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Italy’s current economic crisis

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The day of reckoning has now come for the Italian economic crisis, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related lockdown.

As the Italian Statistical Institute (ISTAT) showed, 34% of Italian production has been negatively affected. The activity and operations of 2.2 million companies, accounting for 49% of the total, have also been suspended, but 65% of the entire export business has been closed.

This means that Italy’s economic system is changing.

All this has stopped – hopefully temporarily – the work of 7.4 million employees (44.3% of the total number of private employees not directly working in offices) and, along with the fear of coronavirus, it has obviously had a snowball effect, which has soon greatly reduced the confidence rate of consumers and businesses.

Production has been stopped for 34.2% of companies and the same holds true for 27.1% of value added.

 Therefore, considering the general lockdown envisaged, the fall in jobs currently affects 385,000 workers, 46,000 of whom are irregular, to the tune of 9 billion euros of wages.

The most affected sectors have been catering and accommodation (-11.3%), logistics, transport and trade (-2.7%).

 With sectoral closures envisaged until June, the overall reduction in value added amounts to 4.5%.

 The employees affected by definitive closures will be 900,000 approximately, 103,000 of whom are irregular, for a total amount of 20.8 billion euros of lost wages.

That is where the complex and long-standing E.U. issue comes in.

If we consider all the possible and already proposed E.U. funds, we are talking about 100 billion euro of resources, while it is very likely that Italy may have a “firepower” to generate credits and funds up to 300 billion euros. It would need them all and probably they will not be enough.

We should also consider the future 172 billion euros from the Recovery Fund.

The Conte II government has so far mobilized – albeit with badly drafted, superficial and even naïve rules and regulations – about 75 billion euros of resources, all based on budget deficit.

The so-called Cura Italia decree of last March “mobilized” 25 billion euros and 55 billion euros were mobilized with the recovery Decree of last May.

Certainly not everyone has yet reached this money – sometimes not even many of them. The funding to companies -shambolic and all foolishly used through the banking system, which is structurally inefficient – reminds us of what a great Lombard entrepreneur used to say years ago: “What do we industrialists ask of the State? That it gets out of the way”.

 The European Funds from SURE, the European Investment Bank and the European Stability Mechanism will mobilize about 270 billion euros throughout the European Union, with a share for Italy equal to 96 billion euros.

They are certainly not enough to rebuild the production system and compensate for damage.

 SURE is currently worth around 20 billion euros for Italy alone, but only to finance the Redundancy Fund, while 40 billion euros will be the Italian share of the 200 billion funds provided by the EIB only for SMEs.

 Therefore, Italy will go into debt – albeit on favourable terms -but not to get what it really needs.

 The rest will certainly have to be borrowed on the financial markets and with our own public debt securities which, however, at maturity will be secondary to the ESM or EIB loans.

Another key problem is that if and when – but it will happen anyway- the standard rules of the Stability Pact are back in place, we will be left with a very high debt, but still liable to all the reprimands of both the “markets” and the E.U. which, at that juncture, may also revise the terms and conditions of the loans already in place.

 For Italy, the Recovery Fund could make available the above stated 172 billion euros, of which 90 billion of loans and 81 billion of grants.

At the end of 2020, however, the Italian public debt will rise by as many as 15 points of GDP.

Why? Firstly, because the denominator will obviously be lower: the economic downturn resulting from the coronavirus crisis will be much wider than the one occurred in 2008, with a very severe 5.3% decrease compared to the GDP recorded in 2008.

Currently Confindustria, the General Confederation of Italian Industry, estimates a 6% drop in Gross Domestic Product, while Goldman Sachs estimates a 11.6% fall.

 Obviously there is also the inevitable increase in public spending, which is another public debt problem, hoping that speculation will stay calm – which is unlikely. There will also be a sharp drop in tax revenue.

 For example, it is estimated that 20% of the professionals registered with professionals Rolls and Associations risks being forced out of the market. It is no small matter. Other associations in the sector provide similar data.

Hence, if we assume a 6% GDP reduction, the debt-to-GDP ratio would rise from the 135% of late 2019 to at least over 153% at the end of 2020.

 With an11% GDP fall, the debt-to-GDP ratio in late 2020 would be equal to 163%.

Obviously, in such a context, even pending the suspension of the Stability Pact, Italy’s debt would be very hard to support.

