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Bobby Ghosh

Erdogan Should Break His IMF Taboo

The coronavirus pandemic gives Turkey’s president a face-saving way to ask for help.

Time to turn to the IMF.

Time to turn to the IMF.

Photographer: Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images

It seems an age ago, but only last September Berat Albayrak was boasting about Turkey’s economic turnaround from recession. The finance minister and his boss (and father-in-law) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were predicting 5% growth for the next two years. Although the recovery was already looking shaky by the end of 2019, they might have pointed with some pride at China-like growth rates for the final quarter.

But the coronavirus pandemic dashed hopes of a Bosphorus bounce. Although Turkey was the last major economy to be hit by the virus — or at least the last to announce its arrival — economic confidence quickly succumbed to the pathogen. Turkish manufacturers’ outlook, a seasonally adjusted index maintained by the central bank, plummeted faster than at any time since the 2008 global financial crisis.