Friday, July 1, 2011

Galileo's Curse

by Amir Taheri

To deny facts of the past is more difficult than making outlandish claims in the present. The western press has as long as I can remember classified the Iranian economy as in a "destructive downhill spiral". Statements of deep recession, stagnation and utter self-implosion have also been written to describe this economy of 70 plus million. Much coverage and reference was devoted in the last year to bleak reports from the IMF and the WTO on Iran's economy. (Un)strangely enough, when two weeks ago a delegation from the IMF visited Iran and after reviewing the books retracted its prior weak assessment of Iran's economy, there was little to no coverage. The IMF did not just adjust its assessment of Iran's 2009-2010 economy, it flat out praised Iran's current path and future potential. Having originally claimed that Iran's economy had near 1% growth in 2009 they readjusted it to 3.5% growth in hindsight. This notwithstanding that oil prices last year were down from the year before. They further went to say that, "The mission commended the authorities for the early success in the implementation of their ambitious subsidy reform program." Inflation was also brought down from 25.4% to 12.4% even though prices had increased at time as high as 700%.

I myself have now officially lived in Iran for 6 months. I don't see a country that is self-imploding, or in recession or any of the other terms that are used by most of the major papers. I even studied business and economics, so I should be able to see some of the signs of an economy in bad shape. What I do see for my own eyes are people living, spending money more than I have ever seen in my life in the West, and a society that is more capitalistic than many western countries. Although gas is between $1.60-$2.80 a gallon a far cry from just recent memory when it was 40 cents a gallon, the streets are clogged. In my city there is a popular street where the young come to cruise for dates. They do this Iranian style, by driving their gas-guzzlers up and down the street until finding a suitable match, sometimes hours. With gas prices almost 300% higher, surprisingly you see no less traffic on this street. I see average earning families putting their kids in private and expansive schools prior to even reaching high-school or college when costs really add up. I see an incredible number of foreign cars on the streets that cost a pricy 100% extra due to import taxes. And no these are not crony government officials or drug dealers driving these high-end cars. They are mostly business people who run restaurants, shops, and even hair salons. I see with my own eyes, construction everywhere. No section of any city I have visited has been immune to this expansion. Large public works like metros, highways, and bridges compete with privately funded and even bigger and higher hotels, apartments, and shopping malls. In September Shiraz will get the largest mall in the world according to number of shops; 2500! Tabriz is expanding with private money in all directions and is set to start construction on the largest hotel complex with story reach of 66 floors. Mashhad with an influx of over 20 million pilgrims each year (more than Mecca) has more ongoing hotel, mall, and public works projects than I have time to list. The capital Tehran has recently opened the world's largest revolving restaurant in its Milad tower. A meal for one person will set you back $160. The restaurant itself pays a whopping $300,000 monthly rent.

I ask rhetorically, how can this economy be in a spiral for so many years (31) and attain some of the positions it has now? Iran today has reached the 17th largest economy (GDP PPP). There are projections that this will further increase to 12th in 5 years. Non-oil exports have reached over $30 Billion last year from a mere $3 Billion not too long ago. How can this economy be in such a recession and yet be recently ranked in the top 15 auto producing countries? (Un)strangely enough, it has NOT been offered a position in the G20 (top 20 world economies). The time will again come when facts become just too apparent to deny for its face value. To say that the story of Iran's economy is told with hints of politics is an understatement. History is filled with such stories. Galileo's claim that the planets revolve around the sun versus the earth took a few hundred years to be accepted as fact. I only hope the more obvious question doesn't take that long!

Editor’s Note: Amir Taheri is one of the authors of Uskowi on Iran. His weekly columns appear here on Fridays.


Anonymous said...

Amir it is always a delight to read your factual observations. My impression of Iran's domestic situation and economy based on first-hand observations is simliar. Iran's economy is doing better than anyone else in the region and its national debt is non-existent. It has some of the most robust FOREX reserves and domestic consumption and standard of living is rising along with a pretty much world class infrastructure development.

Part of the reason for the relatively high inflation is the expansion in M1 (cash money supply in consumer hands). The same is happening in fast growing India and other high-growth economies. I do believe that the government needs to pay more attention to employment genreration for the large number of university graduates entering the labour market every year. However, the population growth has now stabilized and the pressure should subside.

