By Ezgi Erkoyun
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s central bank is expected to deliver another hefty rate hike of 500 basis points this week, a Reuters poll of economists showed on Monday, as it continues to tighten policy against rising inflation.
After years of pursuing loose policy, the central bank reversed course after May’s election and began hiking rates to bring down inflation, which touched 61.5% in September.
The median estimate of 20 economists in a Reuters poll for the policy rate was 35%, up from the current 30%. Four economists forecast a hike of 250 basis points and one expected a lift of 300 basis points.
“The central bank’s focus has remained on anchoring inflation expectations and achieving disinflation … (A hike to 35%) would lead to a positive ex-ante real policy rate based on the 33% inflation forecast for 2024 in the medium-term plan,” ING wrote in a research note.
Since June, the central bank has turned its focus from economic growth to disinflation and lifted its policy rate by 2,150 basis points while other macroprudential measures such as credit tightening to cut domestic demand were also put in place.
The median forecast in the poll for the year-end policy rate was 35%. The central bank is expected to hike rates further to 40% in the first half of next year, the poll also showed.
Further depreciation in the Turkish lira and increases in taxes and fees have fanned inflation, eating into Turks’ savings despite tighter monetary policy.
Despite expected interest rate hikes, inflation was seen remaining elevated through the rest of this year, ending 2023 at 69.3%, the median of the poll of 10 institutions showed. Estimates in the Reuters poll ranged between 64.6% and 73.0%.
Inflation is forecast to stand at 43.4% at end-2024 and 25.3% at end-2025 according to the poll.
It touched a 24-year high of 85.5% last year after interest rate cuts sparked a currency crisis, sending the lira down 44% in 2021 and another 30% in 2022. The lira has lost more than 30% of its value so far this year.
In the poll, Turkey’s economy is expected to grow 4% this year, according to the median of 33 economists, with the help of domestic demand in the first half despite devastating earthquakes, monetary tightening and a global slowdown. The government had forecast growth of 4.4% this year.
The median growth forecast stood at 2.9% for 2024 and 3.8% for 2025 in the poll, compared to the government’s forecast of 4.0% and 4.5% respectively.
Turkey’s current account deficit in 2023 is expected to be 4.6% of gross domestic product, the median forecast showed, compared to a government forecast of 4%.
The deficit was seen at 3.1% in 2024 and 2.5% in 2025, compared to government predictions published in September of 3.1% and 2.6%, respectively.
(For other stories from the Reuters global economic poll:)
(Polling by Sujith Pai and Prerana Bhat in Bengaluru; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun and Alison Williams)