The mega-fire disaster in Australia, which has scorched an area the size of 10 million football fields, is the most frightening natural disaster in the continent's history, showing that even the most ambitious countries have failed in crisis management against natural disasters, especially those caused by global climate change. The coming period points to the fact that countries should work on creating additional preparations, scenarios, measures and solutions for crisis management, not only for regional and global geostrategic or economic-political tensions but also for the many mega-disasters from the environment and the natural ecosystem.
Due to the mega-fire, which caused the destruction of 11.8 million hectares of land, the latest report of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) indicates that 1.25 billion animals may have lost their lives. One of the most devastating parts of the fire occurred when water resources were scarce and authorities made the decision to slaughter thousands of camels and horses who were drinking too much of the water. It is estimated that the damage so far due to the mega-fire, which has killed 30 people and forced 250,000 people to flee their homes, exceeds $500 million.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been severely criticized for not taking the mega-fire catastrophe seriously until it was too late, avoiding global climate change because of the fossil fuel lobby in his country. He has also come under fire for calling the army for help too late and for the inability to organize coordination with the fire brigade throughout the country. He has failed majorly in crisis management. The last event of the crisis management scandal was his order to slaughter tens of thousands of camels and horses because they were consuming too much of the water supply.
Another source of concern is that fires began to spread through eucalyptus forests, despite the rain. Previously, there had never been fires in these forests in Australia. Experts point out that nowhere is safe, as the cores of the mega-fire – where the flames can rise up to 70 meters high – are carried up to 10 kilometers by the wind, spreading the flames at unprecedented speeds. This picture also poses a serious threat to agricultural production in Australia due to the severe fire damage between the desert and the ocean.
The lesson to be learned from this mega-fire is that countries should take much more effective, intensive measures to protect and develop clean water resources and further develop their arable land. In this regard, it is important to make legal environmental protection regulations more severe.
In addition to this, the fossil fuel lobbies should never be given priority and instead, significant support should be given to renewable energy facilities and technologies such as hydro, wind, solar and geothermal that release minimal carbon to the air.
Turkey has had many natural crisis management achievements while protecting its borders, security, economy and nature. Now is the time for us to make more comprehensive preparations for new crises that could be even more dangerous for the environment.
Turkey's 2019 growth at 0.5%
The data that will contribute to our analysis of how the Turkish economy has closed the last quarter of 2019 is the data on industrial production and sectors' confidence indices, which show that Turkey's GDP growth may have increased by 0.5%.
The industrial production performance of 2019 will become clear at the beginning of February. While considering the fact that we closed the month of December with a record export figure, the industrial production reportedly may have increased by 5% or more in the last quarter of last year compared to the last quarter of 2018.
With a quarterly industrial production increase that could push even 5% or even higher, the possibility is greater that the GDP growth rate may be between 3.5% and 4.5% in the last quarter of 2019.
In this case, if the growth rate reaches this level in the last quarter, the GDP growth rate for all of 2019 can easily complete the year at a level between 0.35% and 0.5%.
December data may confirm the probability of achieving a 0.5% growth rate, which is the high end of that forecast range. As a matter of fact, the nearly 100 economists who participated in the monthly expectation survey of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) expected that the average of growth would be around 0.1% but the average of their forecasts increased 0.4% in the December survey as most of the estimates pointed toward 0.5%.
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the CBRT, on the other hand, chose to start 2020 with a calibrated interest rate cut of 0.75 points, taking into account the improvement in inflation expectations and seeing that it opened up space for itself with the front-loading interest rate cuts in 2019.
Although a significant percentage of financial sector professionals and economists pronounced interest rate cuts at around 1 percentage point, the CBRT took a cautious step confirming that it decisively continued its disinflation process. Until the downward trend in inflation becomes permanent, the CBRT is determined to maintain its cautious stance.
The CBRT's determined stance in the disinflation process, its calibrated discount decision confirming that it will continue its efforts toward price and financial stability with the same determination, was also welcomed by the markets. It was seen that it has a positive effect on the exchange rates, maintaining stability.
Likewise, with regards to Borsa Istanbul (BIST) starting the year with setting records, it also positively affected the performance in the stock market. While the U.S.-Iranian tension has lost its initial tempo, and if putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar's message that he is ready for a cease-fire in Libya is confirmed, the tranquilization in global oil prices will positively affect the CBRT's fight against inflation.
Therefore, the MPC, which will spend the first quarter cautious and calibrated, will accelerate its steps in the summer months.