Turkey faced a lot of difficulties in 2016 – both on the economic and political side. On the economic front, the first half of the year was a recovery period where most of the macro data showed improvement, political turmoil had diminished and equity market was pretty much on hold while the market participants had positive views in general. A new Prime Minister and a new Governor for the Central Bank was appointed, who started his term with a positive tone with respect to Monetary Policy. On the other hand, in the second half of the year Turkey had to cope with a lot of turmoil.
Last Friday evening, a fraction of the Army mostly medium rank officers, had undertaken a coup attempt and seized airports, bridges, TV stations and military headquarters, before attacking the Turkish parliament, leaving the building charred and damaged, and have reasoned to seize power to protect the democracy from the Government.
With the current outcome, the uncertainties in Turkish economies are off the table. AKP (governing party Justice and Development) will now have 316 seats in the parliament. This is enough to form a single party government, still, it falls short of constitutional majority – the most market friendly outcome. There will be a positive sentiment as Turkey goes back to business. After a period of deepened political uncertainties, the election outcome leads to some relief on Turkish capital markets.
Turkish early elections to be held on 1 November, 2015; and once more, the market is waiting for a positive outcome. Neither the country nor the market has more tolerance to absorb any further political uncertainty; however, the election outcome may not be too different from the results back in June 2015. Nevertheless, this time Turkey is closer to a coalition government.
We are almost approaching the end of the summer but it looks like we are back to April 2015 in Turkey. The election outcome and aftermath did not work as politicians had desired and the efforts to form a government have failed so far.
The upcoming parliamentary elections on Sunday in Turkey could force Erdogan to postpone his plan for a new constitution and could lead to new political leaders in the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economics. This would trigger an increase in uncertainty and consequently a higher degree of volatility for the Turkish Lira and the Istanbul stock Exchange.
In Turkey, the impact of the currency fluctuations are being discussed and even an ordinary Turk on the street knows what it means for the currency to depreciate. For example, during a cab ride, you may have a very deep economic discussion with the taxi driver about the dollar and the Turkish lira. This is as a result of the crises Turks experienced in the past – unfortunately there was more than one! This in turn, has enabled Turks to have their guard up automatically to cope with the strong dollar and there is a dollar investment mechanism in every household immediately if they get a whiff of the depreciating Turkish lira. Corporates also got used to foreign currency fluctuations, but as an import and export oriented country, the depreciating lira has some negative implications on the corporates as well as economic indicators.
After quite a stable period the Turkish lira has started depreciating against the dollar since the final months of 2014 due to a combination of: i) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments regarding the Central Bank of Turkey, ii) the ECB’s quantitative easing program, iii) woes about Greece’s exit from the EU and iv) the FED’s rate hike expectations.