What dictators can’t dictate

Many tyrants and ordinary incompetent governments have presided over short-term booms and been buoyed by them. Remember Hugo Chávez being lionized by beaming Democratic grandees while handing out discounted heating oil? That kind of thing can provide some mileage, but it isn’t sustainable. What’s sustainable is secure property rights, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, enforceable contracts, flexible labor markets, free trade, investment, and entrepreneurship. The United States does many things differently from Sweden, Germany, Singapore, Switzerland, Iceland, and Japan, but what the countries that have achieved long-term prosperity all have in common is more important than the top income-tax rate or health-insurance regulations. There are things each of those countries could improve on: Singapore has some troubling illiberal tendencies, and the United States has a corruption problem. But there’s a reason Sony can borrow in yen and Uncle Stupid can borrow in dollars, and why one of Switzerland’s economic challenges in recent years has been that its currency is too popular.

Another way of saying this is: Right now, Turkey’s pressing problems are economic. In the long term, Turkey’s problem is political. Investors might be tempted by the occasional one-night stand with tyranny, but they’re in a long-term relationship with liberalism — with democracy, property, and the rule of law.

Erdoğan wants his people to boycott iPhones. Given the state of the lira, few of them will be able to afford one.