Faced with inflation, Turks between resourcefulness and survival

A street market in Istanbul (Turkey), September 6, 2023.

There is not a day of respite, not a day without prices increasing in Turkey. One time it’s the bread, another time the onion or the dish soap. Just yesterday, it was the gl of tea at the local café. At the beginning of September, it cost 20 Turkish liras, or 0.70 euros. Before the summer it was 15. Last year 7.5.

In an article published in the Swiss German-language daily New Zürcher Zeitung, the writer Ismail Güzelsoy erted that the Turks were experiencing inflation like a force of the elements, a sort of natural disaster that had become permanent. In fact, the daily waltz of labels is a merciless reveal of the powerlessness of consumers. Restaurants and bars are increasingly refraining from displaying their prices, whether on the menu or on their barcode links.

Some sites are trying to remedy this loss of reference points. There are the hashtags #enflasyon, #DolarTL and even ZAM Haber on X (formerly Twitter) which points out all kinds of variations. Milk, butter, scams too, the false reductions of certain brands or even government announcements, everything is there. Such as this photo of a 300 gram steak taken in 2019 and which cost 19.47 pounds at the time. It is now worth 120 pounds. The account, which could be translated as “inflation news”, is followed by more than 600,000 subscribers.

Also read (2022): Article reserved for our subscribers In Türkiye, the economy on a dangerous slope

“I don’t look at these numbers anymore”

On the authorities’ side, forecasts and announcements also vary from one period to another. This summer, the Central Bank, which had already made limited increases in its interest rates, surprised by sharply raising its main key rate to 25% since June in order to stem inflation. On Wednesday September 6, the government revised its forecasts upwards and now expects an annual price increase of 65% by the end of the year before a slowdown to 33% next year. In his forecasts published a year ago, he counted on increases of 24.9% and 13.8% respectively. Cruel reminder, within two or three months, not once in the last forty years has inflation recorded a rate lower than 10%.

“We are in a period of transition,” stressed in a cautious tone, Monday August 4, the Minister of the Economy, Mehmet Simsek. The official statistics, although already extremely high, are disputed by independent economists from the Inflation Research Group (ENAG) who say the rise in consumer prices amounts to 128% year-on-year.

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