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Is Turkey “City Zero” in Global Contagion

Is Turkey “City Zero” in Global Contagion

Last year Turkey’s lira crisis quickly morphed into a Euro-zone crisis as Italian bond yields blew higher and the euro quickly reversed off a major Q1 high near $1.25.

It nearly sparked a global emerging market meltdown and subsequent melt-up in the dollar.

This week President Erdogan of Turkey banned international short-selling of the Turkish lira in response to the Federal Reserve’s complete reversal of monetary policy from its last rate hike in December.

The markets responded to the Fed with a swift and deepening of the U.S. yield curve inversion. Dollar illiquidity is unfolding right in front of our eyes. 

Turkish credit spreads, CDS rates and Turkey’s foreign exchange reserves all put under massive pressure. Unprecedented moves in were seen as the need for dollars has seized up the short end of the U.S. paper market.

Martin Armstrong talked about this yesterday:

The government [Turkey] simply trapped investors and refuses to allow transactions out of the Turkish lira. Turkey’s stand-off with investors has unnerved traders globally, pushing the world ever closer to a major FINANCIAL PANIC come this May 2019.
There is a major liquidity crisis brewing that could pop in May 2019. 

Martin’s timing models all point to May as a major turning point. And the most obvious thing occurring in May is the European Parliamentary elections which should see Euroskeptics take between 30% and 35% of seats, depending on whether Britain stands for EU elections or not.

That depends on Parliament and the EU agreeing to a longer extension of Brexit in the next two weeks.

Parliament has created “Schroedinger’s Brexit,” neither alive nor dead but definitely bottled up in a box no one dares open. And they want to keep it that way for as long as possible. Their hope is outlasting Leavers into accepting staying in the gods-forsaken fiscal and political black hole that is the European Union.

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

On The Edge Of Collapse: Turkish Lira Plummets As Central Bank Burns Through A Third Of Reserves

On The Edge Of Collapse: Turkish Lira Plummets As Central Bank Burns Through A Third Of Reserves

The Turkish lira resumed its plunge on Thursday following a sharp rebound on Tuesday when Turkish authorities unleashed an unprecedented assault on lira shorts, helping push the TRY briefly higher ahead of regional elections, after a disappointing reading on the central bank’s net FX reserves stoked fears that the country was even closer to a full-blown currency crisis than investors had feared, while local accounts continued to accumulate foreign currency after overnight swaps on the Turkish Lira collapsed to just 40% from a historic high around 1,338% on Tuesday.

After nearly a week of chaos that one trader described as unprecedented in his two decades in the market (“I’ve never seen a move like this in the 21 years I’ve been watching the market“), it appears President Erdogan has relented, and following a vocal outcry from the international community which was effectively trapped in lira positions, both long and short, after overnight swaps hit rates well above 1,000%, on Tuesday the swap plunged as low as 18.5%, in line with recent historical prints, and an indication that after doing everything in its power to squeeze shorts (and longs) the central bank appears to have capitulated.

As we reported previously, bankers and analysts at large international banks reported that Turkish lenders appeared unable or unwilling to provide lira in exchange for currency this week, in an attempt to prevent short selling. While Turkey’s banking association (TBB) on Wednesday night denied claims that the country’s lenders had been limiting or halting sales of lira to foreign banks, one London-based analyst told the FT on Tuesday that Turkish banks told him they had been ordered “not to lend even a single lira to foreign counterparties” That squeeze sent the cost of borrowing lira soaring for foreign banks and hedge funds, although as shown above, it has since tumbled.

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

Turkey On Verge Of Collapse As Overnight Swaps Hit 700%, CDS Soar

Turkey On Verge Of Collapse As Overnight Swaps Hit 700%, CDS Soar

In Turkey’s ongoing attempt to crush currency manipulators, yesterday we reported that in addition to launching a “probe” against JPMorgan, the biggest US bank, for daring to cut its TRY price target, as well as threatening unnamed “manipulators”, on Monday Turkish authorities took a page of the Chinese currency manipulation playbook, when they made it virtually impossible for foreign investors to short the lira as they soaked up virtually all intermarket liquidity, potentially threatening to kill the economy.

As we reported yesterday, the overnight swap rate on Monday soared more than ten-fold over the prior two sessions to more than 300%, the highest spike on record going back to the nation’s 2001 financial crisis as offshore funds clamoring to close out long-lira positions failed to find counterparties and the cost of a lira short exploded.

Think Volkswagen short squeeze but for a currency, or FXwagen.