Another interesting fact is the very rapid expansion of Iranian non-oil manufaturing sector. Iran now produces over 1.3 million vehicles per year and that is larger than the US owned Canadian asssembly plants where cars are only assembled from kits. Iran is also blessed with food security and is a net exporter of staples as yield per acre has increased due to new technologies.

Iran Khodro on the other hand has been very innovative with new robust technology needed for Iranian and developing world conditions. Iran today has the largest robotic manufaturing in West Asia, and most are high-tech Japanese models with higher productivity. Anway, the success of Iranian economy can also be attributed to the hard-working and industrious psyche of the population. Iran has many high-risk taking entreprenuers and large diaspora who are now contributing substantially to Iranian progess. The number of scientific/medical publications and conferences is another indicator of R&D rise.

Anyway, your article is factual and thought provoking about Iran's natural advantages and an increasingly educated workforce. The successes in foreign policy are not small either. I am sure that Iran is on a trajectory as great power, despite all the wishful thinking of its largely impotent enemies. The ill-advised US/Zionist sanctions regime has hurt the deadbeat US economy more than Iran, since now economic and geo-strategic power lies in Asia and Iran is perfectly poised to tap into this great growth region. Iran's trade with its neighbours is also growing rapidly. I would not be surprised to see Iran in the top ten economies within a generation.

Anonymous said...

I just don't believe this guy. The old Amir taheri was a stooge of Shah and this one has turned up to be a stooge of this establishment.

I will go into details of this guy's claims and counter claims. Suffice to say that I just came back from iran this week after visting it for two months and everything that this guy claims is fantasy. He is painting a picture of rosy economy where inflation is ruuning at 12.5% (artificaly calculated to include price indexes that have nothing to do with average consumer index fabricated as an official of Bank Melli told me) and there is no recession. Nonsense I say. There is recession as trade in property has ceased and the average trader is crying for business. There has been a spiraling number of banks of differnt names, Sina, TAK, Tourism, AK etc that have filled up the whole high street plus finincial instituitions that have sprung all over places. These banks have been set up as the average Iranian does not trust the economy and investment in stocks and shares (yes we heard from Mr Taheri how stock market is blossiming a whilr back)and has no other choice to put the money in the bank that pays 25 to 25% interest. Most of these banks are set up by Guards and other cronies that live on selling foreign exchange at inflated prices to the public and traders.

With regard to earnings an average government employees makes around 50 to 600 thousand tomans every month say $500 and practically cannot survive on it. So corruption is rampant and you cannot do anything straight without a back hander. A kilo of butter cost 10,000 tomans and if you buy two kilos of apple and a kilo of cucumber you pay between 8-10K tomans at a price of 1150-1180 tomans per dollar. The price of red meat is more expensive in Iran compared to anywhere in Europe and sadly to say that people have become mor dishonest to each other than ever. Mr Amiri states that people are crusing up and down in the street to impress opposite sex. Well these are the lucky ones that can afford it. Otherwsise they walk up and down the street aimlessly as the society cannot prove any meaningfull passtime (including TV, guym etc) for these people. Sadly life has become making day night and night day.

The government do not care. I have seen guys walking with earrings! My brother's teenage daughter told me that as long as people don't get involved in politics they are left alone!. So here we go. Mr Taheri talks about $160-170 meal price but that is for rich elite of this regime. In the old days you had rich filling streets of Europe and nowadays the same crowd have Dubai as their Europe. The country is filled in with cheap rubbish imports from Turkey. The wrong policies of this governemt has made this once proud nation dependent on ****holes like Turkey! It is very sad.

The governemt has increased the price of utilities and to compensate for that cash handounds to the tune 2.4-2.7 Billion dollars every month is used from oil money to pay $40-$50 dollars per head to lower income people. The irony is that what can one buy with $40-$50 dollars? Possibly 2 kilos of red meat!

BTW you cannot access this site plus any foreign news site from Iran as they are filtered!! Unless of course you buy and use VPN. I guess Mr Taheri will put this one as part of conspiracy theory. I do not know which West this many is taling about when he says that people in Iran are spending more that West. I guess by peple in Iran he is NOT referring to an average Iranian.

Of course we should always believe that all World financial institutions including IMF, World Bank and all major central banks are against us. In the old days that any ills in Iran were blamed on Brits and Russia is echoed today blaming US ans Zionists. It is about time we start blaming ourselves for our ills than others.

