One of the most important actors in the Turkish economy is now a young woman whose career is full of achievements. Hafize Gaye Erkan, named “the Awesome Turkish Girl,” becomes the new president of the Central Bank of the Republic of Türkiye. She is the first woman to govern the Central Bank in the country’s history, which creates a promising image for foreign investors.
In addition, her academic life is impressive. She graduated from Istanbul High School, which is one of the top-tier high schools in Türkiye, with second place in 1997. Then, she studied industrial engineering at Bogazici University for four years and graduated with the first place. After that, in 2005 she earned a PhD in Operations Research and Financial Engineering from Princeton University which is a highly regarded Ivy League School. She became a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program and the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program in Leadership later in her career.
Her professional career begins with Goldman Sachs in 2005, and after nine years of experience at Goldman Sachs as Managing Director and Head of Financial Institutions Group Analytics and Strategies, she moved to First Republic Bank. She worked at First Republic Bank, in the following roles: Co-Chief Executive Officer, President, Board Member, Chief Investment Officer, Chief Deposit Officer, and Co-Chief Risk Officer, for eight years. Among all her experiences in the finance field, First Republic Bank comes into prominence. It is one of the most important US banks, but after nearly a year after her resignation, the bank collapsed during the global bank crisis in May 2023.
The lawsuit that examines the collapse of FRB seems to confuse the ideas about her, especially in Türkiye, because she is one of the defendants who are accused of misleading investors by giving false information about the bank's situation. The lawsuit is still ongoing, but there are two opinions; one side says the bank was already in an alarming situation, mostly because of FED’s interest rate hikes, and that Hafize Gaye Erkan warned the board of directors; however, she was not paid attention to, leading to her resignation. In addition, these people think the speeches given by Erkan were not misleading because all speeches belonged nearly two-three years ago. Others claim she has known the situation very well and she couldn’t cope with it. Additionally, they claim she gave speeches, which were very hopeful for the future of the bank and mislead the investors.
Nowadays all eyes were on the decision that will be made by the Monetary Policy Board about the change of interest rate. It was expected to return to Orthodox economy policies because, in the Orthodox economy, increasing interest rates make inflation decrease since it narrows the money supply. This leads to a slow economy but in the mid-term, connections between foreign investors and the new Central Bank president and the new Minister of Finance can provide credibility for the country which means investments can stimulate the economy, and help to stabilize the exchange rate. Erkan announced the decision on June 22nd and after this announcement, everyone’s ideas on the Turkish economy were reshaped.
While some economists and investors
waiting for significantly increased
interest rates states their disappointment with the 650 basis points rate hike, others suggest waiting for the future steps based on the announcement of MPB that monetary tightening will gradually be strengthened. While Özgür Demirtaş states so many different expectations about a country’s economy show instability, Mahfi Eğilmez reports rate hike can’t be enough unless it is followed by structural reforms.
The most pessimistic view states this move will only allow people who are against the high rate interests to empower their argument states rate hikes are useless. They cite rate hikes can’t compete with the latest minimum wage hike and its effect on inflation will be lower than expected. Also, since it is below market expectations, there is no way it can help to regain policy credibility. They are concerned that interest hikes below the market expectations can further damage investor confidence in the Turkish economy.
Criticisms and concerns understandably exist, however, despite the lack of experience claim, the lawsuit, and her speech which expresses her gratitude for the former president of the Central Bank during the handover ceremony, people’s opinions remain to be positive or neutral towards her. The majority think she deserves the position because of her hard work during her career. In addition, Kathryn Wylde, president, and CEO of Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit organization where Erkan once served as a board director, says Erkan expressed a deep interest in public policy and the welfare of the community. In conclusion, everybody is watching her carefully and if she makes good use of this chance, her achievement can open new paths both for his country and for women.
Written by Nehir Türkmen
Edited by Melisa Altıntaş & Yağmur Ece Nisanoğlu
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