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Turkey Fact of the Day

“Take the results of a new poll by Tesev, a think-tank which studies society and religion: the number of Turks who put their Muslim identity first has risen to 45% from 36% in 1999; but over the same period the number of people who favoured sharia law dropped from 21% to 9%.”
- From The Economist, The pope's controversial trip to Turkey

Allure of Islam Signals a Shift Within Turkey

A Real Liberal Under Attack in Turkey for Defending Freedom

“Kemalist secularism is not well understood by Americans and Europeans. As Atilla put it some years ago (about ten, I think) at a seminar I organized for him at the Cato Institute, “People say that you have separation of church and state in America and we have separation of mosque and church and state in Turkey. In America, that means freedom of religion. In Turkey, it means freedom from religion. There is a great difference between the two.” Private property, contract, and limited government should create the framework for people to decide on their own, through voluntary cooperation, whether and how to build a mosque, a church, a synagogue, or anything else. Such decisions should not be made by state officials.”

The Pope, The Condescending, and Closet-Intolerance

Podcast of the Day- Lecture 3 Reform and Deregulation

The Boyer lectures by Ian Macfarlene, former governor of Reserve Bank of Australia, continuos;
By the 1970s the world's developed economies were stuck in the worst position they had been in since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Australia shared this experience but, propelled by a program of reform and deregulation, it slowly became competitive again and began to register strong rates of growth. In this environment the corporate sector embarked on an era of heightened activity, driven by massive borrowings, takeovers and mergers. It is now apparent that the implications of sudden financial deregulation were not fully understood, and the dawn of the 1990s would bring with it new challenges for those charged with navigating the twin hazards of boom and bust.

Listen to the podcast. Some excerpts below;

“Let me digress for a moment to discuss another epithet routinely applied by those opposed to economic reasoning, which is to refer to economics as the dismal science. Whenever I hear this term, I wonder how many people who use it know its origin. It was coined by Thomas Carlyle, in 1849, in an essay called, Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question, in which he argued for the reintroduction of slavery into the West Indies. He viewed the former slaves as 'indolent, two-legged cattle, who should be subject to the beneficent whip'. It is extraordinary that the author of these views which were reactionary and racist even by the standards of 1849, should have had the temerity to refer to his opponents, the most prominent of whom was John Stuart Mill, as representing the dismal science, when all they were doing was arguing that freed slaves should have the same rights as other free people. Mill wrote a reply to Carlyle expressing views that would be widely held today, but unfortunately it is Carlyle's throwaway line that has endured, not Mills' sensible reply….

Mexico Facts of the Day

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Mexico is the country of inequality. No where does there exist such a fearful difference in the distribution of fortune, civilization, cultivation of the soil, and population.”
- Alexander von Humboldt, Problems And Progress in Mexico, c. 1800

In Mexico the law is an aspiration, not the norm. We made many laws to look good, not to obey them. There is no public condemnation of lawbreakers.”- Bernardo León, a lawyer who advised Mr Fox on judicial reform.

- By most estimates, as many as 80 percent of Mexicans do not have bank accounts.

- Compared with countries that have similar levels of development, World Bank figures show that Mexico is well behind Brazil and Chile in an important measure of banking activity — private credit as a percentage of total output. In Mexico that figure was 18 percent in 2003, compared with almost 40 percent in Brazil.

- Mexican workers are only a third as productive as those in the United States. Foreign direct investment, apart from a couple of big bank takeovers, has fallen from 3.5% of GDP in 1994 to less than 2% a decade later.

- The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that remittances from Mexicans abroad will total $24 billion this year, about a third more than the flow of foreign direct investment

Ukraine and fiscal space for growth

A recent World Bank report on Ukraine- Creating Fiscal Space for Growth: A Public Finance Review;

“Recent economic and fiscal trends in Ukraine, combined with the financing requirements of the reform agenda, have brought fiscal pressures to the fore. Ukraine’s economy grew by more than 50 percent between 1999 and 2004, but growth decelerated from 12.1 percent in 2004 to 2.6 percent in 2005. Contributing to this slowdown were less favorable terms of trade dynamics (in particular for metal prices)1 and a substantial deceleration in investment demand (partly as a result of uncertainty about government policies and cutbacks in public investment). Despite the recovery of the economy in the first semester of 2006 (5 percent growth y/y), the short term outlook is still threatened by potential further increases in energy prices in 2007. At the same time, increasing public spending threatens to crowd out the private sector. Driven by hikes in pensions and public sector wages, public spending soared from 39.4 to 44 percent of GDP in 2005, placing significant pressure on public finances. This high public spending and its consumption orientation risks generating inflationary impulses and higher interest rates, and eroding household wealth. Ukraine also has a high tax burden which discourages the private sector.”


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