BY TYLER DURDEN,
One week ago, when the Turkish Lira first tumbled below 20 against the USD, we warned that much more pain was in stock based on a rather dire analysis by Goldman of the central bank’s reserve position, a much more ominous factor for the coming currency collapse then Erdogan’s reelection.
Since then it’s gone from bad to worse, with Reuters also jumping on the bearish lira bandwagon and reporting that the Turkish central bank’s net forex reserves dropped into negative territory for the first time since 2002, standing at $-151.3 million on May 19, as the bank – following Erdogan’s strict orders – scrambled to counter demand for hard currencies (USD, gold, crypto) ahead of Sunday’s runoff vote.
Forex demand in Turkey surged to record levels ahead of May 14 on companies’ and individuals’ expectations that the lira, which lost 44% in 2021 and 30% in 2022, will plunge after the vote (spoiler alert: those fears have been justified).
As we discussed last week, the central bank’s forex reserves have sagged in recent years due to costly market interventions and other efforts to cool forex demand. The bank’s net reserves dropped by $2.48 billion in the week to May 19, to their lowest level since February 2002. They have dropped $27.7 billion since the end of 2022, and were at negative $3 billion as of May 19. The net forex reserves would be even more negative if outstanding swaps, courtesy of foreign central banks and which stood at $33.50 billion on Wednesday, are deducted (as they should be since the CBRT will have to repay these at some point).