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TikTok users mock Erdoğan’s call on Turks to convert foreign currency savings to lira

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As part of a new trend started by TikTok users in Turkey, videos showing people panicking and hiding their money when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan magically appears behind them have gone viral, local media reported on Wednesday.

In hundreds such videos that each garnered thousands of views on TikTok, Erdoğan is seen appearing behind people who are counting their money and tells them to “Get the gold [and] foreign currency savings [kept] under your pillows out,” according to Turkish media reports. The users are then seen panicking and squirreling the money away.

The videos make fun of the fact that the president has been urging Turkish citizens and companies to convert their foreign currency savings to Turkish lira for the past few years as Ankara seeks to boost demand for the local currency.

The lira, which has lost more than half its value against the dollar in the past year alone and has been the worst performer in emerging markets for several years running due largely to economic and monetary policy concerns under Erdoğan’s government, traded at 18.25 to the US dollar on Wednesday, down more than 27 percent so far this year.

The Turkish economy has gone into a tailspin since last year when Erdoğan — who is up for re-election next year — put pressure on the central bank to start slashing interest rates.

Contrary to economic orthodoxy, Erdoğan is convinced that high interest rates fuel inflation rather than rein it in.

Over the past several years Turkey has been suffering from a deteriorating economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in the country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

A staggeringly high cost of living has become the new normal in Turkey, where recent increases in food and utility prices are pushing up inflation, further crippling the purchasing power of citizens.

An increasing number of Turks have complained on social media about rising electricity bills and falling into debt. Many have said even basic foods such as vegetables have become a luxury as prices have risen by nearly 400 percent.

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