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Can Turkey Rewrite the Crisis-Management Rules?

Rather than sticking with the approach taken by numerous other countries – including Argentina earlier this year – by raising interest rates and seeking some form of IMF support, Turkey has shunned both in a very public manner. Unless it changes course, the government risks much wider damage – and not just in Turkey.

LAGUNA BEACH – Whether by accident or design, Turkey is trying to rewrite the chapter on crisis management in the emerging-market playbook. Rather than opting for interest-rate hikes and an external funding anchor to support domestic policy adjustments, the government has adopted a mix of less direct and more partial measures – and this at a time when Turkey is in the midst of an escalating tariff tit-for-tat with the United States, as well as operating in a more fluid global economy. How all this plays out is important not only for Turkey, but also for other emerging economies that already have had to cope with waves of financial contagion.

The initial phases of Turkey’s crisis were a replay of past emerging-market currency crises. A mix of domestic and external events – an over-stretched credit-led growth strategy; concerns about the central bank’s policy autonomy and effectiveness; and a less hospitable global liquidity environment, owing in part to rising US interest rates – destabilized the foreign-exchange market.

A political spat with the US accelerated the run on the Turkish lira by fueling a self-reinforcing dynamic. And all of this occurred in the context of a more uncertain and – aside from the US – weakening global economy.

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