Turkish lira hits new low as U.S. conflict deepens

Turkey accused the United States of a “stab in back” Monday as its currency hit a new record low amid escalating tensions that have heightened an already dire economic crisis.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the remarks Monday after weeks of a conflict over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson.
The United States imposed sanctions over Brunson’s arrest as punishment for Ankara’s refusal to extradite him. The preacher has been detained for nearly two years over accusations of spying and participating in a failed military coup against the Turkish government.

The feud further hampered the Turkish lira Monday, which plunged to a record low. The losses came after the Turkish central bank moved to improve liquidity. The lira sank nearly 20 percent in value Friday.

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Much of the economic strife stems from U.S. tariff increases on Turkish metals, including a new 20 percent tax on aluminum and 50 percent tariff on steel.

Russia said Monday it’s planning to use national currencies in trade with Turkey, instead of dollars or euros, to aid the Turkish government. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters diplomats have already discussed the proposal.

“President [Vladimir] Putin has repeatedly spoken of such a possibility and, moreover, of such expediency. Of course, this is subject to scrupulous study, scrupulous calculations, but this is what we seek,” Peskov said.

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The Kremlin’s comments followed Erdogan’s announcement over the weekend the plan to switch over to using national currencies in transactions with major trade partners.

Stocks declined globally Monday amid concerns about Turkey’s economic turmoil, including U.S. stocks opening lower and declines in Europe and Asia.

BySommer Brokaw