Turkey: a new symbol for the lira

Turkey has chosen a new symbol for its currency – and the country’s prime minister has lost no time in linking it to his country’s resurgence on the world stage.

Ankara is self confident as rarely before in both economic and diplomatic terms and that confidence spreads to the Turkish lira, which not too long ago was a byword for hyperinflation and counted in millions rather than ones.

“This signifies the Turkish lira gaining prestige, the revival of a nation, the expression that we too exist in the global arena,” declared Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he unveiled the new motif, which looks a little like a pound symbol superimposed on a letter‘t’.

In a sense, the new logo is part of a more general Turkish relaunch, which has seen the country register annual growth of more than 8 per cent while it exerts greater influence than before in north Africa and the Middle East.

Still, skeptics worry that the new Turkey remains vulnerable on some fronts. The country’s current account deficit – 10 per cent of GDP – is diminishing only slowly and Ankara could be hit badly by the fallout from increased fighting in Syria or from an Israeli strike on Iran.

The lira design was the winner of more than 8,000 entries in a public competition, some of them, Erdogan (centre) pointed out, from prisoners. He depicted the new symbol as a natural progression from previous changes, including lopping off six zeros from the currency in 2005 and dropping the designation “new Turkish lira” three years ago.

He also lauded the new symbol as a “concrete indicator of stability”, pointing out that it was being trotted out on a day that year-end figures showed Turkey’s 2011 unemployment at 9.8 per cent – according to analysts, the lowest level for a decade.

Indeed, the lira is at present a backstop for the country’s economic policy as a whole, with officials expressing hope that its recent appreciation from lows last year will hold the door against higher inflation without the need to raise interest rates.