Here the problem also lies in primary surplus. According to our data, even if we assume a limited 2.5% GDP rebound in 2021, with an unchanged cost of debt (2.6% in this case) there would be the absolute need for primary surpluses of at least 2.3% and 2.6%, respectively, in the case being studied of a 9% fall in GDP and also in case of an 11% collapse.

 In other words, the government should cut public spending always below 40 billion euros compared to taxation. This is impossible.

Therefore, we must necessarily monetise the extra-deficit with the ECB -monetise and not postpone payment until maturity – but for a very long period of time and for amounts that will probably be much higher than the current ones. It will also be necessary to issue common E.U. debt securities.

 Otherwise the markets, which have already laughed at a currency that has not even a common taxation and a single public budget rule, will pounce on the poor wretched Euro and destroy it.

 Then there is the ECB. On June 4, 2020 it announced the expansion of the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP) from 750 to 1,350 billion euros and also its extension until June 2021 and, in any case, until the end of the emergency situation.

However, there is additional data to analyse. Firstly, the current PEPP share mobilized for each E.U. Member State in the March-May 2020 quarter still corresponds, in essence, to the capital key.

The capital key is the mechanism whereby the ECB purchases sovereign debt in proportion to each country’s ECB share. The key is calculated according to the size of a Member State in relation to the European Union as a whole. The size is measured by population and gross domestic product in equal parts. In this way, each national Central Bank has a fair share in the ECB’s total capital.

 With two significant exceptions for the time being: France in a negative senseand Italy in a positive sense.

In other words, France is actually supporting Italy’s public debt. Obviously it cannot last long.

Even in the Italian debt case, however, the PEPP share does not seem to be as high as usually believed.

 The maximum absorption has long been recorded by the TLTRO purchase programme. Indeed, these are short-term operations and the markets know they will end soon.

What next? There is no alternative option.

Let us not even talk about the possibility that, based on the pressure from the so-called “thrifty countries”, well led by Germany, this mechanism may stop all of a sudden.

There is also another factor that should be better studied in Italy, namely the ruling of the German Constitutional Court based in Karlsruhe.

As made it very clear by the German Constitutional Court, it concerns the ECB programme known as Public Sector Purchase Programme (PSPP).

Created in 2015, it is still operational. It is not yet known for how much longer, to the delight of speculators.

On points of law, the German Constitutional Court challenged the 2018 judgment of the European Court of Justice, in which the Luxembourg judges considered the ECB’s intervention unlawful, but rather deemed that the E.U. Court should only confine itself to the actions and deeds manifestly exceeding the limits set by the Treaties and the ECB Statute.

 Therefore, the issue at stake in the current Karlsruhe ruling concerns the principle of proportionality (Article 5 TEU).

Based on the principle of proportionality, in fact, the E.U. can take action in “shared competence areas” (which are listed in Article 4 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) only if and insofar as the objectives of the proposed action cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, but can rather be better achieved at E.U. level.

Certainly the monetary policy strictly falls within the E.U. and ECB competence, but the ECB’s action has inevitable repercussions on economic policy, which is in any case a shared competence area.

Hence, as the Karlsruhe judges maintain, the issue lies in defining whether the ECB enjoys independence even in relation to the treaties establishing it or whether the ECB itself should in any case follow the principles of the E.U. system to which it belongs.

 In essence, it is a matter of keeping fiscal and monetary policy still separate, and this is scientifically difficult. The dream of every badly aged and old-fashioned monetarist.

In essence, however, the Karlsruhe ruling tells us that the Euro area is sub-optimal(as we already knew, since Robert Mundell’s model certainly does not apply to the E.U. and the Euro) and is in any case not representative.

We have already known it, too, and indeed for a long time.

 The Euro is now a handicap for most E.U. Member States except Germany.

 The system of fixed rates with the European currency enables Germany to be increasingly competitive on the export side, in the absence of mechanisms to readjust foreign trade balances.

 Moreover, there is not even a real and homogeneous tax policy in the E.U.Member States, not to mention the ban on funding the Member States’ debt, which was established as far as the Maastricht Treaty.

With a view to avoiding this ECB funding mechanism, which may be rational but is illegal under the E.U. Treaties, Germany basically asks us to sell the public debt securities purchased by the ECB before their maturity.

