Turkey cuts interest rates again as country struggles under inflation exceeding 80%

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Russians tourists to Europe decreased dramatically over the summer, but rose in several other destinations, including Turkey (here).

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Turkey’s central bank surprised markets once again with its decision Thursday to cut its key interest rate, despite inflation in the country surging beyond 80%.

The country’s monetary policymakers opted for a 100 basis point cut, bringing the key one-week repo rate from 13% to 12%. In August, Turkish inflation rate was recorded at 80.2%, quickening for the 15th consecutive month and the highest level in 24 years.

A statement from the central bank said it has “assessed that the updated level of policy is adequate under the current outlook,” according to Reuters.

The policy direction has long stunned investors and economists, who say the refusal to tighten policy is a result of political pressure from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has long railed against interest rates and turned against economic orthodoxy by insisting that lowering rates are the way to bring down inflation.

The months-long campaign to continuously lower rates as Turkey’s trade and current account deficit balloons and its foreign exchange reserves run low has instead sent Turkey’s currency, the lira, into a multi-year tailspin. The lira has lost more than 27% of its value to the dollar year to date, and 80% in the last five years. Following the bank’s rate decision announcement, the currency was down a quarter of a percentage point, trading at a record low of 18.376 to the dollar.

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