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Turkey’s central bank slashes rates 100 points despite lira crash

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Turkey’s central bank slashed its key rate by 100 basis points to 14 percent as expected on Thursday, and signaled a pause next month, extending President Tayyip Erdogan’s unorthodox policy even after the currency spiraled to all-time lows.

The bank – easing policy while other countries are tightening – said that over coming months it would monitor the effects of the rate cuts that began in September when the one-week repo interest rate was 19 percent.

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The subsequent 500 basis-points of cuts set the stage for the historic lira crash that sent inflation above 21 percent, prompting economists to widely criticize the policy as reckless given it leaves Turkey’s real yields sharply negative.

The lira dove to a new all-time low of 15.689 versus the dollar in response to the decision, and was at 15.39 at 1125 GMT. It has shed more than half its value this year in Turkey’s second currency crisis in four years.

The central bank was expected to ease by 100 basis points according to a Reuters poll last week, though one analyst thought the lira depreciation would force it to hold.

The rate cut was “as expected, but still unbelievable,” said John Hardy, head of FX strategy at Saxo Bank.

The sharp depreciation is expected to send inflation soaring to 30 percent in 2022, eating deeper into the earnings and savings of Turks who have seen their household budgets and future plans upended over the last two months.

“Unfortunately people are no longer able to fill their stomachs,” Hacer Yaskabak told Reuters at a vegetable market in Istanbul.

Reassessing things

Erdogan has repeatedly criticized interest rates and called for monetary stimulus to boost exports, credit and growth ahead of elections in 2023. He has overhauled the bank’s leadership with like-minded officials, hammering its credibility.

Opposition lawmakers have called for early elections to reverse course for an economy badly rattled by both the exchange and inflation rates.

The central bank said it used what “limited” room it had left to ease monetary policy given “transitory” supply-side factors that have boosted inflation.

The “cumulative impact of the recent policy decisions will be monitored in the first quarter of 2022 and during this period, all aspects of the policy framework will be reassessed in order to create a foundation for a sustainable price stability,” it said without elaborating.

Haluk Burumcekci, head of Istanbul-based Burumcekci Consulting, said the bank will likely use other tools such as required bank reserves and more direct market interventions selling dollars to ride out the next few months.

But he added that domestic and international inflation, combined with a likely spike in Turkey’s minimum wage, means that “these measures will not be enough and the bank will have to raise the policy rate in the not-too-distant future.”

Turkey’s monetary easing runs against the grain of a world in which key central banks are raising rates to head off global price rises. The US Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday it would raise rates up to three times next year.

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Saudi Arabia supports sustainability while ensuring global energy security: Al-Jadaan

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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said on Friday that the Kingdom supports sustainability while ensuring energy security and the inevitability of moving to a green and sustainable global economy, “based on a flexible and thoughtful approach, to ensure energy security and economic stability in the long term.”

Al-Jadaan remarks came during his participation in the virtual panel discussion organized by the World Economic Forum, Davos Agenda under the title: Building Future Preparedness.

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He said the past two years have provided many lessons to build economic resilience and a better future preparedness, like the “the need for a bold, decisive, data driven action in risk mitigation, while balancing public health, social, and economic needs simultaneously,” according to a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Al-Jadaan said: “G20 agreed to form a joint task force from the ministries of health and finance to ensure the world is better prepared for the future, and it is important that we support these efforts,” pointing that the COVID-19 pandemic provided the world with a clear lesson that no country can fight the epidemic alone since any pandemic requires greater international cooperation.

The Minister of Finance also clarified that the transformation in the field of energy and sustainable development are two main factors to be able to build a resilient global economy, but the threat that is often ignored is the need to ensure energy security, so that the matter is not negatively affected by the transformation.

Al-Jadaan stressed that the “G20 is working with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral institutions to find a way to better prepare for potential crises in the future by continuing structural reforms and managing risks, noting that in the past, it took years to produce vaccines, yet today, with collective cooperation, whether from the private sector or the government, we were able to deal well with the crisis, we were able to provide support to low-income countries and we were able to provide relief efforts in agreement with the G20 and Paris Club, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to distribute the equivalent of $650 billion from its special drawing rights to support liquidity,” according to SPA.

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Iran says gas flows to Turkey resume after being cut due to technical fault

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Iran said on Friday its gas exports to Turkey have resumed after being cut a day earlier due to a technical fault, but a Turkish official said Iranian supplies were lower than the required volumes.

“Gas exports to Turkey, which had been suspended yesterday (Thursday, January 20) following a gas leak at a station on the Turkish side, have resumed,” the Iranian Oil Ministry’s news agency SHANA reported.

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“The brief pause in the gas exports to Turkey was due to the pressure-boosting station in Turkey needing to make adjustments to receive the gas after a fall in pressure,” SHANA said, without elaborating.

A sector official on the Turkish side said: “While it has to supply 28 million cubic meters of gas per day, Iran has been sending around 2-3 million cubic meters of gas and at low pressure.”

“The system is being disrupted due to the low amount and pressure, The compressor stations on the Turkey side are ready, operational, and there are no technical issues on the Turkish side,” the Turkish official told Reuters on Friday.

Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji told state TV that Iran was supplying 10 million cubic meters per day, starting early on Friday, while repairs were being carried out to stop a leak.

Sector officials in Turkey said on Thursday that Iran had cut gas flows for up to 10 days due to a technical failure, prompting Turkish authorities to order gas-fueled power plants to cut gas use by 40 percent.

Turkey is almost fully dependent on imported gas from Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran. Iran alone provided 16 percent of Turkey’s natural gas needs in the first 10 months of 2021, according to the latest official data.

Iran has faced gas shortages at home because of record high consumption particularly for household heating in the winter cold and has had to cut supplies to cement plants and other industries.

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Turkey passes law exempting converted lira deposits from corporate tax

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Turkey passes law exempting converted lira deposits from corporate tax

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Turkey’s parliament approved a law late on Thursday under which lira deposits converted from foreign currency under a scheme to support the lira will be exempt from corporate income tax on gains resulting from the conversion.

State-owned Anadolu news agency said interest and profits earned on the converted lira accounts with at least three months’ maturity will be exempt from the tax if they are converted by the fourth-quarter tax return submission date, which is Feb. 17.

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On Jan. 11, Turkey’s Official Gazette announced that Ankara had included corporate foreign currency and gold deposit accounts converted to lira in the scheme that protects local currency savings against exchange rate volatility.

The scheme, announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in December, compensates depositors for any loss in the value of the lira incurred during the duration of the deposit.

The lira slumped 44 percent in value against the dollar last year after the central bank slashed its benchmark interest rate by 500 basis points to 14% since September. The lira has steadied this month. It was 0.8 percent weaker at 13.43 against the dollar on Friday.

Deposits under the scheme have so far reached 163 billion lira ($12.1 billion), Erdogan said on Wednesday. But Reuters has reported that most of that amount comes from existing lira accounts rather than dollars or euros.

Also under the legislation, inflation accounting will be postponed until Dec. 31, 2023, even if all necessary conditions are met for inflation accounting in the 2021, 2022 fiscal periods and the 2023 quarterly periods.

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