"This Crisis Is Created By America": Turks Blame Trump For Economic Collapse

Turkey's economy may be in freefall with soaring inflation, a plunging currency, sliding stocks and a gaping current account deficit, but don't dare tell the locals that it is president Erdogan's fault for keeping interest rates low and preventing an even greater crisis: according to Serap, a 23-year-old clerk at a clothes store in central Istanbul, there is only one entity to blame for the precipitous slide in Turkey’s lira currency.

"This crisis is created by America," she said.

And a crisis it is: prices are soaring as a result of the collapsing currency - which this year has lost more than 35% against the dollar, and has overtaken the Argentine Peso for the worst performing currency of 2018 - with food, rents and fuel prices in Turkey surging, and the country's pipeline operator raising the price of natural gas for electricity production by 50%.

But when one asks the local population who is responsible for this economic inferno, the answer is surprising.

Serap’s sentiments about the causes of the crisis are shared by many Turks and hint at why support for President Tayyip Erdogan, who after surviving a fake military coup in the summer of 2016, won re-election in June with super-charged presidential powers, looks untouched, at least for now. Erdogan's loyal supporters see the currency sell-off as a U.S. attempt to undermine their country and president according to Reuters.

That's also known as the Maduro defense: blame all domestic problems on "shady" foreign actors, usually involving the US. But while the US certainly has its history of intervening in foreign events, this time the crisis is entirely home grown, although predictably, Erdogan would be the last to admit it.

"If they have their dollars, we have our people, our God,” Erdogan said in a speech on Friday morning, casting the lira’s slide as a campaign against the nation.

His comments were all the rage, in some cases literally, across Turkey’s overwhelmingly pro-government media on Friday. Newspapers and TV stations have cast the lira crisis as a political assault, spiraling out of U.S. sanctions imposed on two Turkish ministers last week in a row over the detention of a U.S. evangelical pastor, Andrew Brunson.

“They issued a scandalous decision last week about our ministers,” said Serap, the store clerk. She didn’t know exactly what steps Washington had taken against Turkey, but said her country would not be pushed around. “It’s not so easy to make us bow down to their demands.”

In short, nationalist sentiment has taken over what is otherwise purely economic debate, and explains why a simple resolution to Turkey's troubles now looks unlikely: after all, for Erdogan to fold and release Pastor Brunson would be seen as an act of weakness in the growing political feud with Trump, a parallel to what is taking place between the US and China, where neither side is close to conceding either.

Meanwhile, the anti-American propaganda campaign is raging to garner even more support for Erdogan's flawed economic policies: opposition newspaper Sozcu this week showed Brunson, still under house arrest in western Turkey, launching a $100 note folded up as a paper plane.

And flawed they are: not even Erdogan's son-in-law who was recently appointed as the country's economy and finance minister, could explain what is going on:

  • TURKISH FINANCE MINISTER SAYS  THE PROCESS TURKEY IS GOING THROUGH CANNOT BE EXPLAINED WITH LOGIC GIVEN ITS MACROECONOMIC INDICATORS

So, the Turkish economy no longer makes sense, but it's America's fault?

In any case, the lira sell-off, driven by fears about Erdogan’s influence over monetary policy and Turkey’s worsening relations with the United States, sent tremors through global emerging markets and dominated international financial headlines. And yet, the Turkish media has mostly ignored the financial aspect of the crisis, aside from covering Erdogan’s comments.

“The newspapers didn’t even report the natural gas and electricity price raises,” said Veysel, an Istanbul taxi driver. He said he learns about the slumping lira and steep fuel price rises when he fills up his tank or quizzes his passengers, rather than from the media.

Meanwhile, as Turkey's economy keeps digging an ever deeper hole, relations with the US continue to deteriorate, and are about to get even worse as additional measures are expected if the two NATO allies fail to resolve the Brunson dispute, as well as wider differences over issues including U.S. sanctions on Iran and Ankara’s plans to buy a Russian missile defense system.

Just earlier today, Trump poured gasoline ont he fire, giving conspiracy theorists ample ammo to claim that the feud is political when the US president announced that he will double tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey, as further punishment over the Brunson affair:

The news promptly sent the lira to a fresh all time low against the dollar, at 6.8703.

Meanwhile, as the US demands to get the pastor back, Erdogan has chastised the United States for failing to extradite a U.S.-based cleric Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup, supporting a Kurdish militia in northern Syria which Turkey says is a terrorist organization, and for demanding its allies comply with U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“They are ruling the world on their own,” said Yilmaz Cakarli, a trader in Istanbul. “Somebody must find a solution and say ‘stop’ to the United States.”

Turkey hopes to be that "somebody." But even so, what then? With inflation at a 14-year high and still rising, the country's most powerful leader since Ataturk has resisted the orthodox policy response of raising interest rates, which he once described as the “mother and father of all evil”.

And confirming that Erdogan's executive power creep has now set its sights on the central bank, in July the central bank left its policy rate unchanged, surprising economists who had predicted a significant hike. Since then, the lira has collapsed.

Not everyone is hypnotized by Erdogan's "mermaid song", and as Reuters notes, some Turks lay blame closer to home.

They are taking all of us to the cliff-edge,” said a 35-year-teacher, buying a phone charger in an Istanbul mall. She declined to be named for fear of being seen to criticize a president who brooks little dissent.

