Turkey Economic Monitor: Charting a New Course

Latest Issue: 
  • no. 3


  • The pace and sustainability of Turkey’s recovery is contingent on reduced uncertainty and restored investor confidence.
  • External buffers need to be strengthened to reduce market pressures.
  • Available fiscal space can be used more effectively by focusing on the composition of fiscal stimulus.


November 5, 2019: 3rd issue of the Turkey Economic Monitor

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External adjustments have helped reduce vulnerabilities

The Turkish economy has experienced major external adjustments over the past 12 months, including declining current account imbalances, reduced external debt of banks, and a recovery in portfolio flows. These adjustments have reduced the country’s external financing needs and contributed to a more stable Lira. Even so, foreign exchange reserves have eroded over the past two years, exposing Turkey to external market pressure.

The real sector is affected by shrinking investments and elevated inflation 

The real sector remains deeply affected by the persistence of macro-financial vulnerabilities. Investment has collapsed, while industrial production points to a weak turnaround. The disinflation process has begun, after exchange rate pass-through sharply increased inflation, averaging 18% in the first three quarters of 2019. 

Households are hurt by rising unemployment, declining purchasing power

Stagnating output levels, rising costs of production, and high consumer prices have led to significant job losses and falling real wages in 2017-2018. Turkey's economy lost around 840 thousand jobs from May 2018 to May 2019, amounting to 2.9% of total employment. Poorer households have been the most impacted, as many low-income workers are employed in construction and agriculture – two sectors that saw the biggest decline in jobs.  

The corporate sector remains weighed-down by debt burdens, amplifying real sector woes

Corporate debt burden remains high, despite a gradual deleveraging. Total credit to corporates declined slightly from a peak of 72 percent of GDP to 68 percent between September 2018 and June 2019. This gradual decline was driven mainly by reduced domestic borrowing by Small and Medium Enterprises. 

Banks have also deleveraged to cope with worsening balance sheets positions

Corporate debt challenges have contributed to a deterioration in asset quality in the banking sector. Non-Performing Loans have risen from 3% in September 2018 to 4.7% in September 2019. An additional indicator of stress on asset quality is the rise in the share of Stage 2 loans, which are classified as having elevated credit risk. Stage 2 loans account for around 12% of outstanding credit in the system. Banks have responded rationally by significantly cutting lending activities. The authorities have extended credit guarantees and relaxed macroprudential rules - providing some credit impulse from state banks. But private banks have been cautious in a weak economic environment with high interest rates, avoiding further deterioration in asset quality.

Despite challenges, policies have helped steady the ship

The overall policy response over the past year has been reasonably effective in restoring short-term stability, though there is still room for improvement. The analysis (using big data techniques) in this Turkey Economic Monitor shows that:

  1. The number of changes to rules and regulations affecting businesses have increased significantly each year, peaking in 2018. This reflects greater volatility in the business environment;
  2. A growing share of changes has been introduced through more discretionary legal instruments (i.e. not requiring formal consultation), which will have contributed to uncertainty;
  3. The most frequent changes were made in the areas of labor market, finance, the environment, quality infrastructure, trade, and tax;
  4. Most recently, the focus has shifted from tax and labor market issues towards quality infrastructure and environmental issues.

Previous Turkey Economic Monitors



Turkey Economic Monitor 2: Steading the Ship
The World Bank, December 2018

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Turkey Economic Monitor 1: Minding the External Gap
The World Bank, May 2018

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Media contact

Tunya Celasin
(495) 745-7000

The Macro Poverty Outlook is a semi-annual report, which analyses macro and poverty developments in developing countries. It is jointly produced by the Poverty & Equity and Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management Global Practices of the World Bank.