Can Turkey remain immune from the crisis?
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Can Turkey remain immune from the crisis?

The country’s banking crisis at the start of the millennium prompted a bail-out, consolidation and the introduction of a strict regulatory regime. This has underpinned a period of loan expansion. GDP growth is slowing but the strength should persist, local banks insist. Charles Piggott reports.

Can Turkey remain immune from the crisis?
Plenty of scope for M&A

MATTEO FERRAZZI, A banking analyst at UniCredit, keeps receiving emails asking him the same question. "People want to know why Turkey is doing relatively well in the midst of this international banking crisis," he says. "A few years ago, Turkish banks would have been in real trouble." At the most senior levels in government and in the banking sector, talking heads are quietly predicting that the country’s financial sector might emerge relatively unscathed from the turmoil in international financial markets. Turkey, they argue, has already been ‘vaccinated’ by tough government reforms made in the wake of Turkey’s catastrophic banking failure of 2001. Bankers now hope they will be immune to a repeated banking sector collapse.

At the Turkish finance ministry, deputy undersecretary Isa Coskun says the government learned much from the last crisis. He does not think it will be repeated. "We’ve already been through a big financial crisis in 2001/02, after which we took a lot of measures to avoid it happening again," he says. "We’re following events but, so far, there are no big problems in Turkey’s banking sector."

Even though Coskun expects lower GDP growth and therefore lower tax revenues as a result of the international financial crisis, he is not expecting the government to have to step in to bail out failing banks, as has happened in other European countries.

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