The Kapali Carsi

Turks Richer: They just didn’t know about it!

In a recent speech, Deputy Prime Minister (and economy czar) Ali Babacan noted that Turkey’s average per capita income now exceeded $19,000. He was talking about purchasing power parity (PPP)-adjusted numbers, but this figure seemed way too high to me,  and so I decided to check: According to the IMF’s most recent World Economic Outlook (WEO) from April 2014, Turkey’s PPP-adjusted GDP per capita in current dollars is 15,767.33.

Babacan also mentioned these figures had just been released, and so he could be talking about different statistics. After all, there is no set way to adjust for PPP. However, he also mentioned that Turkey’s PPP-adjusted GDP per capita was now 60 percent of Japan and the EU’s. Even if he was referring to a different dataset, there should not be a huge difference in terms of such ratios, and so I decided to have a look at that:

Japan, with a PPP-adjusted GDP per capita of just over 38K, is not in this graph, but Turkey’s GDP per capita seemed to me much less than 60 percent of EU and Japan’s average. And when I actually did the calculation, the average of Japan and the EU turned out to be over 32K. Turkey’s PPP-adjusted GDP per capita thus turned out to be 48 percent of Japan and the EU’s- way below the 60 percent claimed by Babacan. I thought that maybe Babacan had decided to exclude Luxembourg, an an outlier with 80K GDP/capita. But that only made a difference of 3 percentage points.

Such sloppy math is very typical of Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, but I would have expected better from Ali Babacan. Maybe, I was too quick to praise him in my Hurriyet Daily News column today:(…

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