While the unpredictability of the exchange rate continues and eyes turn to the next meeting of the Central Bank on Jan. 24, Turkish authorities point out the weak economic ground of artificially boosted foreign currency volatility
Recently, particularly the period following the U.S. elections, Turkey has been preoccupied with volatility in exchange rates, against which both the government and the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) strive to take measures to ease the pressure created by the volatility. Not only do the president and government authorities release statements indicating that speculation and manipulations ignite the exchange rate pressure, but also the business world and experts demonstrate that the volatility stems from currency attacks and malignant speculations, benefiting from the busy internal political agenda that is dominated by constitutional change.
Over the weekend, statements by state officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, and representatives of business associations made statements underscoring the manipulation-driven foreign currency volatility in Turkey.
Speaking during the 143rd anniversary of the founding of the Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange and its opening ceremony of new service buildings for the Takasbank and Central Registry Agency building and the Precious Metals Storage Center in Kuyumcukent, President Erdoğan elaborated on recent exchange rate pressure on Turkey.
Recalling that since 2003, similar methods have been tried from time to time, such as efforts to drag Turkey into chaos through exchange rates and interest rates and making it difficult to acquire loans to prevent mega projects, Erdoğan said: "Recently, they have been using foreign currency as a weapon to advance on us. Let them come. We produce their alternatives to fight bakc their attacks and will keep doing so. There is no other explanation for the rise in the foreign currency exchange rate without any economic rationality, base and response." Highlighting that Turkey has the power and means to respond to this attack, Erdoğan said the country's problem is its inability to move fast, adding that the relevant agencies are prudently taking action after waiting and evaluating the issues from their own angle, which leads to fluctuations that disrupt the mood of the nation as recently experienced in currency speculation.
"Of course, we are well aware of the political reasons, goals and games behind this matter. We are constantly evaluating political problems that are causing economic consequences. In particular, there are very promising developments about a solution for the Syrian issue. We are making all kinds of efforts to get positive results in Iraq," Erdoğan said, underlining that Turkey has entered a new phase with many countries with which it previously had problems. Noting that there are signs showing that the recession in global trade has begun to be overcome, Erdoğan said the necessity to be a bit faster and more determined about steps to be taken to resolve current problems in the economy is evident, suggesting that steps have already been taken in this direction.
Hoping that with the elimination of an artificial boost in the exchange rate, the "wait-and-see" policy in the markets will come to an end, President Erdoğan said it is of grave importance for the financial segment to provide more support to the real sector in this process. Indicating that new players have begun to enter finance sector and that developments in the international arena are increasing Turkey's appeal, Erdoğan said that with the update of the Customs Union Agreement, activity on the European side will also increase, adding that they are establishing new, solid relations with the new economic giants of the world, such as Russia and China, with regions like Africa shown as the rising power of the future, and with regions like Central Asia with which the country shares ancient ties.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım made a statement assessing the rise in the exchange rate and developments in the economy.
Stressing that the economic situation is temporary, Yıldırım said there are those who try to draw a picture through manipulation on the curren state of affairs. By trying to reach a conclusion based on that manipulation, they aspire to to politically keep Turkey at a certain place. Prime Minister Yıldırım said banks have a important responsibilities and they should provide support for those who are going through hard times, instead of making their business much harder.
Yıldırım noted that the rise in the exchange rate is also caused by the fact that companies with foreign exchange assets tend to purchase foreign currency to make their payments, adding that the increase in the foreign exchange rate may upset citizens, but they should know this is temporary, and the government will overcome this.
With regards to the Central bBank, Yıldırım stressed that an interest rate hike should be one of the least preferred tools, unless it is absolutely necessary. "Other measures should be considered first. Increasing the interest rate is to increase the cost of the resource used," Yıldırım said.
Nail Olpak, the president of the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen Association (MÜSİAD), also commented on the rise in the foreign exchange rate and said there are ambiguities, such as the policies of the president of the United States, the United Kingdom leaving the European Union and a slowing China. Noting that despite all these developments, Turkey, which shrank by 1.8 percent in the last quarter of 2016, grew by 2.2 percent at the end of nine months, while the U.S. and Germany grew by 1.6 and 1.5 percent, respectively, even though they have not been involved in any coup or a surrounding war. Olpak said that while one reason of the volatility in foreign exchange is rooted in global developments, the other is speculative. "We will be patient with this. Borrow in the currency of the income you earn. Minimize your risk," Olpak added.
Now, it is CBRT's turn to respond to the volatility hype with various alternative measures and its decision on Jan. 24.