Politicians, economists and social media users have criticized the Turkish Central Bank’s latest move to cut its policy rate by 100 basis points to 15 percent on Thursday, in line with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call a day earlier and despite the meltdown of the Turkish lira.
In addition to the move, which extends an easing cycle that shocked markets when it began in September and accelerated a spiral of all-time lows of the lira, the bank also hinted at more easing despite inflation running near 20 percent.
The lira in response tumbled to 10.98 to the US dollar, matching a record low hit earlier in the day. It was valued at 10.82 at 1201 GMT — an extraordinary depreciation from the year’s high water mark of 6.90 in March, according to Reuters.
“Stop already, Erdoğan!” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted after the bank’s decision to slash its policy rate, using the hashtag #HemenSeçim (Election, now).
Social media users shared over 10,000 posts on Twitter following the CHP leader’s message, under the hashtag #ArtıkDurErdoğan (Stop already, Erdoğan).
“Your stubbornness on doing the wrong thing cost each individual of our nation TL 3,000 ($271) in an hour. Are you happy, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan?” Meral Akşener, leader of the nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party, also tweeted.
Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader and former economy minister Ali Babacan accused Erdoğan of making Turkey poorer “not day by day but minute by minute and moment by moment.”
“Prior to the central bank’s interest rate decision, economists continually told them not to cut the rates, but they again didn’t listen! … You ruined the country by way of economy management that functions ‘out of obstinance’ and ‘linked to one man’,” İYİ Vice Chairman Bahadır Erdem said, referring to Erdoğan.
CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak argued that the Turkish lira had never been this “unattended” and “vulnerable.”
Economist Mahfi Eğilmez announced the bank’s decision on social media, wishing Turks a “speedy recovery.”
“Just because the president doesn’t believe in gravity, the central bank is pushing us all off a cliff. We are witnessing millions of people of this country being pushed into misery,” Refet Gürkaynak, another economist, said.
The move, which reflects Erdoğan’s heavy hand on the bank, came a day after the president had vowed to continue his battle against interest rates “to the end,” a statement that had sent the lira to new depths, prompting opposition leaders to call for early elections.
Erdoğan, who is widely criticized for subscribing to the unorthodox belief that high interest rates cause high inflation instead of slowing it down, in February replaced a market-friendly central bank governor who raised rates sharply during his four-month time in office with party loyalist Şahap Kavcıoğlu.