Well, FXwagen went turbo on Tuesday, when this unprecedented move continued as Turkish Lira swaps exploded again, more than doubling overnight, and hitting an insane 700%, with some reporting prints as high as 750%

There was just one problem: whereas on Monday this “shock therapy” meant to force out the shorts did in fact work, sending the Lira soaring, and the USDTRY tumbling, the continuation of this painful squeeze no longer has a positive impact on the currency, where as of this point most of the shorts had already been stopped out. As a result, the USDTRY actually rose for the day, and was up to 5.4272, after hitting 5.3051 on Monday.

Commenting on this unprecedented move in swaps, Bloomberg’s Mark Cudmore notes that he doesn’t recall “seeing this happen to any liquid and freely tradeable currency in the past 15 years.”

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

Turkish Lira Tumbles As Tanks Amass Along Syrian Border

After an already painful start for the Turkish lira this year, shedding more than 3.5% of its value against the dollar during the first three days of 2019 when it flash crashed after Mrs Watanabe puked on the carry trade after Apple shockingly guided lower, and after early this week the lira slid lower amid renewed tensions between the US and Turkey following hopes that the feuding NATO members might finally be setting aside their differences, dashed after Bolton’s snub heard round the world by President Erdogan, the lira is now tumbling on fears of further military escalation in Syria.

Prior file phone, via Reuters

On Friday Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported Turkey has deployed tanks on the border along Syria’s Idlib province. Turkey’s defense minister further announced preparations for an invasion of Syrian Kurdish enclaves east of the Euphrates “continues intensely”.

“We have Manbij, and the east of Euphrates ahead. Necessary planning was made regarding this. Our preparation continues intensely,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said while inspecting troops near the border with Syria, according to Anadolu.

The uncertainty and fears of another major flare-up following last year’s ‘Operation Olive Branch’ sent the lira diving to session lows, and is approaching levels last seen at the start of November.

Turkey has billed its plans as a “counter terror” op, with the defense minister noting dubiously, “We have no problems with our Kurdish brothers, Arab brothers in Syria, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious groups. Our only targets are terrorists Daesh and PKK/YPG.”

Turkey has for months stated plans to eradicate the presence of the Kurdish YPG, which it considers a terror extension of the outlawed PKK, from near Turkey’s borders.

The question is how will the US (and Israel/Iran/Russia) respond once Turkey follows though with the action so many had been expecting and invades, again.

 

Loans Sour in Turkey, Inflation Hits 25%, Interest Rates Spike, Fears of Contagion Rise

Loans Sour in Turkey, Inflation Hits 25%, Interest Rates Spike, Fears of Contagion Rise

The economic miracle fueled by foreign-currency debt. 

The Bank of Turkey’s decision mid-September to hike its policy rate from 17.75% to 24% may have temporarily stemmed the rout in the Turkish lira, but the hiatus is now over. This week, the pressure is back on the nation’s currency, which is down almost 40% against the US dollar year to date, as well on its beleaguered banks, 20 of which were slapped with another downgrade by Fitch Ratings.

The lenders, Fitch said, are “more likely to come under pressure as a result of the further depreciation of the Turkish lira (by about 20% against the US dollar since the last rating review), the spike in interest rates (driven by the increase in the policy rate to 24% from 17.75% on 13 September) and the weaker growth outlook.”

The banks affected include foreign-owned subsidiaries such as Turkiye Garanti Bankasi A.S. (half-owned by Spain’s BBVA), Yapi ve Kredi Bankasi A.S. (part owned by Italy’s Unicredit), ING Bank A.S. and HSBC Bank A.S., which were downgraded to BB- from BB, as well as large state-owned banks (B+ from BB-), all with negative outlooks. As Fitch warns, the recent interest rate hike is likely to hurt lira borrowers’ debt service capacity, while exposures to the construction and energy sectors and high borrower concentrations are also “significant sources of risks at many banks.”

As long as the current climate of economic and financial instability continues, these problems are not going to go away. According to data recently published by the Turkish Statistical Institute, economic confidence in Turkey has sunk to a decade-low. Last week the country’s Finance Minister (and President Erdogan’s son-in-law) desperately tried to assure investors that he would, in classic Draghi fashion, do “whatever it takes” to support local banks, but few seem to believe that he has such means at his disposal.

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

“Shocking” Turkish Inflation Hits 15 Year High, Unleashing Stagflationary Shockwave; Lira Plunges

A few days ago we discussed how soaring oil prices have been a stagflationary double whammy to emerging markets, which have been hit not only by a surging dollar, resulting in a collapse in local currencies and spiking import costs, but a spike in local currency oil and gasoline prices resulting in a surge in inflation and a slowdown in the economy as local infrastructure grinds to a halt.

