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Lira Plummets After Turkish Central Bank Deputy Governor Quits

It was already an ugly day for the Turkish Lira, which earlier in the day accelerated its drop for the 4th consecutive session, sending the USDTRY to the highest level since August 14 when the currency crashed over the weekend to the lowest level on record.

Today’s drop was initially precipitated after Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey “is not without alternatives” and warning that it won’t “back down over threats.”

In his latest attack on the US, Erdogan said that “some do not hesitate openly stating the fact that they are trying to drive us into a corner through the economy. There are surely structural issues in the Turkish economy. We know these issues and are working to fix them.”

Alas, as we noted earlier, judging by the plunge in the lira, the market did not seem convinced by Erdogan’s latest rant, and proceeded to slide further after closing last night down 3.0% at 6.469 which was weaker than where it was on the Friday 3 weeks ago (6.4323) when the panic spread across the market. The only softer closing level was on the following Monday (6.884) but that actually included a big intra-day rally back from the Asian wides. Yesterday was the third day in a row the Lira has weakened (post domestic holidays) while Turkey’s 5yr CDS was also +14.4bps wider and touched 500bps again (recent high was 535.0 on Aug 13).

Meanwhile, the latest attempts by Turkish authorities to shore up the lira in mid-August that led to a three-day rally in the aftermath, now seem to be losing potency now. And the most recent effort, yesterday’s reintroduction of borrowing limits for banks yesterday – an unwind of what took place just two weeks ago – is proving ineffective.

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Talk Cold Turkey

Henri Matisse View of Nôtre Dame 1914

Recep Tayyip Erdogan became Prime Minister of Turkey in 2003. His AKP party had won a major election victory in 2002, but Erdogan was banned from political office until his predecessor Gül annulled the ban. Which he had gotten in 1997 for reciting an old poem to which he had added the lines “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers….”

The Turkish courts of the time saw this as “an incitement to violence and religious or racial hatred..” and sentenced him to ten months in prison (of which he served four in 1999). The courts saw Erdogan as a threat to the secular Turkish state as defined by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey in the 1920’s. Erdogan is trying to both turn the nation towards Islam and at the same time not appearing to insult Ataturk.

The reality is that many Turks today lean towards a religion-based society, and no longer understand why Ataturk insisted on a secular(ist) state. Which he did after many years of wars and conflicts as a result of religious -and other- struggles. Seeing how Turkey lies in the middle between Christian Europe and the Muslim world, it is not difficult to fathom why the ‘father’ of the country saw secularism as the best if not only option. But that was 90 years ago.

And it doesn’t serve Erdogan’s purposes. If he can appeal to the ‘silent’ religious crowd and gather their support, he has the power. To wit. In 2003, one of his first acts as prime minister was to have Turkey enter George W.’s coalition of the willing to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. As a reward for that, negotiations for Turkey to join the EU started. These are officially still happening, but unofficially they’re dead.

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Turkish Banks Scramble to Stave Off Debt Crisis, as Lira Plummets

Turkish Banks Scramble to Stave Off Debt Crisis, as Lira Plummets

Too little, too late?

Desperation is rising in Turkey’s banking sector following months of escalating political and financial instability. Benchmark interest rates have been hiked 10 percentage points so far this year to over 17%, making it much more expensive for companies and families to service their debt. But even that hasn’t stopped the Turkish Lira from plunging almost 25% since March.

“Turkey is going through its first currency crisis of the floating era,” explainedDani Rodik, a Turkish economist and professor at Harvard University. “All the previous ones were when the rate was fixed or managed, and hence unfolded much more quickly. This one is stretched over time, and the government prefers to ignore it.”

The latest spark of concern was the U.S. government’s decision at the weekend to declare sanctions against two Turkish cabinet ministers over the detention of an American pastor. The Trump administration said it was also reviewing Turkey’s duty-free access to the U.S. market, which could affect $1.7 billion of Turkish exports. Bloomberg reported that the US has prepared a broader list of Turkish entities and individuals that could be subject to further sanctions.

On Monday the Lira shed 5.5% of its value to a record low of 5.46 against the dollar, before recovering slightly following intervention from the Bank of Turkey. The central bank changed its rules to loosen the upper limit of banks’ reserve requirements in a desperate bid to support the crumbling currency. The bank announced it was reducing the maximum amount of foreign currency lenders can park at the regulator as part of their required reserves.

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Goldman Warns Turkish Banks Will Be Wiped Out If Lira Hits 7.1

After its worst day in 10 years, the Turkish Lira’s early rebound is already starting to fade amid denied rumors of US officials predicting Lira’s demise, a record high yield at its bond auction, and Goldman warning of the collapse of Turkey’s financial system.

