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Why Turkey’s growth data has economists scratching their heads

Turkey’s latest growth data, which suggests the economy rebounded strongly in the fourth quarter of 2016, appears out of sync with other key indicators, fueling doubts over Ankara’s new calculation method.
A money changer counts Turkish lira bills at an currency exchange office in central Istanbul, Turkey, August 21, 2015. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo - RTSKTP9
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On the data calendar of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), March 31 was the day to release the country’s fourth-quarter economic growth for 2016 and thus the overall rate for the year. The figures came as a surprise. Following a contraction in the third quarter, the Turkish economy rebounded strongly in the fourth quarter, growing 3.5%. This put the overall growth rate for 2016 at 2.9%. Hungry to showcase some economic success, Ankara was in an upbeat mood, but the figures rekindled questions on just how reliable the data is — a debate that had flared in December, when TUIK announced a retrospective revision of whole data sets, using a new calculation method.

For the majority of Turkish economists, excluding those who curry favor with the government, the credibility of the data is questionable.

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