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Turkey Raises Interest Rates to Tame Runaway Inflation

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In a bold move to combat soaring inflation, Turkey’s central bank has raised its main interest rate to 40%. This decision, the sixth consecutive rate hike, underscores the bank’s determination to rein in double-digit inflation that has left households struggling to afford basic goods. While the rate increase was higher than expected, the central bank believes that it is necessary to establish a disinflation course. This article will delve into the details of Turkey’s interest rate hike, its impact on the economy, and the potential implications for the future.

The Battle Against Inflation

Turkey has been grappling with persistently high inflation rates, with the figure reaching an eye-watering 61.36% in October. The country’s central bank, under the leadership of Governor Hafize Gaye Erkan, has taken decisive steps to address this issue. The recent interest rate hike of 5 percentage points brings the benchmark one-week repo rate to 40%, significantly higher than the previous rate of 35%. This move aims to curb inflation and stabilize the economy.

The Role of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been known for his unorthodox approach to economic policies. He has advocated for cutting interest rates as a means to combat inflation, a stance that defies traditional economic thinking. However, since his re-election in May, Erdogan has taken a different approach. He appointed a new economic team, including former Merrill Lynch banker Mehmet Simsek as finance minister and Hafize Gaye Erkan as the central bank governor. This new team has swiftly moved to reverse Erdogan’s previous policy of keeping interest rates low.

The Impact on the Lira

The Turkish lira has experienced significant fluctuations in recent years, largely influenced by the country’s economic policies. Despite the lira’s weakness, the decision to raise interest rates to 40% has sparked a rally in the currency. While the lira remains 54% weaker for the year, the rate hike has provided some relief. Investors had anticipated a smaller increase of 250 basis points, highlighting the unexpected nature of the decision.

The Road to Stability

The central bank’s decision to raise interest rates is part of a broader effort to stabilize the Turkish economy. By increasing borrowing costs, the central bank aims to reduce domestic demand and curb inflationary pressures. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) stated that the current level of monetary tightness is close to the required level to establish a disinflation course. As a result, the pace of monetary tightening will slow down, and the tightening cycle will be completed in the near future.

Economic Turmoil and Currency Crisis

Turkey’s economy, once characterized by rapid growth, has faced significant challenges in recent years. The previous policy of cutting interest rates despite high inflation led to a currency crisis in 2021. The government had to implement measures to protect lira deposits from currency depreciation. Critics have attributed this economic turmoil to the unconventional policies advocated by President Erdogan. However, with the new economic team in place, Turkey is taking steps to address these issues and restore stability.

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The Role of the Central Bank

Under the leadership of Governor Hafize Gaye Erkan, the central bank has been proactive in tackling inflation. Since her appointment in June, the bank has raised the main interest rate from 8.5% to 40%. This series of consecutive rate hikes demonstrates the bank’s commitment to fighting inflation and stabilizing the economy. Erkan has predicted that inflation will reach 65% by the end of the year and will continue to rise until May of the following year before gradually decreasing to 36% by the end of 2024.

The Future of Monetary Policy

With the benchmark interest rate now surpassing expected inflation levels, the central bank has signaled a shift in its approach. The MPC announced that the pace of monetary tightening will slow down, and the tightening cycle will be completed in a short period of time. This suggests that the central bank believes the current level of monetary tightness is sufficient to establish a disinflation course. As the economy stabilizes, attention will turn to sustaining price stability and fostering long-term economic growth.

Market Reaction

The Turkish stock market, represented by the BIST 100 Index, responded positively to the interest rate hike. The index showed a 0.3% increase following the news, indicating investor confidence in the central bank’s efforts to combat inflation. This reaction suggests that the market views the rate hike as a necessary step to restore stability and mitigate economic risks.

Expert Opinions

Experts have weighed in on Turkey’s interest rate hike, highlighting its significance in addressing inflationary pressures. Senol Babuscu, a finance professor from Ankara’s Baskent University, commended the central bank’s determination in fighting inflation. He suggested that there may be one final rate hike in December before a temporary suspension of the tightening cycle. Hakan Kara, a former central bank chief economist, speculated that the policy rate could be further increased to 42.5% or 45% in December, depending on future inflation data.


Turkey’s decision to raise interest rates to 40% demonstrates its commitment to tackling high inflation and stabilizing the economy. The central bank’s proactive approach, under the leadership of Governor Hafize Gaye Erkan, reflects a departure from previous policies that prioritized low interest rates. While the road to stability may still be challenging, the interest rate hike is a crucial step toward restoring confidence in the Turkish economy. As the tightening cycle nears completion, the focus will shift to sustaining price stability and fostering long-term growth.


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