Thursday January 20th, 2022 3:32AM

'We don’t deserve this': Inflation hits Turkish people hard

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ISTANBUL (AP) — Market-stand owner Kadriye Dogru makes do with stale, sesame-covered bagels, known as simit, for lunch these days. The widowed mother of two says she goes without lunch so she can put food on the table for her family later in the day.

The money that the 59-year-old earns by selling sweatpants and other garments at Istanbul's Ortakcilar market no longer lasts, and she is struggling to buy food, let alone anything else.

“I had never experienced such a deplorable life. I go to sleep, I wake up and the prices have gone up. I bought a 5-litre can of (cooking) oil, it was 40 lira. I went back, it was 80 lira,” she said. “We don’t deserve this as a nation.”

Many people in Turkey are facing increased hardship as prices of food and other goods have soared. While rising consumer prices are affecting countries worldwide as they bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, economists say Turkey's eye-popping inflation has been exacerbated by economic mismanagement, concerns over the country’s financial reserves and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push to cut interest rates.

He claims lower borrowing costs will boost growth, though economists say just the opposite is the way to tame soaring prices. The Turkish lira has been tumbling to record lows against the U.S. dollar as the country’s central bank has slashed interest rates, fueling concerns about its independence.

Caught in the middle are everyday Turks trying to make ends meet.

“Everything is so expensive, I cannot buy anything,” Suheyla Poyraz said as she browsed food stalls at the Ortakcilar market in Istanbul’s Eyupsultan district.

The 57-year-old homemaker has voted for Erdogan’s party and called on the government to act to end inflation.

“If you are the government and if we are voting for you to put things right, why aren’t you intervening? Why aren’t you stopping the rising prices?” Poyraz said.

High inflation has been hurting the popularity ratings of Erdogan, whose early years in power were marked by a strong economy. Opinion surveys indicate that an alliance of opposition parties that have formed a bloc against Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist allies are fast narrowing the gap.

The Turkish government says inflation rose nearly 20% in October compared with a year earlier, but the independent Inflation Research Group, made up of academics and former government officials, put it close to a stunning 50%. In comparison, U.S. prices rose about 6% from a year ago — the most since 1990 — and inflation in the 19 European Union countries that use the euro exceeded 4%, the highest in 13 years.

Turkey's currency, as a result, hit an all-time low of 10 against the U.S. dollar last week and has lost some 25% of its value since the start of the year. That is driving prices higher, making imports, fuel and everyday goods more expensive. While some argue that a weaker lira makes Turkish exporters more competitive in the global economy, much of Turkey’s industry relies on imported raw materials.

There are concerns about Erdogan's influence over monetary policy. He's appointed four central bank governors since 2019 and fired bankers who are said to have resisted lowering interest rates. The bank has increased rates by 3 percentage points since September and will release its latest decision Thursday.

In contrast, central banks in other pandemic-hit countries have been raising rates or considering doing so in the months ahead as backups at ports and factories, labor shortages and soaring energy costs have pushed up prices.

Foreign investors have been dumping Turkish assets, and Turks have been converting their savings to foreign currencies and gold.

“There has been a massive selloff in financial markets just due to this intervention to the central bank’s independence,” said Ozlem Derici Sengul, an economist and founding partner of the Istanbul-based Spinn Consulting. “There are several factors that move both inflation and financial market prices ... (but) the dominant factor is the central bank’s policy.”

She estimates more than half of the population “is struggling in terms of income.”

Erdogan, meanwhile, insists that the economy is strong and that the country is emerging from the pandemic in better shape than others.

“Shelves in Europe are empty, they are empty in the United States. Praise to God, we are continuing with plentitude and abundance,” he has said.

His government has blamed exorbitant food prices on supermarket chains and ordered an investigation that has resulted in fines. He also has ordered agricultural cooperatives to open a thousand new shops across the country in a bid to keep food prices low.

Earlier, he accused a group of students who slept outdoors in parks to protest high housing and dormitory prices of “terrorism.” Meanwhile, rents have skyrocketed and prices for home sales, mostly pegged on the dollar, are increasing.

In a bid to alleviate suffering, Labor and Social Security Minister Vedat Bilgin said this month that the government was working to adjust the minimum wage to protect workers against rising prices.

“We are working to remove the issue of minimum wage from the agenda — I can already say that it will provide a relief,” he said.

Economists say it's not enough.

“The inflation and low income and uneven income distribution will have more side effects in 2022 and 2023 if the government continues to insist on low interest rates, loose monetary policy and election preparations,” Sengul said.

Musa Timur, who owns a grocery store in Istanbul, said rising prices make it hard for him to replace products.

“Any product that we sell — we cannot get them in at the same prices,” he said.

He said his customers are no longer able to afford a variety of food and mostly buy bread, pasta and eggs.


Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey. Associated Press journalists Zeynep Bilginsoy and Ayse Wieting in Istanbul contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services, AP Business - Real Estate
© Copyright 2022
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
'We don’t deserve this': Inflation hits Turkish people hard
Many people in Turkey are facing increased hardship as prices of food and other goods have soared
2:35AM ( 17 minutes ago )
EXPLAINER: Which side did better in Rittenhouse closings?
A defense lawyer angrily accused the prosecution at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial of lying
1:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
Biden, Xi try to tamp down tension in long virtual meeting
President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping are agreeing they need to tread carefully as their nations find themselves in an increasingly fraught competition
1:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Blinken to Africa to boost US response to regional crises
The Biden administration’s competition with China for influence hasn't gotten off to a great start in Africa
12:11AM ( 2 hours ago )
Biden to push infrastructure deal at 'red list' bridge in NH
The last time Joe Biden was in New Hampshire, he was being trounced in the state’s 2020 Democratic presidential primary
12:10AM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump ally Bannon talks tough after court appearance
Longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon appeared before a judge Monday to face federal contempt charges for defying a subpoena from a House committee investigating January’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol
12:06AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Houston officials pick internal review of Astroworld tragedy
Calls for an independent investigation into what led to 10 deaths at the Astroworld music festival have gone unheeded
11:23PM ( 3 hours ago )
Atmospheric river whips Northwest; 1 missing, roads closed
Flooding and landsides prompted the complete closure of the West Coast’s main north-south highway near Bellingham, Washington, as the culmination of days of storms and high winds wreaked havoc in the Pacific Northwest
11:07PM ( 3 hours ago )
EXPLAINER: What charges does Kyle Rittenhouse face?
Kyle Rittenhouse faces multiple charges for shooting three men, killing two, during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020
10:00PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Choppers rescue travelers on Canada highway after mudslides
Nearly 300 people trapped overnight in their vehicles following mudslides on a highway in British Columbia are being flown by helicopters to safety while authorities try to determine if anyone may have been swept up in the flow of debris set off by torrential rain
11:21PM ( 3 hours ago )
Ohio retirement fund sues Facebook over investment loss
Ohio's largest public employee pension fund has sued Facebook, alleging that it broke federal securities law by purposely misleading the public about its product's negative effect on children
10:10PM ( 4 hours ago )
No 3rd trial against federal agent in fatal Hawaii shooting
Honolulu's prosecuting attorney won't seek a third trial against a federal agent who shot and killed a man during an altercation in a fast-food restaurant
8:59PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business
US urged to help more people escape Taliban-led Afghanistan
A coalition of organizations working to help people escape Taliban rule in Afghanistan appealed Monday for more assistance from the U.S. government and other nations as conditions deteriorate in the country
6:12PM ( 8 hours ago )
Biden signs $1T infrastructure deal with bipartisan crowd
President Joe Biden has signed his hard-fought $1 trillion infrastructure deal into law before a bipartisan, celebratory crowd on the White House lawn
5:55PM ( 8 hours ago )
US stock indexes end wobbly day mostly lower on Wall Street
Major indexes ended a wobbly day mostly lower on Wall Street as the market comes off its first weekly loss in six weeks
5:36PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
World shares higher ahead of talks between Biden, China's Xi
Shares have advanced in Europe and Asia ahead of virtual talks between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping
4:52AM ( 22 hours ago )
Asian shares higher as Japan says economy shrank in 3Q
Shares are mostly higher in Asia as plans for stimulus in Japan overshadowed news that its economy contracted in the last quarter
2:15AM ( 1 day ago )
Asian shares mixed as Japan says economy contracted in 3Q
Shares are mixed in Asia, with the specter of inflation weighing on sentiment
12:18AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Financial Markets
Biden boosts crime fighting efforts on Native American lands
President Joe Biden has ordered several Cabinet departments to work together to combat human trafficking and crime on Native American lands, where violent crime rates are more than double the national average
5:28PM ( 9 hours ago )
Biden to protect Native American heritage site, boost safety
President Joe Biden says his administration will help improve public safety and justice for Native American communities
2:24PM ( 12 hours ago )
Reports: Trump selling DC hotel to investment firm for $375M
Donald Trump’s opulent hotel near the White House that drew lobbyists and diplomats seeking favor with the ex-president is being sold to a Miami investment group
12:01PM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Argentina's opposition scores win in midterm elections
Argentine President Alberto Fernández has suffered a severe setback in  midterm elections held amid widespread anger over high inflation and rising poverty
11:44PM ( 1 day ago )
Argentina president suffers big loss in midterm elections
Argentine President Alberto Fernández has suffered a severe setback in  midterm elections held amid widespread anger over high inflation and rising poverty
10:03PM ( 1 day ago )
Turkish lira slides to new low after jump in US inflation
The Turkish lira again has slid to a record low against the U.S. dollar after a surge in U.S. consumer prices inflamed concerns over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push to cut interest rates
6:40AM ( 4 days ago )
AP Business - Financial Services
US average long-term mortgage rates fall; 30-year at 2.98%
Average long-term mortgage rates in the U.S. fell this week, as the key 30-year rate again retreated below 3%
1:59PM ( 5 days ago )
White House eyes new climate change strategies in Biden bill
The White House is zeroing in on a package of clean energy strategies for President Joe Biden’s big domestic policy bill
2:27PM ( 2 weeks ago )
New home sales jumped 14% in September
Sales of new homes jumped 14% in September to the fastest pace in six months as strong demand helped offset rising prices
11:32AM ( 2 weeks ago )
AP Business - Real Estate
EXPLAINER: Which side did better in Rittenhouse closings?
A defense lawyer angrily accused the prosecution at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial of lying
1:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
Biden, Xi try to tamp down tension in long virtual meeting
President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping are agreeing they need to tread carefully as their nations find themselves in an increasingly fraught competition
1:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Jury to begin deliberations at Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial
Jurors are set to begin deliberating Tuesday at Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial after two weeks of testimony in which they were given starkly different portrayals of his actions the night he shot three men on the streets of Kenosha
1:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
DeRozan, LaVine lead Bulls' 121-103 rout of LA; Davis tossed
DeMar DeRozan scored a season-high 38 points and Zach LaVine added 26 in the Chicago Bulls’ 121-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers
1:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
Inmate who was key to juvenile life debate is up for parole
In recent years, hundreds of people once destined to spend the rest of their lives in prison after being convicted of crimes as juveniles have gone free
1:03AM ( 1 hour ago )