Turkish Lira Tumbles As Central Bank Intervention Fails

The Turkey’s lira tumbled as much as 3% against the dollar, making it the worst performing currency in the world, and extending its slump to a third day after the central bank announced it double banks' borrowing limit for overnight transactions at the interbank money market - effectively tightening liquidity by ending the unrestricted funding it has offered since Aug. 13 - failed to bolster investor sentiment.

"Banks’ borrowing limits for overnight transactions at the Interbank Money Market established within the CBRT would be twice the limits applicable before Aug. 13", The Turkish central bank said.

However, like many of the measures introduced in recent weeks to contain a slide of more than 40 percent in the lira this year, this one also failed as investors do not see the bank's approach to market pressure as a sustainable way to tackle double-digit inflation and a widening current-account deficit, when what the bank should be doing it raising rates and making the country more attractive for foreign investors.

"It’s yet more smoke and mirrors from the central bank," said Nigel Rendell, an analyst at Medley Global Advisors LLC in London. "The change in banks’ overnight borrowing limits is aimed at trying to ease pressures on the banking system, rather than tackling Turkey’s underlying problem, which remains persistently high inflation."

The lira plunged 3.0% lower, dropping as much as 6.4786 per dollar. Together with the Argentine peso, it’s the worst-performing emerging-market currency this year. As the selling resume, the yield on 10-year bonds climbed 19 bps to 21.95%, and fast approaching the record set earlier this month.

Separately, on Wednesday the Turkish economic confidence fell to the lowest level since 2009 in August, while the country’s trade deficit widened in July from the previous month.

Commenting on today's failed intervention, Rendell said that the central bank got “zero bang for its buck” in Wednesday’s move, given the renewed lira selling. The bank is set to meet on Sept 13 for its next policy decision.

"The downward currency trend will continue until monetary policy is significantly tighter,” he said. “If the bank really wants to stop the rout and is serious about tackling ever-higher inflation, it needs to raise interest rates by at least 500 basis points."

That, however, may never happen as long as Erdogan is president.