Turkish inflation hits almost 80%, peak might be near

Turkish inflation hits almost 80%, peak might be near

Turkish inflation rose to a fresh 24-year high of 79.6% in July, data showed on Wednesday as the lira’s continued weakness and global energy and commodity costs pushed prices higher, though the price rises came out below forecasts.

Inflation began to surge last autumn, when the lira slumped after the central bank gradually cut its policy rate by 500 basis-points to 14% in an easing cycle sought by President Tayyip Erdogan.

Month-on-month, consumer prices rose 2.37% in July, the Turkish Statistical Institute said, below a Reuters poll forecast of 2.9%. Annually, consumer price inflation was forecast to be 80.5%.

Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said annual inflation may be approaching a peak with energy inflation falling sharply and food inflation appearing close to topping out.

“Even if inflation is close to a peak, it will remain close to its current very high rates for several more months,” Tuvey said in a note.

“Sharp and disorderly falls in the lira remain a key risk,” he said.

The biggest annual rise in consumer prices was in the transportation sector, up 119.11%, while food and non-alcoholic drinks prices climbed 94.65%.

Inflation this year has been fuelled further by the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the lira’s continued decline. The currency weakened 44% against the dollar last year, and is down another 27% this year.

The lira was trading flat after the data at 17.9560 against the dollar. It touched a record low of 18.4 in December.

Annual inflation is now at the highest level since September 1998, when it reached 80.4% and Turkey was battling to end a decade of chronically high inflation.

Last week’s Reuters poll showed annual inflation was seen declining to some 70% by end-2022, easing from current levels as base effects from last year’s price surge take effect.

The domestic producer price index climbed 5.17% month-on-month in July for an annual rise of 144.61%.

The government has said inflation will fall as a result of its economic programme, which prioritises low rates to boost production and exports and aims to achieve a current account surplus.

Erdogan has said that he expects inflation to come down to “appropriate” levels by February-March next year, while the central bank raised its end-2022 forecast to 60.4% last Thursday from 42.8% previously.

The bank’s inflation report showed the estimated range of inflation reaching nearly 90% this autumn before easing.

Opposition lawmakers and economists have questioned the reliability of the Turkish Statistical Institute’s (TUIK) figures, claims TUIK has dismissed. Polls show Turks believe inflation is far higher than official data. [Reuters]

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