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Turkish economy hurt by US sanctions
The economic and political uncertainty in Turkey have shaken the Asian country’s economy and seemed to affect the global markets during this week. The country’s currency, the Turkish Lira lost much ground in the last few days against its competitors. However, the decision of the Turkish central bank to support the Lira and other moves made by the Turkish government made the currency regain some of the lost value. 

Turkish Finance Minister speaks about the economy

On Thursday August 16th 2018, the Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak told major investors who are interested in the updates that “Turkey fully recognizes the economic challenges. Turkey will emerge from the current period of volatility stronger. Berat Albayrak noted that the government has no intention to impose capital controls which could restrict the movement of capital in and out of the country. 

Berat Albayrak’s call to investors was deemed important as the condition of the Turkish economy significantly deteriorated in the last weeks. The Turkish Finance Minister denied the rumour that his country is ready to ask for the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which has helped in the past with economic aid and advice the Asian country. He stressed that Turkey remains committed to the free market, “despite the fact that we are experiencing unfavourable conditions which we will overcome.” 

Investors listened to Berat Albayrak saying that reducing inflation is one of the top priorities for the economic cabinet. Currently, the Turkish Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation is running at 15% which is rather high for an economy that wants to be competitive by global standards. The economic cabinet has set as target the reduction of inflation in single digits as soon as possible. The Finance Minister of Turkey said that his country wants to boost its primary budget surplus, adding that he has asked from all ministries to contribute to an ambitious savings programme. He also stressed that “fiscal discipline is one of the anchors of the economy”, in an effort to convince investors that the cabinet will put a strain on spending. 

Regarding the banking sectors, Berat Albayrak repeated that it is strong and healthy and that the recent stress tests ran by the central bank of Turkey confirmed that. He also mentioned that volatility experienced in the economy is not triggered by fundamentals. Albayrak assured investors that the banking sector is capable of managing the situation and that there haven't been major deposit flows, stressing that support from the government will be provided if needed.

Turkish Lira volatility

The diplomatic spat with the United States (US) earlier in the week had sent the Turkish Lira to a downward spiral which made it hit a record low of 7.2 to the US Dollar. The Turkish currency has lost almost 20% of its value during the last month. Berat Albayrak’s call seemed to calm investors making the Turkish Lira gain 2.5% in value early morning on Thursday August 16th 2018. 

On Monday August 13th 2018, the Turkish central bank announced that it would help the country’s banks by reducing the Turkish Lira and the foreign currency reserve requirements. However, the central bank of Turkey didn’t proceed in hiking its benchmark interest rate in order to help curb the high CPI inflation as some analysts were anticipating. 

On Thursday August 16th 2018, the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin assured the US President Donald Trump at a cabinet meeting that sanctions were ready to be put in place if the US pastor Andrew Brunson is not released by the Turkish authorities. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that “Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage. We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!”

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