News / Economy

Turkey Central Bank Starts ‘Strong’ Tightening to Bolster Lira

People line in front of automated teller machines in Hatay, Turkey, May 17, 2013.
People line in front of automated teller machines in Hatay, Turkey, May 17, 2013.
Reuters
 Turkey's central bank auctioned a record $1.5 billion in foreign exchange on Monday, tightening policy to defend a lira that had hit all-time lows against the dollar.

The lira has lost as much as 6 percent of its value against the dollar since late May, when unprecedented protests broke out against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. Demonstrations centered on the commercial capital Istanbul compounded investor concerns about the U.S. Federal Reserve scaling back stimulus measures.

On Monday, the lira touched a new all-time low of 1.9737 against the U.S. currency. It rebounded to 1.9480 by 1151 GMT after the bank held five forex-selling auctions.

The total volume of $1.5 billion was the highest amount the bank has ever sold via forex auctions in a day, sending a strong signal to the market. The previous high was $750 million in 2011. The bank sold $350 million in six auctions on June 20.

Emerging currencies have plunged to multi-year or even record lows against the resurgent dollar. That is forcing many central banks to rally to their defense on fears currency weakness will lead to a wholesale exodus of foreign capital from domestic capital markets.

“From today a strong additional monetary tightening practice will be started,” the Turkish central bank statement said, delivering what it described as a message from Governor Erdem Basci. Tightening would be “strong, effective, temporary.”

“The central bank thinks as loan growth remains strong, there is no need to change the interest rate band yet, while additional tightening as implemented occasionally since 11 June and forex sales will be adequate to fight against volatility,” said Sengul Dagdeviren, senior vice president at ING Bank.

“Until [the] ... 23 July policy meeting, the central bank is most likely to continue aggressive forex sales to the extent lira's relative volatility against peers remains high while keeping cost of average open market operation funding in the range of 5 percent-6 percent.”

Protests against Erdogan, seen by critics as increasingly authoritarian, spread across Turkey last month after police cracked down on a small demonstration against an Istanbul building project.

Erdogan has used a huge parliamentary majority and strong popular support in the last 10 years to introduce social reforms, including the curbing of an army that had topped four governments in 40 years, and stimulate the economy with market-  and business-friendly policies.

But for the first time, during last month's turmoil, frictions arose publicly with parts of the business community. Erdogan  unsettled markets further by accusing an “interest rate lobby” of conspiring with foreign forces to undermine Turkey.

The protests eased in the middle of the month, but police used water cannon and tear gas again at the weekend to disperse a protest in central Istanbul.

The central bank has been holding forex auctions since June 11 to support the weakening lira. It has sold a total $4.15 billion.

“I guess the central bank had to respond, eventually, to record lows for the lira against the dollar and signs that more was to come,” said Standard Bank emerging market research head Timothy Ash.

“So by indicating further tightening ahead the central bank is in effect going to try and slow domestic demand to narrow the current account deficit - as it did in early 2012.”

Faster output

At a meeting with economists on Monday, Basci gave the message that its additional tightening steps were aimed more at limiting loan growth than supporting the lira, bankers at the meeting told Reuters.

The governor also said that a change in the bank's interest rate corridor would only be implemented if the liquidity tightening fails to prevent excessive loan growth, bankers said.

In a written overview of its presentation to economists, the bank said this will not only contain rapid credit growth through the liquidity channel but also will support the value of the lira.

Growth slowed sharply to 2.2 percent last year and the central bank has been trying to spur the economy since mid-2012 with a series of rate cuts.

Data on Monday showed the economy remained sluggish, with industrial production up just 1 percent year-on-year in May.

Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan responded by saying Turkey needed faster output growth to meet its 4 percent economic growth target in its medium term economic program, given uncertainties in the global outlook.

Analysts said the pressure on the central bank to hike rates at its next policy meeting on July 23 was increasing.

“The central bank will pause weekly repo auctions and start aggressive forex selling auctions from today,” said Ali Cakiroglu, a strategist at HSBC Asset Management.

“The bank will have to raise the upper band of its interest rate corridor in its next meeting considering the pressure on the currency.”

In its last policy meeting the bank kept its main one-week repo rate at 4.50 percent, its borrowing rate at 3.5 percent and its overnight lending rate at 6.5 percent.

The bank said the composition of the liquidity it provides will continue to be gradually shifted from net foreign assets to net domestic assets until its next monetary policy committee meeting.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8916
JPY
USD
121.32
GBP
USD
0.6487
CAD
USD
1.3252
INR
USD
66.401

Rates may not be current.