The short-term GDP growth-based economic success of the BRICS has spawned a trend of grouping large emerging market economies under shared monikers. The proliferation of a wide array of labels—from MINTs to VISTAs—within political and financial circles has been accompanied by a growing scholarly interest in the study of these ‘emerging markets’ and future ‘rising powers’. This paper discusses the literature on Turkey’s ‘rising power’ status to problematise the conceptual and analytical parameters that shape the debates on ‘emerging markets’ and ‘rising powers’. Accordingly, I argue that the established parameters are wholly based in, and in turn, reproduce, a neoliberal conception of development which prioritises a narrowly construed metric of economic progress based on GDP growth while simultaneously ignoring the associated socio-economic and environmental costs. The paper interrogates the ways in which select macroeconomic indicators have been deployed to legitimise neoliberal reform in Turkey and utilises this case study to mount a methodological challenge to the relevant IR/IPE literatures that conceptualise ‘emerging markets’ and ‘rising powers’ from growth-oriented perspectives.