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Turkish central bank ‘drops’ $25bn in debt

erdogan sunglasses
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey’s central bank has changed the criteria identifying short-term external debt, thus reducing the amount on its books by $25 billion, the bank announced in a statement last week.

Short-term external debt — foreign liabilities with a maturity of up to 12 months — dropped to $164 billion from $189 billion over a month.

The revisions bettered Turkey’s net international investment position, which shows the gap between the country’s total assets and total liabilities, and narrowed the real sector’s foreign-exchange deficit, according to a report in Al Monitor.

The action has fuel questions over the credibility of central bank data, just as similar data revisions by the Turkish Statistical Institute did in the past, and shake further the already waning investor confidence in Ankara’s economic management.

“Some critics see the revisions as a “cosmetic makeover” to improve Turkey’s debt outlook amid the precarious state of the central bank’s international reserves. Yet, they argue, the revisions are unlikely to better the short-term debt to reserves ratio as much as Ankara might be hoping,” according to the report.

The bank justified the revision on the grounds of inconsistencies identified in trade credits data, saying that the revised statistics, released Aug. 19, were the outcome of efforts to improve data quality and compliance with international standards.

Yet the Turkish central bank’s credibility remains an issue for financial markets and will likely be tested before the year is out, noted Erik Meyersson, senior economist at Handelsbanken Capital Markets.

Timothy Ash Timothy Ash, emerging markets senior sovereign strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, put it more strongly: “Turkey’s central bank has zero credibility.”

Separately, Turkey’s Finance Ministry said on Thursday it received $6.3 billion as expected as part of the International Monetary Fund’s allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for its all of its members. There were questions in the Turkish parliament for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on this subject, as he initally would not acknowledge the aid from the IMF.


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