That is fine, but it only means that a Member State’s debt can never be cancelled by purchasing the securities through its Central Bank.

Hence the securities continue to exist and be painstakingly renewed or possibly continue to re-enter the market.

Facts are facts, however, and without Mario Draghi’s quantitative easing (QE), France, for example, could certainly not have 32% of its public debt been bought back by the Eurosystem.

 When all E.U.Member States’ securities reach maturity, other ones are always purchased, so that the exposure remains around 33% and Germany is happy with this strict compliance with the law.

This 33% limit is self-imposed by the ECB so as to avoid one of the Karlsruhe conditions, i.e. the national voting thresholds, within the ECB, for rescheduling the debt of an individual State.

 It should be noted, however, that the ECB funds the absorption of E.U. countries’ public debt with the creation of money ex nihilo, like all Central Banks in the world. Nevertheless,this is still explicitly prohibited by the Treaties, but is barely justified, at legal level, with the aim of curbing inflation.

 An economic ideology which is now very old-style, but still very fashionable within the European Central Bank.

The various ECB sovereign debt purchase programmes are already worth over 1,000 billion euros, accounting for 8% of the entire Euro area.

However, with a view to really operating in this area, the ECB must also get rid of the German Constitutional Court’s first ruling of 2017, namely the 33% limit and hence the obligation to put the purchased securities back into circulation immediately after the end of the pandemic.

Reselling, on the secondary market, the securities still maturing would cancel all the monetisation benefits, but a new PEPP will be needed in the future, without quantitative limits and for a long period of time.

 And the ruling of the German Constitutional Court and Germany itself, with or without “Nordic” or “thrifty” watchdogs, will certainly get in the way. Hence for Italy (and France) there will not be much room for manoeuvre.

 The Fourth Reich is advancing not with the overheated “Tiger” tanks or with the Pervitinephedrine drugs, but with the monetary game on a non-rational currency.

Germany, however, said a very clear “no” to this process of debt repurchase and absorption, precisely with the Karlsruhe ruling of May 5.

The current PEPP is already outlawed under German law. We need to remember it or Germany will make us remember it.

 Italy, however, will not survive within the Euro area without QE, PEPP or any other trickery may be devised by the European Central Bank. The same holds true for France, although it still does not say so clearly.

 When, at the end of the three months allowed by the ruling of the German Constitutional Court, the Bundesbank withdraws from the purchase operations, it will obviously start again to put several thousand Bunds purchased with the ECB back on the market.

The sales of these securities will make rates rise in Germany, an increase that will be counteracted by the flight of Italian and French capital to buy German debt.

 At that juncture, Germany itself will autonomously carry out controls on capital, which is tantamount to paving the way for its exit from the Euro.

 What about the United States? At the end of 2019, before the lockdown, the share of speculative debt at high default risk amounted to 5,200 billion U.S. dollars.

Over the last two months of Covid-19 crisis, 1,600 companies a day have gone bankrupt in the United States, while consumer debt – a sort of crazy magic wand for American spending – has decreased by at least 2 billion U.S. dollars per month.

It is a severe drop for those who foolishly live on debt, not to mention that in late 2019 consumption was worth 75% of the U.S. GDP.

Therefore, considering the close correlation existing between consumer credit and consumption – and hence GDP – in the United States, there will almost certainly be a further crisis in companies’ solvency there.

 Since 2008 FED’s interventions have been worth 7,000 billion U.S. dollars, and the financial assets on the U.S. market are worth approximately 120 trillion dollars, i.e. 5.5 times the North American GDP.

Hence, not even the United States will give us a chance to find a way out or an exit strategy.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Future of Mid Size Business Economies & Bureaucracies of the World

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The Agrarian age morphed into an industrial age over a millennia, sometime later industrial age advanced to computer age in another century,  but now from cyber-age to advance into a new paper-less, cash-less, office-less and work-less age seems like an arrival in the coming days.

As if, like a revenge of The Julian Calendar, time like a tsunami drowning us in our own depths of performance, challenging our lifelong learning and exposing our critical thinking but only forcing us to fathom the pace of change, swim or drown.

Flat earth finally accepted as a sphere after a million years, but nowin the future, possibly, more like a digital cube of six parallel dimensions, a new perception of world-economic-order appears.Awaits a new horizon, where in simultaneous synchronization the digital platform economies, where borderless skills expanding boundary less commerce and productivity standards worthy of globally competitive edges. This is when transnational global public opinion selects the future of national economies driving global-age triangulating of latest new upskilling crushing old thinking and old models. 

