Turkey's Central Bank Hikes Rate to 35% Amid Soaring Inflation

Turkey's central bank has raised interest rates to 35% amidst soaring inflation, with a commitment to further policy tightening if necessary.

Turkey's Central Bank Hikes Rate to 35% Amid Soaring Inflation

The Central Bank of Turkey has implemented another significant but widely-expected hike to its interest rates, raising the benchmark from 30% to 35%. This change marks the fifth consecutive rate increase by the bank.

Following the decision, Turkish banking equities surged by up to 3%, before partially retracing. The Turkish Lira maintained relative stability, though has lost around three-quarters of its value since 2021.

Turkish lira vs US dollar (TradingView)
Turkish lira vs US dollar

The Monetary Policy Committee, under the stewardship of Governor Hafize Gaye Erkan, has indicated the likelihood of further policy tightening, with the aim of mitigating inflation that is projected to approach 70% by year’s end. Analyst Piotr Matys from InTouch Capital Markets Ltd in London recognizes the substantial nature of the rate hike, acknowledging the central bank's dedication to curbing inflation and re-establishing stable inflation expectations. However, he also notes the persistent, exceptionally high inflation as a detracting factor for foreign investment in the lira.

Policy Continuity And Currency Stability

The Committee’s post-decision statement echoed its previous month's sentiments, emphasizing a commitment to progressively reinforce monetary tightening until a substantial improvement in the outlook for inflation is realized. Additionally, the bank plans to increase the proportion of Turkish lira deposits held, a strategic move aimed at discouraging the shift towards dollar deposits and alleviating pressure on the lira, which has depreciated by 34% against the US dollar this year.

The rate hike emerges amidst Turkey’s endeavors to rectify policy missteps attributed to previous years' currency crises and reluctance from foreign investors. Since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's May reelection, the administration, led by Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, has been actively unwinding these policies.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan in September 2023 (Photo: Andrej Isakovic/AFP)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reelected earlier this year

However, the approaching local elections in March present a potential barrier to further rate increases, since Erdogan’s administration, known for advocating low interest rates for economic growth, is aiming to reclaim major cities currently under opposition control.

Monetary Policy: A Broader Perspective

The administration is urging a holistic view of tight monetary policy, highlighting regulatory measures aimed at tempering credit growth and encouraging consideration of deposit yields against projected inflation. The bank anticipates that inflation will decelerate to 33% by the end of 2024.

Governor Erkan is scheduled to present the year's final inflation report on November 2, providing further insight into Turkey's economic trajectory.

Addressing Emerging Risks And Market Speculations

The region’s stability is under scrutiny following recent geopolitical unrest, particularly the conflict between Israel and Hamas, with potential ramifications on oil prices and, subsequently, inflation. The Central Bank acknowledges these risks, underscoring their commitment to monitoring and addressing these challenges as they arise.

Market speculation varies, with some investors anticipating a policy rate peak at 45%, reflecting the ongoing uncertainty and complexity of Turkey’s economic landscape.

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