All in Economy

Iran’s Resistance Economy Is Kicking In

◢ The appointment of a new CEO at Iran Air exemplifies Iran’s renewed reliance on what its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called a “resistance economy.” In order to overcome the restrictions imposed by sanctions, Iran will turn increasingly to a cadre of “resistance managers,” elevating individuals and empowering networks with unique capacities to keep Iran’s trade flowing under duress.

Iranians Forced to Forgo Meat Staples as Prices Soar

◢ Working class Iranians could look forward to a hearty meal of meat stew or kabob at least once a week. But with meat prices soaring to all-time highs, Iranians are having to cut back on their consumption in yet another example of falling living standards as Iran’s economy falters under the pressure of sanctions and mismanagement.

Devastating Floods Further Strain Iran's Creaking Economy

◢ Iran’s economy was already creaking as two weeks of flooding devastated communities across the country, killing 76 people and damaging critical infrastructure and industries. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians have been left to pick up the pieces at a time when economic pressures may mean that their government and fellow countrymen will struggle to provide adequate relief.

With Focus on Economic Relations, Iran-Iraq Ties Move Into the 'Daylight'

◢ Expectations were high when Iranian president Hassan Rouhani visited neighboring Iraq last month. During the trip, his first as president, Rouhani signed multiple trade deals with Iraq, where the return of peace and stability has renewed the government’s focus on economic development. Iran’s reinvigorated diplomacy towards Iraq reflects a new diplomatic and economic strategy towards its onetime foe.

Why China Isn’t Standing By Iran

◢ Last week, Iran’s economic minister was in Beijing for talks on bilateral trade and investment. An official readout of the discussions from China’s commerce ministry describes China and Iran as “comprehensive strategic partners.” Unfortunately for Iran, the data tells a different story from the official rhetoric.

Iran's Government Falling into a Debt Trap of Its Own Making

◢ President Rouhani’s budget proposal for the upcoming Iranian year will see the government run a deficit amounting to about 10 percent of GDP or 60 percent of the state’s general budget, excluding oil revenues and withdrawals from the National Development Fund. Rather than increase tax collection to ease budget gaps, the Rouhani administration plans to tap Iran’s nascent debt markets to cover its public spending requirements.

Iran Budget Under Scrutiny As Oil Revenues Fall

◢ Next week, President Hassan Rouhani will submit a budget proposal for the forthcoming Persian year (covering March 2019-2020). Currently, the Rouhani administration has few options as it seeks to avoid a budget deficit. Yet the political tradeoffs required when devising a budget under sanctions may prove more difficult to manage than the economic challenges.

Bankless Task: Can Europe Stay Connected to Iran?

◢ With US sanctions on Iran’s banking sector due to come into effect soon, European countries are now considering measures that would facilitate trade transactions with Iran through a new legal and institutional structure. European governments have been reviewing this legal entity, known as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), for months. The timing of this public announcement suggests that they have a degree of confidence that the SPV can become operational, and that Europe can use the model to showcase its ability to deliver on its commitments.

Unintimidated, Iranian Lawmakers Pass Counter-Terror Financing Bill

◢ Over the last six months, the public debate in Iran around FATF-related reforms has reached a surreal crescendo. Seldom do countries experience such intensive political debates over measures as technical and obtuse as financial regulations. But 143 lawmakers voted bravely to pass the final of four bills required by the FATF action plan, in a landmark vote that may increases chances that Iran maintains ties with international financial institutions in the face of returning sanctions.

Iran's Currency Crisis Is Decades in the Making

◢ The experience of countries such as China show that currency devaluation can be managed and even turned beneficial for the economy by enabling the growth of exports. But in Iran, the devaluation of the rial has never been proactively managed, and subsequent administrations have only sought to respond to repeated currency crises, about once each decade. As Iran faces another such episode, it remains to be seen whether a real monetary policy might finally emerge.

7 Charts That Challenge the Distorted View of Iran's Economy

◢ There is a growing sense that Iran has squandered its chance to join the ranks of the BRICs—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—which count as the great emerging markets of the world. As sanctions return, as the rial sheds value, and as protests become routine, Iran is increasingly portrayed as an economic basket case where state collapse is just around the corner. But comparing Iran’s macroeconomic performance with Brazil, another country that has contended with widespread protests and economic angst for over three years, paints a very different picture.

Iran's Currency Crisis is a Supply-Side Story

◢ On Monday, the Iranian rial sank to a historic low. But those Iranians who scrambled to convert their rials into dollars found it difficult to do so—as they have for months. This important detail of the current crisis has gone largely unexamined. While the determinants for demand for foreign exchange are well understood, the second determinant of market prices—foreign exchange supply—remains subject to mere passing mention. This is a mistake. Iran’s currency crisis is a supply-side story.

Rising Prices Push Homebuyers Out of Iran's Capital

◢ A 41 percent rise in Tehran City’s average home prices has left some residents, especially renters, with no option but to leave the capital for more affordable housing units in suburban areas close to Tehran. As per the latest national census, Karaj was the top destination for residents moving out of Tehran during the five years to December 2017. In just the last three months, more than 53,000 individuals have moved from Tehran to Karaj City. In the first quarter of the Iranian fiscal year, the Karaj housing market recorded 65 percent growth in home sales and an 18 percent increase in the average price of residential units.

US Officials Warn of ‘Deceptive Web’ of Iran Business, But Hamper Transparency Efforts

◢ In a recent speech, Under Secretary of the Treasury Sigal Mandelker warned that foreign companies that maintain a presence in Iran must conduct “extra due diligence to keep them from being caught in Iran’s deceptive web.” But background conversations with several compliance specialists reveal that US sanctions are a major barrier to key AML/CTF reforms in Iran. Industry-standard compliance software is not accessible for Iranian end users, leaving some experts to conclude that Iran is being “set up to fail.”

Closure of Tehran Bazaar Reflects Fierce Elite Competition, Not Popular Politics

◢ The bazaar of today is not the bazaar of forty years ago, and no longer plays the same role as a key actor in Iran’s popular political mobilizations. The recent bazaar closures reflect primarily the economic self-interest of bazaar elite, who sense an opportunity to put the brakes on reforms that threaten their unique capacities for lucrative arbitrage. Protests are being co-opted as a political tool at the expense of genuine civil society mobilization.

They Want War With Iran, They’re Settling For Economic War

◢ On Tuesday, French officials convened a briefing for French business on possible responses to Trump’s reimposition of secondary sanctions. French Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire reportedly cited the French parable that “money is the nerve of war” to describe what is at stake. He may be more correct than he realizes, as the Trump administration gears-up for an economic war on Iran.

Rouhani Government Unifies Iran’s Exchange Rates in Decisive Move to Stabilize Currency

◢  In a decisive move intended to stop the further devaluation of the rial, the Rouhani government announced it would unify the official and free market dollar exchange rates, settling on an official rate of IRR 42,000. First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri made the announcement last night, declaring that trading dollars above the new rate would be a serious crime.