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Turkey Needs Radical New Direction to Save the Economy


Turkey should emulate the reformist approach it adopted after the 2001 crisis to prevent an economic and financial breakdown – but this looks highly unlikely.

Although Ankara has witnessed what appears to be an abrupt change of its top economic team with two fresh appointments to key positions – Naci Ağbal as head of the presidential budget and strategy directorate and Lütfi Elvan as finance and treasury minister – a cardinal rule of thumb in Turkish politics is that the more drama one sees, the less policy change there will actually be.

Financial markets reacted positively to the moves in the expectation they will signal a change of Turkey’s overall economic approach, but the reality is Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is simply putting loyalists into key bureaucratic positions to help ensure the primary role of these functions becomes ‘selling’ his policies more effectively, rather than altering them.

The hope from the markets – which saw the beleaguered Turkish lira appreciate against the US dollar at the news – is that Turkey adopts substantial interest rate increases as well as measures to repress liquidity expansion in order to temper its controversial so-called ‘Triple C’ approach of using cheap credit to stimulate growth with an unsustainable consumption and construction boom.

But instead, Erdoğan’s declaration after the appointments were made indicates the new restrictions in which they will now operate, saying ‘we are in a historic struggle against those who want to force Turkey into modern capitulations through the shackles of interest rates, foreign exchange rates and inflation’.

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