British Consulate General Istanbul
Turkish Central Bank increases interest rates in line with expectations, leading to slight fall in value of the Turkish Lira.
As anticipated, the Turkish Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee raised its overnight lending rate for the first time in two years, by 75 basis points (bps) to 7.25% on 23 July. Ahead of the decision expectations ranged between 50 and 100 bps. The Bank also decided not to hold foreign exchange (FX) auctions and not to allow lending to primary dealers at 6.75%, but at 7.25% during periods of additional tightening. This corresponds to an overall 125bps increase. The Bank left the overnight borrowing rate unchanged at 3.5% and the policy rate at 4.50%. Following the decision, the Turkish Lira (TL) fell by 1% to TL 1.90 against the US$, but ended 25 July at TL 1.92. The yield on the two-year benchmark bond rose from 8.87% to over 9%.
In its statement accompanying the rise, the Bank said that it had decided to tighten monetary policy because of global uncertainty and higher than projected loan growth. Inflationary pressures had increased for a variety of reasons, but these would be temporary. The Bank would maintain a cautious monetary policy stance until the inflation outlook is in line with the medium term targets. Additional tightening would be implemented as and when necessary.
Some analysts, including Finansbank Chief Economist Inan Demir, have suggested that the rate rise still leaves the TL exposed to shifts in risk appetite. Demir noted that with inflation of 8.3%, compared with the year-end target of 5.3% and a rising current account deficit, Turkey clearly needed higher interest rates in order to boost confidence against a possible deterioration in global risk appetite. Many analysts also agreed that the Bank had left the door open for further rises in the second half of 2013, depending on the inflation outlook and on external developments. Analysts from JP Morgan Chase and Finansbank expect a cumulative 150 bps rise by the end of 2013. Morgan Stanley claims that the Turkish economy is more fragile and less attractive than Russia among emerging markets.
Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek have begun lowering expectations for 2013 year-end growth. Economy Minister Caglayan, a long term supporter of higher growth, by contrast, said that he believed Turkey would hit the year-end target of 4%. On 23 July he said the Government would introduce new incentives aimed at promoting product and market differentiation to support exports. Turkish export growth has abated in 2013. Total exports increased by 0.6% in June 2013, compared to the same month last year. In June 2012, exports had increased by 17% year-on-year.
The Bank’s decision has had limited impact on markets, which had anticipated the rate rise. The Bank will continue to face the challenge of holding down inflation and the pressure on the TL, whilst supporting Turkey’s growth, despite higher interest rates.
The economy continues to face challenges including a possible slowdown in growth in 2013, unemployment – currently at 10%, and reduced capital inflows. Turkey is nevertheless likely, despite other difficulties, to continue its policy on major infrastructure investments, where UK businesses have a stake
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