EconoMonitor

The Kapali Carsi

Turkey: More on Monday’s column

[edited the end based on reader feedback; apologies to readers who thought it was not my style; my anger at insults and false accusations had got the better of me]

Just as I was getting geared up to write an addendum to Monday’s Hurriyet Daily News column, which also appeared here, I got notified that Oguz Karamuk, the econ section chief of Sabah to whose conspiracy-theory anti-Semitic mind you got introduced to with my column, had responded (I am sorry that both articles are in Turkish, but you should see what they are about from my column and this post), and with his crony Suluman the Economist nonetheless. So I had better start with those:

I’ll start with the stuff that interests me first: After insulting the Daily News -mind you, this isn’t Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, but the econ. section chief of “sophisticated” daily Sabah, who would not be able to pass my Intermediate Macro. course- his crony Suluman, on the other hand, does not have the prerequisite Econ.101 knowledge to take it, but I’ll come to him later-, he claims mentioning that Michael Bloomberg is Jewish does not mean he is anti-Semitic and racist. Then, why is he mentioning that fact? Besides, towards the end of that article, he has a whole paragraph sub-titled “is he (Benjamin Harvey) doing this for the Jewish lobby?” I rest my case, But Karamuk is even worse than that: He even manages to claim that it is Bloomberg who is being racist with anti-Islamic remarks. I guess someone taught him, sometime during his illustrious journalism career, that the best defense is offense. Therefore, the attacks do not stop here. He now implies that Benjamin Harvey and the Bloomberg Turkey office are manipulating markets because they are paid in dollars and therefore benefit from lira depreciation. Let’s see: If USDTRY increased an extra 2 percent because of Bloomberg’s “manipulations”, a Bloomberg employee making USD 5000 a month would be making TRY 200 more a month at the current exchange rate. So in essence, what Karamuk is saying that Benjamin Harvey and the Bloomberg Turkey desk are risking their careers for a mere TRY 200/month!

But the comedy doesn’t end here: He defends his meddling with Harvey’s private life on three grounds: First, he claims that there is a market manipulation case against Bloomberg by the Capital Markers Board, and private lives are scrutinized in such cases. Not only that there is no evidence of such a case (CMB has sent a standard answer to his call for action at the end of his article, basically saying that CMB investigations are confidential), the examples he gives, such as Bernard Madoff and Enron, have nothing to do with the question at hand. He then goes on to say that Harvey’s fiancee is a celebrity, and their relationship has appeared many times in the Turkish press. But I still haven’t figured out why his relationship would make Harvey a lousy journalist and/or market manipulator. Finally, Karamuk highlights Harvey had disclosed the kinship in Sabah’s board. I don’t see why a journalist should not mention the relatives in a board. Besides, Benjamin Harvey is not a corporate entity; he is a person! If he one day founds a company and starts winning government tenders and privatizations after getting engaged to the PM’s daughter Sumeyye Erdogan (after turning Muslim, of course, but that’s no big deal, you just have to repeat one sentence), Karamuk would have every right to do a news story about Harvey’s private life. But I guess if that day came, he would be Harvey’s new best friend:)

In fact, the only thing I would criticize Harvey for would be revealing his education and credentials to Karamuk. He didn’t have to do that. It is completely unethical (& idiotic) to label a journalist unfit for reporting just because of his education. Gillian Tett, one of the best finance/econ reporters out there, at least IMHO, has a Ph.D. in anthropology. One of the best econ. journalists in Turkey, IMHO, is a college dropout. At the end of the day, a journalist’s product shows his quality. I have often claimed that Karamuk’s crony friend Suluman the Economist does not know even basic econ., but that claim was based on what he was writing. I have never bothered to check his education, even after learning that he was once head of the Privatization Board in Turkey. To me, it doesn’t matter if he has Ph.D. in Econ., although I would question that degree in that case:) But Karamuk does the opposite: Rather than say “this is a bad article, so this Harvey guy doesn’t know Econ.”, his logic is the following: “This guy is not an Econ. major, so don’t believe what he writes”. Out-standing!!!

As for other “evidence”, Karatuk has included a short comment from a reader agreeing with him. Then, my own “evidence” is my readers’ comments, as well as the record-number of Facebook recommendations and tweets to the column…

… not to mention becoming the third most popular article in the Daily News on Monday…

…. as well as one of the most-commented!

Karamuk’s final piece of evidence is “a report by a major bank with a foreign partner”. Until recently, that “supplement 4” was nowhere to be seen. As of 12.15 p.m., there is  a link that can not be clicked, and as of 13.00, the link can be clicked but doesn’t work, so Sabah will probably manage to put the link in the next few hours:) In any case, I am hyperlinking the Yapi Kredi Research weekly, which I believe he is talking about, for your convenience. I was planning to discuss that piece here as well, but this post became way too idiotic (I apologize, but that’s what happens if you try to discuss idiots’ idiotic arguments). Therefore, I will discuss it at the next post, which will be reserved for more analytical stuff about Monday’s column, but if you read it, you’ll see that it is simply calling for those on both sides of the issue to return to the facts and stop attacking assumed motivations. So it is not a vindication of Karamuk’s arguments at all.

As a final word, Karamuk resorts to what he does best, if what I’ve been hearing from econ. journalists is any guide. He threatens, saying that he “would not be so considerate next time” and that he “would break our hearts if we forced him to write again” and that “we would carry the burden in our sub-conscious for a long time”. I am really looking forward to that:) Joking aside, my advice to him: “Go and mob your poor employees, who have to put up with your shit every day since they have to take home the bacon. Your threats will not work outside your office walls…

Anyway, the only good thing about this exchange is that I have now discovered another gem. I had missed out on Oguz Karamuk since he doesn’t write as often as Suluman the Economist, but I will be sure not to miss any of his stuff from now on as well.

5 Responses to “Turkey: More on Monday’s column”

sevda_yuzNovember 29th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

A good piece of article… Thanks. In the deep down Karamuks' hidden dark soul, there lays a boy who is -more than likely- disturbed by his own parents.

sevda_yuzNovember 29th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Well I was one of the 'poor employees' who stood against him. That s why I know 'the' structure well enough to describe in detail. 🙂
I have heard your article from a mutual friend, enjoyed it very much… Best.

Emre Deliveli edeliveliNovember 29th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Could I ask who the mutual friend is? Just curious. If you don't want to reveal him/her in the public sphere, feel free to email (emre.deliveliATgmail.com) or send by a Twitter message (EmreDeliveli)

In any case I am very happy to hear some people stood against him. And since you enjoyed the piece, I would like to tell you there is a follow-up, although it is not nearly as entertaining:
http://www.economonitor.com/emredeliveli/2011/11/

Also a very very important question about Oguz Karamuk: I and some buddies, including one who worked with him over at CNBC-e, were trying to determine which team he could be supporting. Having worked with him, would you know? Or could you ask someone who would know. I know this sounds silly, but I am losing sleep over the possibility that he could be a Besiktas fan:):):)