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Turkish lira plunges 10% after Erdogan defends rate cuts

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkey’s currency weakened nearly 10% against the US dollar on Tuesday, a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted there would be no turning back behind its unconventional policy of reducing interest rates despite high inflation.

The lira dipped to a record low of 13.44 against the dollar before recovering some of its losses. It was trading at 12.51 against the dollar late in the afternoon, down 9.9% from Monday’s close. The currency was trading at 14.08 against the euro. The pound has lost about 40% of its value since the start of the year.

Erdogan, who had declared himself an “enemy” of high borrowing costs, described his economic policies as “an economic war of independence” during a televised address to the nation late at night. He made it clear that his government would not abandon its policy of lowering borrowing rates to stimulate growth.

Contrary to traditional economic theory, Erdogan argues that high interest rates cause inflation. Typically, central banks increase these rates to contain rising consumer prices.

“Either we were going to give up investments, production, growth and jobs while respecting the agreement that has prevailed in our country for years, or we were going to engage in a historic fight in accordance with our priorities”, said Erdogan. “As always, we preferred wrestling.”

“We are determined to do what is right for our nation,” he continued. “We encourage investment, production and exports. … We protect jobs. … We care about growth.

The Central Bank of Turkey has cut interest rates by 4 percentage points since September, raising concerns about its independence from Erdogan’s government. The president has sacked three bank governors since 2019.

Inflation is around 20%, eroding the purchasing power of the public.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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