Amir Taheri said...

Dear Anon 1:33, thanks as always for the kind words. I wish your facts would be reported in the western press as well ;)

Dear anon 4:01,

I am no ones stooge, this government has enough issues which are regularly covered. I am pointing out facts and politics as they refer to Iran's economy. Your rant, seems more emotional than based on fact supporting research. While the economy has problems, it is no where near the picture that is painted in the western press. Please name me another country that has a booming stock exchange and multiple new banks openings and is classified as in recession.

I am fascinated with the argument that is always given by Iranians regarding "meat" and how this single food source is aller sign of bad times. Iranians classify lamb meat as all meats and think it is their birth right to have bellow average prices for "lamb meat". There are of course cheaper prices for beef, chicken and even ostrich meat! But since Iranians prefer lamb, prices stay high. I do not take this as a sign that Iran's economy is in recession! Spend some time in major European cities and you will hear quite a few Iranian tour groups visiting as I have seen sitting in cafes across Europe. If you don't belive me just open any Iranian newspaper and you will see the add for tours to Euruope. The Dubai of today is not the Dubai of the Shah's time, hence more Iranians visiting now than before.

I'll finally end with, I am not an elitist, my family is not wealthy, and we ARE an average family. We are a family of teachers, shop owners, public servants. My single male cousin recently bought an expansive Camary Toyota with savings and a loan from his privately held company.

Anonymous said...

@ anon July 1, 2011 4:01 AM

My friend personally attacking a respected fellow Iranian and nationalist like Amir Taheri does not give credence to your maturity or intellect. Amir is objectively stating FACTS that any sane person who has visited Iran or is living there will agree with. The costs of food are going up everywhere, even in the US and Canada which I visited recently high food prices are a big problem for the middle-class or poor people. Iran's food inflation is not that high comparatively and there is NO STARVATION like most of the developing world or even EU. Just check out the economic implosion in EU, Greece and the PIIGS.

Also insulting Turkey is very juvenile, Turkey is one of the fastest growing economies of the world. It also produces first rate consumer goods that are even found in European, Australian and global markets, particularly white goods and textiles. Turkey also has a increasing manufacturing sector that attracts higher EU and western investment, since it is a NATO member and part of the US club.

Iran should be given extra credit for progressing without anyone's aid, assistance or charity. Just travel a bit and try visiting the neighbours, all true basketcases from Afghanistan to Iraq, Egypt and beyond. The petro-pimp Arabs of the Persian Gulf can't even produce a screw driver or change a car type without foreign help. While Iran is launching satellites into space and working on nano-technology. So be fair.

Compared to Turkey (about similar population of 75 million), Iran is blessed with abundant natural resources, a bigger land mass and better educated people. The pathetic US/Zionist inspired "sanctions" in fact helped Iran with the rational policy of "Khod Kafei" (self-sufficiency). Iranian manufacturers are learning as our economy evolves. BTW, Iranian steel production ranks in the top ten also. I can flood you with real facts but for people harbouring malice for Iran that would be a wasted effort.

Please learn to respect other points of view, based on real FACTS and not attack respected Iranians just out of misplaced frustrations. Whatever our political leanings it is an undeniable fact that Iran has progressed remarkably in the past 32 years, despite all odds and the impediments imposed by our enemies. I have not even mentioned the $800 billion (present value) of the damages inflicted on Iranzamin by crazy Saddam. So let's count our blessings and be kind in understanding different viewpoints.

Give credit to Amir and Nader for giving an opportunity to discuss Iranian issues in an objective measured tone rather than hurling insults. I would Amir and other Iranians without an axe to grind would post more on the ground reports based on FACTS.

Anonymous said...

I can confirm this article.

Well written and I know it to be true because of the big businesses we do with Iran.

We are satisfied.

Who we are ?.. US Patriots.

Anonymous said...

to Annon July 1, 2011 6:04 AM and Amir Taheri I guess you are both the same.

Babbling about steel production is not the issue. The world is filled with glutted steel and Iran's share of steel market (assuming that Iran is exporting steel) is non -existant.

Objectively assesing Iran's position (as much as we all Iranians like to see it flourishing) is both factual and realistic! The sad fact is the gap between the elite rich that Taheri is talking about and the average Iranians who has to live with $500 per month (assuming he/she is not going to eat red meat).

