Then and Now

On 26 July 2001, shortly after I arrived in Mersin the first time, I took note of prices for certain goods and services. Below are the price comparisons between then and today, 22 October 2003. All prices are quoted in Turkish Lira.

Exchange rates:

AUD$1: Then=670,000 TL; Now=1,034,000 TL

USD$1: Then=1,320,000 TL; Now=1,475,000 TL

EUR€1: Then=1,155,000 TL; Now=1,725,000

Notice the devaluation of the USD to the AUD.

Goods and services

1 tantuni (similar to kebap but largely found in Mersin) at my regular lunchtime restaurant:

Then=500,000; Now=1,250,000

1 glass of ayran (yoghurt drink) at the same restaurant:

Then=200,000; Now=500,000

A 45 minute haircut including shampoo, condition and ear clean!:

Then=2,000,000; Now=4,500,000

The Turkish Daily News newspaper:

Then=300,000; Now=1,000,000

The Turkish minimum monthly wage:

Then=107,323,000; Now=223,749,000

1 local intra-city bus ride:

Then=400,000; Now=750,000

1 simit (ring-shaped bread covered in sesame seeds):

Then=150,000; Now=250,000

The above increase in prices is stark evidence of hyperinflation. Turkey has experienced hyperinflation for decades. A couple of months ago I found a Turkish coin from 1960; its value? 25 kurus, or a 1/4 of a lira or 200,000 times less valuable than today’s lowest value coin, the 100,000 lira!

Believe it or not, inflation in the last 12 months has remained below 25% for the first time in many, many years!

With the reduced inflation, there has been pressure to keep wages down. However, businesses are used to increasing their prices dramatically every year. Soon, I believe, the higher prices and moderated incomes will lead to consumers spending less, forcing the businesses to level their prices.

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