Turkey’s lira edged near to its record low on Friday, triggering direct central bank intervention selling dollars, after ratings agency Fitch revised the country’s outlook to “negative” from “stable” over risks created by recent monetary policy easing.
Economists have widely criticised President Tayyip Erdogan’s aggressive rate-cutting policy as reckless, and have warned that the central bank cannot properly defend the currency given its depleted reserves.
The lira weakened as far as 13.89 against the US currency before firming as far as 13.37 as the central bank intervened. At 1039 GMT it stood at 13.65, and has lost some 45% of its value against the greenback this year.
The currency touched a record 14 on Tuesday, a dramatic descent from February when half as many liras were needed to buy one dollar.
The central bank began its interventions the next day and the currency has since approached 13.9 three times before abruptly rallying, suggesting authorities are unwilling to let it blow through 14.
“The impact of the intervention is rather small because the markets know that the reserves are melting,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote.
“High inflation calls for rate adjustment. Selling the reserves weakens the central bank’s hand, and should have an increasingly limited impact on the currency moving forward.”
Turkey’s annual inflation rate surged Friday above 20% — its highest in three years — although the main opposition leader accused officials of hiding the true scale of the country’s currency crisis
Earlier, Turkish minister for treasury and finance Lutfi Elvan was “released from his duties” as the lira hit a series of record lows – hammered by market concerns at the direction of economic policy.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed Nureddin Nebati as Finance Minister. Nebati is a strong supporter of low interest rate drive.
Nebati, who served three years as a deputy finance minister, last week praised Erdogan’s drive to bring down interest rates and said that Turkey had sought for years to implement a policy of low rates but had faced strong opposition.
“This time, we are determined to implement it,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that there was “no problem” with keeping interest rates low in current market conditions.