Mountain brings forth a mouse as Turkey scrambles to put brake on sliding lira

Mountain brings forth a mouse as Turkey scrambles to put brake on sliding lira
The best-laid plans of mice and men? / George Shuklin, cc-by-sa 1.0.
By Akin Nazli in Belgrade June 9, 2022

Turkey on June 9 came up with what critics might see as a more desperate and limited version of the process staged last December 20 when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced an instrument for FX-protected deposits and officials subsequently drove the USD/Turkish lira (TRY) from above the 18-level to the 10s via backdoor channels.

On June 9, after the market close, with the lira back in jitter-inducing territory at more than 17/$, Turkey’s finance ministry first released a statement threatening economic actors that it could again take some steps to hit FX investors.

The expectation was for a CPI-indexed bond for individual investors. The banks have recently written down big profits from such paper. Speculation has mounted that the government was considering a similar paper for individuals.

But in the evening hours, the mountain brought forth a mouse.

The finance ministry said that it had launched a state enterprise income-indexed paper that will have a minimum guaranteed return.

No details were available on the state enterprises concerned, the maturity or the return. Book-building will be launched on June 15.

In January 2009, Turkey sold similar papers (see full list below). All the papers were redeemed by February 2014.

The banking watchdog BDDK, meanwhile, said that it had set a maximum 24-month maturity for consumer loans at between TRY 50,000 and TRY100,000 lira (previously 36-month) and a maximum 12-month maturity for consumer loans over TRY100,000 (previously 60-month).

(For loans below TRY50,000, the maximum maturity remained unchanged at 36-month.)

The BDDK also hiked the minimum repayment limit on credit card debts to 20% of the total debt for amounts that are lower than TRY25,000 and to 40% for amounts higher than TRY25,000.

Consumers who have been buying basic food items on credit are set for tougher times.

The authority also said that it would take some more “quick steps” to differentiate loan to price ratios for mortgage loans, channel loans to investments, hike risk weights for loans that are extended to legal persons that carry out swap transactions with foreigners and introduce a swap window via private placements to foreigners.

Separately, the capital markets board (SPK/CMB) said it had reduced its fees in order to encourage foreign funding for initial public offerings (IPOs) and local companies to sell papers abroad.

The joke doing the rounds was that foreigners’ only concern was the SPK fees.

The SPK has also launched a commodity market on the Borsa Istanbul and it is working on gold certificates.

To sum up, observers saw a mad commotion that turned out to be much ado about nothing. Some more desperate steps may be taken in the coming days as the USD/TRY is still going north.