During this morning’s conference call organized by Citi, HSBC and other banks with “thousands” of investors, Turkey’s Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak – the Jared Kushner of Turkey – eased nerves when in an attempt to bolster confidence, said that capital controls were ruled out as a policy option for Turkey. As a reminder, capital controls are widely seen as the “worst case scenario” for Turkey as they could precipitate “self-fulfilling contagion”, and lead to broader capital flight from the EM space.
Albayrak also said that reining in inflation and narrowing the current-account deficit were policy priorities, although he provided no details on how we would do that absent raising interest rates – an outcome that Erdogan has decried as unlikely – with both an IMF bailout and capital controls off the table.
Discussing Turkey’s runaway inflation, Albayrak said the central bank alone wouldn’t be able to rein it in without tighter fiscal policy, although he has yet to provide any details on what options are on the table. In the meantime, GDP is set to slow further in the medium term from 7.4% expansion last year.
Still, after losing as much as a quarter of its value in the past few weeks after the U.S. sanctioned members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, it continued to recover losses both before and after this morning conference call, rising to the highest level since last Friday, after Turkey cracked down on short sellers. Albayrak’s speech appears to have been successful, and the lira gained trading 4.0% stronger at 5.70 per dollar.
Meanwhile, as Albayrak was hoping to preserve some stability, a German government source told Reuters on Thursday that “the Federal Government believes that an IMF program could help Turkey.”
This contradicted Turkey’s official position as during his call with investors, Albayrak said Ankara had no plans to go to the IMF for support over its currency crisis. Then again, if Germany wants a bailout program – a way to give technocrats ultimate control over a given economy… well, just look at Greece.
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