When Currencies Fail: Bitcoin Google Searches in Turkey Rise 400% as Lira Crashes


Let's move to our main discussion and there are really two parts of the story that we're going to cover. The first is the devastating crash of the turkish lira. The second is the response of people in that country who found their money worth dramatically less than it was just a few days before first of all what happened between sunday evening and monday. The turkish lira fell as much as seventeen percent against the dollar ultimately landing around ten percent down. Turkish stocks also crashed the benchmark borsa. Istanbul one hundred stock index was down as much as nine point four percent which is the biggest sell-off since june. Two thousand thirteen. The nasdaq listed shares. Msci turkey efl seventeen point five percent pre market in the us. The cause of all this on early saturday morning. Turkish president aragon unexpectedly fired nasi ball. though central. Bank governor who had been appointed in november at the center of their disagreement was how to approach inflation. So let's step back and actually look at the scenario inherited oddball. He was the third central bank governor in two years in november the year that he came to power the annual inflation rate was fourteen point zero three percent. According to the turkish statistical institute by december it was up to fourteen point six percent now these are just official numbers and some argue that it's actually much higher on november twelfth twenty. Twenty johns hopkins. Economists hanky tweeted everyday. I accurately measure inflation in turkey today. Measure it at thirty five point six one percent this year as opposed to the official number of eleven point eight nine percent after that fourteen point six percent number came out in december. He said that it was actually twenty. Five point eight five percent per year even holding that aside if you just take the official number nearly fifteen percent inflation a year a staggering that means a having of your purchasing power every year and this has been going on for a long time sue from three hours capital tweeted last night fun fact. The reason turkish lira is t. r. l. is because they've already redenominated before due to massive hyperinflation. Let's add a little more color than about the previous year and a half. The central bank had been keeping interest rates low or at least below consumer inflation. And as we've discussed before on this show. Negative real rates mean investors are discouraged from holding that sovereign debt as well as from holding lira or lira-denominated assets. These have been the policies for eighteen months or more and by fall. The currency was at all time. Lows added to. This fire was the way the turkish central bank had been trying to prop up the lira. Selling more than one hundred billion dollars in us foreign reserves in order to keep the lira from completely cratering in the process this destroyed and depleted their foreign exchange reserves and lead them to actually owing more dollars to turkish banks than the central bank actually had determined. Opposition leaders ask for judicial probe into the official reserves as of november. The country looked to be heading to a full on balance of payments crisis. And on top of this there have been major questions around the independence of the central bank from president. Aragon aragon infrequently given the central bank direct monetary policy instructions had dismissed two governors in the previous sixteen months effectively. When we really take a step back. Turkey has been on the see-saw between currency crisis and inflation. On the one hand and massive austerity and growth slowing interest rate hikes. On the other a currency crisis twenty eighteen led to increase interest rates. And by summer of the next year aragona points quote a friend to cut rates by mid-november when oddball came in it was a swing back to the interest rate hikes austerity side of the pendulum. The first act of akbal as he came in was to immediately raise the central banks one week repo rate which is an interbank lending rate from ten point. Two five percent to fifteen percent now. Interestingly this had started to work things were looking more positive from currency perspective at least in early. Twenty twenty one. Daniel call tweeted this morning. The turkey central bank helped make lira one of the best currencies versus the us d- in twenty twenty one curbing money supply growth via rate hikes helping reduce inflation. The turkish lira was up three point zero seven percent from december thirty first twenty twenty two march nineteenth. Twenty twenty one. It had been down twenty percent the year before it also saw something like fourteen to twenty billion of foreign fund inflows into turkish assets over that same period which reversed years of the opposite direction. Basically the interest rate hikes austerity were performing well in the context of global currency markets. But ogbah clearly didn't believe inflation was getting under control to the degree that he wanted to. He raised rates again to seventeen percent and then finally on the thursday before his dismissal raise them much more than expected to full. Nineteen percent and so the pendulum is swinging back again from interest rate hikes and toward at least in the minds of investors runaway inflation. The newly appointed governor saheb cops. Yo glue said that beating. Inflation is the bank's main objective but also said that they're committed to lowering borrowing costs and bolstering growth. Money managers. basically think he's going to be forced to lower interest rates and accept currency depreciation and indeed the other place. This is showing up is in the cost of insuring. Turkey's government debt against default the price of which rose more than fifty percent over the weekend. What's more this move. And the switch. From ball to cops iaglu super reinforces the narrative that central banks lack independence from erdogan. As well casio glue is a party. Loyalist bloomberg's chief emerging markets. Economists said quote the hit to the central bank's credibility and independence can't be overstated to gone has battered the institutions with interventions that have repeatedly financial markets. Were willing to give ball a chance. His successor will find it hard to build that trust again. So let's talk now about the other dimension to this that you might have caught if you were on twitter. Google searches for the term bitcoin in turkey more than quadrupled over the weekend after akbal sacking wise. That happening while one part of it may be the idea that bitcoin provides in inflation hedge and just a different currency to get away from lira volatility. Which by the way all it using bitcoin to get away from volatility where they don't tell you when they're trying to critique bitcoin is that people can stomach more volatility if there's some possibility that those seventeen percents swings or also to the upside as well but the other part of it is that as i mentioned the new governor has said that they are committed to fighting inflation but doesn't want interest rates to be the tool because they messed with growth. What are there other tools then. Bing bing bing capital controls restricting the flows of capital out of lira and lira-denominated assets so one question might be alongside. Google searches is are we. Seeing an increase in exchange activity owner goes pack. A consultant at the bbc turk pro exchange said that there was a spike in volume and that it was four both usd t tether as an alternative to us dollars and bitcoin on btc turk the bitcoin turkish lira pair has the highest volume with the tether turkish lira pair being the second highest now. This situation is going to evolve a lot. And i think on the one hand you have to just heartbroken. For the turkish people who are stuck between the whims and machinations of politicians and global economic flows that they have no control over when it comes to how much this new set of crypto and digital assets can actually help them escape from those pains. I've said numerous times. One of them remarkable things about this moment isn't that bitcoin and digital assets are going to save everyone from the follies of local currency regimes. That's just not realistic yet. What's remarkable is that for the first time ever the entire span of human history. There is a convenient easy permission. 'less ramp from those regimes for those people. Who have the technical know how to do it. The number of people who have that know how is an ever expanding group and that means that bitcoin and digital assets at an x factor to every single currency crisis. From here on

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