Pro-government daily calls Turkey Strategist Timothy Ash an ‘Enemy of Turkey’.

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Timothy Ash, a leading strategist on European emerging markets, was targeted by a pro-government newspaper in Turkey on Monday after the lira plummeted close to record lows against the dollar.

Ash, who works for London-based hedge fund BlueBay Asset Management, is known as an enemy of Turkey, Yeni Şafak said in an article on the front page of its website.

“He gave the signal of a currency operation on the Turkish economy”, then speculative attacks occurred, the newspaper said.

Turkey’s lira dived against the dollar on Monday after President Recep Tayyip sacked central bank governor Naci Ağbal overnight on Friday. Erdoğan hired Sahap Kavcıoğlu, a former parliamentarian of his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), in his place.

The lira slid to as weak as 8.48 per dollar early in the morning, close to an all time low of 8.58 reached on Nov. 6, the day before Ağbal was appointed with a remit to defend the lira and rein in double digit inflation. It traded down 9.4 percent at 7.89 per dollar as of 12:47 p.m. local time in Istanbul.  

Yeni Şafak had also targeted Ağbal on Friday for increasing interest rates to 19 percent from 17 percent in a decision the day before, the third rate hike in five months. The central bank appeared to be conspiring with foreigners, it said.

The newspaper referred to a post on Twitter by Ash on Sunday morning, which said:

“Prediction – Kavcıoğlu will try cutting rates. Markets will punish him and he will end up having to hike rates far higher than Ağbal would have done.”

Several bankers, analysts and journalists covering Turkey have been targeted during past currency turmoil in a country with a highly partisan local media. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has egged on the criticism, claiming on numerous occasions that a so-called ‘interest rate lobby’ is hell bent on attacking the economy through the currency markets.   

“Don’t shoot the messenger – hopefully not literally,” Ash, a veteran observer of Turkey, said in response to the Yeni Şafak article.

“Sad, I love Turkey. My best friends are Turkish and I would trust them with my life… I just try and be balanced and objective,” he said on Twitter.

New central bank governor Kavcıoğlu has written regular columns for Yeni Şafak and has called for lower borrowing costs in the country to spur economic growth.

Source: Ahval

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