The expanding number of high street banks and similar institutions is not sign of a healthu economy but rather a deviant economy. In an average European Country you have few high street banks. Contrast this to Iran that you will not be suprprised to see 40 bank braches of 15-20 types in one street. The investment in Stock exchange is non existant and the investment in real estate is very weak. If you go to bank with 20,000 dollars (roughly 20 Millions tomans) it will take three hours or more to count the money! So the banking system helps people to transfer the money via cheques or inter-bank cheques. Try this take $2000 dollars to any of these banks and open a dollar account! Ask for your money anytime later and they will tell you they have not got the dollars and the only way they can pay you back the money is by giving it in rials at far less rate compared to open market. Bingo there we go.

An objective assessment does not mean mental blockage about Iran's problems! We all love to see our Country flourish but in a democtratic society (as opposed to Iran as you cannot access this site without VPN), one should make factual assesment of the situation so let us put bullshit aside.

Currently one cannot take items valued at more than $5000 out of the country. Virtually every single bank is under indirect sanctions (whether it is unjust that is another matter). So from an Iranian bank you cannot send money abroad and receive otherwise. Even major banks like Saderat etc are made to use exchange (Sarrafs) at exuberent prices that charge extra for transfer or receive money. Sure let us blane US, UK, Zionists and for that matter everyone else. These are factual information and unlike what Taheri states there is nothing emotional about them.

With regard to local manufacturing, the policy of the governemt has allowed cheap imports to overrun local manufacturing. There are cheap Turkish carpets all over places in a country that is net producer of carpets! With regard to cars the country is filled with Peugeot, Renault and KIA local builds. Not many people buy Samand as they are used by Taxi drivers. The most luxurious foreign car is Lexus (Toyota) and Hyunda the South Korean car (excluding few Mercs and BMWs). The four wheel drive Hyunda is hardly seen in Western Europe and they are priced at 25-30K dollards. The same car in Iran is priced (I have been told) around 70K dollars with 90% added tax! So there we go a luxury car for Iranian elites. Sad to say that driving regulations is not observed by many.

There are some technological advances that are welcome. The transport system is good and cheap Bused operate on pre-paid cards at around 10 cent per journey. There are ATM machines all over places even in small towns that come very handy.

Recently when I was there Iran devalued the currency by 11% that increased the price of CCY accordingly. The idea was to discourage people from buying foreign product and indirectly help local manufacturing. The problem is that most local manufacturers are in dire need of foreigh currency for raw materials etc and the policy of this goverment has not helped them in anyway. Besides most salaries for workers in private companies are months behind.

We can either ignore these facts and assume that the economy is flourishing accepting the rants from Taheri or do a realistic assement of the situation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of July 1, 2011 9:04 AM. The reason Iranian goods cannot compete ith the same from abroad is the higher unit cost of these locally built items taking into account the indirect and expensive way the local manufacturers need to secure the foreign raw nmaterial often with added cost due to lack of letter of credit and insurance plus unfavourable labor laws and the difficulty in clearing the customs etc (unless you are a known face or have to pay bribes).

This assesment by the author does not have much value as much as we like to believe in fantasy.

Anonymous said...

9:04 anonymous, Iran does not need to export steel because it has such an internal demand for it.

Having $5k caps on money transfers is standard practice across the developing world to prevent a collapse in the currency.

A devaluation in the currency is not a bad thing, Iran has every imaginable resource available and the only reason that local manufacturers buy overseas is because it is cheaper. This is due to the fact that resource extraction requires lots of initial investment which is yet to be made.

Making foreign imports more expensive will increase investments in Iran and thus will reduce the need to import resources that Iran has plenty of already.

Iran's economy is anything but great, but Amir Jan is only posting facts, the fact is Iran's economy is performing well and there is no need to disregard the positive actions undertaken by the government.

reader said...

To anon @ July 1, 2011 4:01 AM

By being unduly disrespectful to Amir you may have emotionally satisfied yourself but you have also belittled and cheapened the strength of your (otherwise) valid counter argument.

Anonymous said...

