News / Economy

Turkish Central Bank Spends Heavily Again to Stabilize Lira

FILE - People withdraw Turkish liras from automatic teller machines in Istanbul, October 17, 2011. FILE - People withdraw Turkish liras from automatic teller machines in Istanbul, October 17, 2011.
x
FILE - People withdraw Turkish liras from automatic teller machines in Istanbul, October 17, 2011.
FILE - People withdraw Turkish liras from automatic teller machines in Istanbul, October 17, 2011.
Reuters
Turkey's central bank sold $1.3 billion on Wednesday to prop up the lira as foreign capital that had flooded in earlier this year continued to flee on fears over U.S. monetary policy and domestic political uncertainties.
 
The move was the second heavy day of intervention this week after a record $2.25 billion was thrown at the lira on Monday, bringing total sales for the year to $6.2 billion. The lira has fallen almost nine percent against the dollar since May.
 
The credit rating agency Fitch said any prolonged unrest, following two weeks of protests against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan last month, could put at risk the sovereign investment grade rating that Turkey achieved in November.
 
Turkey's banking watchdog, reflecting concern over the recent strong market movements, said it had launched an investigation into this week's foreign exchange deals.
 
Erdogan has made clear his opposition to interest rate rises to stem currency outflows, but analysts said foreign exchange intervention alone would have only a limited effect.
 
Turkey's total net reserves, according to bankers' calculations, are now below $40 billion. HSBC strategist Murat Toprak estimated that Turkey could afford to spend about $10-$13 billion of its reserves in defense of the currency.
 
“The market is questioning what is going to be the monetary policy option. Their next move should be to hike interest rates, and I expect them to hike the lending rate, the upper end of the corridor,” he said. “But they always use the interest rate tool as the last resort, which they use when they have nothing else left.”
 
Emerging currencies have plunged to multi-year or even record lows against the resurgent dollar. This is forcing many central banks to rally to their defense on fears that currency weakness will lead to a wholesale exodus of foreign capital.
 
Rapid growth
 
Turkey, whose economy has grown rapidly since Erdogan came to power 10 years ago, seems to have taken the heaviest hit, undermined by unprecedented protests last month that Erdogan, in the eyes of markets and critics at home, handled badly.
 
The lira weakened to a record low of 1.9737 per dollar early on Monday before the central bank stepped in. Although the record intervention lifted the currency almost two percent through Tuesday, renewed pressure saw it slide back to 1.9590 per dollar by late Wednesday, even after fresh central bank action.
 
“At the moment they are just trying to stabilize the currency but I don't think it will be effective,” said Claire Dissaux, head of global economics and strategy at Millennium Global Investments in London. “They are intervening, but there is pressure on them to raise interest rates."
 
“If you look at their current account deficit and the amount of [maturing] short-term debt and amortizations as a share of currency reserves and compare with other emerging markets, Turkey is the worst,” she added.
 
However, Erdogan, keen to boost sluggish growth, has made his opposition to rate rises clear, and rattled markets last month, at the height of the protests, by accusing an “interest rate lobby” of conspiring with foreigners to hurt the economy.
 
This reference was taken by markets as marking a possible change in Erdogan's favorable stance towards business.
 
Senior banking sources told Reuters the BDDK banking watchdog was seeking details of currency transactions made on Monday and Tuesday.
 
They said the BDDK had written to banks on Tuesday asking them to detail auction bids and explain the purpose of their foreign currency buying.
 
Global sentiment

 
“They sought all information on when forex was bought, at what level and by whom on all transactions of more than $2 million,” said one bank executive familiar with the matter.
 
The regulator told Reuters in a statement that this was routine practice.
 
Marco Santamaria, Emerging Market Portfolio Manager at AllianceBernstein in New York, said the Turkish central bank was under severe pressure.
 
“The central bank is losing reserves, they have to finance a substantial current account deficit, and they are dependent on portfolio flows. Now global sentiment has changed and the domestic situation is not helping at all,” he said.
 
“On top of that, the government is saber-rattling about the 'interest rate lobby' and, as a result, the central bank is constrained in its ability to hike rates aggressively.” he added.
 
Two-year Turkish local debt yields were up more than 100 basis points at one time, smashing through the key nine percent barrier to their highest level in over a year. Turkey's hard currency debt spread widened 11 basis points on JP Morgan's EMBI Global index, to 272 over U.S. Treasuries.
 
Turkish stocks dropped more than two percent to 2-1/2-week lows before trimming some losses to stand 1.7 percent down on the day.
 
The Fitch ratings agency said increased expectations of a U.S. Federal Reserve exit from asset-buying quantitative easing, coupled with the protests, had exposed Turkey's chief weakness.
 
“A current account deficit equivalent to 6.8 percent of GDP, over 90 percent of which is funded by portfolio investors. Turkish asset prices have come under strong downward pressure, precipitating a sharp fall in the exchange rate and declining international reserves.
 
“Prolonged social unrest, poorly handled, could deter tourism, exacerbate short-term capital outflows, drive up inflation and damage economic growth, potentially putting Turkey's sovereign rating at risk.”

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7718
JPY
USD
107.32
GBP
USD
0.6125
CAD
USD
1.0974
INR
USD
60.919

Rates may not be current.