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Gulf Banks Dive As Fallout From Turkey’s Currency Crisis Spreads

Ripple effect.

On Friday, just after midnight in New York, the Financial Times reported that the ECB is concerned about the exposure of several European banks to Turkey.

That story was a stark reminder that although Turkey’s problems are to a certain extent idiosyncratic, a collapse in the lira isn’t going to play out in a vacuum.

Fast forward to Sunday, and Gulf banks are in the firing line. On Saturday, Erdogan had more harsh words for the U.S. and his rhetoric suggested he’s no closer to backing down in the worsening diplomatic row with Washington than he was on Friday, when he made things immeasurably worse for the flagging lira by doubling down on Erdoganomics during a series of speeches to supporters.

On Saturday, Erdogan spoke over the phone with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah. The two reportedly discussed “bilateral relations and regional issues.”

Well, on Sunday the “regional issue” was GCC bank exposure to Turkish lenders and things didn’t go well for Kuwait Finance House, which is sitting on a 62% stake in Kuveyt Turk Participation Bank. KFH fell as much as 3% on the day. Burgan Bank was down handily as well.


In Saudi Arabia, National Commercial Bank had a miserable day, falling more than 3%, presumably on worries about its 67% stake in Turkiye Finans Katilim Bankas. You’ll note that NCB is down some 8% over the past six trading days.


Perhaps most notably, Qatar National Bank (that would be the the region’s largest bank by market value and total assets) just had what looks like its worst day since the Saudi-led embargo, diving nearly 5% on the session.


The problem there would appear to be the bank’s stake in QNB Finansbank, the Turkish lender that fell more than 4% on Friday amid the lira’s collapse.

You get the idea. This is the ripple effect of Turkey’s trials and tribulations and it underscores the notion that Turkey isn’t going to descend into economic chaos without consequences.

Whether or not those consequences portend something dire for emerging market assets as a group is another matter entirely and consensus may indeed be correct to assert that EM will prove more resilient than doomsayers believe. That goes double if the Fed decides to take a pause out of respect for international financial developments or simply to appease Trump’s desire for a weaker dollar.

Still, what the above suggests is that even if you take a sanguine view of the situation in Turkey, “contained” isn’t the correct way to express that view.


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