“Better buy now,” advised the rice merchant in Tehran.
The retired factory guard took him up on the advice, buying 900 pounds of the stuff to feed his extended family for the next 12 months.
“As I was gathering my money,” the retiree told The New York Times, he got a phone call. “When he hung up, he told me prices had just gone up by 10%. Of course, I paid. God knows how much it will cost tomorrow.”
Iran’s currency, the rial, collapsed 40% last week under the pressure of Western sanctions and homegrown blundering. We’re not sure if Iran is in hyperinflation, as Cato Institute researcher Steve Hanke asserted in Friday’s 5 Min. Forecast, but at the very least they’re on the cusp.
Austrian economists describe three stages of inflation. In the first stage, people still hang onto their money, expecting prices to come down. In the second stage, people part with their money to stock up on goods before prices rise again. In the final hyperinflationary stage, people buy anything they can get their hands on — even if they don’t need it — because the goods are more valuable than the currency.
As we said on Thursday, Iran today is looking more and more like Iran during the 1978-79 revolution. Now there’s corroboration from someone who lived through those days.
“The new government wanted to prevent flight capital from leaving the country,” recalls Chicago-based derivatives specialist Janet Tavakoli, who married an Iranian while in college.
“In the panic to leave the country with some of their wealth,” she wrote in her 1998 book Credit Derivatives, “citizens found that although there was an official exchange rate of 7 tomans (10 rials) to the U.S. dollar, there was no means to convert money. Banks were closed much of the time. The government put a further restriction on conversion of currency. Citizens could take only $1,000 in U.S. currency out of the country and could take only a suitcase of clothing. The idea was to prevent citizens from taking valuable carpets, now labeled national protected works of art, out of the country.”
“Before a currency goes into free fall,” she writes now at Huffington Post, “its value can be chipped away while a distracted population fails to notice that the currency buys cheaper-quality clothing and less food in a package at a grocery store… That’s the current situation with the U.S. dollar.”
Iran, she says, is far beyond that stage. Where it leads this time, we have no idea… but it’s nowhere good.
Addison Wiggin is the executive publisher of Agora Financial, LLC, a fiercely independent economic forecasting and financial research firm. He's the creator and editorial director of Agora Financial's daily 5 Min. Forecast and editorial director of The Daily Reckoning. Wiggin is the founder of Agora Entertainment, executive producer and co-writer of I.O.U.S.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, the 2009 Critics Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature, and was also shortlisted for a 2009 Academy Award. He is the author of the companion book of the film I.O.U.S.A.and his second edition of The Demise of the Dollar, and Why it's Even Better for Your Investments was just fully revised and updated. Wiggin is a three-time New York Times best-selling author whose work has been recognized by The New York Times Magazine, The Economist, Worth, The New York Times, The Washington Post as well as major network news programs. He also co-authored international bestsellers Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt with Bill Bonner.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Federal Reserve, currency in circulation is up $72.5 billion in the last year - which equates to $234 for every man, woman and child in America. And after rifling through his wife's purse yielded fruitless results, The Mogambo Guru has launched an all-out investigation to find his share. Read on...
With so much turmoil and political strife throughout the world, it can be difficult to realize how bright the future of technology is. Luckily, Stephen Petranek hasn't lost sight of that. Today, he describes seven important stories that will shape the future... and how a few savvy investors can make a killing in the process. Read on...
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk. John Goodman explains why this is such a dangerous proposition...
The biotech industry has dominated the market so far this year; and early investors in this sector have practically won the lottery. But with such an incredible run up, could this bull market be nearing exhaustion? Greg Guenthner investigates, and offers some sage advice for investors willing to take a chance. Read on...
Generally speaking, gold miners are bad businesses. They bury perfectly good cash in the ground and tend to issue lots of shares just to stay afloat. So when one comes along that actually turns out to be a good business, it's important to take note. Chris Mayer has found just such a company. Read on...