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Even in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey, patriotism has its limits. As economists speculate on the policymakers' range of options in the face of a market meltdown, Turks are throwing in the towel on their national currency. Erdogan's repeated calls for citizens to convert their considerable foreign-exchange deposits to support the lira are falling on deaf ears. For a leader who prides himself on having made Turks more prosperous during his 15 years in power, the failure to back his lira demands with any policy action comes as a surprise, and a betrayal. Since Erdogan first began making the call in mid-December of 2016, the lira has been the world's worst currency, losing about half its value against the dollar and euro. That appointment also unnerved international investors, who were used to dealing with steady hands on the economy even as Erdogan's personal pronouncements became increasingly unpredictable and further outside the mainstream.Turkey's refusal to release American citizens and diplomatic employees imprisoned in the aftermath of a coup attempt against Erdogan in 2016, including Pastor Andrew Brunson, led the U.S. to begin imposing sanctions earlier this month.
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