Is the author the same Amir Taheri that claimed that Khomeini has 'allegedly' said:"We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world." And in 2007, Rudy Giuliani campaign repeatedly used Taheri's quote, which was also later repeated by Podhoretz on the PBS NewsHour, and by Michael Ledeen in National Review, surprised Bakhash and many others, who had never heard it before and found it out of character for Khomeni.Mr. Bakhash traced the quotation back to a book by Taheri, and reported that "no one can find the book Taheri claimed as his source in the Library of Congress or a search of Farsi (Persian) works in libraries worldwide. The statement itself can't be found in databases and published collections of Khomeini statements and speeches." If It is the same person who wrote this article, Mr. Taheri has a tarnished reputation for telling the truth and is more known for "made up" stories and his articles are suspect at best for being factual.

Anonymous said...

This so called Friday post is based I guess on IMF Press Release from the following site:

As an author it helps to quote references and links where necessary. It is common sense.

Anyway part of the article states and I quote:

"An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. Dominique Guillaume visited the Islamic Republic of Iran from May 28 to June 9, 2011 to conduct discussions for the Article IV Consultation. Article IV Consultations are an important part of the IMF’s regular surveillance activity with all member countries and are usually conducted every year. At the conclusion of the visit, the mission issued the following statement:

“The mission reviewed recent economic developments and revised its macroeconomic estimates and projections in light of new data and discussions with the authorities. Real GDP growth recovered to an estimated 3.5 percent in 2009/10 despite the drop in oil prices, reflecting strong non-oil growth and an exceptional agriculture crop. The positive growth momentum continued in 2010/11. The authorities’ monetary policy successfully brought down annual average inflation from 25.4 percent in 2008/09 to 12.4 percent in 2010/11. Gross external reserves also remain comfortable with improved prospects for the external sector on the back of higher oil prices."

This basically means that by cutting subsidies Iran is following the correct path. The quoted inflation rate does not add up as the recent devaluation of rial has not done much to help Iran's economy.

According to Wikipedia:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts Iran's economy will grow 1.6% in 2010 and 0% in 2011, from 1.1% in 2009 and 1% in 2008 and 7.8% in 2007.[39][40] Through the successful implementation of the Iranian Economic Reform Plan (targeted energy subsidy plan in particular), the IMF predicts Iran's economy to grow at a rate of 8% by 2014/2015.[41][42]
Projections by the Economist in 2010 place Iran's nominal GDP at $701.9 billion in 2013.[43][44] The Economist's 2010-revised projections for GDP growth in Iran are: 3.0% (2010); 3.0% (2011); 2.9% (2012); 3.1% (2013); 2.9% (2014); 2.9% (2015).

So as predicted Iran's GDP growth is going to be around 3% for much of next 5 years. This is hardly anything to ride home about.

We also need to consider the paper published recently and discussed in this site about the fact that 40% of Iranians live below poverty line and 23% of them live below absolute poverty line. So I am not sure where Mr Taheri is getting all these figures from. His six months apparent observation in Iran include the building of the biggest shopping mall in the World in Shiraz and a massive hotel in Tabriz for tourists. The fact is that building the biggest shopping center does not make sense in a country where 40% of population live below poverty line and building such large hotel in Tabriz does not also make sense as there are hardly any tourists whishing to visit Iran!

This article of Mr Taheri has very little value. In the next article on Friday he may be kind enough to put his investigative journalism towards the percentage of Iran's economy controlled directly and indirectly by the Guards including those Bonyads that pay no taxes and are answerable to no one! The reader would be excused to make little or no difference between Bonyad Mostasafan and shah era Bonyad Pahlavi, both tools of their respective regimes. After thirty odd years regrettably nothing has changed!

Amir Taheri said...

Reader, thanks for your comment! I appreciate that we can have different opinions and still respect each others views!

Anonymous said...

Mr Taheri is right. Islamic Republic of Iran with the Mullah's and the Supreme leader's divine roll will become the ultimate economic and military super power in the world in a few years time. Iranians under this regime will reach Nirvana !!

Anonymous said...

Great Post

Anonymous said...

It's one of the ironies that a developing country needs to shield itself from the global market to grow. This is what Japan and Korea did for example, in succession after WW2. Iran, by its own will and by sanctions, was shielded and thus grew.

It's the countries who engage in completely free trade with the west who suffer.

Anonymous said...

