Useful Resources

This is a preliminary and evolving list of a few selected resources on Turkey’s economy and politics that are (other than the books) mostly freely available over the web. The readings suggested here do not reflect endorsement of their content per se, but are meant as a beginners’ guide for those who wish to familiarize themselves with the basics of Turkish economy, politics and history… We keep updating the list in due course, so please let us know if you have any suggestions for additional links by writing to us at info@istanbulanalytics.com

  • Some general background stuff on Turkish macroeconomics…

Thinking in “decades” provides a useful perspective on the Turkish economy, like the planning and “import substitution” policies of the 1960s, which have faced bottlenecks and crises in the 1970s; and then the “Ozal Decade” — or reforms — of the 1980s targeted principally at reorienting the economy toward exports, which then also led to “Turkey’s lost decade” of the 1990s, mainly because of return of political instability and fiscal profligacy. (Here is a quick summary of all this…).

The 2001 financial crisis, which is a watershed event in Turkey’s economic and political history, makes a useful starting point for the more recent developments — or the 15+ years with AKP governments that followed — during which Turkish economy grew very rapidly first (2002-2007), but then began to lose momentum, reflecting, inter alia, lack of reform and weakening of institutions…

The Chronicle of the Turkish Financial Crises of 2000-2001 – Caroline Van Rijckeghem, Murat Ucer (and here is the pdf version: Murder-on-the-Orient-Express) might help you to gain some perspective on the 2001 crisis, which was based on interviews by key players at the time. There are numerous other, shorter ones, like here, herehere and here — and the references therein, which also explain the whys and hows of the 2001 crisis… There is also this interesting summary of an NBER meeting, held in 2001, on the crisis.

Regarding the immediate aftermath of the crisis and the implementation of the IMF program that helped Turkey recover from the 2001 crisis, useful summaries can be found here: Turkey’s Renaissance: From Banking Crisis to Economic Revival (published in Successes of the International Monetary Fund) – Hugh Bredenkamp, Mats Josefsson, and Carl-Johan Lindgren; and here: Stabilizing Stabilization – Marco Airaudo et. al.  This IMF Occasional Paper published in 2005 (unfortunately, only the abstract is available for free) provides a perspective of sorts on Turkey’s transformation and challenges ahead. (The growth chapter is particularly useful in providing some empirical support and semi-technical discussion for the above-mentioned decadal perspective…)  Turkey accumulated too much (public) debt during the 1990s, which rose sharply further in the immediate aftermath of 2001 crisis, mainly because of the banking sector crisis – an issue that is studied in detail here

Incidentally, if you want to go back a little and read on an earlier major financial (or “capital account”) crisis and develop a feel for the excesses of the 1990s, see The 1994 Currency Crisis in Turkey – Oya Celasun.

These references — Turkey’s Transitions – World Bank; Growth and economic crises in Turkey: leaving behind a turbulent past? – Mihai Macovei/European Commission; The Ups and Downs of Turkish Growth, 2002-2015 – Daron Acemoglu/Murat Ucer; How well did the Turkish economy do over the last decade? and The Turkish Economy After the Crisis — Dani Rodrik; and Observations on Turkey’s Recent Performance — Asap Savas Akat/Ege Yazgan provide perspectives on Turkey’s last 30+ (WB) and 10+ years (the latter three), respectively.

On the shorter side, Foreign Policy magazine ran a three-series Lab Report on Turkey in late 2014, while the Economist magazine did a Turkey Special Brief in early 2016.

