The Kapali Carsi

More on Gold Exports from Turkey to Iran

I don’t consider myself a journalist, merely an economy columnist, but when I do don my journalist hat, I don’t perform that badly. You’ll be able to see another example of my doppelganger on Monday’s Hurriyet Daily News column, when I will take on Turkey’s famous (or infamous) TOKI, the Housing Development Administration of Turkey.

But before that, I should note that the timing of my gold post was just right: Right after my post, Radikal columnist Ugur Gurses wrote on  the same topic.  In that column, he suggested that Iran was essentially paying for its imports with gold imported from Turkey. That idea was supported by a piece in Turkish daily Vatan, which claimed that state bank Halkbank was behind the operation. Gurses returned to the topic last week, summarizing the Vatan story as well as explaining how the mechanism was probably working (I am saying probably because Halkbank has stayed quiet): Iran has an account with Halkank, where Turkey is depositing the oil money. This money is then converted to gold and literally transported across the border. I am not sure if this is accurate, but it sure sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster:)

There is an an alternative explanation as well: According to a story that appeared in Turkish daily Milliyet on Wednesday, this demand for Turkish gold is emanating from rich Iranians residing in Turkey. Why? The same reason as the Iranian government + war worries. Note that one of the paper’s sources is a “government official”, so they may be motivated to take attention off Halkbank. Besides, both mechanisms could be working as well. Interestingly enough, I stumbled upon a story back from March, also in Vatan, that was claiming Iran was changing its gold to cash in Kapalicarsi, the Grand Bazaar where in Istanbul where all the jewelers are. This did not seem very plausible to me, as Iran can easily pay with gold as well. BTW, in case you are wondering why my blog is named after a bazaar, that’s only partly the case. Speaking of that, I may have to leave the Kapali this year, as the club has increased the ticket prices for those stands a lot, whereas others have more or less stayed the same. The reasoning is that they were too cheap until now, with which I have to disagree. Besides, this move is likely to kill off, or at least weaken the Carsi fan group. But it is not up to me; I am just a fan:)…

To get back to the topic at hand, I apologize for the Turkish links until now, but I have a few links in English for my readers who don’t speak, or rather read, our beautiful language: First, international media has picked up on the story as well. FT Alphaville, after seeing my original post, did a well-written post on the topic. Have a look at the comments below that post; there are some interesting remarks and links.

Speaking of remarks and comments, the readers at my own post knew of this story as well. Have a look at the comments there: It seems Iran has been doing the same arrangement with China as well…

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