Tag Archives: Turquie

A BARD’S LIFE OF LOVE: KARACAOĞLAN


Karacaoğlan is a 17th-century Ottoman Turkish folk poet and ashik. His exact dates of birth and death are unknown but it is widely accepted that he was born around 1606 and died around 1680. He lived around the city of Mut near Mersin. His tomb, which was organized as a mausoleum in 1997, is at Karacaoğlan hill in the village of Karacaoğlan, Mut, Mersin. In this regard, he was the first known folk poet and ashik whose statue was built.

His poetry gave a vivid picture of nature and village life in Anatolian settlements. This kind of folk poetry, as distinct from the poetry of the Ottoman palace, was emphasized after the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and became an important influence on modern lyric poetry, with Karacaoğlan being its foremost exponent.

Karacaoğlan was a captivating folk poet who took pleasure in capturing women’s hearts. He was handsome with dark features and soulful eyes. His love poems are among the most enchanting in the Turkish language. He sang these as he accompanied himself on a simple string instrument called the saz. Many of them were improvised when the poet was inspired by the delights of nature or the beauty of women.

The topics of his poetry reflect the nature in which he was embedded, along with the Turkish nomadic culture of the Toros mountains of which he was a part. The main themes of this poetry stemmed out of nature, love, longing for home, and death. As with other Turkish folk poetry of his time in Anatolia, his language was expressive, yet unadorned, direct, and simple. With a big heart, he fell in love with women and wrote poetry about them getting water from a fountain or making bread. His poetry were in the forms of koşmatürkümanivarsağıüçlemedestangüzelleme and koçaklama. More than five hundred of his poems have survived to this day.

This “bard of love” lived in the 17th century (no one really knows his years of birth and death). He was probably raised among nomadic tribes in Southern Turkey. But, during his long life (he lived to be seventy or possibly eighty), he roamed far and wide, singing his poems in innumerable places. He went to towns and villages in Anatolia and visited Egypt, Tripoli, and the Balkans. His life of love, of poetry, of music became legendary. Today, people in many parts of Turkey cherish Karacaoğlan’s simple, melodious, touching lyrics.

In his youth, Karacaoğlan was passing through a town. Strumming his saz, he came upon a rose garden. As he grew ecstatic from the vivid colors and the exquisite smell of the roses, suddenly his eyes fell on an indescribably beautiful girl sauntering among the flowerbeds. He stood there, bewitched. He was already feeling in his heart the flames of love – – and, unable to restrain himself, he broke into song. The lovely young woman took a few steps toward him and listened with heart and soul. When the song was over, she started to walk away without uttering a word. Alarmed that he might never lay eyes on her again, the poet implored: “You are the loveliest of all lovely women. Please stay a while. At least tell me your name?” She hesitated. Then, in a barely audible voice, she said, “Elif.”

Karacaoğlan was struck by the symbolic significance of “Elif”, a name common among the Turks for many centuries: It is derived from “aleph”, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, with the numerical value of l. Elif stood there, the epitome of gracefulness, dainty as a leaf. For the young poet, this slender girl was the beginning of all things.

They exchanged a few polite words. She had heard of the minstrel. After a few sentences, she revealed that she was married and had children. Karacaoğlan was distressed: He had found and lost his beloved in the same instant. He also found out that she came from a well-to-do family and could read and write.

Desperately in love at first sight, the young minstrel began to serenade this exquisite woman. He chanted a poem that has enchanted the Turks for more than three centuries now. The poem celebrates her among the many splendors of nature – – and bemoans the pain inflicted by unrequited love:

With its tender flakes, snow flutters about,
Keeps falling, calling out “Elif… Elif…”
This frenzied heart of mine wanders about
Like minstrels, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Elif’s robe is embroidered all over;
Her eyes – like a baby goshawk’s – glower.
She smells lovely like a highland flower,
With those scents calling out “Elif… Elif…”

When she frowns, her glance is a dart that goes
Into my heart: I fall into death’s throes.
In her white hand she holds a pen – she knows
What she writes, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Right in front of her home a trellis stands;
There’s Elif, holding glasses in her hands.
It’s as if a duck whose head has green strands
Gently floats, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

I am the Minstrel: your slave for my part.
There’s no love for other belles in my heart.
Unbuttoning the shirt, I tear apart
The collars, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Rumors were afoot among the people who heard these poems and songs that the handsome minstrel lavished on Elif. When her husband heard the rumors, he asked the feudal lord of the region to take action. Already in trouble because of his satirical poems criticizing the powers that be, Karacaoğlan was forced to leave town and his beloved Elif.

During his travels, he fell in love again – – this time with the daughter of another lord. He had just arrived in a town where he noticed a large gathering in front of a luxurious mansion. They told him the lord was holding a contest among poets. Karacaoğlan went in and sang a few of his love lyrics. Everyone was spellbound. He was declared the winner. The lord became his patron and often invited him to recite and sing.

