Javier Milei, who won the presidential election in Argentina, promises a crazy future for the Argentine people who have been suffering from rampant inflation for years. An admirer of former US President Donald Trump, Milei’s striking promises include closing the Argentine Central Bank, removing the crumbling Argentine peso from circulation and adopting the US dollar as the country’s currency, withdrawing the state from the economy completely, cutting public spending, ending social subsidies provided by the state and reducing the tax burden of private companies.
Milei, who likes to be called “the crazy president”, is now intensely discussing his program to save Argentina by reviving radical neoliberalism. Those who believe that Milei’s crazy program will save Argentina are a small minority. If the ambitious program leads to total chaos in the economy, the feared possibility is that Argentina will once again fall into the clutches of a brutal military regime.
You may rightly ask where it came from to compare Turkey to Argentina, when those who govern Turkey single-handedly are now clinging to the high interest rate they have been cursing for years and trying to control the inflation.
There is a simple answer to this question. In a chart published every week by The Economist magazine in the UK, which compares the data of the world’s 42 leading economies, Argentina ranks first with an annual inflation rate of 143%, followed by Turkey with 61.4%. In 31 of the 42 countries on the list, annual inflation is below 5%. This 5% figure is not foreign to us. Turkey is a country that has managed(!) to bring annual inflation close to triple digits while the annual inflation target was 5% for years under the AK Party administration.
We are addicted to inflation
As a journalist since 1981, I have closely followed the economy and have seen many politicians who set out with ambitious goals only to be disappointed. When Turgut Özal founded the Anavatan Party in 1983 and entered the elections, he promised to reduce annual inflation from 30% to 10% within two years and relieve what he called “the middle class”, but he could not prevent inflation from climbing to 50% two years later and to 80% after 1987.
Tansu Çiller, who took office as prime minister in 1993, claimed to revitalize the economy by reducing inflation, which resulted in the fiasco of the April 5 decisions in 1994. In the 2002-2006 period, when AKP pursued rational policies, it managed to reduce annual inflation to around 5% and make the Turkish Lira a real currency, but especially after 2017, it lost its grip and brought us to these days.
Let us know very well that we cannot solve this problem if we do not see the reality. There is a habit of living with inflation that has been ingrained in our society for years. Without taking steps to break this habit, we will not be able to overcome this problem and we will not be able to stop worrying about “Are we going to be like Argentina?”.