The Turkish economy and society have been the subject of neoliberal agenda since 1980, in the crucial first three years under conditions of military dictatorship. Executed under the direct supervision of the IMF and the World Bank, the last three decades have witnessed an extensive shift in the Turkish pattern of development with the rise to hegemony of the neo-liberal orthodoxy dictating “market rationality” over any other form of collective decision-making. In the words of Bourdieu (1998)1, this infernal machine, termed neoliberal globalization, has sought to destroy all collective structures that are held as a hindrance to the profitability of private capital. Thus, trumpeted with the rhetoric of TINA (There is No Alternative) the neo-liberal orthodoxy introduced new rounds of conditionality as part of its hegemonic agenda: financial de-regulation, trade and capital account liberalization, flexible exchange rates, privatization, flexible labor markets, marketization of agriculture, central bank independence, fiscal austerity, and “good governance”.
In contrast to the traditional stabilization packages that aimed at devaluation to restrain domestic demand, the new orthodoxy aimed at maintaining high interest rates for the purpose of attracting speculative foreign capital from the international financial markets. The end results in the Turkish context were the shrinkage and commercialization of the public sector in a speculation-led growth environment, and the transfer of decision-making relating the public sphere from constitutional institutions to “independent” supreme bodies of regulation, working under “global rules” of “governance”.
Over this discourse, not only the macro economy, but all aspects of social/institutional infrastructure were subjected to “structural adjustment”. Starting with a direct intervention to the legal system with a new constitution and a thoroughly revised Labour Law that radically limited the rights of the working classes and trade unions in the immediate aftermath of the military intervention, a series of administrative regulatory bodies were established, each with a specific task of specialization and with almost no democratic accountability. Often accompanied by a set of appealing concepts including “governance”, “transparency”, “regionalization/localization/
At the current juncture, the neoliberal project is implemented under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) with strong Islamist orientation and with the objectives of: transformation of the state apparatus; dissolution of the public sector under the pretext of “localization” and “democratization based on civil society organizations”; commercialization and commodification of basic services such as health and education; and opening most of the basic needs of society to exploitative initiatives by both national and international capital.
Over the three decades of neoliberalism, growth was both erratic and meager in comparison to the previous era of import- substituting/ planned industrialization (ISI). Overall, average annual rate of growth was 4.3% during 1980-2011. This was well below the rates achieved during the earlier ISI period (1962-79) with 6.5%; or indeed the 4.9% average rate of the entire history of the Republic (1923-2011). Following the capital account liberalization of 1989, sudden stops and reversals of capital inflows led to two deep crises in 1994 and 2001 and a deep recession in 2009. Turkey is currently trapped in a foreign debt-ridden structural current account deficit (currently standing at 7% of GDP and rising), and a speculative, volatile growth environment subjected to the whims of international finance capital.
With this conference we hope to stimulate debate on the systemic assault of capital on the peoples at the center and the periphery of the global capitalist system with Turkey serving as an example of the impact of “neoliberal great moderation”.
The focus of the conference is Turkey. However papers on other countries that draw comparisons with – and implications for – Turkey are welcome. So are papers that put forwards alternative perspectives and explanations. We invite contributions in the following areas. The list is indicative rather than prescriptive. Relevant papers in related fields will be considered:
- Macroeconomic policies in the era of globalization and neoliberalism.
- Independent central banking and inflation targeting: political and economic effects.
- Balance of payments issues under the neo-liberal agenda.
- Are financialization and de- industrialization of the economy linked? The case of Turkey
- Fiscal austerity: winners and losers; short and long term effects.
- Labour markets under the neo-liberal agenda. Productivity, labour and new technologies; the new international division of labour; the casualization of labour and its implications for the economy, society and politics in Turkey.
- Income and wealth distribution: changes; impact on the economy and society.
- Wider inequalities including inequalities by gender and regions.
- The role of foreign multinationals and international financial institutions in the Turkish economy.
- The restructuring of the state and its impact on stakeholders from labour to finance capital to manufacturing capital, to small businesses.
- Localization and de-centralization. The role of civil society institutions and conceptualization of “governance” and the “new democracy”.
- Emergence of Islamic conservatism and its relationship with neoliberal policies.
- The dismantling of the welfare state: short and long term impact on education, health care and social infrastructure. Poverty and social exclusion.
Erinç Yeldan, Professor of Economics and Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences at the Yaşar University. (firstname.lastname@example.org). He is one of the founding executive committee members of theInternational Development Associates (IDEAs) New Delhi, and also a member of the Independent Social Scientists’ Alliance of Turkey. Yeldan teaches macroeconomics; international economics and theories of growth.
Özden Birkan, Assistant Professor of Economics at Yaşar University. (email@example.com). She holds a PhD from University of Utah and teaches macroeconomics, econometrics and international economics.
Ilker Aslan, PhD student in Political Economy at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. (firstname.lastname@example.org). Aslan holds a MSc in European Law and Business from Aarhus University, Denmark and BSc in Business Administration from University of Texas at Dallas. His areas of research are macroeconomics, monetary economics with a focus on the effects of financialization.
Deadline for papers: 1 October, 2013
Discussion forum: 28 October – 24 November, 2013