Turkey’s 10Y bond yield topped 20% for the first time ever and Turkey’s Treasury sold 539.7 million liras of 5Y debt today at 22.1% compound yield.

With tensions remaining high, the U.S. Embassy in Turkey has denied news in Turkish media that a U.S. official predicted the lira would weaken to 7 per dollar, calling the claim an entirely baseless “lie.” In two tweets, the Embassy said:

“Despite current tensions, the United States continues to be a solid friend and ally of Turkey. Our countries have a vibrant economic relationship.”

“For this reason, it is unfortunate and disturbing that an American official, who estimates that the U.S. dollar will be $7 TL, is completely unfounded and irresponsible in the Turkish media. It’s a fabricated and baseless lie.”

Well, they are right, it was not “officials” from the US government, it was “unofficials” from Government Goldman Sachs warns that further lira depreciation to 7.1 would erode all of Turkey’s banks’ excess capital.

Within the current backdrop, we view banks as being vulnerable to Turkish Lira depreciation given that it impacts:

(1) capital levels due to a meaningful portion of FC assets, which increase RWAs in local currency terms on Turkish Lira depreciation,

(2) asset quality and cost of risk, as Turkish Lira volatility can put stress on borrowers’ ability to repay as well as underlying collateral values. Moreover, Lira depreciation leads to higher provisioning requirements for FC NPLs, though banks are hedging this risk and can offset the impact through trading income.

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“Truly Awful Numbers”: Lira Tumbles After Turkish Inflation Explodes Most In 15 Years

Having stabilized modestly after its mid-June rout, which sent the Turkish Lira to a record low of 4.74 – on the re-election of president Erdogan of all things – overnight the TRY tumbled as much as 1.4% to 4.6813 after Turkey reported that headline inflation soared from +12.1%y/y in May to +15.4%y/y in June, significantly above the 13.9% y/y consensus expectations.

This was the worst inflation print since the runaway inflation days at the start of the century, and the highest since October 2003.

The monthly jump in inflation of 2.61%, was more than double the median Bloomberg estimate and higher than the highest est. of 1.8%.

As Goldman details, prices rose across the board: Food and nonalcoholic beverages inflation increased by 7.9pp to +18.9%yoy, on the back of a sharp rise in vegetable prices, and accounted for 1.8pp of the overall 3.3pp rise in the headline figure.

Core inflation also increased sharply, from +12.6%yoy in May to +14.6%yoy in June, above consensus expectations of +13.4%yoy. The rise in core inflation was broad-based with all major categories except education registering increases. Nevertheless, the sharp rises in the purchase of vehicle and telecommunication services categories were notable.

Understandable, currency traders were shocked at the print, which if anything is an underestimation of real price tendencies, and sent the Lira sliding to the lowest level against the USD since June 26.

In light of Erdogan’s recent comments, some of which have gone so far as suggesting the president may soon take over the rate-setting process himself making the Turkish Central Bank redundant, commentators were horrified at today’s data: commenting on the number, Medley Global EMEA analyst Nigel Rendell warned that “if policymakers react with only half-hearted measures, President Erdogan’s new term in office will quickly morph into a financial crisis”, quoted by Bloomberg.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lira Soars After Turkish Central Bank Unleashes Massive, “Whatever It Takes” Rate Hike

Ahead of today’s Turkish Central bank decision, analysts were adamant that if Turkey truly wants to ward off currency bears, it would have to deliver a “shock and awe” rate hike, greater than the whisper consensus call for a 100bps, especially since this is the last rate meeting before June 24 elections, at which Erdogan is expected to be granted virtually supreme powers, and has hinted his ambitions to also dominate monetary policy.

Moments ago the CBRT did just that, when it blew the doors off Lira watchers, by hiking the 1-week Repo Rate an enormous 125bps, from 16.50% to 17.75% – greater than any analysts forecast in a Bloomberg survey – thereby sending a very strong signal to the market. According to some desks, this was a “whatever it takes”-message from the central bank which sent markets a strong signal that it means business.

And looking at the more than 2% bullish reversal in the lira, which soared from 4.58 to 4.48 in kneejerk response, the market got the message.

In its statement, the CBRT said that additional ightening may be needed, referencing elevated levels of inflation and inflation expectations which continue to pose risk on pricing behavior. The bank added that it has decided to strengthen monetary tightening to support price stability and will continue using all tools in pursuit of price stability, noting that tight policy stance to be maintained decisively until marked improvement in inflation outlook is observed.

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