Turkish central bank raises rates sharply to prop up lira

President Erdogan has said he wants to take more control of the country’s economy (AFP)
Updated 24 May 2018
0

Turkish central bank raises rates sharply to prop up lira

  • Turkey's central bank announces a sharp hike in interest rates to boost the embattled lira
  • The bank said after an emergency meeting of its monetary policy committee it was raising the late liquidity window (LLW) lending rate from 13.5 percent to 16.5 percent

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing a potentially severe crisis just a month ahead of elections over the sharp depreciation of the lira which risks buffeting his campaign and even influencing voters.
In an indication of the severity of the situation, the central bank hiked one of its key interest rates 300 basis points (bps) after an emergency meeting on Wednesday, after inaction for days amid Erdogan’s opposition to rate rises.
Erdogan has always painted himself as a champion of the Turkish economy, pointing to how growth and investment have expanded under his rule after the misery of Turkey’s 2000-2001 financial crisis.
But the lira’s depreciation by nearly 19 percent against the US dollar since the snap polls were called on April 18 may signal the economy could be a burden, rather than a boost, for Erdogan.
The Turkish strongman, a doughty campaigner and so far undefeated at the ballot box in any poll, has been strangely reticent in this campaign although his team emphasises his rallies will get fully under way on Saturday.
And when he speaks to the crowds in town squares nationwide, Erdogan will have to now confront people’s fears that the external value of the money in their pocket is crumbling.
“For Turks, a weak currency translates into a weak economy, so it’s difficult to see how this will not hurt Erdogan and the AKP (ruling party) even though their voter base is fairly loyal,” said Atilla Yesilada, country adviser at Global Source Partners in Istanbul, said.
Although the country was the fastest growing in the G20 in 2017, recording 7.4 percent growth, concerns remain over the economy overheating, the widening current account deficit and double-digit inflation. Inflation is currently at 10.85 percent.
Erdogan himself has spooked the markets by saying he plans a greater say in monetary policy — despite the nominal independence of the central bank — after the polls.
The central bank move to raise the late liquidity window (LLW) lending rate from 13.5 percent to 16.5 percent prompted a sharp rally in the value of the lira.
Even though the June 24 polls come at a time of strains with the West and the Turkish army is fresh from a successful operation inside Syria, pollsters’ surveys show the economy is the issue of most concern to Turks.
In polling done earlier this month by Ankara-based MAK Consultancy, 45 percent of 5,400 respondents told researchers the country’s most significant issue was the economy.
Another survey last month by Gezici pollster found 48.6 percent said economic woes were Turkey’s biggest issue.
And Turks’ faith in their economy is falling: the consumer confidence index dropped by 2.8 percentage points in May to 69.9 from 71.9 in April, according to the Turkish statistics office on Wednesday.
“Globally, it is shown that the economic performance has an immediate impact on voting behavior. Hence, the sizeable economic costs may have an impact on voting behavior,” Selva Demiralp, associate professor of economics at Koc University in Istanbul, told AFP.
She warned it was “hard to predict how the economy will evolve in the near future.”
Yesilada added: “If this exchange rate shock translates into weaker economic performance they will lose some more votes and the spectre of AKP losing power could become a reality in a fair election.”
Analysts have long said Erdogan’s administration has been split between pro-market pragmatists like Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, a former Merrill Lynch strategist, and advisers known for outlandish statements such as Yigit Bulut.
The central bank’s decision ended days of suspense on the markets over whether it would raise rates after Erdogan called for lower rates to boost growth.
“It’s high time to restore monetary policy credibility and regain investor confidence,” Simsek said on Twitter after the bank’s move.
“The Central Bank governor and members of the monetary policy committee have my full backing in doing what’s necessary to stem the slide in lira and achieve price stability,” he added.
Erdogan has often blamed outsiders for economic problems in Turkey, railing against unnamed actors trying to wage “economic terror” against the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag on Wednesday said voters were aware of the games being played.
“They are deluded if they think they can change the outcome of the election by playing with the dollar,” Bozdag said.


‘Huge increase’ in crude prices not expected: IEA executive director

Updated 19 July 2019
0

‘Huge increase’ in crude prices not expected: IEA executive director

  • The International Energy Agency is revising its 2019 global oil demand growth forecast down to 1.1 million barrels per day
  • IEA’s Fatih Birol: Serious political tensions could impact market dynamics

NEW DELHI: The International Energy Agency (IEA) doesn’t expect oil prices to rise significantly because demand is slowing and there is a glut in global crude markets, its executive director said on Friday.
“Prices are determined by the markets ... If we see the market today, we see that the demand is slowing down considerably,” said IEA’s Fatih Birol, in public comments made during a two-day energy conference in New Delhi.
The IEA is revising its 2019 global oil demand growth forecast down to 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) and may cut it again if the global economy and especially China shows further weakness, Birol told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
Last year, the IEA predicted that 2019 oil demand would grow by 1.5 million bpd. But in June this year it cut the growth forecast to 1.2 million bpd.
“Substantial amount of oil is coming from the United States, about 1.8 million barrels per day, plus oil from Iraq, Brazil and Libya,” Birol said.
Under normal circumstances, he said, he doesn’t expect a “huge increase” in crude oil prices. But Birol warned serious political tensions could yet impact market dynamics.
Crude oil prices rose nearly 2 percent on Friday after a US Navy ship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, a major chokepoint for global crude flows.
Referring to India, Birol stressed the country could cut its imports, amid rising oil demand in the country, by increasing domestic local oil and gas production.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set a target in 2015 to cut India’s dependence on oil imports to two-thirds of consumption by 2022, and half by 2030. But rising demand and low domestic production have pushed imports to 84 percent of total needs in the last five years, government data shows.
Meanwhile, the IEA doesn’t expect a global push toward environmentally friendly electric vehicles can dent crude demand significantly, Birol said, as the main driver of crude demand globally has been petrochemicals, not cars.
He said the impact of a serious electric vehicle adoption push by the Indian government would not be felt immediately.