Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"Iran currency crackdown magnifies protest wave"

This is the third or fourth time the subject has come up in the last 15 months. Something's cookin'.
From the Asia Times:
The Tehran Stock Exchange was on track to close the end-March fiscal year with a 25% gain in local index terms as a remaining safe haven after the commercial currency market, a popular investment alternative, was shattered by a record plunge in February to 50,000 rial per US dollar, prompting officials to shut dozens of dealers and ban imported good-greenback use.

Central Bank of Iran governor Valiollah Seif, after keynoting the Euromoney Iran conference in Paris in the wake of major French oil and auto sector commitments, abandoned business-friendly rhetoric and vowed to work with security forces against “speculators.”

The monetary authority issued high-interest bonds in an attempt to divert leftover liquidity, as its own operations came under banking-community criticism for uneven intervention after months of bottlenecks in accessing foreign exchange.

A new electronic trading platform to be rolled out is designed to facilitate transactions, but the market has also been spooked by recent national anti-regime protests with thousands of arrests, international doubt over the nuclear pact as US President Donald Trump calls for renegotiation and stiffer sanctions, and pared ties with banks in the Persian Gulf region as a corollary to the Qatar boycott for its perceived Iran alliance.

Citizen anger has been directed at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani over domination of the economy by religious elements and the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), while lifetime savings have been lost in unregulated financial institutions and social spending continues to decline in real terms amid double-digit unemployment.

Rouhani’s second term assigned priority to banking-crisis management, and billions of dollars have been released slowly for depositor reimbursement, bad-loan reduction, and recapitalization.

Khamenei acknowledged in a February speech the need for “justice” for low- and middle-income earners but remains opposed to dismantling state and IRGC control of the financial and industrial sectors, including in monetary policy, where the government continues to dictate Islamic “return” rates and exchange-rate unification is now indefinitely postponed....MORE
Feb. 21 
"Six factors driving Iran’s sudden currency devaluation"
Feb. 15
Iran’s police step in to contain foreign currency debacle
January 2017
Iran: "Is Rouhani repeating Ahmadinejad’s tricks in the currency market?"
January 2017   
"Deciphering Iran’s sudden currency fluctuations"