Inflation in Turkey hits 20-year high amid Ukraine crisis concerns
Experts believe inflation could reach as high as 70 percent before the end of the year
By News Desk - March 04 2022

(Photo credit: AFP)

Turkey’s inflation rate surged to 54 percent in February amid an economic crisis that has seen the lira lose nearly half of its value and soaring commodity prices that are expected to climb even higher due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

According to a report by the Turkish Statistical Institute on 3 March, the prices of consumer goods rose by nearly five percent while the producer price index soared to seven percent month-on-month in February, leading to an annual rise of 105 percent.

Turkey has been facing runaway inflation over the past nine months since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressured its central bank to slash interest rates by 500 basis points. The unorthodox economic program seeks to prioritize growth, investment, and exports while keeping interest rates low.

While the government implemented mechanisms to control inflation late last year, the crisis is being exacerbated by a surge in gas, oil, and grain prices set off by the Ukraine conflict.

Experts believe that the crisis could push the country’s annual inflation to 60 or 70 percent.

“Inflation will stay close to these high levels until the very final months of this year, but the central bank and, crucially, President Erdogan seem to have no appetite for interest rate hikes,” the London-based Capital Economics announced on 3 March.

Reports in January indicated that over recent months Turkey’s central bank made nearly $20 billion in foreign reserve sales to uphold the Turkish lira as it fluctuated from 18.4 to 10.25 liras to the dollar, shaking the economy and increasing inflation.

Despite these efforts, in February, food prices increased by eight percent, marked by a 31 percent increase in vegetable prices. Meanwhile, annual food inflation hit 64.4 percent.

Russia and Ukraine supplied 80 percent of Turkey’s $4 billion grain imports last year, and any price hikes would push up consumer inflation.

Turkish trade unions have reported that the cost of a balanced diet – known as the hunger threshold – rose to 4,533 liras ($322) for a family of four, eclipsing the monthly minimum wage of 4,250 liras ($300).

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