Turkey’s annual inflation rate exceeded 30 percent in December, according to an estimate by thirteen economists surveyed by Reuters.
The economists’ forecasts varied significantly, ranging from a low of 26.4 percent to a high of 37.3 percent. Put together, however, their estimates provided a mean inflation rate of 30.6 percent. If accurate, this number amounts to Turkey’s highest inflation rate since 2003—the year in which Turkey’s parliament agreed to revalue the lira, a reform that took place in 2005.
Turkey’s high inflation rate has come after the country’s interest rates were slashed by the central bank under pressure from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Although interest rates are accepted to be inversely related to inflation among economists—meaning that low-interest rates lead to high inflation, and vice versa—Erdogan has argued that the opposite is true, and pushed for successively lower interest rates with the belief that inflation should decrease as well.
So far, the opposite has happened, and observers have criticized the Turkish leader for jeopardizing the central bank’s independence. Turkey’s inflation rate has exceeded twenty percent over the past three months, leading to wide-ranging price increases within the country. In December alone, food prices across the country rose by 25.75 percent, resulting in a 55 percent increase from the beginning of the year, according to a report released by the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions, the country’s oldest trade union association.
The central bank has claimed that this inflation has been driven by temporary factors and would return to normal over time. It predicted that the nation’s year-end inflation rate would be 18.4 percent in October. The Turkish Statistical Institute, which also tracks the country’s inflation data, is scheduled to release its estimate of the December inflation rate on January 3.
Erdogan’s government was briefly able to stop the lira’s slide in value by guaranteeing Turkish citizens’ bank deposits, stabilizing their value by promising to protect their parity against other currencies. This guarantee led to a massive surge in the lira’s value, raising it from roughly 6 cents to the dollar to 9 cents, although it has since begun to depreciate again. On Wednesday, it decreased an additional 2 percent against the dollar, according to reporting by Reuters.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.