“It’s time to broaden the war to other fronts,” enthuses an unsigned editorial at Bloomberg View.
The editors are speaking of the U.S. sanctions against Iran… and they’re not using the word “war” metaphorically.
Let’s dive in… our question today is how will it impact your portfolio… and your wallet.
“A hidden and heavy war on a planetary scale,” is how Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the sanctions when he spoke to the United Nations last month.
“He’s right,” say the Bloomberg editors. “and the Iranian rial’s death spiral is the first clear sign that we’re on a path to victory.”
The economic meltdown there is all good, they say: The 50% drop in oil exports over the last year, an unofficial inflation rate of 70% and an unofficial unemployment rate of 35%.
(Johns Hopkins economist Steve Hanke says it’s even worse: He estimates Iranian inflation runs 70% per month.)
The protests, put down so brutally by the cops last week? They’re all good, says Bloomberg: “Sanctions are a long game, and the objective isn’t to starve the increasingly restive Iranian people but to convince them that their leaders no longer have their best interests at heart.”
Thus do the editors seek to tighten the screws: “targeting the entire Iranian energy sector, making it even harder for companies to sell any nonhumanitarian commercial goods to Iran and seeking to deplete or freeze the regime’s remaining foreign currency reserves.”
Hmmm… for a mainstream outlet that millions of people rely on for financial guidance, they’re doing a good job leading us by the nose into a night of breaking glass. As Hazlitt and Bastiat before him have shown, war is a boon for some… but a disaster for everyone else.
“Don’t be surprised to hear as an additional argument,” writes 28-year CIA veteran and Georgetown professor Paul Pillar providing us with our 5 Min. forecast for the day, “that it would be a mistake to let up the pressure on Iran… at a time when the mullahs’ regime seems to be teetering and there is hope for being rid of that regime once and for all.
“Resistance to any lessening of sanctions as part of a negotiated agreement with Iran on the nuclear question has, unfortunately, already been strong,” Pillar says of Washington’s negotiation position.
That is, the Americans refuse to take yes for an answer.
At root, are the sanctions meant to influence the regime or to topple it? It can’t be both, Pillar says: “Holding out hope that sustained pressure will hasten regime change in this case represents a bad bet.”
“Even if regime-change-wishers had a better bet to make,” he adds, “they need to think hard about what they are wishing for. Much of what they don’t like about Iran is not unique to the Islamic Republic and would continue under any imaginable successor regime.
“That includes the current nuclear program, which began under the shah and has broad public support. It also includes many other things, including opposition to Israeli policies in the region.”
Meanwhile, ordinary Iranians suffer still more.
“Iranian police officers moved to arrest unlicensed currency dealers and increase patrols in the center of the capital on Monday,” reports The New York Times, “in order to prevent unofficial trading from disrupting new government-imposed rates of exchange for the national currency, the rial…
“Many businessmen said they did not know what to charge for their products, because of uncertainty over the foreign exchange rates.”
“How can we sell enough to pay our debts?” a clothing seller pleaded to a Times reporter. “I have no customers. I will go broke.”
We’re witnessing another historic example of a currency in collapse. If you’re keeping score at home, you’ve certainly got Weimar and Zimbabwe. Now add Iran to your list. The real question for you is does it matter if it’s historic in speed… when it’s the money in your own pocket? The U.S. dollar has lost 82% of its value since 1971 alone. Apart from spontaneous campsites in city parks a year ago, Americans have hardly taken to the streets…