Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Finance Minister Mehmet Simşek turned up in New York last week to reassure investors worried about Turkey’s increasingly fragile economy that all was well.
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations 2015 Corporate Conference in New York City, Mr Davutoğlu has painted a rosy picture. Fears that Turkey’s growth was driven by a bubble that might be bursting soon were not justified. Describing Turkey’s performance as much better than the world and OECD averages, he said that it was the second fastest growing country in Europe and 12th fastest in the OECD. It was not too bad to have 3 percent growth by world standards but Turkey aimed higher. It wanted to make it at least 4 percent this year, and 5 and 6 percent in coming years.
Mr Davutoğlu talked at length about country’s impressive highway network, successful national airline, its plans to build the biggest airport in the world and other mega projects but his audience was more interested about his President’s idiosyncratic interventions on the Central Bank and its monetary policy. Investors did not hide their concerns about political risk. What they really wanted to know was who was running the country.
On the day the Turkish lira hit an all-time low, it was not an easy job to convince investors and commentators in New York.
Even though Mr. Davutoğlu was quite upbeat about the meetings, reactions reported by the media were not so. Reuters said “Turkey’s New York investor meetings fail to stem lira rout”. Business Insider’s Linette Lopez wrote that Turkey’s Wall Street was in ‘panic mode’.
I could not help thinking that real sense of panic was yet to come; not in Turkey’s financial centre but in the original Wall Street, when President Erdogan’s chief economic advisor Mr Bulut will be visiting the USA later this week.
Yiğit Bulut, who had hit the headlines in the past by suggesting that anti-government protestors were trying to harm Mr Erdoğan through telekinesis, has again caused controversy this week by declaring Euro to be “not a real currency”.
In his pro-government Star newspaper column, Mr. Bulut promised to enlighten Washington’s business organisations about “the New Turkey model and President Erdoğan’s production-centred paradigm”.
No doubt, he is an excellent choice to set out this vision statement on behalf of his leader. Mr Bulut is an individual that truly embodies the new Turkey.
I would have loved to have seen the expression on the State Department spokeswoman’s face the day after.
This post is also available in: Turkish