Inflation in Turkey Hits 20-Year High of Nearly 49%

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey's annual inflation came in at nearly 49% on Thursday, hitting a nearly 20-year high and further eroding people's ability to buy even basic things like food.

The Turkish Statistical Institute said the consumer price index increased by just over 11% in January from the previous month. The yearly increase in food prices was more than 55%, according to the data.

The inflation rate was the highest since April 2002 in a country that is facing an economic upheaval and currency crisis, triggered by a series of interest rate cuts.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared himself an "enemy" of high interest rates, insisting that they cause inflation -- a stance that contradicts established economic thinking.

Turkey's central bank has cut rates by 5 percentage points since September, to 14%, before pausing them in January.

Erdogan vowed this week that his government would "reduce the spiral of high inflation with each passing month" and completely eliminate it "after a while."

Opposition parties have questioned the Turkish Statistical Institute's independence and have challenged its data. The independent Inflation Research Group put Turkey's actual annual inflation at a stunning 114.87%.

Last week, Erdogan replaced the head of the statistical institute. No reason was given for the change.