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Turkey’s financial crisis: why do we turn to teleconferencing in desperate times?

What’s been happening in Turkey?

You may have seen in the news this week that the Turkish government has been tackling some serious monetary issues. Turkey’s currency, the lira, has been falling dramatically and is reportedly almost 6% weaker for the session and has lost almost a third of its value since January, sparking concerns of a full-blown currency crisis.

It comes amidst economic sanctioning issues by the USA in response to the Turkish government’s refusal to free an American pastor who has been detained in Turkey for nearly two years, due to his suspected association with illegal political organisations.


What were the sanctions?

In an attempt to compel the release of the American pastor, Andrew Brunson, the US government doubled its tarrifs on metals imported from Turkey, making the goods more expensive in the USA and therefore less likely to be purchased. In response, the Turkish government did not free Brunson, but instead increased its own tarrifs on American goods – cars, alcohol and tobacco.

What does it mean on a larger scale?

While Turkey is facing serious internal difficulties with its rapidly declining currency, the rest of the world is unlikely to remain unaffected by serious crisis. In fact, the events have raised concerns about the possibility of a global financial crisis, and have drawn comparisons to those of 2008.

Already, the effecs of the lira’s loss in value can be seen echoed around the world. South Africa’s rand, Russia’s rouble, India’s rupee and the Indonesian rupiah have also fallen as a result of the Turks’ troubles.

This can be explained by looking at Turkey’s significance in the global market. Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg, informs that Turkey actually makes up 1% of the world’s GDP. Therefore, ‘a major Turkish recession would pose a significant challenge for financial markets and for other economies’, something which we saw not too long ago when Greek crisis sent resounding tremors through global markets.

Who made the conference calls and what was said?

In an attempt to avert these potential crises, audio meetings were set up. It was Turkey’s finance chief, Berat Albayrak, who organised the call, inviting thousands of investors from all over the world.

Albayrak hoped to use the teleconference to reassure uneasy investors and confirm his firm belief that Turkey would not only survive, but truly thrive after recovering from these financial difficulties. He insisted that the country’s banks were not at risk, but rather were more than capable of dealing with the continuing row with the American government.

During the call, the finance chief was also able to reveal that the country would not be taking any aid from the International Monetary Fund, and that there had not been any significant withdrawals as a result of customers panicking.

There was also the promise of expenditure cuts from the government, along with assurance that revenue was performing well; a primary surplus of 6 billion lira is expected this year. The Turkish government also aims to reduce inflation to single figures swiftly.

Did it work – and why?

It seems that the conference call was an inspired idea, as an uptick in the value of the lira followed. Albayrak’s confident and informative message clearly assuaged the concerns of the 6,000 investors and economists who attended the virtual meeting.

So why in these moments of crisis and panic did Albayrak, like so many before him, turn to teleconferencing?

Well, it is essentially the perfect tool to provided unity, reassurance and information as promptly as possible. First, there are simple logistics. Even the task of finding a space which could comfortably accomodate 6,000 attendees wouldn’t be a simple feat.

Then there is the probably far more challenging necessity of transporting these individuals from all over the globe. Not only would this have been seriously expensive and terrible for the environment, it would also have taken much more time and organisation than planning a conference call.

Time is another really important factor. The economists and investors participating in the meeting are most likely very busy individuals who might be able to spare an hour to sit on the phone, but would not have had days to spend travelling to Turkey and attending a physical meeting. Had this been the case, we would guess that attendance would have been a fraction of the 6,000 or more whom Albayrak was able to address.

But it’s not like there aren’t plenty of other methods of mass communication. We’ve got email, instant messaging, social media… What is it about teleconferencing that makes it so apt at solving global crises?

Albayrak was on a mission to provide concrete reassurance to avoid a serious financial meltdown. In order to really convey his message of certainty and resilience, it was vital that people be able to really hear him speak. That’s why any medium communicating through written word just wouldn’t cut it. They might be able to provide the immediacy and the reach of a mass conference call, but they can never replace the impact of actually hearing somebody speak.

What’s more, if Albayrak was conducting his call through a service similar to Call.Group which offers a whole host of useful features, his job of explaining (and the attendees’ of understanding) would have been much easier than through pretty much any other method of communication. Talking through lots of complicated numbers and charts can be really tricky at the best of times, and doing it without any visual aids would pose a serious challenge for all involved. But with things like document presentation, which allows users to upload files and present them to attendees page by page, explaining the significance of each diagram and statistic, the task becomes much simpler.

There’s also the fact that an exact and searchable record of the whole call will likely have been created, Again, looking at Call.Group’s own offerings, we would assume that everything Albayrak said was recorded and can be played back as necessary, while there is probably also a transcribed verison of the call available to be perused at will by anybody who might need the information. Hopefully, the document is even easily searchable, allowing people to find exactly the part which they want to remind themselves of.

Ultimately, there are loads of reasons why conference calling tends to be the best tool to tackle crisis, particularly when there is a need to bring a lot of people together and make sure everybody is informed and involved. And isn’t that the best way to solve almost all problems, after all?

Gabi JamesTurkey’s financial crisis: why do we turn to teleconferencing in desperate times?
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