• Iran’s Massive Banking Scandal

    What’s the origin of the Islamic Republic’s biggest banking scandal? The financial conglomerate Amir Mansour Arya Investment Development Company allegedly procured several letters of credit from domestic banks totaling $2.8 billion — far above the company’s available collateral.  The Arya Group, founded by Amir Mansour Khosravi and now controlled by his son Mah-Afarid, controlled around […]

  • Iran: Subsidy Reform, “Stagflation,” and the Need for Industrial Policy

    Iran’s biggest economic problem is the growing production slump at its factories and workshops.  For both workers and the business elite, Iran’s domestic industrial troubles are far more pressing — and generating far more public anxiety — than international sanctions. The biggest danger for Iran in 2011 is the combination of higher unemployment and inflation […]

  • Iran’s Subsidy Reductions: Upon Whom Will the Costs Fall?

    The long awaited liberalization of energy commodities in Iran has finally begun.  President Ahmadinejad stated: “At this stage, we don’t want to free prices, rather we are going to regulate and reform them.”  How regulated will this new system be? Iranians with private cars get a monthly ration of about one full Iranian tank of […]

  • Pseudo-Privatization in the Islamic Republic: Beyond the Headlines on Iran’s Economic Transformation

    When discussing the current state of Iran’s economy, commentators, activists, politicians, and the U.S. government all seem to agree on the massive role played by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  Stanford University Professor Abbas Milani told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, D.C. in June 2010 that this “military junta” controls “minimally […]

  • Iranian Sociology and Its Discontents

    I recently returned from the quadrennial International Sociology Association’s World Congress held in Gothenburg, Sweden.  It’s kind of like the World Cup of sociology.  There I sat in on a session organized by the Iranian Sociology Association, where a few presenters, including its president Hossein Serajzadeh, discussed the state of social science in Iran.  I […]

  • Are the Iranian Poor a Bunch of Welfare Queens?

    The picture we usually get of the Iranian poor in the media is one of two extremes: the wretched of the earth, or the equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens.”  (If you remember, Reagan attacked the meager US welfare system by inventing a group of people who did not even exist: pink-Cadillac-driving, children-producing, unwilling-to-work black […]

  • Poverty: A Political Football in Iran among Rival Factions

    Iran is not going to the 2010 World Cup, but there is another football being kicked around in the domestic Iranian media: the extent of poverty in Iran. Last month, the Statistical Center of Iran reported that 70 percent of Iranians earn less than a monthly income of $450 for a household of five.  This […]