Turkey's 11% Economic Growth Fuels Expectations of Rate Hike

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s economy grew faster in the third quarter than any other of the world’s 20 biggest economies as household spending and exports surged, stoking expectations that the central bank will increase borrowing costs to curb inflation.

Gross domestic product expanded 11.1 percent in the three months to Sept. 30 from a year earlier, the fastest pace in more than six years, according to official data released on Monday. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey was 8.5 percent.

Raising borrowing costs could put the central bank on a collision course with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said in November that the bank was on a “wrong path” in its fight against inflation, and reiterated his unorthodox view that lower borrowing costs would better address price gains.

Turkey increased spending on everything from wages to investments, and extended cheaper credit to companies to counter the impact of last year’s failed coup attempt on the economy. The annual comparison with the third quarter in 2016, when the attempt to topple Erdogan caused the economy to contract, helped boost Monday’s figures.

But with growth driven mainly by domestic consumption at a time when inflation is at the highest level since 2003, the central bank will likely tighten monetary policy when it meets on Thursday, according to Inan Demir, an economist at Nomura International Plc in London.

Unsustainable Pace

“Even though the headline growth rates do paint a very positive picture, the composition of growth has been a factor that undermined the lira in recent months,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said Monday that economic growth based solely on domestic demand wouldn’t be sustainable, and that more balance is needed.

Third-quarter growth “is an exceptional figure,” he said in an interview with state-run TRT television. “It is based on the low growth in the third quarter last year. Turkey needs to carry out more reforms to have a 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent growth sustainable.”

The lira was little changed after the data.

Growth will likely “slow sharply in the coming quarters,” Capital Economics said in a note. “Even so, today’s GDP data, coming alongside November’s jump in inflation, mean a rate hike at Thursday’s MPC meeting now looks highly likely.”

National Interest

That view was not shared by Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, who warned against what he called speculative attempts to make profits based on expectations of higher rates. The regulator will make a decision based on the national interest, Zeybekci said, adding that the best way to fight soaring inflation was to increase production rather than interest rates.

“Money should be cheap, plentiful and easily accessible,” Zeybekci said in an interview with Bloomberg HT on Monday. 

Below are further highlights from the report:

  • Seasonally adjusted output rose 1.2 percent from the previous three months, below the median 1.8 percent estimate.
  • Exports increased 17.2 percent in the period compared to a decline of 9.2 percent a year earlier. Imports rose 14.5 percent compared to 2.4 percent
  • Final consumption expenditure by resident households, which is estimated to make up nearly two-thirds of the economy, grew 11.7 percent from a year earlier

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