I would like to tell you the story of an economy operation carried out by hitmen to show you the organized global gang activity that we are facing. While the Turkish economy foiled all negative expectations and broke a growth record in 2017, it also entered a positive path in terms of macroeconomic balances, budget realizations and the contribution of exports to growth. Moreover, rigidity in inflation and unemployment began melting away.
Thanks to the Credit Guarantee Fund (CGF), our banking system expanded loans by more than 20 percent, and loan repayments increased, leading to a decline in non-performing loans and to rapid improvement in the asset structure of banks. So, the system consolidated its position among the solidest banking systems in the world. Moreover, we had strong signals showing that Turkey would continue to rise in 2018 and 2019.
Due to the decline in the CGF effect in the fourth quarter and high growth in the third quarter of 2017, we expected a fall in last quarter growth. However, leading indicators have shown that there would not be a considerable fall. So, considerable capital flow into Turkey began both in the stock exchange and foreign direct investments. Also, in line with the rise in exports, the foreign exchange positions of companies rapidly improved and the appreciation of the lira gained speed.
Of course, this whole picture mobilized some foci. First, speculation about the Reza Zarrab case in the U.S. escalated. They tried to create artificial crisis agendas about the EU, Turkey's largest export market. Bloomberg News, an international news agency, reported an unfounded opinion piece in late September, saying that some European Banks, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), would cut cash flows to Turkey, based on ambiguous reasons. However, the EBRD refuted this news, saying that Turkey is one of the countries where they invest the most and develop projects. In fact, when this news was around, the EBRD board of directors was in Turkey. Perhaps, such news and speculation foreshadowed a kind of preparation and a test.
Bloomberg News, a champion of opinion pieces, reported on Nov. 23 that Turkey would be included on the black list of "tax havens" during the EU's finance ministries meeting on Dec. 5, saying that, with the inclusion of Turkey on the black list (being accepted as a country going against agreements), European banks, especially the EBRD, would restrict loans. On the same days, the Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu put forward baseless allegations about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, referring to offshore cash flow. Certainly, all this was not a coincidence.
This news, which presented Turkey as a troubled country in legal and taxed cash circulation, followed the news that European banks would cut the loan flow. It served as preliminary preparation for Kılıçdaroğlu's incoherent allegations. Reuters, another international news wire, looked into this news and conducted a short interview with Turkish Finance Minister Naci Ağbal, who is the direct addressee of the issue in Turkey. Ağbal stated that Turkey was not included on the EU's list of tax havens and that Turkey sent a letter to the relevant EU institutions last week, adding that Turkey is an active part of joint studies with these institutions. So, Bloomberg's second news operation was also refuted.
Meanwhile, a rumor that Turkish banks would be fined depending on the Zarrab case in the U.S. was systematically spread and reported by the same centers. This also turned out to be an unfounded rumor; however, the lira rapidly came to lose value against the dollar. This time, the pressure of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) to hike interest rates was on the agenda. In short, an operation was being conducted on many fronts, both politically and economically.
Let us note that the Turkish banking system is one of the solidest systems in the world in terms of balance sheets, growth potential and transaction regulation. It is completely global and open. It goes without saying that foreign banks work in full compliance with global regulations. However, I would like to note that numerous transactions on a daily basis have been under the supervision of global regulations and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), an independent regulatory institution in Turkey, for years.
We know how European and American banks became an island of moral hazard with non-regulation practices and the systemic risk they created in the years that followed the 2008 crisis. Even the Enron scandal in the U.S. and the Libor scandal in Europe alone show this. None of them could get even close to the Turkish banking system.
As of 2018, the Turkish banking system will switch to TPRS-9, the highest regulatory system in which the system's capital adequacy doubles the world average. Credit placement and provisioning levels are at the highest level even in public banks in Turkey, and they reached these levels even before the system switch.
In brief, this banking system will not be frustrated by kitschy threats. Moreover, those who want to harm such an open and stable system will harm themselves more than Turkey. Unfortunately, you see how the main opposition party has been used by these economic and political hitmen. You also clearly see what operation centers are and what international news agencies are in the real sense. You will see Turkey will not lose, but it will gain and it will more clearly see its friends and foes.