Turkey Blames JPMorgan For Lira Crash, Launches Probe; Erdogan Threatens "Manipulators"

On Friday, when the Turkish lira suddenly cracked, and suffered its biggest one-day drop since last summer's crisis as public attention turned to the sudden plunge in the nation's reserves and the bank's unexpected 150bps equivalent tightening in policy, JPMorgan FX strategists poured gasoline on the fire when - as the lira was sliding - they published a note recommending a 5.90 target on the USDTRY.

As JPM analysts Anezka Christovova and Saad Siddiqui wrote on Friday morning recommending a lira short, Turkish authorities would likely "attach less significance to lira stability and reduce FX reserve support" for the currency following March 31 elections, resulting in further lira weakness, adding that the pace at which Turkey’s burning net foreign reserves is “unsustainable” and therefore “FX reserve support will abate post local elections on March 31, which could lead to USDTRY trading substantially higher."

Despite (or perhaps due to) our sarcastic comment....

.... JPM's note only added impetus to the selloff, and by the end of the day, the TRY has crashed almost 400 pips, closing 5.5% lower on the day as it almost hit JPM's target, and sparking fresh panic that Turkey's economy is once again on the edge.

Predictably, it also sparked Erdoga's fury, with Turkey’s banking and capital markets regulators opening separate investigations into JPMorgan Chase the bank's recommendation to short the lira.

Desperate to create a scapegoat for the sudden plunge in the currency, which as it turned out had since last summer been artificially propped up by local banks (while the central bank pretended not to intervene), Turkey delighted at the opportunity to blame the plunge in the lira, which is only just now restarting, on JPMorgan. As a result, the banking regulator BRSA said the JPMorgan analysts’ note had “misguiding and manipulative” content that resulted in volatility in markets and hurt the reputation of Turkish banks, according to state news agency Anadolu. The Capital Markets Board began its own investigation on similar grounds, according to a statement on its website.

According to Bloomberg, the disclosure of the two probes almost simultaneously suggested coordination between the regulators one day after the Turkish currency plunged as much as 6.5% against the dollar, leading retreats among emerging market peers. Panicked by the plunge, Turkey’s central bank was forced to announce a surprise tightening action in the middle of the day to stem the lira’s slump but it only made the selloff worse.

And in keeping with some quite bizarre banana republic measures, the banking regulator began another investigation against banks that manipulated their own clients to buy foreign currencies without naming the financial institutions that are targeted, Anadolu reported.

Finally just to make sure that the public knew the lira's crash was due to evil "manipulators", on Sundan Erdogan made it clear that anyone caught selling the lira would probably be thrown in jail...

  • ERDOGAN: MANIPULATORS TO PAY HEAVY PRICE AFTER ELECTIONS

... which in Turkey is not just a figure of speech but virtually an assured outcome. Meanwhile, the real question is how have more investors not realized that Turkey was and remains a quasi dictatorship, one where the rule of law will be changed and trampled any time it suits the "executive president", whose power will become even greater after next week's elections, and why is the lira not far lower than where it is now.