Construction sector has maintained a significant role for Turkish economy in recent years as house prices in mega cities have skyrocketed and government sponsored large projects have been under way. Now with the economy sending signals of slowdown, we not surprisingly saw some attempts to boost the industry which has been at the forefront of the country’s recent economic development. Other than transforming the skyline of Istanbul, ─admittedly not many residents of the city take a fancy to this─ this may have some unexpected and unintended implications for the economy.
Not to mention the bubble it has created and possibility of economy toppled once it bursts, we currently observe strange findings in the financial space. First, Turkish central bank has increased its average cost of funding rate, in other words the effective rate, via some unconventional methods such as acting solely as a lender of last resort rather than a central bank. Meanwhile, mortgage rates have kept falling like dead leaves and now the average rate for the mortgage production is lower than the effective rate the central bank implied, which means Turkish banks provide mortgage loans at a loss. While banks are able to offset the loss via some fees and cross selling activities, we see it as long-term risk as rates are set to be higher in the upcoming period that would leave lenders with significant interest rate and liquidity risks. Please note that banks in Turkey are still not comfortable with the funding side.
So, the question may arise as to which segment of the banking records high origination activity recently. It comes as no surprise that state-run banks again take the lead in mortgage market and outperforming the rest of the industry by a wide margin.
With naysayers in the banking community now having the upper hand across the board, one would imagine the conservative and high quality underwriting standards and solid risk management in Turkish banks where regulations have been extremely strict but functioning well, but not, likely as a part of the ongoing “structural deform” process.
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.
Huseyin Aydin, head of the Turkish Banks’ Association, said that he expects the regulator to publish new rules that limit fees and commission charged by the banks (read the Bloomberg story here). This has been longstanding topic in the industry and eventually it will be likely made come true by the regulator.
This will also have an impact on industry, especially on banks capitalized by non-state investors. Additionally, we will probably see a switch by many analysts into state-run lenders. The chart below shows shares of fees and commissions in total income in both state-run and private sector banks.
According to analysts, as much as 20 per cent of bank’s fee generation may be at stake for a typical retail bank. This would lead an decrease of 3% in profits reported the by the banks. Not surprisingly this will be followed by lowered target prices and banks stock sell-off. Additionally earnings have already plummeted by 9% at the first half of the year on yearly basis.
It is speculated that government aims to become more dominant in the industry with implying new blocks to the foreign entrants. The new rule will also help the state-run lenders relatively perform better compared to others. This is providing important insight on shape of things in Turkish banking universe to come.