Confusion grips Turkish markets after central bank overhaul

Confusion grips Turkish markets after central bank overhaul
A shop owner waits for customers near The Spice Bazaar in Istanbul. (AFP)
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Updated 23 March 2021

Confusion grips Turkish markets after central bank overhaul

Confusion grips Turkish markets after central bank overhaul
  • Ratings agencies point to elevated risks
  • Inflation has risen to near 16 percent

ISTANBUL: Turkish markets whip-sawed on Tuesday and offshore lira rates sky-rocketed as investors, banks and locals sought to predict whether President Tayyip Erdogan had reset the economy on an easy-month path after the weekend’s abrupt leadership overhaul.
The currency plunged as much as 15 percent on Monday after Erdogan abruptly fired a hawkish central bank governor and installed a critic of the country’s tight monetary stance, including its 19 percent interest rate.
Opposition politicians seized on what they called a dangerous and baffling move by the president to oust a bank governor, Naci Agbal, who had gained market credibility as an inflation-fighter in less than five months on the job.
Sahap Kavcioglu, Turkey’s fourth central bank chief in two years, held another call with bank executives on Tuesday to seek to ease nerves and clear up days of confusion over pricing. He held his first call on Sunday.
While the lira stabilized at just under 8 to the dollar, the offshore rate rose to its highest in at least a decade at 1,400 percent, Refinitiv data showed, as foreign investors scrambled to clear positions.
The sharp move echoed a jump to nearly as high two years ago when Turkey’s state banks withheld lira liquidity from the London market, days before nationwide municipal elections.
Traders said it was unlikely that state banks were behind the latest move, which drove up costs of hedging and shorting lira bets. Rates later eased to 500 percent.
Amundi, Europe’s largest asset manager with 1.7 trillion euro ($2 trillion), said a 300-point rate cut to a 16 percent “would not be surprising” at a policy meeting on April 15.
“Constant changes of the economic team does not bode well for policy credibility,” said Yerlan Syzdykov, Amundi’s global head of emerging markets.
“Erdogan is showing impatience in his desire for quick economic turnaround.”
Agbal’s monetary orthodoxy — including a rate hike two days before he was fired — made him an investor darling even as it irked some in Erdogan’s ruling AK Party (AKP) who said the economy needed stimulus as it emerged from coronavirus fallout.
But inflation has risen to near 16 percent and the lira has shed half its value in less than three years, raising import prices.
“This is the first time that I’ve seen the dollar and euro this unstable,” said Sedat Temel, 37, a tourism sector worker in Istanbul. “There is no trust here in this country. The central bank governor removal adds to the lack of trust.”
In his Sunday call with bank CEOs, Kavcioglu, an ex-banker, said policy would not change any time soon and depend on inflation. But one banker said executives were unconvinced, and lenders have since hesitated to price loans.
Ratings agencies said risks were elevated around Turkey since Kavcioglu, a former AKP lawmaker, has espoused the unorthodox view shared by Erdogan — that high interest rates cause inflation.
“The ridiculous steps you take, the unqualified people you appoint are not enough,” opposition Iyi Party chairwoman Meral Aksener said in parliament. “We are on the verge of a balance of payment crisis.”
Commerzbank predicted the lira would touch 10 by year end and said “the next lira crisis is upon us.”
Morgan Stanley said some $2.4 billion in sales by foreigners were needed to bring last week’s bullish market position back to neutral.

AD Ports Group report 21% rise in H1 revenue

AD Ports Group report 21% rise in H1 revenue
Updated 13 sec ago

AD Ports Group report 21% rise in H1 revenue

AD Ports Group report 21% rise in H1 revenue

DUBAI: AD Ports Group on Saturday reported a 21 percent year-on-year increase in revenues in the first half of the year, the official WAM new agency reported. 

According to the financial results, the group reported 1,832 million dirhams ($499 million) revenue as compared with 1,517 million dirhams in the first half of 2020, driven by organic growth, diversification into new businesses, new leases and partnerships.

EBITDA rose 8 percent year-on-year to 770 million dirhams, up from 714 million dirhams in the first half of 2020, with growth across most of the business clusters.

