Counting the Cost

Turkey’s economy after the coup

Will the Turkish economy remain resilient in the face of political upheaval?

Last week, Turkey overcame a failed attempted coup and has since seen massive political upheaval.

As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan manages government institutions, with mass detentions, sackings and suspensions sweeping across the country, many question what effect the political instability will have on Turkey’s economy.

The Asia-Europe crossroads is hooked on foreign capital, but how will foreign investors feel about deals with a country that has seen countless bombings and ongoing political unrest?

Travel and tourism revenues have already seen a decline as a result of the recent bombings, with the future of the industry at a real risk. This comes at a time when the country’s current budget deficit – for example the difference between cost of imports and exports – sits at 4.5 percent and the annual growth of the Turkish economy has slowed down to 3.5 percent only this year.

Further to that, the Turkish Lira hit an all-time low in exchange for the US dollar, and US global rating agency Standard & Poor’s changed the country’s outlook to negative as a result of the coup.

However, in spite of the shake-up, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Finance Mehmet Simsek says the market economy model will not change and that there is confidence in the Turkish economy withstanding the current storm – as it has done in the past.

“The state of emergency, legal authority, will only be used against coup perpetrators and their affiliates. Ordinary life, business life, will continue as usual,” says Simsek.

“The commitment is that we will maintain sound, rational macroeconomic policies. We will stick to market economy. There has never been, and will never be, consideration of any other model,” he continues. “Why? Because that model served Turkey well. It has done phenomenally well in the past and the Turkish economy has proved itself to be fairly resilient in the face of various shocks.”

Nilufer Sezgin, chief economist at IS Asset Management, echoes much of the same sentiment and highlights the fickle nature of short-term portfolio investments as replaceable “hot money” as opposed to long-term foreign investment, which is less likely to suffer the consequences of the current turmoil.

“Even during the Lehman Brothers crisis that hit entire global credit markets, the Turkish economy did not experience a long-lasting decline in external debt generation or roll-over ratios, so to speak,” says Sezgin. “Going forward, we will monitor whether further rating institutions will keep downgrading Turkey or whether they are going to wait and see the actions to be taken and then act accordingly.” 

But will Turkish economic “resilience” translate into international confidence?

Also on this episode of Counting the Cost:

Italy’s crippling debts: Italy is currently suffering a banking crisis that could be the next big threat to the Eurozone post-Brexit. Italian banks are crippled with bad loans, totalling $395bn (360bn Euros), or what amounts to almost one-fifth of the country’s GDP.

Italy’s government is looking at resolving the issue by buying out the bad loans held by Italy’s largest – and the world’s oldest – bank, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, using state and private money.

However, the EU has changed bailout rules, now claiming that taxpayer-funded bailouts are no longer allowed. A bail-in is what is now required, with bond holders and investors taking the first hit.

With loopholes in the interpretation of the EU rules, and no confirmed feedback as to resolving the debt crisis, how will Italy proceed? We speak to Alberto Gallo, head of macro strategies at London-based hedge fund Algebris.  

Iran’s new business hub: Kish Island, 19 kilometres off the Iranian coast in the Gulf, is gearing up to become one of Iran’s newest international business hubs post the historic nuclear deal.

As sanctions are lifted, Kish Island – a free-trade zone and already experiencing a footfall of a million visitors annually to its duty-free zones – is positioning itself as a haven for foreign investors who can finally enter the Iranian market, free from the rules and regulations of the mainland.