Opinions such as that one, however, are few and far between. Meanwhile, Erdogan’s supporters see less cause for alarm.

The government knows what it’s doing - the crisis rumors are creating false panic,” said Ahmet, a 30-year-old selling newspapers and cigarettes at a kiosk in Istanbul, who is about to get the surprise of his life. 

“I think it’s good the newspapers aren’t making a big deal out of this. What good would it serve other than creating more panic? The government will do something when it’s necessary.”

Well, Ahmet, we hate to break it to you, but it's necessary.

Levent, who owns a shop selling mobile phone accessories, said Turkey’s standing in the world was more important than the lira, and fears of a currency collapse were overblown.

“The dollar has gone beyond 5 (lira), yes. But we didn’t vote for the dollar, we voted for a strong Turkey,” he said, referring to Erdogan’s June election victory. “Look - everyone has cars, there’s busy 24-hour traffic in this city. Does this look like a city in crisis?”

We'll check back in 6 months.

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Comments

nmewn gatorengineer Fri, 08/10/2018 - 12:12 Permalink

I know I wouldn't, personally I don't think any of them are worth saving from themselves. Christians being Christian and missionaries being missionaries thats what they do though but we are going to start acting like a superpower again instead of being a cowering, delusional, ObaMao-half-a-sissy-style backwater being pushed around.

You wanna lay down a bet on whether or not the pastor gets released within the month? ;-)

In reply to by gatorengineer

nmewn Dutti Fri, 08/10/2018 - 12:17 Permalink

They do, yes. I understand it and I agree the great majority of them are nationalistic and there's nothing wrong with that perse but they are being led astray by this demagogue passing himself off as a nationalist. 

He's a simple thug and it's high time he learned his place in the world.

In reply to by Dutti

nmewn Dutti Fri, 08/10/2018 - 12:27 Permalink

And lower IQ's. 

Hell, it seems like only yesterday that HuffPo was running articles on how General Flynn nixed a joint operation ObaMao had planned with Turkey against some black sheet wearing jihadists holed up in Syria and the progs were trying to convert that into...

"See! Flynn is protecting ISIS!"

Well, actually, no. Its because Flynn didn't trust ObaMao or the Turks with American soldiers lives. Bunch of fucking moonbats I swear...lol.

In reply to by Dutti

Brazen Heist II nmewn Fri, 08/10/2018 - 12:28 Permalink

I don't think its the role for America to be going around picking winners and losers. That turned out to be a real clusterfuck. Ergo the Wahhabi-Zionist cancer that has metastasised under American "leadership".

The pastor is most likely part of NATO machinations or an idiot. Either way, he is in Turkey facing Turkish laws, not American laws. See the problem? The US government doesn't want to play along if it doesn't like the outcome. Too bad they threw millions of Christians in Syria under the Wahhabi bus because they weren't the demented Zionist variety. So much for caring about Christians.

In reply to by nmewn

Brazen Heist II nmewn Fri, 08/10/2018 - 12:38 Permalink

This goes way beyond the "pastor". The fact that no quiet behind-closed-doors solution has been found for releasing the "pastor" means that the problem runs much deeper than publicly presented. In fact, almost all publicly presented tales are red herrings. You don't go around trying to crash someone's currency for 1 dude.

In reply to by nmewn

Dilluminati nmewn Fri, 08/10/2018 - 12:44 Permalink

IF we have another petty tyrant grabbing Americans imagining that somehow that Obama is still in office that is a mistake.   I was reading that Erdogran reached out to Russia for assistance, much in the way that Pakistan reaches out to China.  

And I'm thinking: still not tired of winning.

In reply to by nmewn

bigkahuna caesium Fri, 08/10/2018 - 12:58 Permalink

not these Americans here ---> these here are AmeriCANs not the ameriCANTS of the socialist statist corporatist sociopaths.

These here AmeriCANs see the bigger picture.

If you want to generalize - I can do that too! The rest of the world has its head further up its ass than even the most ignorant of our country. I have been around to many parts and have spoken with many people of many nationalities - ZERO of them have any idea of the 911 true story, none of them understand the corporate luciferian motivation behind the endless wars - FUCKING DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS - so do not give me this shit about my country. You take care of the monolithic ignorance in your own grounds. We will handle ours.

In reply to by caesium

Guderian Arne Saknussemm Fri, 08/10/2018 - 12:06 Permalink

When I read

"President Tayyip Erdogan, who after surviving a fake military coup in the summer of 2016"

I knew, this article is bs. And boy, wasn't it easy to find contradicions:

So, the author argues, that the dumb Turks have no clue what's going on and thus resort to simpleton explanations. They're blaming US intervention and manipulation for the devaluation of the Lira! As if the US would ever do such dirty deeds! Unfortunately enough, the author himself cites Trump who openly argues for the new tariffs to hurt Turkey and its Lira. Duh!

I'm not siding with Erdogan's fishy monetary policies, but the US is very active in the devaluation of the Lira. Period.

 

In reply to by Arne Saknussemm

DaiRR Free This Fri, 08/10/2018 - 11:55 Permalink

Now that goat molester Erdogan has turned Turkey into an Islamic governed nation, Turkey deserves to go the way of Iran and spiral to the bottom of barrel.  It is up to the people of Turkey to reclaim their nation by following the ways of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.  Secularism in government is a necessary part of Kemalism.

 

In reply to by Free This