Karacaoğlan found the lord’s daughter Suna adorable. But he was cautious and circumspect. One day, when he was strumming his saz in the garden, Suna came to him and said: “I just love your poems. Would you please compose a poem for me? Please…”

The minstrel broke into song immediately. For his Suna he started a poem that started with…

Loveliest of all, how lovelier you are now
Since no one else saw you, no one laid eyes on you:
That black lovelock of yours is curled up on your brow
Since there is no braid on it, just no braid on you.

and ended with…
Call, go on, keep calling out, Karacaoğlan:
The rock weighs heavy only in its own place.
The brave young man might cool off if his loved one
Gives him no embrace, gives him no loving embrace.

So, a passionate love affair started between Suna and the poet.
But, before long, her father heard about the affair and was so furious that he had Karacaoğlan thrown into jail.

After some time, Suna found a way of having him escape. About to leave, Karacaoğlan begged her to elope with him. But she was reluctant to abandon her family’s life of wealth and power for a wandering poet’s life of hardship. So, Karacaoğlan bade farewell and went on the road all by himself.

Wherever he went he was never without the company of beautiful women. They took a fancy to him…many of them chased him…they cherished his love lyrics.

Karacaoğlan always responded affectionately. When he ran into three wonderful beauties who did a special dance for him, he mused heartily and a bit naughtily:

If I were to love the elders the best,
Wouldn’t that be unfair to the youngest ?

The great Anatolian minstrel spent the rest of his life roaming villages and towns, hills and valleys. He had countless love affairs and composed tender lyrics as well as erotic poems for the women he loved.

Some of his poems express a chilling fear of death. It was as if the poet kept traveling far and wide to make it impossible for death to catch up with him:

Death, do not tire yourself out by stalking me;
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.
You won’t spare me, you shall have me in the end;
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.

I often roamed from this highland to that plain
Where I would eat, drink, be merry, entertain.
I kept fleeing from you, yet you came again.
Death, be gone for a while, come some other time.

Howling like the gray wolf has not been my fate.
This false world I can neither praise nor berate.
With friends and loved ones I failed to congregate.
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.

I am the Minstrel who is gripped by dismay
In the garden where nightingales sing and play.
Stop! You snatched my father and mother away –
Be gone for a while, come some other time, Death.

The people of Anatolia feel that Karacaoğlan escaped death, because his lovely poems and songs have achieved immortality.

His poetry in songs: Ala Gözlerini Sevdiğim Dilber ( A beauty whose hazel eyes I love)

A beauty whose hazel eyes I love
Don’t gossip about me with the world
Don’t stand before me showing your white neck
Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in the fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

I was crying for days, for nights, never smiled
I was searching, but haven’t found the cure for my anguish
For so many years had no gratitude
Show me some kindness, don’t send me away

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

A beauty whose hazel eyes I love
Don’t gossip about me with the world
Don’t stand before me showing your white neck
Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

Sources:

1.Prof. Talat S. Halman Chairman, Department of Turkish LiteratureBilkent University http://www.byegm.gov.tr/YAYINLARIMIZ/newspot/2001/sept-oct/n5.htm

2.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karacao%C4%9Flan

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Why this might be the Ground Zero Hour for the Turkish Lira


When a serious economist and expert as James G. Rickards, the editor of Strategic Intelligence with 35 years of experience working in capital markets on Wall Street (or even the Turkish economist Mustafa Sonmez) states that the turkish lira will be ground zero in the next global debt crisis we must take his words seriously and try to analyse what is the real situation in this country.

Korkut Boratav, one of Turkey’s most respected economists, said a run to the IMF is almost inevitable for Turkey in 2019, regardless of who wins the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. President Erdogan insisted the lira’s volatility did not reflect economic reality and warned that he would not let “global governance types ruin the country.”

The economist James Ricards notes that the risk of a major debt crisis beginning in Turkey is heightened by the rise of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an autocratic strongman in the mold of Argentina’s Juan Perón and other populist nationalists who have ruined strong economies. Currently, the turkish debt is 42.4 of the country’s GDP.

Turkey balance of payments current account

The current account balance seems to be an abstruse economic concept. But in countries that are spending a lot more abroad than they are taking in, the current account is the point at which international economics collides with political reality. When countries run large deficits, businesses, trade unions, and parliamentarians are often quick to point accusing fingers at trading partners and make charges about unfair practices.

For Turkey is not the first time that it has serious  problems with its economy.In 2001, the coalition government of the late Bulent Ecevit, grappling with Turkey’s worst economic crisis, acquiesced to that option, and by implication, to the disastrous political consequences that the IMF-backed austerity program would have for the three coalition partners.

Turkey experienced a strong cyclical recovery in 2017, with 7.4% growth.The gross domestic product (GDP) numbers beat a forecast of 7.2 percent growth in a Reuters poll. It was the biggest increase in GDP since 2013.

Demand in 2017 was stimulated by fiscal measures and a Credit Guarantee Fund for small and medium enterprise (SME) financing. Total consumption accounted for over two-thirds of growth in this period. Strong demand resulted in high consumer price inflation, which averaged 11% in 2017.

Rickards noted back in February that the flood of bank lending and direct foreign investment has given rise to another flood of hot-money portfolio investors in Turkish stocks chasing high returns with cheap dollar funding in a variation of the global carry trade. So-called emerging-market (EM) funds offered by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and others are stuffed full of Turkish stocks and bonds.

