October 23, 2021 | banking

Turkish lira plummets to new low after central bank slashes rates


Turkey's lira slumped to a record low on Thursday after the central bank cut interest rates by twice as much as expected, while most other emerging market currencies fell on concerns over rising global inflation, Reuters reports.

The lira dropped as much as 2.9% to a record low of 9.4782 to the dollar, and was the worst performer in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) after the central bank cut rates to 16% from 18%.

The bank suggested there would be little more room to ease policy through the year end, pointing towards higher inflation in the country and more pressure on the lira, which is already the worst performing emerging market (EM) currency this year.

'The risk of an exponential devaluation in the near future is so great now, that it would be appropriate to not have any open lira positions at this point,' said Ulrich Leuchtmann, head of FX and Commodity Research at Commerzbank.

'The move is consistent with President Tayyip Erdogan's view, but his monetary policy is simply wrong and now we are running the risk of entering a territory where the real economy will get seriously hurt by the currency.'

The central bank cut rates to 18% last month, despite inflation reaching nearly 20% in Turkey. The cut was seen as an extension of Erdogan's opposition to high rates, which has seen him replace three central bank governors in the past two years.

Data from the Institute of International Finance showed that foreign investors have been consistently pulling out of Turkey since the rate cut last month.

Turkish stocks dipped 0.2%, as data showed consumer confidence in October touched its lowest level since February 2009.

MSCI's index of emerging market EM stocks fell 0.5%, while currencies lost 0.1%, as investors stuck to safe havens on fears that growing inflation will stifle economic growth.

South Africa's rand fell 0.7%, while most central European currencies retreated against the euro.

Russia's rouble dropped 0.8% on reports of a new, more contagious variant of COVID-19. President Vladmir Putin approved a government proposal for a week-long workplace shutdown at the start of November to combat a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

A fall in oil prices also hurt the rouble, while Russian stocks shed 0.2%.

In Asia, Chinese stocks closed higher, with the real estate sector taking some support from indebted property developer, China Evergrande, securing an extension on a defaulted bond.

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