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Fri Aug 10, 2018, 10:06 AM

Turkey is collapsing. President Trump tightens the screws

https://www.france24.com/en/20180810-turkey-lira-crashes-new-lows-market-alarm-grows

ISTANBUL (AFP) -
Turkey's embattled lira on Friday hit new record lows against the US dollar and euro, losing over six percent in value as strains with the United States showed no sign of abating and fears grew over the exposure of European banks.

The lira was trading at 5.90 to the dollar, a loss on the day of 6.5 percent. Earlier, it had crashed some 12 percent through the 6.00 level for the first time in history, trading at one point at more than 6.20 lira per dollar.

The lira has now lost over a third of its value against both the dollar and the euro this year, with the currency battered by both concerns over domestic economic policy and the political situation.

Versus the euro on Friday the lira lost 7.0 percent to trade at 6.8.

Turkey remains at loggerheads with the United States in one of the worst spats between the two NATO allies in years over the detention for the last two years of American pastor Andrew Brunson and a host of other issues.

Talks this week in Washington failed to resolve the impasse which has led both sides to slap sanctions on senior officials amid fears of graver measures to come.

- Doubts over central bank -

Meanwhile, markets are deeply concerned over the direction of economic policy under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with inflation nearly 16 percent but the central bank reluctant to raise rates in response.

UBS chief economist for EMEA emerging markets Gyorgy Kovacs said a giant rate hike of 350-400 basis points would be "consistent with real rate levels that in the past helped to stabilise the currency."

He warned a "rate hike alone might not stem the worries about the US and Turkey tensions and a potential further escalation."

And it remains unclear if the bank would be willing to sharply lift rates with analysts saying the nominally independent institution is under the influence of Erdogan, who wants low rates to keep growth humming.

Erdogan after winning June 24 elections with revamped powers tightened his control over the central bank and appointed his son-in-law Berat Albayrak to head a newly-empowered finance ministry.

"President Erdogan's strengthened powers under the new presidential system have made it increasingly uncertain whether policymakers will be able to act to stabilise the economy," said William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London.

He said the lira's fall was being exacerbated by fears the central bank "isn't being permitted to raise interest rates".

Trump doubles down:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/10/trump.html

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he authorized a doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey amid a growing diplomatic dispute between the two countries that is causing a currency crisis for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!" Trump wrote.

Losses in the the Turkish lira deepened on Trump's tweet, falling as much as 20 percent vs. the U.S. dollar in Friday trading.

The currency was already reeling Friday after comments from President Erdogan, who called for citizens to convert their foreign currency holdings into the local lira. So far there has been no confirmation to CNBC of the new tariff policy from the United States Department of Commerce.

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