Category Archives: Economics

Unutilised Youth in Emerging Markets

I consider myself quite lucky that I can travel to many countries throughout the year for business and pleasure.

I had the chance to visit Athens after almost four years for a weekend and lately I was in Istanbul for a week. One of my latest observations is  that emerging countries, such as Greece and Turkey, are unable to utilise their very well educated youth not only in the labour force, but also in the social arena.

Consider Greece… Youth unemployment is close to 45 per cent and overall unemployment is around 25 per cent.

Consider Spain… Youth unemployment is close to 50 per cent and overall unemployment is around 22 per cent.

And finally Turkey… Youth unemployment is around 20 per cent and overall unemployment is around 10 percent.

A common point among all these countries—besides the fact that they are all Mediterranean—is that they have a highly educated minority youth population, whether they be not fully utilised in the labour force and inactive in the country’s social arena, or fully utilised in the labour force (very few of them), but again inactive in the social arena.

To be sure, a minority of the minority is active in the both arena and this is huge loss for these countries in closing the gap between them and highly developed nations.

Another common point among these countries is that there have been coup attempts and coups in their recent histories: a coup attempt in Spain in 1982, a coup in Greece in 1967–1974, and most recently, a coup attempt in Turkey in 2016.

Whether we like it or not, the common history of violence and coups has pushed the youth of these countries away from voluntary social  work and has made them completely apolitical, as well as more individualistic and disinterested in local/global issues.

Given that they are living in much better conditions than their peers, these groups of people live completely for themselves, make fun of everything and, more significantly, do not produce much.

It is no secret that all societies are becoming more individualistic, irrespective of the culture and countries that we live in, but it is always important to feed the soul as well as the stomach.

We should reincorporate these youths back into society and grow together! Unfortunately, I do not have a concrete plan to act upon, but I have the ambition to start somewhere!

All the best from a beautiful Mediterrean country.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Lecturing in China

I was honoured to give a short lecture on wealth management last week in Beijing at Renmin University. It was my first time in Beijing and I wish I could have spent more time discovering the city, but giving a short lecture was definitely more accommodating.

This has been my second teaching experience; my first one was in late 2014 at Singapore Management University.

Public speaking skill is a virtue which I really want to develop further, as it is always good to give back to society and meeting younger people to connect with different generations is always a great opportunity.

My session took about 45 minutes and I spoke about various aspects of wealth management such as its challenges and the opportunities ahead, along with its advantages and disadvantages compared to other departments in an ordinary bank.

What I am amazed by was the quality of the questions and the level of spoken English in the class.

It was such a good experience and I hope to avail of similar opportunities more regularly.

Thank you Eric Sim for the invitation!

All the best from Sri Lanka.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Book Review: Homo Deus

After reading Yuval Harari’s book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind early this year, it was almost impossible not to read his next book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow as soon as it is published and I can get it.

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Homo Deus is the second book written by Harari and talks about the future of mankind. Since Deus is “God” in Latin, he argues in his book that a new religion called Dataism to raise and humans will not need gods anymore since we will very accurately predict what will happen or who will do what by the help of gather data.

The book starts with striking statistics about the past and the present. Almost three million people–15% of the French population–starved to death between 1692 and 1694.  Today, more people are dying of diabetes, which is linked to being overweight rather than a result of starvation.  According to Harari, in 2014 more than two billion people were overweight compared to 850 million who suffered from malnutrition. Half of humankind is expected to be overweight by 2030.

Some of the quotes from the book that I really liked:

“Sugar is more dangerous than gunpowder”

“We don’t become satisfied by leading a peaceful and prosperous existence. Rather, we become satisfied when reality matches our expectations. The bad news is that as conditions improve, expectations balloon”

Does the above quote remind you of someone?

“Historians don’t ignore objective factors such as climate changes and genetic mutations, but they give much greater importance to the stories people invention and believe”

Like in his first book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, in Homo Deus Harari emphasizes the power of stories whether they are true or not. Actually my interpretation is; the less likely they are true and superficial, the more likely the people will listen.

Another point Harari argues is that humankind’s definition of knowledge has kept changing since the Agricultural Revolution. We were simple creatures during this time, so knowledge for reading the scriptures and applying and applying our logic.

“Knowledge= Scriptures x Logic”

Then the Scientific Revolution came and everything focused on collecting data and trying to find meaning for the gathered data.

“Knowledge = Empirical Data x Mathematics”

Finally in 21st century, as much as we are confident about ourselves, we care more about our life experiences and our sensitivities.

