Talk of Tehran: The Tumbling Economy

Helia Ighani

            Iran’s media is increasingly outspoken about the troubled economy, but newspapers are deeply divided over who is at fault. Editorials have become even sharper since new E.U. sanctions on Iran’s national oil, tanker, and gas companies were imposed in October.

            Tehran now faces the worst financial crisis since the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. In October 2012, the International Energy Agency reported that exports dropped significantly from 2.2 million barrels per day at the end of 2011 to 860,000 barrels per day in September 2012. Iran’s oil industry accounts for around 80 percent of its exports.

            The national currency dropped 80 percent in value against the dollar in 2012, with a 40 percent plunge in September alone. Iranian financial analysts criticized the Central Bank’s handling of the country’s soaring inflation rate. Official statements pegged September’s inflation rate at 24 percent, but foreign analysts said the October’s inflation rate could be as high as 50 percent to 70 percent. Tehran’s Grand Bazaar shut down temporarily in early October 2012 after public demonstrations over risings costs.

            Both liberal and centrist media criticized the government’s failure to provide tangible solutions to the growing economic crisis. On October 17, conservative parliamentarian Kazem Jalali even suggested that the government should “not write off internal mismanagement as the cause of sanctions.”

Media Faults Government

Kaleme (or “Word,” a reformist newspaper)
            “The drop in the national currency’s value could undoubtedly lead to the collapse of the economy. If this problem is not solved, the situation could get out of control.” October 10
            “A lack of government preparation to deal with sanctions is increasingly evident.” October 8
            “The most severe new sanctions on Iran are the same kind that destroyed Iraq’s economy…The present economic crisis is intolerable and could get worse.” October 15
Mardom Salari (or “Democracy,” a centrist newspaper)
            “During the Iran-Iraq War, the government was able to provide basic necessities. Our country is now at the height of political and economic power in the region, yet the government is unable to provide basic necessities due to economic mismanagement.” October 23
Media Faults the U.N. and the West
Khorasan News (region in northeastern Iran, a conservative newspaper)
            “The enemies of this nation impose harsh conditions and continue to implement tougher sanctions! The bullying by Iran’s enemies is despicable. They still believe political pressure and economic sanctions will cripple the nation and bring it to its knees.” October 23
Jomhouri Eslami (or “Islamic Republic,” a conservative newspaper)
            “Western sanctions against Iran are based on unsubstantiated claims about the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. Regarding oil, the international trade embargo is having an impact on the rest of the world too.” October 18
Resalat (or “Prophecy,” a conservative newspaper)
            “Despite more E.U. sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran has found alternative sources of trade to keep the economy active…The West wants to tempt us with materialism, and it downplays Iran’s economic strength. October 16
Key to Iranian newspapers
Jomhouri Eslami or “Islamic Republic”: conservative
Kaleme or “Word”: reformist
Khorasan News, a region in northeastern Iran: conservative 
Mardom Salari or “Democracy”: centrist
Resalat or “Prophecy”: conservative
Click here to read September 2012’s Talk of Tehran.
Helia Ighani is a graduate student at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs and a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.