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Turkey's Inflation Hits new 24-Year High Beyond 80%

  • Interest rate cut cycle fuels inflation surge
  • Transportation, food driving price rises
  • Inflation data questioned after higher Istanbul figures

ISTANBUL, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Turkey's annual inflation climbed to a fresh 24-year high of 80.21% in August, a bit below expectations according to data on Monday, after the central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates and stoked a nearly year-long cost-of-living crisis.

Inflation has raced higher since last autumn when the central bank gradually cut its policy rate by 500 basis points to 14%, in an unorthodox easing cycle sought by President Tayyip Erdogan that set off a lira crisis.

Despite expectations that inflation will remain lofty, the bank cut rates by another 100 basis points last month to 13%, citing a slowing economy.

Month-on-month, consumer prices rose 1.46%, the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) said, compared to a Reuters poll forecast of 2.0%. Annually, inflation was forecast to be 81.22%.

Last month's reading was the highest since 81.4% inAugust, 1998, when Turkey was battling to end a decade of chronically high inflation.

The domestic producer price index rose 2.41% month-on-month in August for an annual rise of 143.75%.

"The central bank has resumed cutting interest rates. This, and the continuing huge PPI inflation rate, are the main worries for Turkey which are steadily, but surely, eroding the lira's fundamentals," said Commerzbank's Tatha Ghose.

The highest annual inflation was seen in transportation, where prices rose 116.87% year-on-year, despite prices in the sector dropping 1.78% month-on-month. In the key food and non-alcoholic drinks' sector, prices jumped 90.25%.

After the data at 0840 GMT the lira wasunchanged at 18.2240.

Last month's cut came as world central banks have been raising rates. Ankara has said inflation will fall with its economic programme prioritising low rates to boost production and exports, and achieving a current account surplus.

Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati said that while major global economies were concerned about recession at the same time as inflation rises, Turkey was continuing its "fight against inflation without stopping investment and production".


Opposition lawmakers and economists have questioned the reliability of TUIK's figures, which TUIK has stood by. Opinion polls show about 50% of Turks believe inflation is far higher than official data.

Data last week showed retail prices in Istanbul leapt 99.9% in Istanbul in August and BlueBay Asset Management strategist Tim Ash highlighted the gap.

"I no longer believe the official (TUIK) series. It looks like fantasy, wishful thinking. How can you conduct economic policy when the basic economic data cannot be trusted?" Ash wrote in emailed comments.

Economic fallout from war in Ukraine and the lira's decline have stoked prices. The currency shed 44% last year and is down more than 27% this year.

According to government forecasts released on Sunday, Turkey expects inflation to ease to 65% by end-year. The Reuters poll showed an end-2022 level of just below 71%.

Reporting by Canan Sevgili, Azra Ceylan, Nevzat Devranoglu; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Ed Osmond

Source: Reuters


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