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Erdogan Says Turkey's Growth Confirms His Economic Policies

2018-06-14

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[00:00.00]
  • Turkey is busy preparing for elections later this month.
  • [00:05.26]
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes to be re-elected in the June 24 vote.
  • [00:13.79]
  • Erdogan says the latest reports on the Turkish economy show his economic policies are working.
  • [00:22.50]
  • Voters and international investors, however, are not so sure about the country’s economic strength.
  • [00:31.73]
  • The economy grew by 7.4 percent in the first three months of this year.
  • [00:39.12]
  • That growth rate beat what many economists expected for the quarter.
  • [00:45.67]
  • “We continue to be one of the fastest-growing countries in the world,” the Turkish president said at an election campaign stop in Istanbul.
  • [00:57.01]
  • Erdogan claimed victory against what he called “conspirators” whom he blamed for a sharp drop in value of the Turkish lira.
  • [01:09.44]
  • In May, the lira fell more than 10 percent as investors fled the Turkish market over concerns about high inflation and a growing current account deficit.
  • [01:23.37]
  • Financial order returned after a sharp increase in interest rates, which helped the lira’s value rise against other money.
  • [01:34.62]
  • But experts warn the strong growth will only fuel concerns that the government cannot continue to spend lots of money on public services.
  • [01:47.20]
  • “The current account deficit is more than 6 percent of GDP and inflation above 12 percent,” Inan Demir of Nomura Holding noted on Monday.
  • [02:00.42]
  • Demir, an economist, added that after the elections the government must cut back on spending or the value of the lira will fall again.
  • [02:12.89]
  • A slowing economic policy usually means reduced government spending and higher interest rates.
  • [02:21.11]
  • Turkey’s strong economy has helped Erdogan and his AK Party during their 16 years of electoral success.
  • [02:31.96]
  • The economy has been expanding for over a year.
  • [02:35.90]
  • But studies have found that many Turks are dissatisfied with the government’s economic program.
  • [02:43.62]
  • Fifty-one percent of likely voters who were questioned said the economy was their major worry.
  • [02:51.76]
  • The Metropoll research service reported the finding.
  • [02:56.54]
  • Last year, security problems were the number one concern among voters.
  • [03:02.56]
  • Other studies found that a majority of voters blamed the government for their economic problems.
  • [03:10.10]
  • “It’s a…liability for Erdogan,” said Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners.
  • [03:18.45]
  • He noted that while employment has decreased, prices have risen.
  • [03:25.22]
  • He also said no one is investing in new factories because interest rates on loans have topped 22 percent.
  • [03:35.02]
  • Yesilada explained that the economic growth has not helped the people on the streets, so there is a lot of public anger.
  • [03:45.85]
  • Turkey’s unemployment rate remains about 10 percent.
  • [03:50.07]
  • That information comes from the Turkish Statistical Institute.
  • [03:55.44]
  • In May, Erdogan announced retirees would receive two payments of over $200 timed to religious holidays.
  • [04:06.61]
  • The first payment is set to go out this week.
  • [04:11.14]
  • But Atilla Yesilada warned that the money means little because of the financial pain caused by the increase in interest rates.
  • [04:21.80]
  • “We all use loans. The middle class use loans to buy houses.
  • [04:27.38]
  • Businesses use loans to expand.
  • [04:30.73]
  • Even before the latest (interest) hikes, they were already at a 10-year high.
  • [04:37.11]
  • Banks have nearly stopped making new loans,” Yesilada said.
  • [04:42.83]
  • He added that a recession is likely.
  • [04:46.69]
  • Candidates competing against Erdogan for the presidency talk about economic fears.
  • [04:53.20]
  • “Erdogan can’t survive this economic crisis,” Muharrem İnce said during a recent campaign appearance in Istanbul.
  • [05:03.92]
  • İnce is the presidential candidate of the CHP Party.
  • [05:09.32]
  • He said that “Turkey is heading to dark days.
  • [05:13.81]
  • Don’t be surprised if the Turkish lira hits 8 or 10 to the (United States) dollar.
  • [05:20.74]
  • When troubled days have come to countries around the world, they couldn’t get through them unless they changed leaders.”
  • [05:29.44]
  • In May, at the start of the election campaign, the lira was less than four against the U.S. dollar.
  • [05:38.04]
  • It now stands at over 4.5. Its high was nearly 5 to the U.S. dollar.
  • [05:46.46]
  • Erdogan's public works projects are also a target in the election campaign.
  • [05:53.56]
  • They include building one of the world's biggest airports and some of the longest bridges.
  • [06:01.20]
  • The presidential candidate for the İYİ (Good) Party, Meral Aksener, said Turkey has the financial resources, but she thinks some officials are corrupt.
  • [06:14.27]
  • She noted that the government built up a budget deficit of $453 billion in debt. “What happened in return? Did your son find a job?"
  • [06:29.08]
  • Turkey watchers believe the attacks by Erdogan’s opponents over the economy are likely to grow stronger.
  • [06:36.89]
  • Economic concerns are expected to continue to be the main issue in the June 24 elections.
  • [06:44.86]
  • The election campaign is leading to less than certain results, noted Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based Edam research group.
  • [06:56.95]
  • He added that the Turkish lira is under pressure because of worries about the direction of the economy.
  • [07:04.42]
  • Anti-Erdogan politicians accuse the president of calling elections 18 months early so he could take use the country’s strong economy to support his campaign.
  • [07:17.81]
  • But many studies of likely voters now show Erdogan’s lead is getting smaller.
  • [07:24.63]
  • Observers warn the economy that was once Erdogan’s greatest strength could be what leads to his removal from office.
  • [07:34.28]
  • I’m Anna Mateo. And I'm Ashley Thompson.
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