chapter  5
From autarky to globalization: Turkey’s economic transition
Pages 18

According to the IMF, ‘economic “globalization” is a historical process, the result of human innovation and technological progress. It refers to the increasing integration of economies around the world, particularly through the movement of goods, services, and capital across borders’. It notes that ‘the term “globalization” began to be used more commonly in the 1980s, reflecting technological advances that made it easier and quicker to complete international transactions – both trade and financial flows’. It observes too that ‘a common denominator which appears to link nearly all high growth countries together is their participation in, and integration with, the global economy’. However, it also warns that ‘integrating with the global economy is, as economists like to say, a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for economic growth. For globalization to be able to work, a country cannot be saddled with problems endemic to many developing countries, from a corrupt political class, to poor infrastructure, and macroeconomic instability’ (IMF 2008). For all its oft-quoted commitment to westernization, Turkey missed out

on the first few decades of economic globalization, understood as a process set in train in the early postwar years. Partly, but not entirely, this was due precisely to the corruption, poor infrastructure and macroeconomic instability identified by the IMF as an obstacle to progress. The circumstances of the Turkish republic’s birth and the values of most of its founders produced a closed, self-sufficient, government-directed and autarkic economic system (Hershlag 1968; Hale 1981; Lewis 2002; Zurcher 2004). Although Turkey joined most of the key institutions of the newly globalizing world of the post-Second World War era, it did not begin to seriously rethink its macroeconomic management until the 1980s. It was not unusual in this. For example, India and some central and south American economies mirrored Turkey in their initial reluctance or inability to embrace economic globalization. Other countries, many of them Islamic, continue to this day to hold themselves aloof as far as they are able from integration into the global economy.