and presidential elections next year in which Erdogan is expected to stand, followed by parliamentary polls in 2015.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) denied orchestrating the unrest, blaming Erdogan's policies. "Today the people on the street across Turkey are not exclusively from the CHP, but from all ideologies and from all parties," senior party member Mehmet Akif Hamzacebi said. "What Erdogan has to do is not to blame CHP but draw the necessary lessons from what happened," he told Reuters.
The protests, started by a small group of environmental campaigners, mushroomed when police used force to eject them from the park on Taksim Square. As word spread online, the demonstrations drew in a wide range of people of all ages from across the political and social spectrum.
The ferocity of the police response in Istanbul has shocked Turks, as well as tourists caught up in the unrest in one of the world's most visited destinations. Helicopters have fired tear gas canisters into residential neighborhoods and police have used tear gas to try to smoke people out of buildings. Footage on YouTube showed one protester being hit by an armored police truck as it charged a barricade.
The handling of the protests has drawn rebukes from the United States, European Union and international rights groups.”
It is interesting that once again, social media – read: the internet – were used to spread the word and enlarge the protest. Erdogan probably underestimates the degree to which today's prosperous Turkey is breeding opposition to his hitherto mild Islamism. Note the trigger for the demonstrations: plans to erect a mosque in a square that is a popular meeting place of the opposition. The stock market in Istanbul has suffered a setback as the protests broke out, but still sports an enormous long term gain:
The Istanbul National 30 Index: the setback over the past week or so has erased this year's gains.
It is not knowable yet what these protests in Turkey really signify. But we take them for now as another sign of societal change infecting Islamic countries. In some places there has been a reaction taking countries toward more rather than less Islamic influence (e.g. in Egypt), but there are powerful forces pulling in the opposite direction as well.
Charts by: BigCharts
It is that time of the year again – our semi-annual funding drive begins today. Give us a little hand in offsetting the costs of running this blog, as advertising revenue alone is insufficient. You can help us reach our modest funding goal by donating either via paypal or bitcoin. Those of you who have made a ton of money based on some of the things we have said in these pages (we actually made a few good calls lately!), please feel free to up your donations accordingly (we are sorry if you have followed one of our bad calls. This is of course your own fault). Other than that, we can only repeat that donations to this site are apt to secure many benefits. These range from sound sleep, to children including you in their songs, to the potential of obtaining privileges in the afterlife (the latter cannot be guaranteed, but it seems highly likely). As always, we are greatly honored by your readership and hope that our special mixture of entertainment and education is adding a little value to your life!
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
Most read in the last 20 days:
- A Striking Chart
The Economy and the Stock Market As long time readers know, we are always paying close attention to the manufacturing sector, which is far more important to the US economy than is generally believed. In terms of gross output it is the largest sector of the economy, and it should of course be obvious that saving, investment and production are the only ways to create wealth. What's left of the Brooklyn Domino Sugar Refinery. Photo credit: Paul Raphaelson Contrary...
- Trump and Putin Narrowly Escape Assassination Attempt
The Gloves are Coming Off First a little bit of recent history. Readers are probably aware that some questions about the occasionally malfunctioning Deep State android... no, wait, we'll start again. Questions have recently been raised about the health of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by various “alt-right” tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists, such as this one. The monsters are normally hiding under Hillary's bed, but lately they have come out into the open...
- US Economy - Curious Pattern in ISM Readings
Head Fake Theory Confirmed? This is a brief update on our last overview of economic data. Although we briefly discussed employment as well, the overview was as usual mainly focused on manufacturing, which is the largest sector of the economy by gross output. Pepsi factory in Baltimore, 1956 Photo via pinterest.com Readers may recall that we have pointed out for some time that there was quite a large gap between the data reported in regional Fed manufacturing...
- Why the Fed Destroyed the Market Economy
What Have You Done for Me Lately? Swing voters are a fickle bunch. One election they vote Democrat. The next they vote Republican. For they have no particular ideology or political philosophy to base their judgment upon. The primacy of the wallet. They don’t give a rip about questions of small government or big government. Nor do they have any druthers about the welfare or warfare state. In effect, they really don’t care. What’s important to the...
- How is Real Wealth Created?
An Abrupt Drop Let’s turn back to our regular beat: the U.S. economy and its capital markets. We’ve been warning that the Fed would never make any substantial increase to interest rates. Not willingly, at least. Groping in the dark, Yellen-style Each time Fed chief Janet Yellen opens her mouth, out comes a hint that more rate hikes might be coming. But each time, it turns out that the economy is not as robust as she had believed... and that a rate hike isn’t...
- Janet Yellen’s Shame
Playing Politics In honest capitalism, you do what you can to get other people to voluntarily give you money. This usually involves providing goods or services they think are worth the price. You may get a little wild and crazy from time to time, but you are always called to order by your customers. In the market economy, consumers reign supreme. There is no such thing as a “lost” vote in the marketplace; every penny spent affects production. Mises noted: “Consumers...
- Donald’s Electoral Struggle
Wicked and Terrible After touting her pro-labor union record, the Wicked Witch of Chappaqua rhetorically asked, “why am I not 50 points ahead?” Her chief rival bluntly responded: “because you’re terrible.”* No truer words have been uttered by any of the candidates about one of their opponents since the start of this extraordinary presidential campaign! Electoral map (note that the coloration may no longer be applicable...) That Hillary Clinton is...
- Get Ready for a New Crisis – in Corporate Debt
Imposter Dollar OUZILLY, France – We’re going back to basics here at the Diary. We’re getting everyone on the same page... learning together... connecting the dots... trying to figure out what is going on. The new three dollar bill issued by the Apprehensive States of America. We made a breakthrough when we identified the source of so many of today’s bizarre and grotesque trends. It’s the money – the new post-1971 dollar. This new dollar is green. You...
- The Economy, the Stock Market and the Fed
John Hussman on Recent Developments We always look forward to John Hussman's weekly missive on the markets. Some people say that he is a “permabear”, but we don't think that is a fair characterization. He is rightly wary of the stock market's historically extremely high valuation and the loose monetary policy driving the surge in asset prices. The S&P 500 Index and the NYSE advance-decline line. Most market internals weakened steadily until early February 2016, but...
- Hanjin Marooning in San Pedro Bay
Global Trade Reversal Expansions and contractions in global trade have played out over long secular trends for thousands of years. The Silk Road, for example, was established by the Han Dynasty of China in 130 BC, and allowed for continuous trade between East and West for nearly 1,600 years. In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was also a conduit for culture and knowledge among its network of civilizations. A map of the main ancient Silk Road - click to...
- Great Causes, a Sea of Debt and the 2017 Recession
Great Cause NORMANDY, FRANCE – We continue our work with the bomb squad. Myth disposal is dangerous work: People love their myths more than they love life itself. They may kill for money. But they die for their religions, their governments, their clans... and their ideas. Famous French hippie and author Voltaire. He wears the same sardonic grin in every painting, whether he's depicted at a young or an old age, doesn't matter. His real name was François-Marie Arouet; he...
- The Donald Versus Killary: War or Peace?
War: A Warning from the Past Although history does not exactly repeat itself, it does provide parallels and sometimes quite ominous ones. Such is the case with the current U.S. Presidential election and the one which occurred one hundred years earlier. The Donald probably has the better slogan... The dominating question which hung over the 1916 campaign was whether the country would remain neutral in regard to the horrific slaughter which was taking place on the...