Turkey’s love affair with gold has had a major impact on global gold flows, especially through the first half of 2023.
Turks have historically held a lot of gold, both in jewelry and investment form. The country ranks as the fifth-largest gold market in the world. But with recent economic turmoil in the country demand for gold has exploded.
A large sale by Turkey in April caused global central bank reserves to fall for the first time in over a year, even as central bank gold buying continued.
Official global reserves dropped by 71 tons in April, according to the latest data collected by the World Gold Council.
Turkey has been in the headlines over the last few weeks as a currency crisis has rocked that country. But as Peter Schiff pointed out in his most recent podcast, all of the things commentators are frying Turkey over are happening in the US as well.
All of the criticism that is being leveled against Turkey – that their deficits are too big, that they have a current account deficit, they’re keeping interest rates artificially low, they’re keeping interest rates below the rate of inflation – all of that criticism can be applied to the United States.”
You’ve probably heard about economic troubles in Turkey. But what’s really going on and what caused it?
In simplest terms, Turkey is in the midst of a currency crisis. The value of the lira has dropped to record lows. Year-to-date, the Turkish currency has fallen 45% against the US dollar. The official inflation rate is over 15%, but economics professor Steve Hanke said the real annual inflation measured for today tops out at 101%.
Last week, we explained how economic sanctions on Iran could boost the price of gold as Iranians turn to the yellow metal as a way to skirt restrictions. In a recent article published by the Daily Reckoning, financial expert Jim Rickards put this in a broader context. He described an evolving “axis of gold” as a number of countries, including China, Russia, Turkey and Iran increasingly use physical metal to create an offensive counterweight to the dollar.
This gold-based payments system will dilute and ultimately eliminate the impact of US dollar-based sanctions.”
The classic image of this is the scene from the Christmas-season film It’s a Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart. We’ve all seen it. Now, something similar is happening at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. What’s different is that the run on the bank involves gold, not cash. The New York Fed will never run out of cash because they can print all they need. But they could run out of gold.”
Turkey went on a gold-buying spree in 2017 and that trend continued in the first two months of 2018. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likes gold and it’s pretty clear the president has been pushing Turkey’s central bank to buy gold and reduce foreign currency reserves in an effort to move away from dependence on the dollar and euro.
On April 16, Erdoğan got a little more overt in his apparent quest to dethrone the dollar, suggesting international loans should be made in gold instead of greenbacks in order to prevent exchange rate pressure on economies.
Turkey went on a gold-buying spree in 2017. That trend continued through the first two months of 2018 as the country continues to diversify away from foreign currencies – i.e. the dollar.
Data released by Borsa Istanbul shows Turkey imported 44.47 tons of gold in January and 16.03 tons in February for a total of 60.5 tons over the two-month period.