Another provocative fact that Harari argues is that there is no free will, and that free will can be manipulated. With the help of technology and data, machines know much better than what we will do or choose. Harari argues that companies are using this to manipulate us. In other words, Harari says what you think you want to do may not be really what you want to do.

He strengthens these points in the following sentence: “We are about to face a flood of extremely useful devices, tools and structures that make no allowance for the free will of individual humans”

Fascinating and provocative! Isn’t it!?

Harari also argues “In the 21st century we might witness the creation of a new massive class: people devoid of any economic, political or even artistic value, who contribute nothing to the prosperity, power and glory of society”  I personally did not get this point. Since societies are manipulated, how can they have this massive new class?

Some other provocative thoughts in the book are about collecting personal data.  Harari states “In the 21st century our personal data is probably the most valuable resource most humans still have to offer, and we are giving it to the tech giants in exchange for email services and funny cat videos”

“After 300 likes, Facebook algorithm can predict your opinions better than your husband or wife!

Yuval Harari is a young and great visionary writer. He definitely make my 2016 and led me to think as well as learn a lot!  He offers great opportunities for readers to think and learn. Harari’s Homo Deus is highly recommended.  His first book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is suggested as a prerequisite to Homo Deus.

I believe he will be in Istanbul on January, 25th which I am planning to fly and meet him in person!

Best Regards from Singapore.
Sukru Haskan

Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Can Singapore model be applied in Turkey?

Following from my last article, I would like to find some answers as to whether Turkey could replicate the success of Suzhou Industrial Park in Diyarbakir.

Actually, some work has already been carried out in this field.

A reputable businessman and philanthropist, Erdal Aksoy, aims to replicate the project in Diyarbakir in order to create an eco-system for 1 million people in the region, including Syrian migrants.

Turkey has a strategic role in natural gas transit because of its position between the world’s second largest natural gas market, continental Europe, and the substantial natural gas reserves of the Caspian Basin and the Middle East.

Since Turkey is well placed to serve as a transit hub for oil and natural gas supplies as they move from Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East to Europe and other Atlantic markets, the project is to develop an energy industrial park as the main platform to:

  • Create employment to improve lives in order to stabilise the region, particularly at the borders.
  • Leverage the energy resources and infrastructure in the region and target markets in Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
  • End the refugee crisis in Turkey and Europe.
  • Eradicate terrorism and maintain stability in the region.

The project will involve social housing (HDB equivalent in Singapore or council housing in the UK), education centres such as nurseries, primary schools, and universities, as well as hospitals for the health services.

To ensure that it is built on strong foundations, the project is intended to be a public private partnership involving the Turkish government and possibly other governments.

Surbana Jurong, a Singapore company that also provided the expertise for Suzhou Industrial Park, has already drafted the project and the Turkish government has already been briefed and promised support for the project.

The next step is to find other sustainable and strong partners, especially from Asian countries such as China and Singapore, to support the project.

Mr Aksoy is quite open to sharing the project with anyone that would like to enhance and take ownership of this huge socio-economic innovation.

The realisation of a project of this scale could bring stability and prosperity to the region, and could potentially be replicated in other parts of the Middle East.

Personally, I believe that this is an exciting project and that everyone who wishes to contribute to peace of Middle East shall be involved in it.

All the best from Singapore.
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

 

 

 

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Suzhou Industrial Park in China

I had an opportunity to go Shanghai last weekend and I took the opportunity to visit Suzhou Industrial Park which is about 1.5 hours away from the city centre of Shanghai.

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Suzhou Industrial Park is a landmark project between Chinese and Singaporean governments to create an ecosystem to enhance people’s lives through creating jobs, providing healthcare and education services.

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In the late 1980s, when China modernisation gained momentum, Chinese delegations visited Singapore and they were eager to learn modern management methods from Singapore. In 1992, the idea of developing a modern industrial city with Singapore flourished when China’s leader Deng Xiaoping told the public that they must tap into Singapore’s experience and learn how to manage better from Singapore’s good social order.

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After several rounds of discussion, both governments decided to develop a modern industrial park in the east of Suzhou, which was founded on February 1994 when Chinese Vice Premier Li Lanqing and Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew signed an agreement on the joint development of Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou. Suzhou Industrial Park has a total jurisdiction of 288 km2 where China-Singapore cooperation area covers 80 km2 with a residential population of 1.2 million.