I liked the article and even redistributed it on my facebook page with many positive reactions from my foreign friends

Wonderful article and it matches my experiences when I visited the country last winter.

Anonymous said...

Amir jan,

This is the second article penned by you that I've ever read, the first being your excellent satirical piece which appeared here last week (I highly recommend it to those who missed it) and my admiration for you and your writing is already quite high.

My advice to you dear compatriot is to keep posting your objective and honest observations of Iranian current affairs here and don't let for a moment the malicious, Iran hating BA$%ar@s get you down. You are doing a very important job and I'm already looking forward to next Friday.

Last but not least, a big thank you to Nader for publishing your articles.

Anon @4.37

I assume that you are not Iranian. The name "Amir" and the surname "Taheri" are very common in Iran. I should hazard a guess that there are probably hundreds if not thousands of people called "Amir Taheri" in Iran.

However, if you are Iranian, you owe an apology to the esteemed author for even thinking he might be the other Amir Taheri, that malicious lying son of........

Amir Taheri said...

Anon 2:20am, thanks for your comment, good to know our foreign friends can also get a positive image of Iran at times ;)

Anon 6:48am, wow! I am truly humbled! Thanks for your comment and advice. I look forward to writing next weeks Iran piece.

By the by, is NOT filtered in Iran as I check it regularly as I travel throughout the city on my ipad.

Anonymous said...

-----Mr Taheri is right (Iran) will become the ultimate economic and military super power in the world in a few years time.----

maybe a few hundred years,and maybe
not this particular world of course, but perhaps on whatever planet that person came from.

on this world Iran is militarily weak and has an economy that has problems. $30billion in non-oil exports is not impressive on this planet.

as well, Iranian influence in the Middle East probably has peaked and Iran faces the possibility of active hostility from the GCC, a group that has the ability to inflict very real damage to Iran's economy.

Anonymous said...

Last bitte anon.

You live on your plant and leave us realists to solve our problems.

Just write this behind your ears.

Never again a Pahlavi like regime
Never a Rajavi like system
Never a puppet of superpowers

and always living with heads up and dying on its feet.. not like you living on its knees

I personally prefer the "Shipish" of akhunds than any pahlavi/Rajavi or someone who is endorsed by the west.

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Anonymous said...

Amir Tahei wrote:

"By the by, is NOT filtered in Iran as I check it regularly as I travel throughout the city on my ipad."

I am amazed at this guy being so philistine!

I respect Nader Uskowi and Paul Idone for their opinion and conquer that they are honest people but I do not know what to say about this guy.

FYI, Uskowi on Iran, Paywand news, Middle East newsline, CNN, BBC, and may other newssite are filtered in Iran unless one pays and uses VPN. The only news site that I believe could access from Iran were Reuters and PressTV.

Mr Uskowi

Can you please confirm or otherwise that your site is filtered in Iran through the usual internet please. Thanks

Amir Taheri said...

You are right, BBC, CNN, and Payvand are filtered, but as I said before is not filtered. Yahoo news, Reuters, CNBC, Fox, Skynews, even some Isreali newspapers I have encountered are indeed open. BBC and CNN were seen after the election as being shown with an agenda.

Anonymous said...

Amir Tahri,

With regard to accessing foreign site I am pretty sure this site plus many other Iranian news Sites including Payvand news are barred so do us a favour and stop being a complete wooly!

Mr Uskowi I gather knows that his site including blogs are barred but I guess he does not want to create headache.

Since you claim to know Economics, you may enlighten us given that u mentioned 12.5 percent inflation before, how comes the government is not letting CBI to publish inflation rates? Please spare us from blaming Iran's number one enemies. I am sure we are all fed up of the usual crap!

Anonymous said...

@ anon July 4, 2011 2:08 PM

So you would prefer the usual anti-Iran crap instead. I know it is difficult for some "Iranians" in the self-exiled diaspora to face the FACT that Islamic Republic is here to stay and is doing quite well despite the 33 year old wishful thinking and deluded mantra of its enemies. Do try to understand some basic economic facts though!

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that nobody has questioned HOW someone like Amir Taheri can be in Iran without the authorities having arrested him the first second he put his foot on Iran's soil? Having read his books, he has had a vast critique of the regime and that he is allowed to live there freely makes me think that there is something weird going on here...

Anonymous said...

