Jul 18 2018

Top economy writer leaves Turkey’s Hürriyet after takeover

Uğur Gurses, an award-winning Turkish columnist, has left national daily Hürriyet after the publication’s takeover by a business group with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Gürses gave no reason for his departure in comments on Twitter on Wednesday.

The former central bank official is known for his criticism of the government’s economic policies, which he says are leading to higher inflation and a deterioration in investor confidence.

In a final column for Hürriyet on Friday, Gürses berated a decision by Erdoğan to reduce the terms of the central bank’s governor and his deputies to four years from five. The measure, taken by presidential decree on the day of Erdoğan's inauguration last Monday, compromised the bank’s independence and was a mistake considering that foreign investors were reducing their exposure to Turkey, leaving the country will fewer funds to finance its gaping current account deficit, he said.

In the article, Gürses also pointed out that foreigners are having trouble finding buyers for Turkish lira bonds as interest rates in Turkey increase, meaning they are forced to sell them at lower prices in order to leave the Turkish market. Meanwhile the government is trying to make out that investors will put money back into the country after Erdoğan won re-election on June 24 with enhanced powers, he said.

Turkey’s Demirören Group bought Hürriyet and other media assets belonging to businessmen Aydin Doğan in March.

Gürses joined Turkey’s central bank in 1986 and specialised in areas such as foreign exchange policy, open market operations and currency reserve management. He left in 1994 to work in the banking industry before joining CNN Türk, a sister company of Hürriyet, in 2000. He joined the newspaper in 2014 after writing for several other national dailies for 15 years.

Gürses has won numerous awards for his writing, including an annual prize from the Turkish Capital Markets Association in April.

Concern among investors that Turkey's economy is overheating due to Erdoğan's pro-growth policies has led to losses of about 20 percent for the Turkish lira this year. The currency plummeted to a record low in May, forcing the central bank into a belated decision to increase interest rates. Erdoğan, who has pledged more personal control over monetary policy, opposes higher rates saying they are inflationary. The inflation rate surged to 15.4 percent in June, a level that is about four times the average in major emerging markets.