In addition to these general backgrounders, the unconventional monetary policy practice of the past several years and the new GDP series (introduced in December 2016) have arguably been among the most popular topics. On the recent monetary policy experience, take a look at Monetary policy in Turkey after Central Bank independence — Refet Gürkaynak and Z Kantur, Anıl Tas, Seçil Yıldırım as well as these two CBRT papers, here and here – Hakan Kara. (Needless to say, the CBRT website offers numerous papers on the various aspects and the nitty-gritty of Turkey’s experimental monetary policy implementation experience since 2011…)

On Turkey’s new GDP series, see Constructing growth in New TurkeyIs New Turkey’s Growth Model From Outer Space? and Will the Real Real GDP in Turkey Please Stand Up? – Erik Meyersson; Citi Research on the new GDP series – I. Domac and G. Isiklar; Turkey’s GDP Revision: Understanding the Sources of Changes – World Bank; What Happened to the GDP Data of Turkey? – Hatice Karahan; and An Analysis of New GDP Series (in Turkish) — Z. Yukseler. For a Nowcasting model (produced before the new series was released) see this IMF paper.

  • Readings on some structural and sectoral issues…

For a general introduction on structural reforms, see Structural Reforms to Boost Turkey’s Long-Term Growth — Rauf Gonenc, Oliver Rohn, Vincent Koen, Şeref Saygili (as well as biannual OECD Country Reports on Turkey).  This structural reform case study by the IMF focuses on the experience of the past 30 years. More broadly, on the Middle Income Trap, see From Know-Who to Know-How: Turkey and the “middle-income trap”Turkish Middle Income Trap and Less Skilled Human Capital – Gokhan Yilmaz; Turkey May Not Escape From The Middle Income Trap For Long Time and Middle Income Trap Problem is Still on the Agenda — BETAM.

On the determinants of savings, see The Evolution and Determinants of the Turkish Private Saving Rate: What Lessons for Policy? — Murat Ucer, Caroline Van Rijckeghem and this Update by the latter author; and Sustaining High Growth – The Role of Domestic savings – World Bank. On structural change and industrial policy, see Structural Change and Industrial Policy in Turkey – Izak Atiyas and Ozan Bakis. On institutions, besides the above-mentioned Acemoglu-Ucer paper, see Economic Institutions and Institutional Change in Turkey during the Neoliberal Era – Izak Atiyas. On education, see PISA and Education at a Glance (OECD). On the construction sector, see The State of Property Development in Turkey: Facts and Comparisons — Demiralp et. al. On the energy sector, see this sectoral overview by International Energy Agency prepared in 2016, and this piece by the Atlantic Council’s Aaron Stein for Turkey’s regional policies (energy and foreign) toward three strategic neighbors: Russia, Iran and Iraq.

The World Bank Country Economic Memoranda (a list of which is available here) and the IMF Selected Issues papers (the last production of which is here) provide analytical studies on various structural/sectoral issues.

  • Readings on the refugee problem…

This has been a key issue for Turkey in recent years, so here are some readings on Turkey’s (Syrian) refugee challenge. The New Turks: How the Influx of Syrians is Changing Turkey – Turkish Policy Quarterly; Syrians and Labor Market Integration Dynamics in Turkey and Germany – The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF); Syrians in Turkey – The Economics of Integration – Al Sharq Forum; Syria Regional Refugee Response – Turkey – UNHCR Data Portal; Effects of the Syrian Refugees on Turkey – Orsam; The impact of Syrian refugees on the Turkish labor market – World Bank; Turkey’s Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Road Ahead – World Bank; The Impact of Refugee Crises on Host Labor Markets: The Case of the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Turkey – Institute of Labor Economics (IZA); The Rising Costs of Turkey’s Syrian Quagmire and Turkey’s Refugee Crisis: The Politics of Permanence – International Crisis Group; Syrian Refugees in Turkey: The Long Road Ahead – Transatlantic Council On Migration. And here is a recent news article from the Economist, Turkey is taking care of refugees, but failing to integrate them.

