I have watched tornados whip at the waters of the Golden Horn like a hose (which is what, in Turkish, they are called). Last summer, gloopy marine mucilage or sea snot bloomed across the Sea of Marmara, around which a third of Turkey’s economic activity and as many of its people are based. Like an oil spill, it suffocated marine life and hemmed Istanbulites in at the shoreline where normally they would go to look out.
The Turkish lira dropped below ten to the dollar for the first time last month. Since then the currency’s decline has been precipitous, prompting a macabre online parlour game of historical allusions. On Friday it breached 16.83 to the dollar, which recalls the date of the Battle of Vienna, a turning point for Ottoman fortunes in Europe. Only a few hours earlier it had ripped past 15.89, the date of a major revolt in response to Murat III’s devaluing of the coinage. People were joking last week about what would happen if it reached 17.89. It has now plummeted past 18.00. President Erdoğan is making good on his long-standing enmity towards interest rates, defying economic consensus by demanding cuts when the more usual strategy for taming inflation would be to raise them. Having fired the last three central bank governors to pursue that course, he can now put the nation’s money where his mouth is.