Visible primarily to the entrepreneurial mindsets, therefore such thinking always searches for collaborative assemblies of all of the various talents and skills required to mobilize national programs to advance such transformations for common good.  National mobilization of entrepreneurialism expands the commonality and clarity of vision across the nation for a unified goal.  Digitization creates platforms and ease of operations.

 Some 200 nations are struggling for answers to the post pandemic recovery; only miniscule percentages have the critical meritocracies levels fit enough to uplift front line economic development agencies and navigate their midsize economies.  The majority of nations are simply drowning in fermented bureaucracies, outdated-mindsets, fearful of change and deeply silent to face new narratives but still methodically slowing local midsize economies and strangling global growth.

The global economic damage now openly visible primarily caused by lack of digitization, absence of understanding national mobilization of entrepreneurialism on platform economies and lack of global-age skills are all creating economic havoc, therefore, with all solutions, almost free digitization and blueprints available only meritocracy will save face.

Bureaucracies leave no room to fight the climate change issues; national treasuries badly need thriving midsize business economies to fund the climate change fights. Now the growth of small medium businesses, blocked by bureaucracies across the world, with no room to fight climate change urgently needs meritocracy across governments of the world, creating global-age speed of progress to save the future.  Investments on such digitalization, mobilization and transformation gaps are not necessarily impossible amounts of new funding from treasury but rather a call for political leadership with skillful execution and mastery of mobilization. What is stopping and where are the solutions?

The world economies are visibly suffering while political leaderships shy to dig deep on the root cause. The election cycles only repeated. Change postponed. Missing now are the post pandemic bold new narratives not for finger-pointing but collaborative amalgamation of talents and resources to fit the new world. No nation can do it alone.

What takes seconds in digital age processing is taking weeks and months in paper-based, floor-by-floor, rubber-stamping-approval-culture, creating chasms of digital-divides already struggling with mental divides. The magnitudes of losses of opportunity at certain geographical points are 1000 times greater than replacement costs of a brand new economic development agency.

However, de we let the trees fall in the forest, no matter how critical the tactical needs of advancements or how urgently the answers needed, each aspect calling for multilayered global scale virtual events to table solutions, here are three bold suggestions; 

ONE: Forest fires always put out by creating more selected fires; study deeply, government and bureaucracy with visible skill gaps need undisturbed bureaucracy and to remain parked, while creating a far superior brand new meritocracy centric digital firefighting unit to act at the top and bring required results. The motivated and transformational talent will percolate towards the top.

TWO: Fear of exposure of talent is the number one fear of digitization. When procedures linger for decades on paper-based processing the management skills slowly end up only as a single rubber-stamp. Digitization eliminates that instantly, hence the resistance. No redundancy policy will save the day; all departments ensured staying provided upskilling and reskilling meticulously observed to create the digitization transformation.

THREE: Incentivizing all frontline management of all midsize business economic development and foreign investment attraction and export promotion bodies is a requirement of time. The world is spinning too fast and opportunity losses are extremely large, here creative entrepreneurial mindset required. Observe the power of entrepreneurial mindset in the driver seat, deploy national mobilization of midsize economies, accept upskilling as a national mandate, and digitization as national pride.

Conclusion: No need to panic, as the swing of the global pendulum on real value creation productivity, performance and profitability is the true driver of grassroots prosperity, capable enough of solving global climate change challenges and keeping the global economic order. Needed are the new bold and open narratives by the global institutions, like, UN, IFC, WTO, OECD, UNIDO, ICCWBO, Worldbank, chambers and trade groups, and major global Banks and to apply an entrepreneurial mindset criterion in dialogue to figure out applicable options. Economic development leadership across the world also has some new thinkers and visionary rising to claim their roles in this future.  

The challenge is to find the right mindsets, as scratch-n-sniff policies out of old dysfunctional case studies and insecurity based academic feasibilities will only take another decade to the next pandemic.  Time for action is right now, like today.

The rest is easy. 