Of course, this huge project has gone through many different phases and there were a lot of disagreements with both governments during the journey. Because of these disagreements, Singapore has decreased its share in the park from 65% to 35%. Also, between 1994 and 2000, the park made huge losses. The profit between 2000 and 2003 has erased all the losses made during the period between 1994 and 2000.

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The numbers speak for themselves today. Today, the park generates one of the highest incomes per capita in China. The regional GDP per capita is 257,900 yuan in Suzhou Industrial Park where Suzhou is 136,700 yuan and Jiangsu is 88,000 yuan. The per capita disposable income of urban residents in SIP is 56,696 yuan, in Suzhou 50,390 and 37,173 yuan in Jiangsu.

Another interesting statistic is that patents per ten thousand people are 86 in SIP, 25.46 in Suzhou and 14.22 in Jiangsu. A lot of international companies have presence in the park such as Bosch, Samsung, Hitachi, Nokia, Loreal and Panasonic.

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Can Turkey copy this model in southeast of Turkey to generate economic growth, to educate Syrian migrants with the Southeastern Turkish population and most importantly to eradicate terrorism in the region?

I will write this in my next article in the coming days. Please keep following!

Best from Singapore.
Sukru Haskan

Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Fintech idea #2: SmartBonds

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Last week, I published the deposit shifting fintech idea and I got quite a lot of positive and negative feedback as to why it would work or not.

It is always great to get some feedback.

This week, I will publish another fintech idea which specifically targets retail and low end HNW clients.

As many of you know, USD denominated international bonds have been quite popular for the last few decades as interest rates were declining steadily and these bonds were a great source of income for investors.

Although with interest hikes in the coming years, the trend will not be that sexy anymore, there will always be an interest in the bond market since it provides a fixed income, unlike the uncertain and highly volatile equity and commodity markets.

These markets are not easily accessible by retail investors since many of new issue require a minimal nominal investment of USD 200K. This is a substantial amount of money and it keeps many investors out of this market.

SmartBond can solve this problem by aggregating demand and it can help retail investors to have access to international bonds.

Since there are many bonds in the market, SmartBonds can market bonds in a Groupon fashion (an e-commerce site which aggregates demand for specific products for a certain period with some discounts to its customer by achieving economics of scale). SmartBond can collect bond orders from retail clients and, once the minimum order amount is reached, it can trade in the market and allocate accordingly after the trade.

SmartBond will be a full pledged technology company like Groupon and it will not recommend any specific bonds to buy or sell. From this point of view like SmartDeposit, it should not be regulated as a financial institution.

Clients may choose to keep their bond holdings in any bank available through the SmartBond platform or in an institution of their own choice.

One may ask what would happen when the client wants to sell their holding since they will again need a minimum order amount of a nominal 200K. The same logic will apply and there will be sell platform along with a buy platform and once the order is aggregated, it will be executed.

In the beginning phase, it will not be possible to include all the bonds available for trading. According to the demand from clients, the platform can be enhanced and this could be a very profitable business if it reaches enough volume quickly.

Please continue to post your positive/negative feedback through my blog, twitter or email.

I will continue to write my ideas in the coming weeks.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

 

 

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Fintech business idea: SmartDeposit

I have a fintech idea ‒ actually I have more than one, but I will publish only this one as a start.

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The environment of low interest rates has pushed many investors to hunt for a yield, and this has led many super-risky asset prices to skyrocket.

Especially, the extended period of ultra-low interest rates has hit pension funds and insurance companies hard, since they have to generate a certain level of income to ensure their sustainability and the ability to pay their liabilities.

High-net-worth individuals and retail clients are not happy either, since their capital is not working for them for the first time in history. Some of them are even paying banks to deposit currencies such as the euro, yen and Swiss franc, since banks are demanding that these investors are charged interest instead of receiving interest from them.

There is nothing new until now …

Everybody who follows the financial markets knows these facts very well.

What if these investors still want to invest simply in plain vanilla deposits but are happy to take higher credit risks in countries such as Brazil, Turkey, Russia or India?

Because of their counterparts’ risk parameters, these pension funds and insurance companies are mainly stuck with high-credit banks, such as all tier 1 global banks, and tier 1 global banks cannot offer any sexy interest rates.

Here, my idea kicks in ‒ what if they could place their deposits with low-investment-grade banks or even banks with junk credit quality that pay a much higher level of interest if they are happy with the risk?

The reams of paperwork for all different types of different banks and the regulatory requirements are a big hassle at the moment.

