• Short Summary

    While the Turkish Government has introduced a series of austerity measures to try and prop up the country's crippled economy....

  • Description

    While the Turkish Government has introduced a series of austerity measures to try and prop up the country's crippled economy....many people are turning back to gold as a means of exchange and a measure of wealth.

    SYNOPSIS: Gold has always enjoyed a dominant role in Turkish life....people of all classes have tended to hoard the precious metal. Most gold enters Turkey through Istanbul where the prices are set by dealers.

    Dealers in Turkey's other main gold centre Ankara follow suit. if there was ever an area which fitted the description of a street lined with gold it is the Anafartalar Caddesi. The street is lined with hundreds of tiny jewellery shops selling nothing but gold.

    The price of a gram of twenty-two, eighteen or fourteen carat gold varies daily....the rice is openly displayed and there is no bargaining. Jewellers flourish because the buying and selling of gold coin or jewellery is practised by all sections of the community. Workers and peasants are just as likely to frequent the shops of the Anafartalar Caddesi as are the wealthy or tourists.

    The traditional thirst for gold has strengthened as the value of Turkish currency has weakened. With inflation running at sixty percent many Turks see gold as representing security..the only true measure of wealth. Consequently the price of gold wares in the markets has risen about sixteen hundred percent in the past ten years.

    To meet the demand, more and more gold is being smuggled into the country. Western gold dealers estimate that more than ninety tonnes of gold was smuggled into Istanbul in 1977 worth more than four hundred million dollars (U.S.). Only last month police found a total of fifteen gold ingots each weighing one kilogram, in two separate jeweller's stalls in one Istanbul bazaar.

    The unofficial gold market is a drain on the national economy. It keeps billions of dollars worth of gold in private hands where it cannot be used by the government rather than if it were held in the form of bank account or government bonds. The Turkish Government's austerity measures will tighten money supply and probably increase the use of gold as a means of exchange.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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