Turkey’s lira strikes record low on S-400 stress; more volatility ahead

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Turkey's lira hits record low on S-400 tensions; more volatility ahead

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Turkish Lira

Mehmet Kalkan

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Turkey’s currency dropped to a brand-new historical short on Thursday, with the U.S. dollar purchasing a record high of 7.942 lira by late afternoon in Istanbul.

The relocation is the most recent in more than 2 years of constant devaluation of the Turkish note, most just recently magnified by Ankara’s participation in a variety of geopolitical disputes consisting of Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, eastern Mediterranean resource conflicts and its purchase of Russia’s S-400 rocket defense system. 

Washington simply on Wednesday provided a stern rebuke in reaction to regional reports that Turkey was preparing to check the S-400 system, bought from Russia regardless of singing opposition from the U.S. and the rest of NATO. Turkey’s defense ministry has actually not talked about the reports, however condemnation from the State Department was quick.

“We … are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is continuing its efforts to bring the S-400 into operation,” a declaration by the State Department stated. “We continue to stress at the highest levels that the S-400 transaction remains a major obstacle in the bilateral relationship and at NATO, as well as a risk for potential … sanctions.” 

Sanctions ending up being a ‘unique possibility’

Tensions with the U.S. and the risk of sanctions have actually added to the lira’s plunge in the past, consisting of throughout Turkey’s 2018 economic crisis. Fast forward to 2020 and the nation of 82 million is associated with fresh disputes while combating a pandemic that’s paralyzed its crucial tourist market, along with dealing with a ballooning bank account deficit, double-digit inflation and installing joblessness.  

A Russian S-400 surface-to-air rocket system.

Sergei Malgavko | TASS by means of Getty Images

“Ankara is left between a rock and a hard place, and has no easy way out of any of the conflicts it finds itself embroiled in for fear of appearing weak domestically or internationally,” Agathe Demarais, worldwide forecasting director at the Economist Intelligence Unit, informed CNBC. 

“There is therefore little chance that Turkey will seek to assuage tensions in any of the conflicts it is a major player in. In turn, this means that more lira volatility is on the cards.”

U.S. sanctions versus Turkey “are becoming a distinct possibility,” Demarais alerted, keeping in mind the possible headwinds dealing with Turkey if a Joe Biden administration takes the White House next year. “Under a Biden administration, the U.S. would also be expected to take a harder stance against Turkey. If the U.S. goes ahead with sanctions, a repeat of Turkey’s 2018 financial crisis appears possible, and would derail the post-coronavirus economic recovery.”

Geopolitical stress are just part of the story

But geopolitics is simply one part of the story, states Erik Meyersson, senior financial expert at Handelsbanken Macro Research in Stockholm. 

“Turkey’s financial problems are deeper, and related to the changes in political institutions — in other words the degree to which the country has become more authoritarian,” he informed CNBC. This has actually manifested itself in the kind of more intervention into reserve bank policymaking by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and less self-reliance for banks as an entire, which has actually taxed financier self-confidence.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands at a joint press conference on Syria following their conference in Sochi, Russia.

Mikhail Metzel | TASS | Getty Images

Turkey’s reserve bank did surprise financiers by raising its primary rate of interest in late September from 8.25% to 10.25%, a relocation contrary to the president’s calls to keep them low.

“Economic agencies are not autonomous in setting broader economic policy. As such, you get too much focus on short-term, credit-driven growth as opposed to more structural efforts toward raising the longer-term growth,” Meyersson stated. 

The Turkish Directorate of Communications and the Office of the Presidency did not react to a CNBC ask for remark.  

Turkey’s customer inflation was exposed at 11.75% year-on-year for September, a little lower than expert quotes “but hardly encouraging still” as “core (inflation) pushes higher,” Timothy Ash, senior strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, talked about Monday. Slower than anticipated rate boosts of products for last month assisted balance out the blow of the progressively compromising lira.

But with a reserve bank under pressure from Erdogan not to raise rates of interest that would assist suppress inflation — and no end to geopolitical stress on the horizon — the effect of the lira’s fall is most likely to end up being more noticable. 

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