What if we could create a platform that can place deposits with many different banks without opening an account in each bank and simply shift the deposits from one to another when another bank in the world becomes more attractive?

It may be hard to attract institutional money in the first instance, but I believe high-net-worth (HNW) individuals and retail clients would be happy to test the proposition.

To visualize the idea, let us say that we open an account with ICICI in India, Garantibank in Turkey, VTB in Russia and BTG in Brazil. Assuming that ICICI offers 2.5% p.a., Garanti offers 3% p.a., VTB offers 3.25% p.a. and BTG offers 4% p.a., we can compare these with a tier 1 bank’s 0.30% p.a. deposit rate.

The investor can choose to place his deposit with any institution on the platform, so the availability of different institutions is an important factor to be attractive to investors. Clients will be able to place a deposit in India for a month and then shift it to Brazil in the next month.

The platform would enable emerging market banks to have a diversified deposit base and access to non-conventional HNW and retail investors from all around the world.

Since we are not advising clients and the deposits are held in segregated accounts for the tech company, how should our fintech be regulated? Just like banks or differently? I believe we should be much more lightly regulated.

It is a kind of UBER of finance ‒ simply a technology company facilitating a service rather than a bank.

The main challenge for this fintech would be the KYC (know your customer). It should be possible to know who is placing deposits and that the funds are coming from legitimate sources. We can overcome this hurdle with the help of blockchain technology, which will enable each investor’s details and transactions to be stored safely.

In addition, there is a new business opportunity here to create a global KYC company in which the banks are also stakeholders so that a verified KYC could be used between different banks instead of providing each different bank with thick sets of paper.

Regulators are really the key in this business idea, and they will be the key in any fintech ideas. They will decide whether to kill the fintechs in favour of conventional banks or help them to thrive. Many regulators, such as those in Singapore, the UK and Switzerland, are really helping this industry to excel, so I am quite optimistic.

I will publish another fintech idea for retail clients next week. If you would like to exchange ideas and/or simply discuss matters, please keep in touch through my blog, twitter or email.

All the best from Singapore,

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: sukru_haskan

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Book Review: Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall

Whilst I was in London last month, one of the books that I bought was “Prisoners of Geography” by Tim Marshall. Tim Marshall tells us how the leaders of the world are restricted by their geographies and how their decisions are influenced by it. It is a great book that looks at historical turning points of different nations and helps us understand why they behaved in a certain way. His book is divided into ten sections: Russia, China, USA, Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, Korea and Japan, Latin America, and the Arctic.

The book contains a lot of anecdotes about each region.

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Russia:

Russia covers eleven time zones and, even now, it takes six days to cross it by train. Russians were fighting on average in and around the North European Plain once every thirty-three years. By 2004, just fifteen years after 1989, every single former Warsaw Pact state bar Russia was in NATO or the European Union. Russia is the biggest country in the world, twice the size of the US or China, five times the size of India, twenty-five times the size of the UK. Although 75 per cent of Russian territory is in Asia, only 22 per cent of its population lives there.

China:

Xinjiang is the largest province of China. It is the twice the size of Texas, and you can fit the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Belgium in it and still have room for Luxembourg. Xinjiang is too strategically important to allow an independence movement to get off the ground: it not only borders eight countries – thus buffering the heartland – but it also has oil and is home to China’s nuclear weapons testing sites.

Large-scale migration south to north can be expected, which will, in turn, give China more leverage in its relations with Russia.

China intends to become a two-ocean power. This is China’s way of reducing its overreliance on the Strait of Malacca, through which almost 80 per cent of its energy supplies pass.

USA:

By 1814 the British had gone and the French had given up on Louisiana. In 1867 Alaska was bought from Russia. Many US government foreign policy strategists are persuaded that the history of the twenty-first century will be written in Asia and the Pacific. Half of the world’s population lives there, and if India is included it is expected to account for half of the global economic output by 2050.

Western Europe:

There are unprovable theories that the domination of Catholicism in the south has held it back, whereas the Protestant work ethic has propelled the northern countries to greater heights.

France is the only European country to be both a Northern and Southern power.

Geographically, The Brits are in a good place. Good farmland, decent rivers, excellent access to seas and their fish stocks, close enough to the European Continent to trade and yet protected by dint of being an island race. There is a theory that the relative security of the UK over the past few hundred years is the reason it has experienced more freedom and less despotism than the countries across the Channel.

