In a decisive move to tackle rampant inflation, Turkey’s central bank announced a significant hike to its benchmark interest rate from 30% to 35% this Thursday. This adjustment aligns with the forecasts made by economists who participated in a Reuters survey. The bank attributed the uptick to stronger-than-anticipated price escalations observed in the third quarter. Emphasizing the urgency to stabilize inflationary expectations, the bank’s statement highlighted the need to “control the deterioration in pricing behavior.” It further revealed that the influences of tax modifications, wage increments, and fluctuating exchange rates had predominantly settled.
Highlighting its commitment to restoring financial health, the bank stated, “Monetary tightening will be further bolstered as required, in a strategic and phased approach, until a substantial enhancement in the inflation perspective is realized.” This recent increment trails a significant 500 basis point enhancement in September. This progression signals the central bank’s shift from an extended phase of unconventional monetary policies, a period that witnessed declining rates even as inflation surged aggressively.
This strategic transformation commenced in June, upon the appointment of Hafize Gaye Erkan, a seasoned former Wall Street banker, as the central bank governor by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Since her takeover, the benchmark interest rate has experienced a dramatic ascent from a mere 8.5%. Economic experts suggest that this upward trajectory needs to continue. Recent times have seen the Turkish economy grappling with multifaceted challenges. The bank predicts that by the end of 2023, inflation could surpass 60%. Concurrently, the Turkish lira has witnessed a significant devaluation, escalating the cost of imports.
Liam Peach, a distinguished emerging markets economist from Capital Economics, anticipates two more 500 basis point increases in the upcoming central bank gatherings this year. He believes such steps could ensure that real interest rates, after considering inflation, turn favorable by next year’s conclusion. Peach noted, “Achieving this would be pivotal in perpetuating investor enthusiasm and retaining Turkey’s sovereign dollar bond spreads at their near-historic lows.” Peach commended the central bank’s recent policy enhancements and communication strategies for restoring its credibility. However, he emphasized that to sustain Turkey’s fundamental economic improvements and retain investor trust, maintaining positive real rates is crucial for the upcoming years.