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First Test for Turkey Central Bank Governor: Decision Day Guide

Cagan Koc
·3 min read

(Bloomberg) --

Turkey’s central bank is likely to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged in the first monetary policy meeting of its newly appointed governor.

Installed after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan abruptly fired his predecessor following a bigger-than-expected rate increase, Sahap Kavcioglu is under pressure to reduce rates but has so far signaled he would not rush to loosen the stance he inherited.

All but two respondents in a Bloomberg survey of 25 analysts expect the central bank to keep the one-week repo policy rate at 19% on Thursday. The dissenters, HSBC Bank PLC and Capital Economics Ltd, predict the meeting will deliver a reduction of 50 and 200 basis points, respectively.

“Kavcioglu’s initial communication to markets has done enough to alleviate apprehensions about a major policy reversal at the April meeting,” said Ehsan Khoman, Head of Emerging Market Research for Europe, Middle East and Africa at MUFG Bank in Dubai. Turkey “does not have the policy room to lower rates this year given the elevated inflation outlook” but Kavcioglu’s dovish views suggest the central bank will eventually take a more accommodative stance.

In a written interview with Bloomberg after his appointment last month, Kavcioglu said markets shouldn’t view a rate cut at the April 15 Monetary Policy Committee meeting as a given, easing some concerns among investors.

Turkey raised its benchmark one-week repo rate by 200 basis points on March 18, at Naci Agbal’s final rate-setting meeting as governor, citing concerns about inflation. A professor of banking, Kavcioglu was among the critics of that move, saying it could damage economic growth.

Last week, Erdogan said the government was determined to both reduce inflation and cut interest rates to single digits, prompting a slide in the lira. The currency has weakened more than 10% against the dollar since the unexpected appointment of Kavcioglu.

What Our Economists Say:

“Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like the new-look central bank to lower interest rates, but market forces will likely delay the delivery of his orders. With inflation rising and the lira weakening, we expect the monetary policy committee to keep rates on hold when it meets on Thursday.” --Ziad Daoud, Bloomberg Economics (Read More: Market Forces to Keep Turkey Central Bank on Hold)

Inflation accelerated to an annual 16.2% through March, up from 15.6% the previous month because of a global oil rally and weaker currency, leaving the new central bank chief little room to enact the interest-rate cuts that would mollify Erdogan, who holds the unorthodox view that high interest rates cause inflation.

Among the dissenters, Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said they are basing their forecast of a big rate cut more “on the basis of pressure from Erdogan.”

“If I was governor, I would hike interest rates,” he said, “but I’d probably get sacked the next day.”

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