  • Conjectural reports…

As for recent developments with some very useful analytical work (like on structural issues), number of IFIs – namely IMF (once a year), World Bank (4 times a year), OECD (every other year) — produce regular reports on Turkey. There are not many official reports (by government agencies on Turkish economic developments) but CBRT’s Inflation Report and this CBRT Blog make up good sources on basic developments and data issues.  As well, these two think-tanks – TEPAV and BETAM — are most active in producing research on myriad of issues on Turkey (which also have up-to-date English websites).  Finally, while it is not on general economic developments (and is on sabbatical for the moment), Erik Meyersson’s blog provides critical perspectives on several economic and political issues, ranging from election math, to institutions, and to the (above-noted) change in the GDP series…

  • Sites to follow on day-to-day Turkish developments…

Of course, start with our site, which compiles some of the key news articles on Turkey from foreign media, but for regular news and commentary, you may want to check out the local publications Hurriyet Daily News (mainstream) and Sabah Daily (pro-government) and these two sites abroad:  Al-Monitor Turkey-pulse and The Turkey Analyst. The website “War-on-the-Rocks” produces occasional articles on the current political developments in Turkey…

  • Places to get Turkish macro data…

The main source on Turkey’s real sector and trade data is Turkish Statistical Institute (TURKSTAT). There are two main sources for fiscal data: the Treasury for “cash” budget, financing, the so-called program (IMF)-defined primary balance and various debt/borrowing data; and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for detailed budget data. The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) provides money banking and financial data as well as balance of payments and related statistics, tendency surveys and some real sector statistics like closely watched FX assets and liabilities of the non-corporate sector.

For banking sector data there are two other sources: Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BRSA) and The Bank Association of Turkey (TBB). You can also access a myriad of data from various official sources compiled by the CBRT’s Electronic Data Delivery System (EDDS). Apart from the EDDS, you can also find stock exchange and interest rate data on the web site of Borsa İstanbul.

For longer term statistics, you can have a look at the web site of Ministry of Development (MoD).

And if you want all this in one neat place at a very affordable price 😜, contact us at team@turkeydatamonitor.com, which is run by one of us…

  • General, lengthier readings with a focus on history and politics?

For general background, Andrew Finkel’s What Everyone Needs to Know is one of the best ones to start with, along with these two classics — by Erik J. Zurcher and Norman Stone… The latter, in a Five Books interview conducted in 2011, has 4 additional books to offer on Turkish history… A 2009 Foreign Affairs piece by Ian O. Lesser, currently of the GMF, gives a list of: What to Read on Turkish Politics, so does Hugh Pope in Five Books… Novelist Elif Safak has a list, too, also on Five Books, on the more cultural dimension. (Note that these latter interviews have been conducted some time ago, in 2011 and 2010, respectively.)  This relatively recent website — turkeybooktalk — has nice podcasts of various books on Turkey…

More recently, intelligence service Stratfor has released a short overview (July 2017) of latest developments in Turkish politics and economy.

Regarding more specific issues, on the EU-Turkey relations, see Turkey-EU Relations – Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Turkey and the European Union – A Journey in the Unknown – Brookings.  For the European Commission page on Turkey, click here.  For an older reference that seeks to put things in perspective back in 2005, admittedly during a much more promising and hopeful time, see The European Transformation of Modern Turkey – Kemal Dervis, et. al. as well as the series of working papers (on sectors like agriculture, banking etc.) produced then. For a very recent overview from the Atlantic Council, written by a former British Ambassador to Turkey, Turkey’s European Journey, click here.

On the U.S.-Turkey relations, see The U.S. and Turkey — Friends, Enemies, or Only Interests — Brookings and Beyond the Myth of Partnership: Rethinking U.S. Policy Toward Turkey — Bipartisan Policy Center.

For some background on Turkey’s two notorious political cases, see this article by Claire Belinski on F. Gulen (2012) and this article by Gareth H. Jenkins (2011) on the Ergenekon-Sledgehmmer trials… For Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian quagmire, see these pieces Turkey’s Syrian Predicament by the Atlantic Council and Operation Euphrates Shield: Lessons Learned by EDAM.

Stay tuned, as we keep updating this list…