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Afghan crisis: Changing geo-economics of the neighbourhood

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The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has caused a rapid reshuffle in the geo-economics of South, Central and West Asia. While the impact on the Afghan economy has been profound, triggering inflation and cash shortage, it’s bearing on Afghanistan’s near neighbourhood has wider far-reaching consequences. The US spent almost $24 billion on the economic development of Afghanistan over the course of 20 years. This together with other international aid has helped the country to more than double its per capita GDP from $900 in 2002 to $2,100 in 2020. As a major regional player, India had invested around $3 billion in numerous developmental projects spanning across all the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Indian presence was respected and valued by the ousted Afghan dispensation. With the US, India and many other countries deciding to close their embassies in Afghanistan and the US deciding to freeze Afghanistan’s foreign reserves amounting to $9.5 billion, the economy of the country has hit a grinding halt. IMF too has declared that Kabul won’t be able to access the $370 million funding which was agreed on earlier. The emerging circumstances are ripe for China and Pakistan to cut inroads into the war-torn country as the rest of the world watches mutely.

Beijing’s major gain would be the availability of Afghanistan as a regional connector in its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) linking the economies of Central Asia, Iran and Pakistan. Afghanistan is already a member of the BRI with the first Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016. Only limited projects were conducted in Afghanistan under the initiative till now due to security concerns, geographic conditions and the government’s affinity towards India. Chinese officials have repeatedly expressed interest in Afghanistan joining the CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), a signature undertaking of the BRI. CPEC is a $62 billion project which would link Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province to China’s western Xinjiang region. The plan includes power plants, an oil pipeline, roads and railways that improves trade and connectivity in the region.

China also eyes at an estimated $1 trillion mineral deposits in Afghanistan, which includes huge reserves of lithium, a key component for electric vehicles. This mineral wealth is largely untapped due lack of proper networks and unstable security conditions long-prevalent in the country. Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted Taliban representatives in late June in Tianjin to discuss reconciliation and reconstruction process in Afghanistan. Taliban reciprocated by inviting China to “play a bigger role in future reconstruction and economic development” of the country. After the fall of Kabul, China has kept its embassy open and declared it was ready for friendly relations with the Taliban. It had also announced that it would send $31 million worth of food and health supplies to Afghanistan to tide over the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Pakistan, a close ally of China, has on its part has sent supplies such as cooking oil and medicines to the Afghan authorities. Pakistan having strong historical ties with the Taliban will possibly play a crucial role in furthering Chinese ambitions..

The immediate economic fallout of the crisis for Iran is its reduced access to hard currency from Afghanistan. After the imposition of US sanctions, Afghanistan had been an important source of dollars for Iran. Reports suggest that hard currency worth $5million was being transferred to Iran daily before the Taliban takeover. Now the US has put a freeze on nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to Afghan Central Bank and stopped shipment of cash to the country. The shortage of hard currency is likely to affect the exchange rates in Iran subsequently building up inflationary pressure. Over the years, Afghanistan had emerged as a major destination for Iran’s non-oil exports amounting to $2billion a year. A prolonged crisis would curb demand in Afghanistan including that of Iranian goods with a likely reduction in the trade volume between the two countries. In effect, Iran would find itself increasingly isolated from foreign governments and international financial flows.

India had been the wariest regional spectator watching its $3 billion investment in Afghanistan go up in smoke. Long-standing hostility with Pakistan has prevented land-based Indian trade with Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republic’s (CAR’s). Push by India and other stakeholders for setting a common agenda for alternate connectivity appears susceptible at the moment. India has been working with Iran to develop Chabahar port in the Arabian sea and transport goods shipped from India to Afghanistan and Central Asia through the proposed Chabahar-Zahedan-Mashhad railway line. India is also working with Russia on the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200 km long multi-mode network of ship, rail and road routes for freight movement, whereby Indian goods are received at Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar, moves northward via rail and road through Iran and Azerbaijan and meets the Trans-Siberian rail network that will allow access to the European markets. According to the latest reports, the Taliban declined to join talks with India, Iran and Uzbekistan on Chabahar port and North-South Transport Corridor, which has cast shadow on the Indian interests in the region. India’s trade with Afghanistan had steadily increased to reach the US $1.5 billion in 2019–2020. An unfriendly administration and demand constraints may slow down the trade between the two countries.

