Turkey raises interest rates to 24% in startling bid to curb inflation

Turkish lira gains value against US dollar

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a decree on Thursday announcing that contracts for sales, rent and leasing must in future be made in lira.

"It nearly seems like it's a game of "good cop, bad cop" being played out between the Turkish authorities - with President Erdogan on the one hand still making statements regarding his dislike of interest rates and. a very sizeable reaction from the central bank in response to the recent inflationary and geopolitical developments", she said.

Turkey's central bank raised its benchmark rate by 625 basis points on Thursday in a move that boosted the lira and may ease investor concern about President Tayyip Erdogan's influence on monetary policy.

There had been indications from Turkey's central bank that it would raise rates, after inflation came in at almost 18% in August, according to official data.

It said: "Accordingly, the committee has made a decision to implement a strong monetary tightening to support price stability".

The Turkish lira began to recover shortly after the rate hike, strengthening by 3% to 6.16 against the dollar.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com said: "This was a definite statement from policymakers, but the risk now is that the market tries to test the central bank's resolve: the horse may have already bolted".

The independence of monetary policy has been in doubt since Erdogan pledged in his election campaign this year to take on a greater role to bring interest rates lower.

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The bank´s intervention was the latest aggressive rate hike to calm economic turbulence in an emerging market after the Argentinian central bank´s recent hike from 45 to 60 percent on August 30.

"Turkey needs structural reforms to increase productivity, to decrease its dependence on short-term portfolio flows and to decrease the rigidness in the labour market".

The bank's decision came shortly after Erdogan triggered tumult by repeating his hostility to higher borrowing costs and issuing an order that limited the use of foreign currency in domestic transactions.

The embattled currency has fallen by 40% this year amid a lack of interest rate hikes to control inflation. The rate hike could squeeze growth further, but independent experts say it is needed to contain inflation of about 18% and support the currency.

The bank implemented what economists described as a hidden interest rate hike in mid-August, forcing banks to borrow at the higher 19.25 per cent through the overnight lending facility.

Mr Erdogan, who has called himself an "enemy of interest rates", chose his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, as finance minister in July.

A growing crisis became acute earlier this year following the detention of an American pastor on espionage and terror-related charges, which prompted Donal Trump to double the import tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium.


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