Spengler on Turkey
When I saw that Spengler, aka David P. Goldman, had written about Turkey this morning, I knew I was in for important but rarely discussed aspects of that country’s situation. In his piece for Asia Times, Goldman calls Turkey “the sick man of Europe, once again.”
Two of the drivers of the modern world are demography and finance, and Goldman is expert in both. He notes that Turkey built up a debt bubble, financing consumption with debt, and is now reaping the consequences.
According to the Turkish central bank, consumer debt is now almost equal to total personal income in Turkey, vs. a bit over 20% in the United States. The average interest rate on consumer debt, the central bank reports, is just under 17%.
Turks are getting squeezed.
They are also failing to reproduce, like so many nations in the modern world. But for Turkey, this situation is even worse than for Italy, Japan, and many others:
The Kurds of Southeast Turkey want to link with the Kurds in Syria and in Iraq and finally have their own country. The fact that in the future Turkey might eventually be majority Kurdish has got to frighten Erdoğan (and many other Turks). Basic social institutions are collapsing:
Even more alarming are Turkey’s marriage statistics as reported by Turkstat. Between 2001 and 2015, the number of marriages in Istanbul, the country’s largest city, fell by more than 30%, and by more than 40% in the capital Ankara. Most of the northern and northwestern provinces report a decline of more than half in the number of marriages. Not only are Turkish women refusing to have children; they are refusing to get married. The plunge in the marriage rate among ethnic Turks makes a further sharp decline in fertility inevitable.
So whatever Erdoğan has won, and whatever he will do to crush his opposition, he faces some tough times ahead. Cartoonist Ronny Gordon is, shall we say, pessimistic about his prospects: