ANKARA - In a bold move to tackle the country's soaring inflation, the Central Bank of Turkey has increased its interest rates by five percentage points, bringing the rate to a staggering 40%. This decision is part of an aggressive monetary tightening cycle aimed at reining in inflation, which has surpassed sixty percent. The bank's medium-term goal is to reduce inflation to around five percent.
The rate hike marks a significant shift from the policies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's early years in office. Since 2003, Erdogan has been at the helm as Turkey became the world's nineteenth-largest economy, largely due to ambitious development projects. However, these efforts started to backfire in 2019 when rampant inflation began causing the lira to fall sharply against the dollar and household essentials' costs surged.
This turnaround in economic strategy comes during Erdogan's re-election year after a narrow electoral victory. The appointment of Hafize Gaye Erkan and Mehmet Simsek, who replaced previous policymakers, led to a reversal of former economic policies. The new leadership began their terms by increasing rates from eight-and-a-half percent to fifteen percent in June, marking a departure from Erdogan's initial fiscal approach characterized by heavy reliance on foreign-funded projects.
The previous cuts had contributed to an inflation peak of over eighty percent in August of that year. The current increase reflects a drastic change in direction as Erkan and Simsek attempt to stabilize the economy through higher interest rates, which are typically used to curb inflation by reducing spending and borrowing.
With this latest increase, Turkey is experiencing one of the swiftest monetary contractions in recent times as it strives to bring down inflation from exceptionally high levels. The central bank's decisive action signals a commitment to restoring economic stability and controlling price growth, which has been eroding Turkish citizens' purchasing power.
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