Sakani pays taxes on behalf of first-time homebuyers, issues 558,367 certificates

Sakani pays taxes on behalf of first-time homebuyers, issues 558,367 certificates
Updated 17 min 38 sec ago

Sakani pays taxes on behalf of first-time homebuyers, issues 558,367 certificates

Sakani pays taxes on behalf of first-time homebuyers, issues 558,367 certificates

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Housing Ministry’s Sakani program paid real estate tax on behalf of first-time homebuyers and issued 558,367 certificates among beneficiaries since the beginning of the program until September 2021, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday citing the program’s monthly report.

The report showed a surge in the number of beneficiaries from the Sakani program’s housing and financial solutions during the current year. A total of 160,304 Saudi families benefited from the ministry’s program until the end of September.  

The report also gave details about the number of projects being carried out in partnership with real estate developers in different parts of the Kingdom.

The Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund formed Sakani in 2017 with the aim of facilitating home ownership in the Kingdom through the creation of new housing stock, allocating plots and homes to nationals and financing their purchase. It has a goal of reaching 70 percent home ownership by 2030.

The program also launched new e-services to serve people effectively.

The app, which allows users to access four new services, can be downloaded at:

The services include electronic financing, ready-made units, approved contractor, and interactive maps.

The services had been added to ensure Sakani becomes “the go-to destination for housing services and solutions, in order to make it easier for Saudi families to own their first home.”

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans
Updated 16 October 2021

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

How Saudi Aramco is working to protect oceans

The importance of the oceans to the future of our planet has never been as clear as it is today. The UN has declared 2021 the start of a “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development,” with the aim of sharing knowledge to protect and nurture this extraordinary natural resource for future generations. At Saudi Aramco, we believe that oceans are a shared inheritance: Covering 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, they connect every continent in a global ecosystem that is as complex as it is irreplaceable.

Long-term thinking

Aramco welcomes the UN drawing attention to the importance of marine environments and recognizes the need for action on multiple fronts to protect life and livelihoods. This is why we have long partnerships with scientists, researchers and other experts on a wide range of initiatives — including gathering a wealth of unique data, particularly on the waters of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

The projects Aramco has launched to protect marine ecosystems are global in scope — with a particular focus on coral-reef regeneration and mangrove restoration. Other projects include protecting endangered marine turtles and cultivating marine algae to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to reduce the impact of climate change. We have also set up community outreach and education programs to share knowledge with students and children, so they grow up understanding the importance and value of the oceans too.

Gathering data

Behind Aramco’s environmental work lies a valuable resource that we are keen to share with the world: Scientific data. To protect any marine environment, you have first to find out what is there, and we have been monitoring the waters in parts of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf region for decades, frequently visiting the same reefs.

Our scientists and experts have been collecting valuable information regarding wave height, currents, dissolved oxygen, water temperature, clarity, salinity and the concentration of chlorophyll, the pigment that provides energy for photosynthesis. Aramco wants to help the global scientific community by giving free access to this data to support other environmental projects, and we are already partnering with several international organizations, such as the C4IR Ocean and its Ocean Data Platform, to further this aim.

Regenerating coral reefs

In terms of our projects, we have supported the regeneration of endangered coral reefs. Around the world, these precious and fragile ecosystems — which provide a habitat for hundreds of marine species while also forming a natural barrier against coastal erosion —have become degraded. This damage has multiple causes, including coastal and offshore development, illegal fishing practices, pollution, and the rise in sea temperatures caused by climate change.

Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, Aramco took action through a series of initiatives in the Arabian Gulf, Florida, Hawaii, American Samoa, and the Caribbean. In the Arabian Gulf, for example, most coral communities are in the vicinity of offshore islands, and we realized one of the factors preventing damaged reefs from regenerating was a lack of hard ground on which the coral could reform. We, therefore, designed and built a series of strong and stable artificial reef structures on the seabed, which the coral could then recolonize, providing a new habitat for a wide variety of marine organisms. Our scientists closely monitor these regenerated reefs, which have been a great success: fish are thriving and the variety of marine life has increased, while the reefs are more resilient.

