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Turkey's central bank kept its three main interest rates unchanged on Tuesday, September 17, as it seeks to find a way between holding up the level of the battered lira and keeping economic growth buoyant ahead of a series of crucial elections.
The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) kept the benchmark one-week repurchase rate at 4.5%, abiding by a commitment made by Governor Erdem Basci in August. The overnight lending and borrowing rates, which mark the upper and lower ends of his interest-rate corridor, were kept at 7.75% and 3.5% respectively.
"The committee will maintain the cautious monetary policy stance and implement additional monetary tightening at the appropriate frequency until the medium-term inflation outlook is in line with the medium-term targets," the central bank said in a statement on its website.
COMMENT BY STANDARD BANK: No surprises. No change in rates, and hints of adjustments in lira liquidity to meet policy goals...argues headline inflation will moderate, but core will remain above target due to FX vol. Also indicates that CAD will continue improving due to policy framework - but the reality is that it is improving very slowly and remains a key vulnerability still. The CBRT argues that it is willing to undertake additional monetary tightening if needed and to mainain the cautious policy stance - albeit just weeks ago the CBRT ruled out hiking its main policy rates further, so the line is tightening but within the current modest and low IR corridor. Not sure how effective this is. Bottom line - the TRY and local rates have rallied over the past week, not due to the CBRT's policy response, but due to the easing of global EM concerns, and the return of a dose of risk on as investors get less concerned over Fed tapering (post-Summers) and as Syria-related global risk eases off. I guess it would be good if the CBRT was more accepting of this point, and noted the underlying vulnerabilities still in Turkey, and the need for more policy action. Not sure the market is that convinced that this is a bank particularly focused on countering inflation, or the current account deficit, but is much more pro-growth oriented, and the concern still is how independent the bank is now. I guess the CBRT would argue that it read the global market, and Fed policy response function, far better than the market, and hence did not panic a couple of weeks back when the lira was melting and the market was clamouring for rate hikes. They would argue that this is an assured central bank, which is balancing the risks well, and its assured response is good overall for growth/inflation, et al.
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