Market analysts in Turkey are censoring their research to avoid getting fired, Bloomberg wrote on May 24.
Amid the country’s state of emergency—now in effect for more than 22 months and described by the UN human rights office in March as a regime that has had a “chilling effect” on Turkish society by demonstrating that any dissent will be punished—analysts recall the cautionary tale of Mert Ulker.
As the news agency describes things: “Every market analyst in Turkey knows who Mert Ulker is: He’s the expert who was fired as research chief at one of the country’s biggest brokerages for publishing speculation that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might have staged the failed 2016 coup to tighten his grip on power.”
“With Erdogan just weeks away from elections likely to cement his near-absolute authority, barely a word of criticism creeps into research published by strategists and economists based in Turkey—not even after Erdogan’s threat to force the central bank to cut interest rates sent the lira into freefall,” the agency’s report adds.
On May 21, when the beleaguered Turkish lira experienced one of its most turbulent days of its steep devaluation in the year to date, Istanbul-based brokerage Alnus Yatirim put out a note saying: “God help Turkey. We’re faced with a central bank that is watching the market when it needs to lead and direct it.”
Not long after its comments appeared in the media, Alnus Yatirim sent an email to its mailing list with the subject line “correction and apology,” saying the draft was sent by mistake.
Bloomberg said it had approached 10 analysts for its story and for fear of reprisals all of them had requested that they remain anonymous.
When Erdogan shocked market commentators by giving an interview to Bloomberg TV in London in which he said he would, if re-elected, tighten his grip on the economy and assume a greater role in setting monetary policy, there was little by way of cutting comment from Turkish analysts. There were certainly no calls for him to abandon ‘Erdoganomics’ and focus on plain vanilla central banking.
Many Turks are on edge that if Erdogan is re-elected on June 24 constitutional changes that will make him executive president could essentially produce one-man authoritarian rule. Erdogan has already enjoyed extraordinary powers since the failed coup, with the state of emergency allowing him to rule by decree. Turkey’s new presidential republic, officially narrowly approved by a referendum held last year, will eliminate the post of prime minister and diminish the role of parliament. The executive president will very much be king. Have Turks had enough? The Turkish opposition, which has united to take on Erdogan and his AKP party, certainly hope so.
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