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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

TCMB intervention

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Turkish Lira Rises on Rate Hike
Prabha Natarajan; The Wall Street Journal; Jan. 28th, 2014

Turkey’s currency surged after the country’s central bank aggressively hiked key interest rates, a move that revived confidence in other battered emerging-market assets.

Within minutes of the announcement, the Turkish lira strengthened 3% against the dollar—a big move in foreign-exchange markets. That brings gains in the lira to almost 10% since the currency hit a record low Monday. In recent trade in New York, one dollar bought 2.1867 lira, compared with 2.2522 late Monday, according to data provider CQG.

After an emergency policy meeting Tuesday night, Turkey’s central bank said it is raising its overnight lending rate to 12% from 7.75%.

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Written by M. James

January 29, 2014 at 3:45 am

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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Gülen interview

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Fethullah Gulen: Powerful but reclusive Turkish cleric
Tim Franks; BBC News; January 27th, 2014

Fethullah Gulen has been called Turkey’s second most powerful man. He is also a recluse, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US.

An apparent power struggle between his followers and those around the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has reached a new pitch of intensity and loathing.

Since arriving in the US in the late 1990s, Mr Gulen, 74, has not given a single broadcast interview. What rare communication there has been with the media has almost exclusively been conducted via email.

But now, the BBC has had exclusive access to the Muslim cleric. I travelled with Guney Yildiz from the BBC Turkish Service to a remote part of Pennsylvania to meet the man.

Written by M. James

January 28, 2014 at 12:12 am

Posted in News, Politics, Religion, Turkey

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New troughs

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A bold new low.

Written by M. James

January 27, 2014 at 8:53 am

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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Geceyarısı Ekspresi

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Everyone who knows something about Turkey knows Midnight Express. And so do most people who know nothing about Turkey, wherein lies the problem with the film—its success. The film’s acclaim has left its broad American audience with an unflinchingly brutal portrait of Turks as prison rapists and torture artists, which the Turks do not particularly appreciate.

The cynic could, of course, attribute Turks’ dislike for the film to a perceived damage done to their vital tourism industry (probably true), but in my experience, the hurt is genuine. The film, they think, was just plain unfair—unwarranted. And what’s even worse is that it just won’t… go… away. Here’s a Turkish columnist’s wry commentary on one such new development.

The Express nightmare returns
İzzet Çapa; Hürriyet; January 13th, 2014

The calamitous nightmare that showed us as a kind of boogeyman for years, Midnight Express, is coming back.

The writer and “hero” of the novel, Billy Hayes, enemy of the Turks, will now take the stage in The Midnight Express, a one-man play starting January 22nd on Broadway. Billy will allegedly play out heretofore unrevealed details from his time in İmralı. Obviously running short on money, he is once again bringing up old issues of ours.

Ouch. But actually, the title is Riding The Midnight Express With Billy Hayes, and there is an indication that part of the purpose of the play is to “correct” some of the fictional fabrications from the movie. So maybe you shouldn’t be so critical, Mr. Çapa.

Fans of one-man plays about Turkish prison (appealing, no?) can go here for tickets.

Written by M. James

January 13, 2014 at 3:28 am

The Turkish corruption scandal in context

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On Oct. 23rd, 2012, I posted (“Turks subvert Iran sanctions”) an excerpt from a Reuters exclusive report on the gold trade between Turkey and Iran, through Dubai.

On Feb. 15th, 2013, Reuters published another exclusive, revealing Halkbank’s role in the movement of the aforementioned gold, and explaining the “gold-for-gas” trade. The pressure on Halkbank had already begun.

On Oct. 4th, 2013, The New York Times ran a feature on Iranian business tycoon Babak Zanjani titled “To This Tycoon, Iran Sanctions Were Like Gold.” Now Zanjani was under pressure for his role in subverting U.S. sanctions on Iranian energy.

In early November, 2013, the U.S.-Iran détente picked up speed and bargaining began.

On Dec. 17th, 2013, the Turkish “graft probe” began and Halkbank CEO Süleyman Aslan was implicated.

On Dec. 21st, Aslan and Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Azeri businessman accused of moving much of the gold, were arrested.

A week ago, Babak Zanjani was arrested “on alleged corruption charges.” His transgressions were, of course, simply the Iranian equivalent of the Halkbank scandal. The charges themselves are obviously contrived.

Apparently, one of the topics of debate in the ongoing “nuclear talks” between the U.S. and Iran is how to make the message perfectly clear: Gold is not a currency, and trading in gold is subversive. Those who do so will be punished. This has, after all, been a theme of the past two years in U.S.-Iran relations, so it should come as no surprise. Nor should it come as a surprise if Iranian energy exports, in one way or another, end up denominated in dollars in the near future.

Happy New Year.

Written by M. James

January 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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The winds of change

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Two truly unique events have transpired over the past week in Turkish politics, which has been otherwise marked by arrests, investigations, dismissals, resignations, an assassination, and a call, from within the party, for Erdoğan to resign.

The first unique event is Gülen’s heretofore unprecedented diatribe. The second is the AKP’s outright implication of the U.S. in the events of the last week (e.g., from today).

The “facts” are now widely available in your favorite newspaper, so I won’t go into detail. Here’s a good executive summary.

And here’s a chart worth watching in the coming months.

TL-D

Worst ratio since 1981.

Written by M. James

December 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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LPG: rekor zam

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As Russia loses a reliable friend in Iran, it takes precautions in the Caucasus and re-engages with its energy clients. Today, a “yurtdışı maliyetlerdeki artış” (foreign price increase) is blamed for a sharp, overnight rise in the price of LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) in Turkey.

Turkey has been meddling in the Caucasus over the past few days, seeking to begin a settlement the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with hopes for its own normalization (?) with Armenia. Russia is not interested in settling this dispute, much less doing so to Turkey’s advantage.

The vast majority of Turkish energy is imported from Russia.

Over a third of Turkish passenger cars use LPG otogaz.

LPG’ye gece yarısı 30 kuruş zam
İsmail Altunsoy, Zaman, 3 Aralık 2013

LPG vehicle owners awoke this morning to a record price increase. LPG’s per-liter price rose by 30 kuruş  [$0.15]. Along with the increase, the price of one liter of LPG in Istanbul climbed from 2.81 to 3.11 lira; in Ankara, from 2.61 to 2.91 lira. This most recent increase is the greatest one-time price increase made to LPG in history.

. . .

Written by M. James

December 3, 2013 at 3:17 pm