How Iran’s quasi-state firms intensify currency crisis

Al-Monitor | : While many observers ascribe the weakening of the Iranian rial in recent months to the psychological impact of increasing US pressure on Iran, the currency crisis has domestic roots, too. Indeed, the partly privatized Iranian economy has given birth to a web of interest-driven relations between those in power and those with wealth.

Since late 2017, when the drop in the rial’s value first began accelerating, the administration of President Hassan Rouhani has desperately tried to control the whereabouts of billions in hard currency earned by major quasi-state exporters. Their wide profit margin is guaranteed by incentives they receive from the government. Yet these same companies act based solely on their own interests, which are entangled with the interests of some policymakers.

Iran’s currency market was at its most volatile late last month, as Rouhani took center stage at the United Nations General Assembly session. On Sept. 26, the rial hit an all-time low of 190,000 to the US dollar. Although it has strongly rebounded to around 140,000 rials in recent days, the reality is that the national currency has lost more than two-thirds of its value in the past year.

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