Turkey inflation drops from 15-year high

The increase in consumer prices fell to 21.62 percent in November compared with he same month last year. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 December 2018

Turkey inflation drops from 15-year high

  • The increase in consumer prices fell to 21.62 percent in November compared with he same month last year
  • The better figures reflect the likely effects of an aggressive rate hike in September

ANKARA: Inflation in Turkey dropped for the first time to nearly 22 percent last month after surging to a 15-year high in October, official statistics showed on Monday.
The increase in consumer prices fell to 21.62 percent in November compared with he same month last year, still very high in relative terms but down from the 25.24 percent rate recorded in October and the first drop since March this year, according to the Turkish statistics office (TUIK).
The figure was also lower than the Bloomberg consensus forecast of 23 percent.
The better figures reflect the likely effects of an aggressive rate hike in September when the central bank raised the one week repo rate 625 basis points to 24 percent.
Compared with October, November consumer prices fell 1.44 percent.
The value of the Turkish lira — which has been rallying against the US dollar since an Ankara-Washington spat ended last month — firmed after the announcement.
The currency was at 5.16 against the greenback after 0800 GMT, gaining nearly one percent.
Earlier this year, the lira fell sharply amid tensions between Turkey and NATO ally the United States and worries over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s economic policies.
But in the past few weeks following improved relations with Washington and indications Ankara will follow economic orthodoxy, the lira has firmed from below six against the dollar.
At one point in August, the lira was trading at seven to the greenback.
The Turkish government has promised to fight inflation with a series of measures, including encouraging voluntary price cuts by businesses.
Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak welcomed the data in a series of tweets.
“This shows that the decline in inflation has begun strongly and that the downward trend will continue,” Albayrak said.
He added that Turkey would continue to support “strong” monetary and financial policies.


Powell: No clear hint on rates but says Fed will aid economy

Updated 14 min 14 sec ago

Powell: No clear hint on rates but says Fed will aid economy

  • The outlook for the US economy, Powell said, remains favorable but continues to face risks
  • Trump, who has relentlessly attacked Powell and the Fed over its rate policies, kept up his verbal assaults on Twitter

WASHINGTON: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sent no clear signal Friday that the Fed will further cut interest rates this year but said it would “act as appropriate” to sustain the expansion — phrasing that analysts see as suggesting rate cuts.
Powell said President Donald Trump’s trade wars have complicated the Fed’s ability to set interest rates and have contributed to a global economic slowdown.
Speaking to a gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell didn’t give financial markets explicit guidance on whether or how many rate cuts might be coming the rest of the year. The Fed cut rates last month for the first time in a decade, and financial markets have baked in the likelihood of more rate cuts this year.
The outlook for the US economy, Powell said, remains favorable but continues to face risks. He pointed to increasing evidence of a global economic slowdown and suggested that uncertainty from Trump’s trade wars has contributed to it.
Reacting to the speech Friday, Trump, who has relentlessly attacked Powell and the Fed over its rate policies, kept up his verbal assaults on Twitter:
“As usual, the Fed did NOTHING!” Trump tweeted. “It is incredible that they can ‘speak’without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly. We have a very strong dollar and a very weak Fed. I will work “brilliantly” with both, and the US will do great.”
Trump added:
“My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powel (sic) or Chairman Xi?“
Powell’s speech comes against the backdrop of a vulnerable economy, with the financial world seeking clarity on whether last month’s rate decision likely marked the start of a period of easier credit.
The confusion only heightened in the days leading to the Jackson Hole conference, at which Powell gave the keynote address. Minutes of the Fed’s July meeting released Wednesday showed that although officials voted 8-2 to cut their benchmark rate by a quarter-point, there was a wider divergence of opinion on the committee than the two dissenting votes against the rate cut had indicated.
The minutes showed that two Fed officials favored a more aggressive half-point rate cut, while some others adopted the polar opposite view: They felt the Fed shouldn’t cut rates at all.
The minutes depicted the rate cut as a “mid-cycle adjustment,” the phrase Powell had used at his news conference after the rate cut. That wording upset traders who interpreted the remark as suggesting that the Fed might not be preparing for a series of rate cuts to support an economy that’s struggling with a global slowdown and escalating uncertainty from President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.
There was even a difference of opinion among the Fed members who favored a rate cut, the minutes showed, with some concerned most about subpar inflation and others worried more about the threats to economic growth.
Comments Thursday from Fed officials gathering in Jackson Hole reflected the committee’s sharp divisions, including some reluctance to cut rates at least until the economic picture changes.
“I think we should stay here for a while and see how things play out,” said Patrick Harker, the president of the Fed’s Philadelphia regional bank.
Esther George, president of the Fed’s Kansas City regional bank and one of the dissenting votes in July, said, “While I see downside risk, I wasn’t ready to act on that relative to the performance of the economy.”
George said she saw some areas of strength, including very low unemployment and inflation now closer to the Fed’s target level. She said her decision on a possible future rate cut would depend on forthcoming data releases.
Robert Kaplan, president of the Fed’s Dallas branch indicated that he might be prepared to support further rate cuts.
If “we are seeing some weakness in manufacturing and global growth, then it may be good to take some action,” Kaplan said.
George was interviewed on Fox Business Network; Harker and Kaplan spoke on CNBC.
The CME Group, which tracks investor bets on central bank policy, is projecting the likelihood that the Fed will cut rates at least twice more before year’s end.
Adding to the pressures on the Fed, Trump has kept up his attacks on the central bank and on Powell personally, arguing that Fed officials have kept rates too high and should be cutting them aggressively.
Trump has argued that a full percentage-point rate reduction in coming months would be appropriate — a suggestion that most economists consider extravagantly excessive as well as an improper intrusion on the Fed’s political independence.
The president contends that lower rates in other countries have caused the dollar to rise in value and thereby hurt US export sales.
“Our Federal Reserve does not allow us to do what we must do,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “They put us at a disadvantage against our competition.”
Earlier in the week, he had told reporters, “If the Fed would do its job, you would see a burst of growth like you have never seen before.”
Powell has insisted that the White House criticism has had no effect on the Fed’s deliberations over interest rate policy.