Turkish central bank announces liquidity move after lira falls

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Turkey’s central bank on Monday bypassed calls for interest rate rises and announced a series of measures to boost liquidity in the country’s financial system, following Friday’s dramatic drop in the lira.

In a statement published on its website, the Turkish Central Bank said it would provide banks with all the liquidity they need, through measures including revisions to collaterals on lira transactions, “providing banks with flexibility in their collateral management.”

The statement also said the central bank would “resume its intermediary function at the FX deposit market,” allowing banks to borrow from and lend to each other through the foreign exchange deposit market.

A separate statement saw the central bank confirm that lira reserve requirements ratios (RRRs) would be reduced by 250 basis points, while RRRs for “non-core FX liabilities” would fall by 400 basis points.

According to the statement, the RRR measures will provide the financial system with 10 billion lira, six billion US dollars and three billion US dollars equivalent of gold liquidity.

The measures, which came after Finance Minister Berat Albayrak told reporters on Sunday an economic action plan was being drafted, do not include any changes to interest rates.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called interest rates “tools of exploitation” and “the mother and father of all evil.”

Many observers and economists inside and outside of Turkey have called for immediate interest rate rises to slow down the rate of inflation, which currently stands at 16 percent.

However, Erdogan’s resistance to any increase, as well as the nomination of his son-in-law Albayrak as finance minister have concerned investors, who fear that the president wields too much control over the country’s financial system.

According to Business Insider, an interest rate increase would see banks “take in lots more lira – thus removing currency from the market. Like any commodity, a reduced supply of lira would increase its value and stabilize its price.”

The central bank previously adjusted RRRs in May after a currency selloff, providing an extra 10 billion US dollars of liquidity. However, the move had little effect on the deprecation of the lira, and the bank defied Erdogan’s resistance to interest rate hikes with a 300 basis point increase.

After Monday’s statements from the central bank, the lira recovered slightly from losses earlier in the day to be down 2.2 percent, having earlier hit a record low of 7.2149 lira to the US dollar.

Other emerging markets saw significant losses on Monday, with the South African rand falling by as much as 10 percent to a low not seen since June 2016. It was the currency’s biggest one-day drop in 10 years.

Indonesia’s rupiah fell 0.8 percent, forcing Jakarta to intervene with an additional forex swap auction, according to Reuters. The Indian rupee dropped by as much as 1.13 percent to a record low against the US dollar, as investors continued to flee emerging markets.

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