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Elon Musk Holds Business Talks with Turkish President Erdogan

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk met virtually with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Credit: Public Domain

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk held talks about space with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday.

Musk and Erdogan talked at length about space technology as well as electric self-driving cars. Erdogan’s official Twitter account said that the two also had an exchange about Turkey’s goal to launch the Tuksat 5-B satellite into space.

A Turkish government press release quoted Musk as saying “It [was] an honor for me to talk with President Erdogan again,” referring to a history of meetings the billionaire has held with the Turkish leader in the past.

Despite having a relationship that predates this meeting, Musk’s willingness to talk with Erdogan comes as something of a surprise, as the far-right leader has come under fire for his authoritarianism. Erdogan is also facing international scrutiny over his handling of Turkey’s inflation crisis.

Musk has refused a straightforward political descriptor in the past, opting to call himself “half Democrat, half Republican.”

“I’m somewhere in the middle, socially liberal and fiscally conservative.” In 2018, he clarified that he is “not a conservative. I’m registered independent [and] politically moderate.”

Turkey’s inflation crisis

The Turkish lira dipped another 5.6%, hitting record lows against the US dollar on Thursday –the same day as Erdogan and Musk’s meeting– after the country’s central bank slashed its policy rate in line according to the unorthodox economic scheme created by President Tayyip Erdogan.

The currency hit a low of 15.689 after the bank’s decision, before rebounding somewhat, limiting losses to 15.58 by 14:30 GMT today. Meanwhile, the dollar has more than doubled in value against the Turkish lira during 2021, causing deep concern in Turkey at a time when inflation is rising all over the world.

Now, some Turkish citizens are saying that they are going hungry, only able to afford to have eggs and a few tomatoes at dinner time — and sometimes not even that much food.

Many have criticized Erdogan’s new economic plan, which focuses chiefly on exports and lending:

“The central bank’s tolerance for lira pain certainly appears much higher this go around with Erdogan now more or less fully in charge of rates policy,” said Dennis Shen, a macroeconomist at Scope Ratings.

Turkey’s central bank has sold off dollars four times in the past two weeks, whittling away at the country’s foreign reserves and backing them into a corner.

After the latest cut, market watchers forecast more pain for the lira, which has lost 47% of its value since the start of September alone.

“It is a bold move that will certainly cost Turkey a lot of money, and headache. The kneejerk reaction is a heavy selloff in the lira. I expect the dollar-try to end the year within the 17-19 band,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, an analyst at Swissquote Bank.

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