- Last Updated: 3:12 AM, June 19, 2012
- Posted: 12:13 AM, June 19, 2012
Let’s talk Turkey about the European Union.
Turkey lies just to the east of Greece. But there are a few things, besides the Aegean Sea that separate the two countries.
Turkey’s economy is growing; Greece’s — as the world is well aware — isn’t. Greece is an almost entirely Christian nation, while Turkey is 99 percent Muslim.
And Greece is a member of the EU, at least for the time being. Turkey has long wanted to join.
The stars may be aligning on that last matter. Turkey has taken advantage of the turmoil in the EU to again plead its case, and it might be getting a better reception this time.
Last Friday, I spoke with Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to the US, who told me that his country has increased its efforts to join the EU, even as other nations are thinking about leaving or are being threatened with expulsion.
Tan said the matter was brought up during the G8 economic conference in Chicago in May. “This is not an overnight thing,” said Tan. “But his first reaction was positive.”
Tan is referring to Francois Hollande, the recently elected president of France. Nicolas Sarkozy, the previous French president who was ousted in May, was thought to be a major hurdle in the way of Turkey’s EU admission.
Like everywhere else, debt levels in Turkey are high, but the country’s economy is growing. And the country, the ambassador says, is getting its finances straightened out. “We are committed to our own reform process,” Tan said.
The ambassador says Turkey has recently added 1.5 million jobs, or as many as the EU has lost.
“The European Union will never achieve its end until it puts some diversity into the process,” said Tan. “And there is only one country that can do that, and it is Turkey.”
The fact that Turkey is mostly Eurasian, with the majority of its land in Western Asia, does present a bit of a geographic dilemma. The E in EU, after all, does stand for Europe. And the fact that Turkey’s people are Muslim was rumored to be a major cause for concern in France.
But Turkey is also a major trading partner with the EU and can help with the region’s problems.
Or, as Tan puts it, “We will not take from the current cake. We will make the cake bigger.”
I think what the ambassador means is that Turkey — unlike many current EU members — won’t come into the economic pact looking for a handout.
This reminds me of some of the country clubs located near my house. Four years ago, I wouldn’t have been good enough — or rich enough — to join.
Nowadays, the standards have suddenly changed.
I might not yet be like Tiger Woods in his glory days to these clubs, but I’m not Rodney Dangerfield, either.
Turkey, despite its downside, is probably looking pretty juicy right now to the starving EU.
The Federal Reserve meets today and tomorrow, and I don’t want to be the only financial journalist not writing about it, so here goes.
If Ben Bernanke’s Fed decides to make any change to its money-printing operation, known as “quantitative easing,” it will only be because it fears the stock market will react angrily to its inaction.
QE, Operation Twist and any other monetary trick the Fed comes up with are no longer about helping the economy, which is again sinking.
These days it’s all about Wall Street and the upcoming election.
The Fed doesn’t want to be accused of harming President Obama’s re-election cause. But it also doesn’t want to be seen as being on the president’s team.
The economy? It’s not only going down again, but it is broken, as I’ve said before.
As my readers know from a column I wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Yankees have been griping about ticket holders reselling their seats at prices the team deems too low.
And the Yanks are now saying that they will set up their own ticket reselling operation next year, essentially seceding from the pact that Major League Baseball has with online ticket reseller, StubHub.
But here’s the problem: neither the Yankees, nor any other team, can stop fans from reselling tickets anywhere they want and at any price they want.
There are some nonsensical legal theories that can be torturously applied — like the team owns the ticket and fans just have the right to use it — but fans are going to do what they want anyway.
The problem isn’t even that the Yankees aren’t playing well. The team is on a fantastic winning streak and in first place.
The cheapest seat I could find on StubHub for last night’s game was $23, a level, according to reports, that would satisfy the Yanks.
But last night the team was giving away water bottles so it sort of skewed the market.
Without this enticement, tickets on StubHub are a lot less expensive — like under $6 for tonight’s game when no promotion is offered.
Tomorrow the team is giving away collectible pins.
The lowest prices?