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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8143
JPY
USD
119.23
GBP
USD
0.6390
CAD
USD
1.1596
INR
USD
63.304

Rates may not be current.