Turks Fear for Future as Currency Rout Continues
The Turkish lira has fallen more than 40 percent since the start of the year, 20 percent just last week, amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, and international investors’ concerns over the economy. For Turkey, the dramatic collapse of the currency signal fears for the future, as Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.
Fruit and vegetable sellers, along with fishmongers, try to drum up business in Istanbul’s old Kadikoy market. But trade is slow. Most people just look and walk on.
Organic shopkeeper Meltem worries for the future.
She says she is pessimistic about the future because prices will rise and the ability of people to purchase will decrease. She adds that as money in their pockets decreases, people in hardship will buy much less than before.
The fear of plummeting currency values, which continued on markets Monday, will stoke Turkey’s already double-digit inflation, which appears to be the top concern among shoppers. Turkey relies heavily on imports, especially for energy.
Thirty-year-old Tariq, a teacher doing his weekly shopping, says he is cutting back on spending as he prepares for difficult times ahead.
He says the lira has fallen heavily and predicts unbelievable inflation because Turkey imports so much. He says everybody in Turkey is afraid the coming inflation, especially for heating bills, will make this winter hard.
Across the street, fishmonger Huseyin proudly displays what he claims is the finest turbot in Istanbul and tries to be more positive. He acknowledges there will be problems.
He says he does not have much to do with dollars, because if more fish are caught, they are cheaper, if less they are more expensive. But he says buyers may be affected if they are having economic difficulties. He says if there is a good quantity of fish, then he will keep selling.
Shopkeeper Meltem warns of economic uncertainty ahead.
She says the future does not look good, because when people are hungry, they will be tempted to steal and may choose illegal means to survive. She said things will not be any good. Many stores are closing because there is no trade anymore.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday an international conspiracy is responsible for undermining the currency, but says the financial fundamentals of the economy remain strong, and order will soon return to the markets.
Such claims have been met with skepticism by international investors, while many economists warn the damage may have already been done to the economy, and difficult times lie ahead.