Turkey has been an interesting experience for economists in many aspects. A central bank keeping the real interest rates extremely low in a period when the country suffers from savings gap and high inflation may be among them, despite a good economic performance.
Pretending that the central bank is the only game in town is inherited by the world of quantitative easing, where developing economies are besotted with a cheap money which has been in place for almost a decade. That decade is over and audience does not have any opportunity for a curtain call.
So far you have read a story which you are probably familiar with. From now on, we are solicitous to provide some insight supported by some data about how effective Turkish central bank has been in shaping the credit markets through interest rates. At this point, we look for correlations between loan rates and the average cost of funding rate, which was originally made in Turkey, through a system called “interest rate corridor” in which the central bank can determine the effective fund rate in a considerable wide margin.
The chart above show the 36-week trailing correlation between the effective interest rate between implied by the central bank and the rates for direct consumer, mortgage, commercial lending and deposits.
There has been cycles when apparently central bank lost its control over credit markets. The first cycle, in our view, was solely based on this unorthodox monetary policy framework as discussed above. Having said that, the following two cycles are products of banks’ weakening appetite for lending growth.
We attach important to the last two because it shows when loans to deposit rates when through the roof, banks deliberately lift their rate that loans and deposits carry without a tightening signal for the reserve bank. That is simply how to be functionless in determining the interest rates for the banknotes you issue. This view is also supported by lead-lag analysis that suggests loan growth surprisingly lead interest rates.
Turkey is set to post one of the weakest GDP growth readings in Q3 since the global financial crisis. In a previous post, we mentioned that the quarter ended September may not mark the beginning of a period of low growth with tepid economic performance. However, what Turkey has been experiencing for a long time is in fact a secular slowdown, or an economic crisis in slow-motion, to speak clearly. Speaking of short term predictions, while the pre-indicators not giving a clear picture for Q4 yet, we believe that Turkey has enough resources to save the quarter.
Of course, that would not mean the end of the slow-motion contraction as we call it, but we expect the economy perform better in Q4 compared to the linked quarter. The charts above speak for themselves at this point, all suggesting faster lending primarily led by public banks (state-run) will potentially provide some relief. That said, relatively higher loan growth in public bank is a phenomenon that is going back a long way in Turkey. For the time being, y/y TRY loan growth stood at 15.2% and 7.5% in public and private banks, respectively. The divergence in FX loans is even more obvious with growth rates of 15.6% and 2% (in USD terms).
Still, we claim that public banks are more capable of maintaining lending at fast pace as evidenced by loans-to-deposit ratios (see the chart located at left-down). Now TRY loans are almost 1.35 times TRY deposits in private banks, remarkably lower mid-2015 record level of 1.55. On the other hand, we see public banks operating with a spread of 108% as of yet, suggesting a safer outlook regarding the liquidity. Key consideration in our view is the strong deposits base in public banks as they have been the financial institutions that most municipalities and governmental bodies work it.
Over the long term we need the risks appetite in private bank resuming for lending in order to accelerate the economic activity of which for now we have not received signals yet. We recommend investors keeping a close eye on banking sectors data within this context since it is sending attention-grabbing premonitory signals for the economy.
Turkish government lowered its 2016 GDP growth target to 3.2% in its Medium Term Plan about a month ago. Also, the results of the central bank’s survey of expectation point to a same level of output growth for 2016 in October, coming down from 3.67% in July. Put together, Turkey had experienced a severe economic slowdown during Q3 -we believe there is good chance that seasonally adjusted GDP growth will be negative-. Given the rise of 3.9% in 1H16, government and the participants of CBRT survey predict a 2.5% increase in national income which means below par growth in the remainder of the year.
Turkey’s ability to recover fast was evidenced following the global financial crisis. In our view the final quarter of 2016 will mark a similar story, as we believe the government’s incentives to boost lending are very likely to pan out well in near term. Weekly banking sector data suggests that annual lending growth reached the bottom at 6% late September, now is slightly above 10%. Note that a drop below 10% is seen for the first time since the global financial crisis, and considering the current inflation trends in the country that would mean a contraction in real terms.
We believe that economic slowdown in 2H16 would be milder than expected, and the output growth even may overshoot the government’s target. We also expect to see fiscal and monetary stimulus, which, however, will bring some pressure for budget, current account balance, and inflation.