Now I have completely eliminated my holdings even though this is ranked as a good value market by Keppler Asset Management. Keppler’s Top Value Model Portfolio contains the nine national MSCI markets Brazil, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey at equal weights. See more on the emerging market valuations here.
There are three reasons why we have eliminated our Turkish holdings.
First… as the chart of Turkey’s ISE National 100 Index from Bloomberg.com below shows that this market has enjoyed quite a good run… up almost 200% in two years and feels top heavy to me.
Second, Merri has been feeling skittish and keeps saying, “We should sell out Turkey shares”. She never knows why she says these things and cannot give me a reason… but I have learned that these feelings she has…seemingly totally unfounded by any reason…are spot on.
Third… There are concerns about radiation in Turkey.
Dr. Caldicott, (73) is an anti nuclear advocate who received her medical degree from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1961. She founded the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital in 1975 and subsequently was an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and on the staff of the Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Boston, Mass., until 1980 when she resigned to work full time on the prevention of nuclear war.
She co-founded the Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization of 23,000 doctors committed to educating their colleagues about the dangers of nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear war. She was the Founding President of the STAR (Standing for Truth About Radiation) Foundation and has received many prizes and awards for her work, including the Lannan Foundation’s 2003 Prize for Cultural Freedom and 21 honorary doctoral degrees, and she was personally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Linus Pauling – himself a Nobel Laureate.
The Smithsonian Institute has named Dr. Caldicott as one of the most influential women of the 20th Century. She has written for numerous publications and has authored seven books.
Dr. Caldicott is a controversial figure. The research I did at Oxford University Press does not suggest high radiation in Turkey. Oxford University Press publishes the Oxford journals and one section is Radiation Protection Dosimetry which covers all aspects of personal and environmental dosimetry and monitoring, for both ionising and non-ionising radiations. This includes biological aspects, physical concepts, biophysical dosimetry, external and internal personal dosimetry and monitoring, environmental and workplace monitoring, accident dosimetry, and dosimetry related to the protection of patients.
However some of the Turkish media support Dr. Caldicott’s thinking.
A Daily News & Economic Review, Turkey’s English Daily newspaper, article entitled Chernobyl still haunts Turkey’s Black Sea coast says: As the nuclear threat at Japan’s Fukushima power plant continues, the incident brings to mind the disastrous explosion in Chernobyl 25 years ago. Although government officials still deny that Chernobyl has increased cancer cases in Turkey, doctors and people in the Black Sea region do not agree.
It has been 25 years since a disastrous explosion in Chernobyl nuclear power plant happened, yet its effects still continue to appear in the region, especially on the Black Sea coast of Turkey.
Twenty-five years after the incident, which happened on April 26, 1986, the exact number of people who lost their lives through the radiation they were exposed to is still unknown, yet the number of cancer incidents in the region is not at all to be underestimated.
“I have lost seven people in my family due to cancer,” said Meral Kara, who lives in Trabzon. “My husband, my mother and my two sons, who were very young, died of cancer. And now I wait; when is my turn?”
“It is true that there are many cases of cancer around here,” Yalçın Emiralioğlu, the mayor of Kemalpaşa, a small town in Artvin province with high rates of cancer, recently told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “I also have lost my relatives to cancer.”
No radiation in the tea
When the explosion took place at Chernobyl, then part of the former USSR and now part of Ukraine, Turkish government officials denied that radioactivity coming from Chernobyl would affect the natural habitat in Turkey.
Cahit Aral, then the minister of industry and trade, was one of the government members who said there was no radiation in Turkish agricultural products, especially black tea, which is grown in the Black Sea region. In order to prove his point, Aral drank tea in front of journalists and said: “Believe it like you believe in your religion, there is no radiation in the tea. It is harmless.” Minister of Environment Doğan Akyürek also seconded Aral, by rubbing tea on his face.In 1987, the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority, or TAEK, also announced that the amount of radiation found in tea was harmless.
Yet, according to Professor İnci Gökmen from Middle East Technical University’s Department of Chemistry, a considerable amount of radiation was detected in the teas produced in the Black Sea region. The teas were not pulled from the market.“We analyzed the teas and detected 10,000 Becquerel rays per kilogram. That is a very high number,” Gökmen told the Daily News. “Still those teas were not pulled from the market. Those teas exposed thousands of people to high radiation.”Although the Turkish Health Ministry has not confirmed that Chernobyl has increased cancer cases in Turkey, according to a 2006 report by Turkish Chamber of Physicians, 47.9 percent of deaths in the Black Sea region are caused by cancer.
“I worked in a remote village in Rize between 1988 and 1990,” Dr. Kayahan Pala, director of the report, told the Daily News. “I can say that we saw a rise in abnormal births those years. We saw babies born without arms and legs. I can also say that there was a major rise in cancer cases too.”
Still, Pala said it was not possible to prove a direct link between Chernobyl and Turkey since many Turkish hospitals did not have past death records.
There you have the quandry…does one believe the establishment or the public?
Normally I am not too confident in the word of official nuclear agencies (or any official agency for that matter). The US for example regularly dumped radioactive material in the Columbia River for years in the 1950s and 1960, never admitting the fact.
So the Turkey and radiation research above became more meaningful when I read an article in Nuclear-News. The article reported that TAEK, Turkey’s nuclear safety agency said that a recent Armenian nuclear radiation leak did not pose a threat to Turkey. The article in Nuclear News said: TAEK officials did confirm that a leak had occurred in January 2011 at Metsamor but they dismissed allegations that the leak was dangerous and posed a danger to Turkey. Turkish media recently expressed concerns that Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power plant, labeled by the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as one of the five most dangerous nuclear facilities in the world, is leaking high levels of radiation and may be affecting the provinces of Turkey bordering Armenia. While Kars is 100 kilometers away from Metsamor, Iğdır is only 10 kilometers from the nuclear plant.
Speaking to Cihan news agency, TAEK officials confirmed that a leak had occurred recently at Metsamor but Turkish provinces bordering Armenia did not detect levels of radiation that would be considered harmful to human health.
That was enough for me… a nice profit already… a market up 200% in two years… Merri’s intuition… radiation from the past… one of the most dangerous nuclear plants near… and that plant is leaking. That was enough.
Merri and I know a lot about the insidious effects of radiation as we suffered radiation poisoning from Chernobyl. In this time of radiation awareness… even if radiation dangers in Turkey are not real, the fears of radiation could be enough to make the market tumble so I am doing the opposite of the old maxim buy on the rumor and sell on the news. I have sold my shares in Turkey on this radiation rumor and perhaps will buy again if there is strong radiation news that does make the market tumble.
On the subject of radiation, growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I swam in the Columbia River every summer day, not knowing (according to the Washington State Department of Health) that for more than 40 years, the U.S. government produced plutonium for nuclear weapons at the Hanford Site so until the 1970s, the Columbia River “held the distinction of being the most radioactive river in the United States.”
Then Merri and I were exposed to excessive doses of radiation from Chernobyl.
My report “Protect Against Radiation” shows seven ways we regained and even improved our health. You can order this report to play on your computer or Kindle from Amazon.com. Get details here.
Join Merri and me this June 24 to 26 along with Thomas Fischer of Jyske Global Asset Management to see our portfolios in the next quarter. Meet Bonnie Keough and Roberto Ribadeniera for an Ecuador export workshop.