This morning, this dynamic was revealed clearly – and painfully for Turkish residents – when Ankara reported that consumer inflation climbed to one of the highest levels since President Recep Erdogan came to power 15 years ago, spurring more calls for higher interest rates to rein in prices or at least for Erdogan to normalize relations with the US.

Turkish inflation soared to 24.5% in September from a year earlier (up 6.3% on the month, the highest since April 2001), rising for the 6th consecutive month driven by an across-the-board spike provoked by the lira’s meltdown; it was also the highest since June 2003 and rising above all Wall Street expectations where the median estimate was 21.1%. Worse, the CPI print was higher than the central bank’s policy rate of 24% suggesting more rate hikes are now imminent… but will Erdogan agree?

Medley Global analyst Nigel Rendell said the inflation figure was “a shocker” but said he was cautiously optimistic that weak consumption might offset inflationary pressures at some point.

“Interest rates of 24 percent provide some protection, and there is a sense that the weakness of domestic demand will be the dominating disinflationary force in a few months’ time once the foreign exchange pass-through has fed its way through the system.”

As the following key highlights from the Turkstat report show, the price increases was broad based across virtually all categories (via Bloomberg):

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

Turkish Banks Liquidate Gold In Currency Crisis Panic

At the peak of the Turkish currency crisis in mid-August, in addition to general concerns about the state of the local economy, one sector got hit especially hard: Turkish banks, which saw their bonds plunge amid growing concerns that the currency slump would makes it impossible for lenders to repay dollar-denominated debts or rollover maturities.

The prompt liquidation was driven by were fears that Turkish lenders would struggle to find the capital to repay the $34.4 billion of bonds sold during a decade of rapid economic growth and historically low global borrowing costs. The near-term along is daunting as Turkish banks have to service $7.6 billion in USD-denominated debt by the end of 2019.

So in a panic scramble to shore up liquidity and reassure investors of their viability, Turkish banks pulled as much as $4.5 billion worth of gold reserves, which they then sold in exchange for “more liquid” assets.

Zooming on just the recent action shows that weekly holdings reported by the Central Bank of Turkey fell by a whopping 20% since June 15 to 15.5 million ounces according to Bloomberg, with the bulk of the exodus, or $3.3 billion, sparked by the central bank’s decision last month to lower reserve requirements.

As a reminder, in order to stem the plunge in the lira, on August 13 the Turkish central bank cut reserve requirements for banks by 4% points for foreign exchange liabilities over one, two and three years, and by 2.5% points over other maturities. This, the central bank said, equated to $3 billion worth of dollar-equivalent gold liquidity.

But why would banks proceed to liquidate their gold holdings as reserves were released?

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

What Turkey Can Teach Us About Gold

What Turkey Can Teach Us About Gold

If you were contemplating an investment at the beginning of 2014, which of the two assets graphed below would you prefer to own?

Data Courtesy: Bloomberg

In the traditional and logical way of thinking about investing, the asset that appreciates more is usually the preferred choice.

However, the chart above depicts the same asset expressed in two different currencies. The orange line is gold priced in U.S. dollars and the teal line is gold priced in Turkish lira. The y-axis is the price of gold divided by 100.

Had you owned gold priced in U.S. dollar terms, your investment return since 2014 has been relatively flat.  Conversely, had you bought gold using Turkish Lira in 2014, your investment has risen from 2,805 to 7,226 or 2.58x. The gain occurred as the value of the Turkish lira deteriorated from 2.33 to 6.04 relative to the U.S. dollar.

Although the optics suggest that the value of gold in Turkish Lira has risen sharply, the value of the Turkish Lira relative to the U.S. dollar has fallen by an equal amount. A position in gold acquired using lira yielded no more than an investment in gold using U.S. dollars.

Data Courtesy: Bloomberg

This real-world example is elusive but important. It helps quantify the effects of the recent economic chaos in Turkey. Turkey’s economic future remains uncertain, but the reality is that their currency has devalued as a result of large fiscal deficits and heavy borrowing used to make up the revenue shortfall. Inflation is not the cause of the problem; it is a symptom. The cause is the dramatic increase in the supply of lira designed to solve the poor fiscal condition.

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

Peso, Rand Plummet As Emerging Market Crisis Deepens

The EM contagion is slamming currencies around the globe, and while the Turkish Lira remains relatively immune for the time being, traders are now focusing their attention on the South African rand and the Argentine peso, both of which are in freefall this morning.

The ZAR has plunged 3.2%, the most since Nov. 10, 2016 on a closing basis, after the country reported that it had unexpected slumped into recession, which in turn is reigniting concerns about a rating agency downgrade. At the same time, the yield on rand-denominated government bonds has jumped 24bps to 9.24%, the highest since Dec. 1.

