The Role of State in Credit Crunch

Only limited number of voluminous bagfuls of hot air have been spent by various economists about the alleged shortage of liquidity in the Turkish financial system that I have written in the past (see here, here, and here). Rather than repeating myself in a blog post by questioning the availability of cash in Turkish banking universe, this time I better focus on how our state-run banks have been performing and how much risk they are at in term of liquidity.

A liquidity meltdown following a credit crunch is how every great illusion ends in promising emerging markets. For a while concerns has grown over the threat of Turkish credit crunch, however, policymakers in Turkey overcome the issue in 2012 by providing one of the lowest growth rates recorded in any other emerging country excluding the recession periods. Since mid-2013 the government has had to struggle to survive from its most deepest political crisis starting with Gezi protests and continuing with graft scandal. As a result the banking sector’s loan growth slowed down due to concerns rising together with political risk, excluding the state-run banks. Not surprisingly loan brokers employed by the banks under the control of the government has seemed very comfortable while placing funds into the economy.

Credit Spread between Turkish State-Run and Private Banks

Then liquidity dies.

Liquidity Shortage in Turkish State-Run Banks

Above-showed chart is definitely not a say goodbye to your pension and deposit signal, but for now.

Loan ot Deposit Spread in Turkish State-Run Banks

Recently the whole country is informed about these state-run lenders are leading the loan package of $6.1 billion to finance the construction of the Istanbul’s third airport which is called “a monument of victory” by Prime Minister Erdogan.

Banks to Stay Under Pressure

One of the main functions that banks provide is liquidity transformation. To simplify this financial term, one can interpret it as funding shorter term assets with longer term liabilities. In case of  failure of this process, the banks face a liquidity mismatch which would put them at serious risk.

Like any of its peers in other countries, Turkish watchdog, or shortly BRSA applies tough risk rules in order to stem the financial system facing the risks that we tried to explain above.

Previously we stated that the banks in Turkey have ridden toward the danger zone in terms of liquidity management for the period of last three year. To see how just check the blog post titled Turkish Banks: Solvent but Illiquid? with explanatory charts.

So how things have gone since then? It is evidenced by BRSA data that  it has been even more worrisome. The chart below visualizes the data and proves that proves that liquidity in the banking system hitting the dip.

Liquidity Adequacy in Turkish Banks

In order to show the significance of the issue, a cross sectional analysis must be studied at this point. First, the relationship between Capital Adequacy Standard Ratio (Tier 1 Common Capital Ratio) and Liquidity Adequacy Ratio is apparently very strong. However, the positive relationship may indicate that when banks are less vulnerable to under-capitalization, they take more liquidity risk. In other words, capital and liquidity may act as substitutes. Interestingly, this relationship is only observed after the crisis, as can be seen in the second chart below.

Turkish Banks - Liquidity and Tier 1 Common Capital

The relationship between the credit-risk taking and liquidity is also another indicator for analyzing the behaviors of the bank in Turkey. As expected, two risk components are negatively correlated, suggesting that the two risks are substitutes.

Turkish Banks - Liquidity and Risk Weighted Assets

Finally this is where the punchline comes. Normally it is expected that the lower is profitability, the higher is liquidity due to the costs of holding liquidity. Then, returns should be lower when a pick-up in liquidity is observed. However, this does not seem to be the case for Turkey. A negative correlation is realized between return on equity and liquidity.

Turkish Banks - Liquidity and Profitability

Specifically, the last chart seems to be the most shocking one among all. At the same time, it makes the liquidity of Turkish banks a non-negligible variable to track for any investors who look Turkey as a play. It is even gaining more importance in view of the ability of the bank stocks to drive the whole market in Turkey. And it is also a serious issue for regulators to focus on, since the conclusions of the flying liquidity in the banking industry are widely known in the country.