Seeding mangroves

A second area in which Aramco is playing a prominent role is the planting of millions of mangrove trees in coastal regions. Restoring degraded mangrove forests in this way has great benefits for both biodiversity and carbon capture, through which trees and plants extract and store CO2 from the atmosphere. Research shows that mangrove trees are about five times more effective at sequestering CO2 than terrestrial rainforest trees, making them an effective nature-based solution for combatting climate change. We know these projects are having a significant impact and, building on this success, Aramco aims to plant more mangrove trees in Saudi Arabia and around the world, in partnership with global leaders, through projects in South East Asia, Australasia, South America, the Caribbean, East Africa, and South Asia. It is a truly global undertaking.

Commitment to environment

Aramco also recently developed a new corporate biodiversity protection policy, which requires that all new Aramco projects have a net positive impact on biodiversity and natural ecosystems. The great benefit of this approach is that the diversity of living things in any area in which Aramco is operating — whether terrestrial, coastal, or marine — is taken into consideration before any new project can begin. If a negative impact on biodiversity is identified, then it must be avoided, mitigated, or offset as a last resort. This environmental approach is now mandatory across all our projects and operations.

The company’s first environmental protection policy was introduced as long ago as 1964 and we recently published a book documenting The Ecosystem and Biodiversity of the Arabian Gulf, summarizing 50 years of scientific research between Aramco and King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Our recently published Marine Atlas of the Western Arabian Gulf provides a baseline of marine ecosystems and their locations. Both books illustrate the beauty and biodiversity of the Arabian Gulf’s marine ecosystems, their sensitivities and vulnerabilities. Our environmental partners include global organizations, regional working groups and local universities, such as KFUPM and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

Our commitment to the world’s oceans is clear: We intend to protect and support them with care, investment and expertise; always working to ensure that Aramco operations don’t adversely impact the marine environment, and enhancing it wherever we can.


  • Dr Khaled Asfahani is head of Marine Environment Protection at Aramco & Dr Loughland is an environment consultant at Aramco.

Russia reiterates its offer to boost EU gas supplies

 Russia reiterates its offer to boost EU gas supplies
Updated 16 October 2021

Russia reiterates its offer to boost EU gas supplies

 Russia reiterates its offer to boost EU gas supplies

MOSCOW: Russian gas consumption is running at a record high but Moscow is still ready to increase supplies to Europe should it receive such requests, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Saturday.

European spot gas prices have surged by 800 percent this year as demand has recovered after the coronavirus pandemic. Prices eased earlier this month after Russia, Europe’s key gas supplier, said it could deliver more, but these supplies have yet to materialize.

“I want to underline that we in Russia have record high gas consumption figures this year, which is also due to active economic recovery,” Novak said in an interview with the Rossiya 1 TV channel broadcast, according to Russian news agencies.

Russia, whose gas production and exports to EU are already near record highs, has said it needs to finish filling its own gas storage reserves before it increases supplies to Europe’s spot market. It plans to complete this by the end of October.

Novak did not say how large Russia’s gas reserves were but estimated that European underground facilities were short of around 25 billion cubic meters of gas.

He insisted high domestic demand would not stop Russia offering more supplies to Europe if it received such requests.

China’s central bank says Evergrande risks ‘controllable’

China’s central bank says Evergrande risks ‘controllable’
Updated 16 October 2021

China’s central bank says Evergrande risks ‘controllable’

China’s central bank says Evergrande risks ‘controllable’

BEIJING: China's central bank said on Friday that financial risks from China Evergrande Group’s debt problems are “controllable” and unlikely to spill over, amid growing investor concerns that the crisis could ripple through other developers.
Evergrande is the world's most indebted developer, with over $300 billion in liabilities. The company missed a third round of interest payments on its offshore bonds this week, spooking investors globally and sparking concern that other companies in the sector may also default on payments.
“Of the total liabilities of Evergrande Group, financial liabilities are less than one-third. Creditors are also relatively dispersed, and individual financial institutions have little risk exposure,” People’s Bank of China official Zou Lan said at a news briefing on Friday.
“Overall, the risk of the spillover to the financial industry is controllable,” he added.
Evergrande came under pressure after Chinese authorities ordered property developers to reduce their debt levels. The authorities are trying to direct the industry toward a more sustainable pace of development after many years of stimulus-fueled growth.