Turkish Central Bank paves way for rate hike after lira slide
“A measured step to widen the interest rate corridor will be on the agenda of the next monetary policy committee meeting,” Erdem Başçı said in the statement. DHA PhotoTurkey’s central bank signalled today that it is set to raise interest rates to stabilize a plunging lira, after intervening heavily last week to shore up the currency as it sank to record lows.
In a rare written statement ahead of a monetary policy committee meeting, Governor Erdem Başçı said global policy uncertainty and volatility would not be allowed to damage financial and price stability in Turkey.
“A measured step to widen the interest rate corridor will be on the agenda of the next monetary policy committee meeting,” Başçı said in the statement ahead of the July 23 meeting.
That suggests the bank is ready to try to stabilize the market by raising its overnight lending rate, the upper end of the ‘corridor’ or gap between the rates at which it lends and borrows money to keep markets and the currency steady.
Emerging markets like Turkey have been hit hard since early May, when the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled it may begin withdrawing its stimulus, the first hint of a U-turn in the easy policy the world’s major central bank have implemented since the financial crisis.
Last month’s anti-government protests across Turkey added to pressure on the lira.
The central bank appears to be ready to take action to support the currency, even though Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will be reluctant to see a rate hike that slows economic growth.
The currency firmed to 1.9390 to the dollar by 0823 GMT from 1.9450 before the bank’s statement. The yield on 10-year government bonds fell, as did the cost of insuring Turkish debt, with five-year credit default swaps down 11 basis points from Friday to 208 bps, according to Markit.
“The CBRT (central bank) bows to the inevitable ... clearly indicating that it will hike the top end of the rates corridor,” said Timothy Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank.
Raising the lending rate would effectively increase the real interest rate on lira assets, making them more attractive to foreign investors.