The Argentine peso is the other EM currency in freefall this morning, dropping 5.5% to 39 per dollar (vs the Friday close dueo the Monday US holiday) when the market opened in Buenos Aires Tuesday following a new series of measures announced by the government on Monday, including new export tariffs to help close fiscal gap by 2019, a move which the market clearly finds insufficient.

As Bloomberg notes, NY-traded shares of Argentine companies opened down, with the Bank of New York Mellon Argentina ADR Index dropping 4.4 percent at the open. Bank stocks led declines with drops of as much as 13 percent.

Turkey Inflation Soars To 15 Year High As Central Bank Pledges Imminent Rate Hike

With the Turkish lira plunging, it was not exactly a surprise that Turkish inflation data reported today came even hotter than expected, with inflation jumping a surprising 17.9% Y/Y in August, up from 15.9% and above the 17.6% consensus, with monthly inflation rising 2.3%. This was the highest increase in annual inflation going back to 2003.

Core inflation increased from +15.1% Y/Y in July to +17.2%, above the +16.0%expected, and contributed 1.2% to the overall 2.1% rise in the headline figure and more than fully accounted for the surprise in headline inflation compared to forecasts. Following the hike to electricity and natural gas prices, energy inflation contributed another 0.5%. The rest of the increase in headline inflation was due to higher gold and food prices.

As shown in the Goldman chart below, inflation in nonfood goods and energy categories were the main drivers behind the rise in the headline figure.

Looking ahead, Bloomberg economist Ziad Daoud said that Turkey’s year-on-year inflation is likely to jump to 19.1% in August, showing the initial economic impact of the recent meltdown in the lira.

Meanwhile, producer prices soared 32.1%, Turkstat reported on Monday: the PPI’s nearly double increase vs CPI confirmed that companies are finding it next to impossible to pass on much of their added costs to end-users just yet, but eventually they will have little choice according to Bloomberg.

According to Bluebay Asset Management strategist Tim Ash the inflation data showed consumer demand collapsing, and it could weaken further if borrowing costs are raised. Still, “if they don’t hike again by something significant, the lira will be left exposed again,” Ash told Bloomberg. “They need to do whatever they need to do short-term to hold the lira, and that means hiking rates.”

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

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.

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

Turkey’s Crisis and the Dollar’s Future

Turkey’s Crisis and the Dollar’s Future

turkey1.PNG

Last week’s collapse of the Turkish lira has dominated the headlines, and it is widely reported that this and other emerging market currencies are in trouble because of the withdrawal of dollar liquidity. There are huge quantities of footloose dollars betting against these weak currencies, as well as commodities and gold, on the basis the long-expected squeeze on dollar liquidity is finally upon us.

Doubtless Triffin’s dilemma is dominating these speculators’ thoughts, telling them demand for the dollar as the reserve currency is infinite. This article points out that foreign financial entities as a whole already possess most of the excess liquidity created by monetary expansion of the dollar since the Lehman crisis. Admittedly, ownership of dollars is unlikely to be evenly distributed across correspondent banks representing all foreign nations. But this is no reason to say dollars are not under-owned by foreign users, and we must not forget dollars are also available in the foreign exchanges, as always, for credible buyers. Nor must we forget that the reason for the enormous quantity of currency derivatives ($75 trillion in US dollars alone1) is that future demand for dollars is already significantly hedged.

No, the reason certain EM currencies are losing purchasing power is the fault of individual governments and their central banks, who do not seem to realize that their unbacked fiat currencies are valued purely on trust, both that of their own people and on the foreign exchanges. And as we should know, trust is not something to be toyed with.

Furthermore, comments that China is in trouble from trade tariffs and being undermined by a strong dollar are wide of the mark. Geopolitics dominates here. America’s occasional successes in attacking the rouble and yuan are no more that transient pyrrhic victories.

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

Weekly Commentary: Instability

Weekly Commentary: Instability

With the Turkish lira down another 6.6% in Monday trading, global “Risk Off” market Instability was turning acute. The U.S. dollar index jumped to an almost 14-month high Monday, as the Turkish lira, Argentine peso, Indian rupee and others traded to record lows versus the greenback. The South African rand “flash crashed” 10%, before recovering to a 2.3% decline. Brazil’s sovereign CDS jumped 14 bps Monday to a six-week high 252. Italian 10-year yields jumped 11 bps to 3.10%, near the high going back to June 2014, as the euro declined to one-year lows.
The Turkish lira surged 8.4% Tuesday, jumped another 6.8% Wednesday and then gained an additional 1.9% Thursday. Wild Instability then saw the Turkish lira drop 3.1% during Friday’s session, ending the week up 6.9%. Qatar’s $15 billion pledge, along with central bank measures, supported the tenuous lira recovery.

