Dwarfing inflation in U.S., prices in Turkey rise 54%, putting squeeze on households

Red peppers for sale at an open-air market
People buy vegetables at an open-air market in Turkey, where high inflation is hitting many households hard.
(Burhan Ozbilici / Associated Press)

Turkey’s annual inflation rate further accelerated in February, official data showed Thursday, marking the biggest jump since 2002 and deepening the squeeze on households already struggling to purchase basic goods.

The Turkish Statistical Institute said consumer prices rose 54.44% in February compared with a year ago. That is up from nearly 49% in January.

In comparison, annual inflation increased by a record 5.8% in the 19 countries that use the euro currency in February and by 7.5% in the U.S. in January — the fastest pace in 40 years.


In Turkey, the highest yearly price increase was in the transportation sector, at 75.75%, while the increase in food prices was 64.47%, according to the data.

Turkish consumers have been hit with rising prices following a series of interest rate cuts last year that triggered a currency crisis.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly opposes high borrowing costs, insisting that they cause inflation — a position that contradicts established economic thinking.

Bulgarian shoppers are crossing Turkey’s border in packed cars and buses, taking advantage of a declining Turkish lira to fuel shopping sprees.

Dec. 28, 2021

Turkey’s central bank has cut rates by 5 percentage points since September, to 14%, despite high inflation rates, before pausing them in January and February. The Turkish lira lost 44% of its value against the U.S. dollar last year.

In a bid to bring some relief, the government last month reduced value-added tax on basic food to 1%, from the previous 8%.

It also introduced a set of measures to reduce surging power bills, including readjusting the level at which higher electricity rates for households and some businesses kick in.