Turkey’s central bank is anticipated to implement a significant increase in its key interest rate for the second consecutive month, signaling a shift towards conventional economic policies by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This reversal in policy direction followed Erdogan’s challenging re-election in May and the country’s severe economic crisis, largely attributed to his unconventional belief that high interest rates fuel inflation.
Erdogan’s previous stance, advocating low-interest rates to spur economic growth, has been abandoned in favor of the advice from his new economic team comprising former Wall Street executives and respected technocrats, who have emphasized the necessity of substantially raising interest rates to avert a systemic crisis. The policy rate has already surged from 8.5 percent during Erdogan’s re-election to 25 percent last month, and another substantial increase is expected. Despite these changes, concerns linger as interest rates still remain considerably below the level required to combat rising consumer prices, potentially causing an overheating economy.
In a brighter outlook for Turkey, Fitch Ratings has upgraded the country’s outlook from “negative” to “stable” due to the recent policy shift, though it cautioned about uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness and duration of the inflation-control measures, partly influenced by political considerations. Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, credited with influencing Erdogan’s change in approach, anticipates keeping interest rates elevated until the middle of the next year.
However, a significant challenge lies in unwinding the costly bank deposit support scheme, which compensates for the depreciation of the Turkish lira against foreign currencies. Scaling back this system cautiously is essential, as abrupt changes could prompt depositors to flock to the US dollar and further depreciate the lira. Emerging markets economist Timothy Ash suggests that significantly higher policy rates, ideally positive in real terms, may be a solution, potentially requiring external support such as an IMF program. Nevertheless, Erdogan has consistently rejected seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
Bangladesh Triumphs in IMO Council Election-2023
Bangladesh has emerged victorious in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) council election 2023 in category C, securing 128 votes out of the 175-member council. This marks the first time Bangladesh has won in the highly competitive category C of the IMO, as reported by the Bangladesh mission in London.
Following the election results, Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and Permanent Representative to the IMO, Saida Muna Tasneem, expressed gratitude to IMO members for electing Bangladesh as a Council member. She reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to the IMO’s charter of actions for dealing with maritime affairs. Tasneem extended thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Shipping in Bangladesh, specifically acknowledging Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her decision to participate in the IMO council election in 2023.
“Bangladesh’s election to the International Maritime Organisation’s elite 40-member council is a testimony of the confidence and trust that the IMO member states and the International Maritime Community place in Bangladesh’s leadership as a maritime nation, led by the prudent leadership of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” stated the Bangladesh envoy.
Previously, Tasneem was elected by consensus as the Vice President of the 33rd assembly of the IMO during which the election took place.
The IMO, as the only UN specialized body, regulates global shipping standards that impact ship-operating flag states, seafarers, and maritime safety, security, and marine pollution.
Bangladesh, heavily reliant on international trade, with 90 percent conducted via the sea, aims to address key issues such as the transition of maritime ports into green and digitalized entities and compliance with the Hong Kong convention on ship recycling and the use of greener fuels. These matters will be on Dhaka’s negotiation agenda at the IMO council during the term 2024-25.
BGMEA Urges Gloria Jeans to Boost Garment Sourcing from Bangladesh
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan has encouraged Gloria Jeans, a prominent Russian high street retail giant, to explore increased sourcing of garments from Bangladesh, particularly focusing on high-value and non-cotton items. The plea was made during a courtesy meeting between Faruque Hassan and Moyeen Ahmed, the regional general manager for Bangladesh and India at Gloria Jeans, held at the BGMEA head office in the capital.
In the meeting, discussions revolved around mutual interests and efforts to strengthen the collaborative relationship between Gloria Jeans and the Bangladeshi garment industry. Faruque Hassan provided insights into Bangladesh’s garment industry initiatives aimed at enhancing manufacturing capabilities, emphasizing the production of high-end products like manmade fiber and technical textile-based garments. Additionally, he highlighted BGMEA’s ongoing endeavors to promote eco-friendly processes and the adoption of a circular economy model in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry.
Dollar Slides as Traders Bet on Fed Rate Cuts Amid Inflation Battle
The US dollar continued its decline on Wednesday as traders increased bets on the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates in the coming year, fueled by optimistic statements from officials regarding the battle against inflation. Meanwhile, equity markets showed a mixed performance after another subdued day on Wall Street, with attention turning to the central bank’s preferred gauge of prices, set to be released later in the week.
Recent indicators have suggested a softening in the US job market and a slowing economy, though not at a pace that raises significant concerns about a recession. This has led investors to shift back into risk assets, although profit-taking has restrained the latest gains in anticipation of a potential “Santa rally.”
Market data indicates that traders are now anticipating a Fed rate cut in June, with an 80 percent likelihood of such a move in May. Billionaire investor Bill Ackman has even suggested the possibility of a rate cut as early as the first quarter. The dovish comments from Fed officials, falling yields, and adjusted rate expectations have weighed on the dollar, causing it to reach its weakest level since September against the yen, near a four-month low versus the euro and sterling, and lower against various other currencies.
Fed Governor Christopher Waller expressed confidence in the current policy’s ability to slow the economy and bring inflation back to the target, signaling a positive shift. Michelle Bowman, his counterpart, supported potential rate hikes but remained conditional in her assessment. The market’s reaction to these comments has been significant, leading to a decline in the dollar’s value.
Despite the dovish turn, some analysts noted the potential challenge posed by falling yields, which may limit the effectiveness of higher Treasury yields as a substitute for further rate hikes. Equity markets struggled for direction as investors awaited the release of the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) data, the Fed’s preferred guide for inflation.
In Asian markets, Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Wellington, Taipei, and Jakarta saw gains, while Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and Manila experienced declines. The subdued performance on Wall Street persisted, even as reports indicated an increase in US consumer confidence and healthy sales over the recent shopping weekend.
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