Africa:

We are all from Africa since that’s where homo sapiens originated 2,000 years ago. Challenge is the rivers ince parts of it navigable by shallow boats, but there are parts that do not interconnect, thus limiting the transportation of cargo. The ethnic conflicts within Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Mali and elsewhere are evidence that the European idea of geography did not fit the reality of Africa’s demographics.

About a third of China’s oil imports come from Africa. South Africa is one of the very few African countries that do not suffer from the curse of malaria, as mosquitoes find it difficult to breed there. Is it a coincidence that European colonialists chose to settle there and that South Africa is the biggest African economy today?

Middle East:

Prior to Sykes-Picot, there was no state of Syria, no Lebanon, nor was there a Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Israel, or Palestine. Lebanon’s most recent civil war lasted for fifteen years and, at times, it remains close to another one. Syria may suffer a similar fate.

The Mongols were the last force to make any progress through Persian territory in 1219–1221 and since then attackers have ground themselves into dust trying to make headway across the mountains.

Turkey granted its women the vote two years ahead of Spain and fifteen years ahead of France.

India – Pakistan:

There is an approximately 1,900 mile long border between the countries. Pakistan received just 17 per cent of the financial reserves that had been controlled by the pre-partition government.

In the spring of 2015, the two countries agreed to a USD 46 billion deal to build a superhighway of roads, railways, and pipelines running 1,800 miles from Gwadar to China’s Xinjiang region. This would make it possible to bypass the Strait of Malacca.

The Afghan-Pakistani border is known as the Duran line. Sir Mortimer Durand, the Foreign Secretary of the colonial government of India, drew it in 1893 and the then ruler of Afghanistan agreed to it.

Korea – Japan:

Satellite images and witness testimony suggest that at least 150,000 political prisoners are held in giant work and re-education camps.

The territory of the Japanese islands together make up a country that is bigger than the two Koreas combined, or in European terms bigger than Germany.

Latin America:

The Latin American population, including the Caribbean, is over 600 million, and yet their combined GDP is equivalent to that of France and the UK, which together comprise about 125 million people.

In 1914 the newly built, 50 mile long, American controlled Panama canal opened, thus saving an 8,000 mile journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans and leading to economic growth in the canal region.

The Texas-based geopolitical intelligence company stratfor.com estimates that Brazil’s seven largest ports combined can handle fewer goods per year than the single American port of New Orleans.

The Arctic:

The Arctic Ocean is 5.4 million square miles; this might make it the world’s smallest ocean but it is still almost as big as Russia, and one and a half times the size of the USA.

I highly recommend that you have this book on your bookshelf, as it will not only enhance your vision, but also make you understand where the world is going. Prisoners of Geography is the kind of book that you could easily go back to many times as a good source for references.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

 

 

 

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Israel – Turkey – GCC Union?

Whilst I was studying as an undergraduate in Turkey in 2003, I was asked by my professor to present an alternative plan to the EU for Turkey.

Back then, Turkey was struggling to start accession talks with the EU on the back of several issues.

My very basic plan then was to bring Turkey together with Israel and the GCC—the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE)— and I named this project Sukru’s Utopian Alliance.

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When I presented my plan, it received some attention from my fellow students and the professor, but I have to say that they were not truly fascinated by the idea.

While I was on holiday for two weeks 13 years later, my brain somehow started again to ponder on the same project, and this time I am more equipped to address the issues concerned.

When we look at the reasons for the foundation of the EU (formerly the EEC), we see that it was necessary to form bonds between European countries such as France and Germany to make sure that their economic interests were aligned in order to avoid another world war in the coming decades.

Even though the EU has suffered in the last couple of years, at least the aims of bringing economic interests onto one platform and preventing another world war have succeeded.

The EU does not want to allow Turkey into the Union, at least for the foreseeable future. The GCC and Israel have no chance of joining the EU since their lands are located entirely in the Middle East.

Turkey and Israel have long historical, economic and cultural ties. In fact, Turkey was one of the first countries to recognise Israel. Furthermore, Turkey has fairly good relations with the GCC. In this equation, Turkey can play a key role in bringing Israel and the GCC into a union.

The part of the equation which is clearly hard to solve is how can Israel and the GCC agree to be on the same economic platform?

From Israel’s point of view, the country has developed economically and reached around USD 40,000 per capita. This is a tremendous success without any natural resources. In the meantime, there is a continuous security threat which reduces the country’s true potential and Israel, like any other nation, does not want to fight continuously with its neighbours.

