U.S.-based credit rating agency's announcements, shortly after the failed coup attempt, concerning the credit note of Turkey and 17 Turkish banks called 'prejudiced' and 'political' by financial professionals in Turkey
Following the failed coup attempt on July 15, U.S.-based credit rating agency Moody's began to re-examine Turkey's credit limit to bring it down to the group of junk bonds and is considering lowering the credit score of 17 Turkish banks evoked strong reaction from finance professionals in Turkey who claimed Moody's decisions is provocative and politically motivated.
Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said in a televised interview yesterday that it is normal for Moody's to examine Turkey's credit performance, adding that they expect no negative developments since they have been working on a historic decision to incentivize investments. Professionals from the Turkish financial market, however, told the Hürriyet daily that Moody's measures are political and subjective and do not rely on financial or objective grounds.
Regarding the issue, security research firm İntegral Menkul Değerler A.Ş. Research Director Tuncay Turşucu said they consider Moody's announcement to be hasty and political, since the lowering of a country's credit line requires some sort of deterioration in the public debt and debt structure to warrant such a change. He also said that recent circumstances that further weakened the Turkish lira over long periods should also be considered as a reason for a fall in the credit rating, adding that considerable time is needed in order to evaluate these issues. Turşucu stressed that without any concrete data in hand, Moody's' approach and announcements back the recent conclusion in global markets that the decisions from credit agencies are questionable.
Moody's' approach attracted reactions from other financial firms as well. Underlining that Moody's' announcement serves to increase chaos and panic as well as fragility in Turkish markets, ALB Forex Research Director Kenan Çınar said Moody's' announcements are hasty rather than proactive, considering that Moody's' next Turkey evaluation report will be published in August.
Other credit agencies such as Standard & Poor's (S&P) and Fitch have only made announcements so far, saying they will be tracking possible reflections of the coup attempt on the indicators of the Turkish economy, without going into further detail. In line with Çınar's remarks, Kapital FX Research Director Enver Erkan said that explanations offered by Moody's would be heard only when the economic indicators reveal a serious weakening that would warrant lowering the country's credit rating to the level of junk bonds. In addition, despite the coup attempt failing with strong opposition from the population, coupled with messages of unity conveyed by all political parties, Destek Menkul Değerler Research Director Murat Tufan said they consider Moody's' remarks to be provocative and premature.
Asserting that Moody's' credibility is open to discussions, investment firm Meksa Yatırım strategist Zeynel Balcı said that although it is conventional for credit rating agencies to consider changing the credit outlook in the wake of such a coup attempt, he added that it is unbelievable and prejudiced for a credit agency to begin tracking a country directly. Balcı also said it is not appropriate to treat Turkey like Greece, which defaulted on its debt while Turkey, with resilient growth rates, is being put in the same investment description.
Furthermore, Balcı emphasized the recent past, saying that that credit agencies had given high credit ratings to some U.S. firms that defaulted on their debts and already attracted much criticism in the 2008 global financial crisis. Balcı pointed out that not much has changed since 2008, considering Moody's' "subjective" evaluations concerning Turkey.