Rentierism and Rivalry Between Riyadh and Tehran

◢ Though widely described as move to consolidate political power, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's  decision to arrest members of the Saudi elite points to anxiety about Saudi Arabia's economic prospects and the risks of rentierism. 

◢ The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is driven by the fact that the Kingdom is increasingly economically vulnerable at a time when Iran's fortunes are set to improve. 

Oil Giant Total Takes to Twitter to Underscore Iran Commitment

◢ In a series of tweets published on Tuesday, Total's press office pushed back on reports that the company is rethinking its Iran strategy in light of pressure from the United States. 

◢ The tweets emphasize that Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné sees no political barriers to the South Pars gas deal, and is simply waiting to see whether following Congressional action legal conditions will allow the deal to move forward. 

Iran Starved of Investor Capital Needed to Fuel Extensive Privatizations

◢ Morteza Lotfi, the newly appointed head of SHASTA has recently announced a new effort for SHASTA to divest from a large portion of its portfolio, offering a second chance at the privatizations pursued a decade ago. 

◢ But political barriers and a dearth of capital, particularly from foreign investors, risks rendering SHASTA's plan dead on arrival as Iran seeks to liberalize without crucial liquidity.

Killing Iran’s Economy Won’t Help the U.S.

◢ The Trump administration's new Iran policy focuses largely on targeting the IRGC in the name of American national security. But IRGC will not stop its expansionism in the Middle East because of sanctions and sanctions will not weaken the Iranian government at home.

◢ If the Trump administration continues to harm Iran's economy, the biggest losers will be the Iranian people, caught between punitive U.S. policies and an illiberal regime. 

Iran Sanctions Policy Increasingly Throttles Free Trade in Ideas

◢ Since 1988, the Berman Amendment has limited the authority of the President to restrict the exchange of information as part of American sanctions policy. 

◢ But the new sanctions designation of the IRGC and recent voluntary actions by American companies suggest that the long standing protection for the free trade of ideas is under threat, as OFAC seems less willing to provide clear protections. 

In Reprieve for Multinational Business, Trump to Stave Snapback of Iran Sanctions

◢ Later today, President Trump will decertify Iran's compliance with the JCPOA on national security grounds. However, early reporting based on background briefings provided to European officials makes clear that administration does not intend to walk away from the Iran Deal.

◢ Instead, Trump is pushing the issue of Iran policy to Congress, recommending new actions to counteract Iran, but not going so far as to recommend the full "snapback" of sanctions.

Majority of Business Leaders Blame Trump for Slow Iran Investments

◢ A new survey by Bourse & Bazaar and IranPoll finds that business leaders believe Trump's rhetoric has slowed the pace of trade and investment by multinational companies in Iran.

◢ However, the results come at a time when the underlying commercial momentum seems strong. This suggests that Trump's words are having an impact not on those most directly working with Iran, but on the stakeholders on whom they rely. 

New Survey Examines Iranian Attitudes Towards Foreign Investment, Multinational Companies

◢ New survey conducted by IranPoll in partnership with Bourse & Bazaar looks at Iranian attitudes towards economic reform and foreign investment with new detail

◢ Iranians demonstrate high degree of openness to foreign investment and the economic reforms necessary to facilitate that investment. But they want multinational companies to do more to localize their offerings effectively. 

Is France Ready to Stand Up to Trump on Iran?

◢ With new U.S. sanctions on Russia and Iran set to come into force, the French Foreign Ministry issued a firm statement suggesting new U.S. sanctions could contravene international law. 

◢ While Germany is likely to lead on the push back against additional Russia sanctions, the importance of the Iranian market to French enterprise may mean that Macron is best positioned to intervene with Trump to help preserve the JCPOA. 

We Shouldn’t Defend the JCPOA at the Expense of the Iran Deal

◢ The JCPOA has now persisted for two years, and Iran is beginning to see post-sanctions benefits. But American support for the deal is wavering, and deal supporters in Washington have upped their advocacy. 

◢ But deal supporters often describe the JCPOA as an unusual concession from an otherwise threatening Iran, a characterization that undermines much of what the Iran Deal has achieved so far.

Country Managers Are Making Post-Sanctions Iran Work

◢ Behind every successful multinational deal in Iran is a country manager. These executives seek to balance the commercial goals of their companies with the needs of Iran's post-sanctions economy. 

◢ Country managers are a critical link in what is essentially a bureaucratic system. Policymakers need to help make this bureaucracy work better with better rules and systems so that country managers can succeed. 

To Break With Austerity, Rouhani Must Deliver on Sovereign Debt Sale

◢ To win foreign investment, Iran's needs to boost development expenditures. But expansionary fiscal policy will require a new source of revenue, as oil sales remain stagnant and tax rises remain politically risky. 

◢ A sovereign debt sale, long discussed by Iranian officials, is the fundamental way Iran can find the revenues to self-fund growth. The Rouhani administration must focus on making its bond offering a reality.