From the GCC point of view, the USA is already rapidly diversifying its energy needs and they are very likely not to need as much oil from the Middle East as is currently the case. We can already see the effects of this, as the USA does not show the same level of interest as previously.

If the GCC is not able to diversity its income sources, it faces a big potential economic threat. Places such as Dubai and Qatar are trying to achieve this diversity fast, but since human capital is mainly imported, I personally do not see the current system as sustainable.

And the GCC does not really function very well alone. Interestingly, there are also some internal conflicts. It is no secret that Qatar and Saudi Arabia do not get along very well.

Turkey has relatively cheap labour, massive land and a skilled white collar work force. Israel has a huge talent pool, where the proportion of university graduates in the country is the highest amongst the developed world. Furthermore, not only does it have a wealth of graduates, but it supports a culture with an entrepreneurial attitude.

The GCC has an extensive land area, and still valuable natural resources such as oil and gas, but it lacks human capital. These different parts of the equation can combine to help create an economic union to leverage their potential.

A potential union will not only help us to solve the conflicts between the countries quickly, but also could potentially draw people closer and help them to understand each other better.

I know it sounds like a utopia, but big achievements always grow from what many believe to be impossible.

Of course, we also need politicians with clear intentions, no hidden agendas and international support to establish this platform.

A project on this scale would be a stepping stone for the Middle East and the end of its bloody history.

So why not try?

Best regards from Singapore,

Sukru Haskan

 

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Great Article to Global Elites by Martin Wolf

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Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, published an article titled ‘Global elites must heed the warning of populist rage’ last week, and I want to draw your attention to this great article this week in my blog.

Mr. Wolf wants to bring attention to the rising populist politicians around the globe and the possible effects on global elites.

“If governing elites continue to fail to offer convincing cures, they might soon be swept away and, with them, the effort to marry democratic self-government with an open and co-operative world order.”

Income inequality in 2016 has reached its highest since World War II. Stagnant incomes, if not declining purchasing power parity in the developed and developing world, have reached new highs. This most threatens the global elites: they have continued to ignore it to date, but a possible shift in the world order will affect them most.

“McKinsey has examined personal satisfaction through a survey of 6,000 French, British and Americans. The consultants found that satisfaction depended more on whether people were advancing relative to others like them in the past than whether they were improving relative to those better off than themselves today. Thus people preferred becoming better off, even if they were not catching up with contemporaries better off still. Stagnant incomes bother people more than rising inequality.”

If your parents were farmers 50 years ago and you decided to become a farmer, you would very likely be worse off in 2020. If your father was an army officer during World War II and you are an army officer in 2016, you are likely to be very much less significant in 2016 compared to your father. Even if your father was a banker in the 1980s and 1990s and you are a banker now, very likely you will not have his standard of life either.

So how can we create a system where the children of such parents not only work to survive, but also to excel and grow with the same amount of effort and input that their parents made?

My answer is simply by allowing everyone access to a high quality, updated and non-prejudiced education system.

You have to do something different to do better than your parents, and access to high quality education is the key to grab that chance to improve.

“Citizenship of their nations is the most valuable asset owned by most people in wealthy countries. They will resent sharing this with outsiders. Britain’s vote to leave the EU was a warning.”

This is exactly what happens when you cannot improve your standards beyond those of your parents: you start blaming immigrants or other external factors such as globalisation for your stagnant income, and your biggest commodity becomes your passport.

The UK vote to leave the EU is one thing, but I personally see the increasing popularity of Marine Le Pen and her equivalents in other countries as the biggest threat to stability and peace in the world.

“Accelerate economic growth and improve opportunities. Part of the answer is stronger support for aggregate demand, particularly in the Eurozone. But it is also essential to promote investment and innovation. It may be impossible to transform economic prospects. But higher minimum wages and generous tax credits for working people are effective tools for raising incomes at the bottom of the distribution.”

I don’t really agree with Mr. Wolf on the higher minimum wage and generous tax credits, but it is at least an offer to partially solve the problems. But it is a very short term solution.

My solution instead of offering a higher minimum wage would be tax credits and tax cuts to channel those means to grant everyone access to the best available education in the country.

This will not solve the short term problems, but it will certainly solve the long term ones.

Martin Wolf finishes his article by gently (!) warning us: “Our civilisation itself is at stake.”

Indeed, it is.

Especially for those that have the most comfort right now…

You can read the full article here: https://next.ft.com/content/54f0f5c6-4d05-11e6-88c5 db83e98a590a

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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