Turkey Current-Account Gap May Narrow on Slower Growth, S&P Says

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s current-account deficit may be “forcibly narrowed” by slower economic expansion in the country, Standard & Poor’s said.

Turkey’s economy may expand by 2 percent to 3 percent next year, which would mean growth-per-capita of “close to zero,” Frank Gill, a London-based analyst with S&P, said in a telephone interview. The ratings company lifted Turkey’s local-currency debt rating by one level to BBB-, the lowest investment-grade ranking.

“Generally what you get after credit-driven growth, you get a sharp slowdown and that affects the government’s balance sheet,” Gill said. Turkey’s current-account gap, largely funded by debt inflows rather than foreign direct investment, may be “forcibly narrowed,” he said.

Turkey’s foreign-currency ranking was affirmed at BB with a positive outlook, S&P said today in a statement.

“What we’re looking for is further evidence that this economy can grow without generating large external imbalances which pose a risk to the economy,” Gill said.

Turkey’s economy expanded 8.8 percent in the second quarter as a boom in consumer borrowing forced the government to cap loan growth at 25 percent. The country’s 12-month current-account deficit widened to a record $74.6 billion in July, about 10 percent of gross domestic product.

“We still think the economy is quite resilient, we think they’ll manage through this,” Gill said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Benjamin Harvey in Istanbul at bharvey11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gavin Serkin at gserkin@bloomberg.net