Turkey’s external dollar-denominated debt is so large that a combination of rising U.S. dollar interest rates and a slowing global economy could quickly turn Turkey from model EM to the canary in the coal mine of the next great global debt crisis.

Turkey’s debt is huge, one of the highest debt burdens of any EM. Turkey owes $481 billion to foreign creditors, of which the two thirds are  denominated in hard currency, mostly dollars and euros. The remainder is denominated in Turkey’s local currency, the lira.

turkey external debt graph

Turkey’s external vulnerability remains high. Further tapering of U.S. monetary policy in 2018 could negatively affect capital flows, raising interest and exchange rate risks for Turkey’s external debt. The private sector is particularly affected as it accounts for 70% of external debt. Though most of it is long-term maturity, a weaker lira and costlier external financing might hit corporate balance sheets. Given these developments, inflation is expected to remain at just above 10% in 2018.

  • The Effects of Inflation

As inflation rises, in addition to businesses being forced to raise their prices, banks are forced to raise interest rates in order to maintain a profit margin and higher rates means that marginal businesses will fail, thus increasing unemployment and harming the overall economy.

High inflation harms everyone not just because of increased costs and increased unemployment but also due to the time lag before you get a cost of living increase. High inflation also encourages people to spend money “before it loses its value” so they will buy things they don’t need simply as a method of preserving value. They also go into debt and fail to save. In the short run this can stimulate the economy but in the long run it will result in poor choices and a less than optimal economy as everyone becomes so short sighted that they fail to plan for the long run.

The Turkish lira has collapsed since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became president in August 2014, leading to a surge in inflation, Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at John Hopkins University, said in an analysis for the biweekly Forbes magazine.

While official inflation is 10.9 percent, purchasing power parity allows for a calculation of inflation based on changes in the exchange rate, which is 39.2 percent, Hanke said.

Hanke, who has advised dozens of world leaders on currency reform and how to tame hyper-inflation, said he measured the implied inflation rate in Turkey on a daily basis by using PPP to translate changes in the lira-dollar exchange rate into annual inflation.

The causes of the high rate of inflation are central bank policies, which have been “too loose for too long”, producing big growth in the money supply, Hanke said.

The money supply has grown at a rate of 16 percent since 2014 and 18 percent since 2016, Hanke said. That compares with the 13 percent growth needed to meet the central bank’s inflation goal of 5 percent, he added.

There has also been a decline in the quality of money, with the central bank replacing its dwindling foreign currency reserves with liras, Hanke said.

Demand for lira-denominated assets is also deteriorating as profit margins narrow because of the lira’s decline, Hanke said, citing the carry trade. For example, Japanese investors borrow in yen at low rates of interest to buy liras and earn higher returns.

The Turkish central bank published Wednesday a summary of its May 23 emergency meeting, where officials raised rates from 13.5 percent to 16.5 percent to stem the currency’s slide. Crucially, this included the sentence: “inflation expectations, pricing behavior and other factors affecting inflation will be closely monitored, and, if needed, further monetary tightening will be delivered.” But despite this mini surge, it is still down by nearly 17 percent against the US dollar so far this year!

This sentence had formed part of the April 25 Monetary Policy Committee statement, but its omission from the May release gave the central bank the appearance of having shifted to a more neutral policy stance. The reinstatement of the line suggests the central bank stands ready to hike if necessary.

  • The Iranian Impact on the Turkish Lira 

According to FT.com America’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Tehran and re-impose sanctions has sparked a further jolt of bearishness. Among Turkey’s primary imports from Iran are petroleum products and natural gas, according to Turkey’s ministry of foreign affairs. Oil will be one of the main products that the US is expected to target in its sanctions. Turkey called the US decision an “unfortunate step”, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Turkey imports large amount of its Oil needs, the increase of the Oil prices used about 0.7% of the of Turkey’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Turkey imports about 90% of its oil needs, that’s why Oil price also  impacts negatively the Lira.

According to the US Energy Information Center, Turkey imported 99% of its natural gas needs by 1.7 trillion cubic feet, 57% of which is from the Russian company Gazprom. While it imports oil from Iran and Iraq which had the biggest share of the Turkish oil imports.

  • Turkish Lira fall and its impact on Europe

According to figures from the Bank of International Settlements, which measures financial and credit flows, global banks have lent just under €200billion to Turkey.

Spanish banks have lent the troubled country £62billion (€71 billion), ahead of France (£22.6 billion), Italy (£13.6 billion) and Germany (£9.8 billion).

Spain’s BBVA owns almost half of Garanti Bank, the third largest financial centre in Turkey, with this share contributing a fifth of BBVA’s profits last year.

Even more alarming is that BBVA’s share has lost 14 percent of its value so far this year, significantly more than the 2.7 percent lost by the Spanish market as a whole.

Since the Turkish lira went into freefall, UniCredit Bank’s share has also lost a fifth of its value.

Furthermore, according to Cyprus Mail, Turkish Cypriots  in the breakaway north of Cyprus are reportedly considering adopting another currency as the plummeting Turkish lira continues to batter their economy.

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