With the US withdrawal, the CARs would find their strategic and economic autonomy curtailed and more drawn into the regional power struggle between China and Russia. While China has many infrastructure projects in Central Asia to its credit, Russia is trying to woo Central Asian countries into the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), though so far it was able to rope in only Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. CARs would need better connectivity through Afghanistan and Iran to diversify their trade relations with Indo-Pacific nations and to have better leverage to bargain with Russia and China. Uzbekistan, the most fervent of the CARs to demand increased connectivity with South Asia, expressed its interest in joining the Chabahar project in 2020, which was duly welcomed by India. The new developments in Afghanistan would force these countries to remodel their strategies to suit the changed geopolitical realities.

The fact that Iran is getting closer to China by signing a 25-Year Comprehensive Strategic Partnership cooperation agreement in 2020 adds yet another dimension to the whole picture. India’s hesitancy to recognize or engage with the Taliban makes it unpredictable what the future holds for India-Afghan relations.

The hasty US exit has caused rapid reorientation in the geopolitical and geo-economic status-quo of the region. Most countries were unprepared to handle the swiftness of the Taliban takeover and were scrambling for options to deal with the chaos. The lone exception was China which held talks with the Taliban as early as July, 28 weeks before the fall of Kabul, to discuss the reconstruction of the war-torn country. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also took a high-profile tour to Central Asia in mid-July which extensively discussed the emerging situation in Afghanistan with Central Asian leaders. Since the West has passed the buck, it’s up to the regional players to restore the economic stability in Afghanistan and ensure safe transit routes through the country. Any instability in Afghanistan is likely to have harrowing repercussions in the neighbourhood, as well.

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Turkish Economy as the Reset Button of Turkish Politics

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Democracy has a robust relationship with economic growth.  Barrington Moore can be seen as one of the leading scholars focusing on the relationship between political development and economic structure with his book titled “Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy” first published in 1966. According to Moore, there are three routes from agrarianism to the modern industrial world. In the capitalist democratic route, exemplified by England, France, and the United States, the peasantry was politically impotent or had been eradicated all together, and a strong bourgeoisie was present, and the aristocracy allied itself with the bourgeoisie or failed to oppose democratizing steps. In Moore’s book, you can find out why some countries have developed as democracies and others as dictatorships.

It can be argued that economic development facilitates democratization. Following this argument, this article is an attempt to address the Turkish case with the most recent discussions going on in the country. One of the most powerful instruments used by the political opposition today is the rhetoric of “economic crisis” that has also been supported by public opinion polls and data. For instance, the leader of İYİ Party Meral Akşener has organized lots of visits to different regions of Turkey and has been posting videos on her social media account showing the complaints mostly centering around unemployment and high inflation. According to Akşener, “Turkey’s economic woes – with inflation above 15%, high unemployment and a gaping current account deficit – left no alternative to high rates.”

Another political opposition leader, Ahmet Davutoğlu raised voice of criticism via his social media account, saying “As if monthly prices hikes on natural gas were not enough, they have introduced 15% increase on electricity costs. It is as if the government vowed to do what it can to take whatever the citizens have.”

A recent poll reveals that about 65 percent think the economic crisis and unemployment problem are Turkey’s most urgent problems. Literature on the relationship between democracy and economic well-being shows that a democratic regime becomes more fragile in countries where per capita income stagnates or declines. It is known that democracies are more powerful among the economically developed countries.

The International Center for Peace and Development summarizes the social origins of democracy in global scale as the following:

“Over the past two centuries, the rise of constitutional forms of government has been closely associated with peace, social stability and rapid socio-economic development. Democratic countries have been more successful in living peacefully with their neighbors, educating their citizens, liberating human energy and initiative for constructive purposes in society, economic growth and wealth generation.”

Turkey’s economic problems have been on the agenda for a long time. Unlike what has been claimed by the Minister of Interior Affairs Süleyman Soylu a few months ago, Turkish economy has not reached to the level which would make United States and Germany to become jealous of Turkey. Soylu had said, “You will see, as of July, our economy will take such a leap and growth in July that Germany, France, England, Italy and especially the USA, which meddles in everything, will crack and explode.”

To make a long story short, it can be said that the coronavirus pandemic has exerted a major pressure on the already fragile economy of Turkey and this leads to further frustration among the Turkish electorate. The next elections will not only determine who will shape the economic structure but will also show to what level Turkish citizens have become unhappy about the ongoing “democratic politics.” In other words, it can be said that, Turkish economy can be seen as the reset button of Turkish politics for the upcoming elections.

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