August 17 – Wall Street Journal (Lingling Wei and Bob Davis): “Chinese and U.S. negotiators are mapping out talks to try to end their trade impasse ahead of planned meetings between President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at multilateral summits in November, said officials in both nations. The planning represents an effort on both sides to keep a spiraling trade dispute-which already has involved billions of dollars in tariffs and comes with the threat of hundreds of billions more-from torpedoing the U.S.-China relationship and shaking global markets. Scheduled midlevel talks in Washington next week, which both sides announced on Thursday, will pave the way for November. A nine-member delegation from Beijing, led by Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen, will meet with U.S. officials led by the Treasury undersecretary, David Malpass, on Aug. 22-23. The negotiations are aimed at finding a way for both sides to address the trade disputes, the officials said, and could lead to more rounds of talks.”

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

Boiling A Turkey

Boiling A Turkey

There is an age old fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will try and save itself. However, if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The metaphor is often ascribed to the inability, or unwillingness, of people to react to or be aware of threats which arise gradually rather than suddenly.

This metaphor was brought to mind as I was writing last weekend’s newsletter discussing the issue of Turkey and the potential threat posed to the global economy. Specifically, I was intrigued by the following points from Daniel Lacalle:

“The collapse of Turkey was an accident waiting to happen and is fully self-inflicted.”

It is yet another evidence of the train wreck that monetarists cause in economies. Those that say that ‘a country with monetary sovereignty can issue all the currency it wants without risk of default’ are wrong yet again. Like in Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Venezuela, monetary sovereignty means nothing without strong fundamentals to back the currency.

Turkey took all the actions that MMT lovers applaud. The Erdogan government seized control of the central bank, and decided to print and keep extremely low rates to ‘boost the economy’ without any measure or control.

Turkey’s Money Supply tripled in seven years, and rates were brought down massively to 4,5%.

However, the lira depreciation was something that was not just accepted by the government but encouraged.  Handouts in fresh-printed liras were given to pensioners in order to increase votes for the current government, subsidies in rapidly devaluing lira soared by more than 20% (agriculture, fuel, tourism industry) as the government tried to compensate the loss of tourism revenues due to security concerns with subsidies and grants.

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

Weekly Commentary: Turkey (Nudged Over the Cliff)

Weekly Commentary: Turkey (Nudged Over the Cliff)

The Turkish lira sank 13.7% in chaotic Friday trading. The lira’s 21.0% “worst week in 17 years” collapse pushed y-t-d losses to 41.1%. Turkish 10-year yields spiked to almost 21%, before retreating somewhat. After beginning the year at 155, Turkey sovereign credit default swaps (CDS) spiked 166 bps during Friday trading (up 199 bps for the week) to 437 bps (high since Feb. 2009).
EM Contagion Effects gained momentum this week. Friday trading saw the Argentine peso hit 3.8% and the South African rand sink 2.7%. For the week, the Argentine peso fell 6.6%, the South African rand 5.5%, the Brazilian real 4.0%, the Hungarian forint 2.2%, the Romanian leu 2.1%, the Polish zloty 2.2% and the Mexican peso 1.8%. On the (local) bond yield front, 10-year yields in Brazil jumped 66 bps, Russia 40 bps, Hungary 15 bps and South Africa 13 bps. As global “hot money” frets faltering liquidity and the next shoe to drop, Brazilian equities sank 5.9% (as Brazil sovereign CDS jumped 24 bps to 237 bps).

August 10 – Bloomberg (Lionel Laurent): “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been standing firm as investors dump his country’s assets at an alarming pace, saying: ‘They have got dollars, we have got our people, our right, our Allah.’ European banks with substantial investments in Turkey will hope some of that divine providence rubs off on them, too, after sticking with a bet that has gotten more perilous over time.”

Fears of contagion this week were not limited to the emerging markets. With significant exposure to Turkey, European bank stocks were slammed in Friday trading. Unicredit sank 4.7% and ING Groep fell 4.3%. The big German banks, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, dropped 4.1% and 3.5%. European Banks (STOXX600) fell 1.9% Friday.

August 10 – Financial Times (Claire Jones, Ayla Jean Yackley and Martin Arnold): “The eurozone’s chief financial watchdog has become concerned about the exposure of some of the currency area’s biggest lenders to Turkey – chiefly BBVA, UniCredit and BNP Paribas – in light of the lira’s dramatic fall…

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

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