Cruel intolerance and intolerable cruelty

Cruel intolerance and intolerable cruelty

The rapid and harsh response to a recent article by Bloomberg's Benjamin Harvey only underscores the veracity of his claims.

A day had not passed since he wrote that “critics of Turkey’s monetary policies are increasingly being portrayed as enemies” when he was “exposed” as an enemy of the state in a column in the pro-government Turkish daily Sabah.

The piece, written by the paper’s economy section chief, starts by attacking the journalist’s persona, lack of an economics education and celebrity fiancée. It continues by making reference to the Wall Street protests and the fact that Michael Bloomberg is Jewish, neither of which has anything to do with Harvey's claims. 

But the article does at least manage to state that the government, economic policymakers and their supporters do not see anyone as enemies. Japanese investment bank Nomura might not agree. They received arrows from Central Bank Governor Erdem Başçı after the very same Ben Harvey reported at the end of last month that Nomura was recommending exiting lira and rates trades. Başçı lashed out at Nomura, saying that he was glad the Japanese bank was staying clear of Turkey. 

Harvey’s article had actually been misread, and the Nomura report unread, but the investment bank issued an unofficial apology in the form of another research note saying that Başçı’s remarks had “removed some of the uncertainties on the outlook for financial markets" and the bank was "establishing two fresh technical recommendations”. They have also stopped distributing their reports to the press. Several journalists who asked about the “Harvey Wars” received the expected no comment. 

I am in no way singling out Nomura. Views voiced by Turkey economists in private conversations about Turkish monetary policy can sometimes be very different from those articulated in their research reports. Therefore, I was not surprised to see, in a survey conducted by business channel Bloomberg HT, that opinions of the Central Bank have worsened significantly during the past year. It seems market participants are more frank when anonymous. 

More interestingly, foreigners find the Bank less predictable, reliable, credible, independent and overall successful. Sabah would see this as further evidence of the existence of the high interest rate lobby, a fictional alliance supposedly led by foreign financiers trying to suck Turkey dry, like the giant vampire squid, by raising interest rates. 

This view assumes that Bloomberg, of course owned by a Jew, serves the finance sector, also run by Jews. Such religious fraternity would be natural to the proponents of this theory, who are used to cozy relationships with the government and policymakers. It also takes for granted that all foreign financiers hold the same position on Turkish assets. In fact, rising rates are hurting many foreign market participants, especially those who own nearly two thirds of Turkey’s stock market.However, all this cruel intolerance cannot compare to the intolerable cruelty I have been exposed to while reading the nonsense written by pro-government journalists and columnists in preparing this column. Every job has its occupational hazards