Fitch Ratings has downgraded the outlooks of more than 20 Turkish banks just weeks after Ankara appointed a new finance minister.
Nureddin Nebati was appointed treasury and finance minister on Dec. 2 by President Erdogan and has taken the reigns of an ailing economy marred by a tanking currency.
Fitch said on Friday: “The negative outlooks on banks with ratings driven by state support reflect the sovereign outlook, and the risk of a further weakening of the authorities’ ability to provide support in case of need.
“We believe that the risks to macroeconomic and financial stability and external financing could increase the likelihood of government intervention in the banking system.”
President Erdogan has long faced criticism for conducting political interventions in the state’s central bank, including by pressuring officials or firing them and replacing them with his political allies.
Fitch explained that the hit to Turkey’s sovereign rating was “driven, among other factors, by the Central Bank of Turkey’s premature monetary policy easing cycle, and the prospect of further rate cuts, or additional economic stimulus ahead of the 2023 Presidential election.
“Together these factors have led to a deterioration in domestic confidence — reflected in a sharp depreciation of the Turkish lira and rising inflation, creating risks to macroeconomic and financial stability and potentially re-igniting external financing risks.”
The Lira has slumped 46 percent against the US dollar this year, making it the worst-performing currency tracked by Bloomberg.
Erdogan has remained focused on keeping interest rates despite the Lira’s collapse, believing that the low rates will drive economic growth, and new Finance Minister Nebati appears to be in favor of Erdogan’s low-interest strategy.
Before taking his new post, he made a series of tweets supportive of the policy, saying the current-account deficit was the economy’s biggest problem and that rates should be cut against supply-side inflation.