This Amir Taheri is another crook much like the old fart Amir Taheri the. Chief editor of Keyhan during the last regime time.

The only difference is that this crook works for the current regime and cannot be trusted!

I am surprised someone like Nader Uskowi has given platform to this guy to express his verbal diarrhoea about Iran!

Anonymous said...

I am in totall agreement with this article. I can only confirm his findings.
I do not understand the desperate and frustrated reactions of some of you ladies or may be Gents.
The man simply said it all looks and feels fine in Iran.

For those of us who do travel to Iran, we know its the way the man described it(A.Taheri).

Believe what you want lool

Amir Taheri said...

Thanks last anon. I have stayed out of the discussion as I find it all so inflated. I have not endorsed a view, a party or a system. I, as you mentioned, only have made an observation. I don't understand really the name calling or anger.

Anonymous said...

Typical. There is alway an anon who put supports in favour the crook Taheri. Suddenly Amir Taheri responds and thanks last anon. Nice one. What is happening is Amir Taheri is impersonating as "anon".

If Amir Taheri is not a crook then he should explain to us what percentage of Iran's income is controlled by the guards. I am sure Amir Taheri can read this and respond in kind.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Taheri and Nader Jaan:
I think you owe an important clarification to the many readers of this post.

In the style of an old TV gameshow called "What is my line?", may we respectfully beg the answer to the question: "Will the real Amir Taheri please stand up?" So far the "Amir Taheri" of this Friday post has kept silence on this question as to whether he is the same Amir Taheri at Keyhan who also writes in New York Times or this is just a "co-incidence !". The post here seems to portray the writer as an economist. Is this his "line" of expertise?

[As there are many anonymous comments to this post you can refer to me as Azar... ]

Anonymous said...

I second the last anon. It would be interesting to know what percentage of Iran's net earrings is controlled by guards under disguise of bonyads?

Besides the guards having their own airports and customs they are creating these private banks like mushrooms to have currency at preferential rates thus being able to pay for foreign goods and selling currency at Market rates to traders who have to conduct their business through exchange/Sarrafs at very high rate. The loser is as usual the average man in Iran.

Anonymous said...

Mr Uskowi,

To have someone like This Amir Taheri who uniformly supports whatever the Iranian regime does (whether true or false) is an insult to objective reporting. Please get rid of this crony who I gather has recently joined the team.

I have no issue with other editors on this site. However, when one reads the usual crap (unreferenced and mostly erroneous) stuff from this guy, then I feel like reading PressTV garbage.

Apologies but I believe this site deserves better than this guy which by the sound of it has little or no clue about the realities of Iranian life. As he stated he stated he spent six months in Iran so I guess wherever he lives he does not have a gainful job except possibly living off hands out from the Iranian regime. Pretty sad

Anonymous said...

last anon,

it is u who uniformly rejects what Iran does.

as I said stop being such an arse !

Anonymous said...

Last Anon,

You must be a tosser who thinks that what the bozo Amir Taheri says is objective.

Get a life you tosspot!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Taheri,

This analysis is totally flawed. It states that "I ask rhetorically, how can this economy be in a spiral for so many years (31) and attain some of the positions it has now? Iran today has reached the 17th largest economy (GDP PPP). There are projections that this will further increase to 12th in 5 years."

I am happy to answer your question. In terms of per capita income, which is the real measure of well being, Iran ranks 72 in the world, just about were Costa Rica and Serbia are.  For a country with so much oil income this is pathetic.

Iran's per capita GDP has grown by only 1.6% per year since 1980, less than 1/4 of the real growth rates in similar economies. In the absence of 5 fold increase in the price of oil, Iran's per capita growth rate would have been close to zero.

For comparison, in 1980 Iran, Malaysia and South Korea had per capita GDPs of $2,400, $1,800 and $1,700, respectively. Today, their per capita GDPs are $5,900 for Iran, $8,600 for Malaysia and $23,000 for South Korea. Iran was richer than South Korea in 1980. Today, our income is only 1/4 of South Korea. 

If you wish to conduct rigorous economic analysis, you should use relevant facts and should educate yourself.


Amir Taheri said...


Not sure if you are an economist, but to measure an economy as a whole, GDP per capita is never used on its own. A more reliable indicator is overall GDP or even more-so GDP PPP. This is done as we are evaluating an economy AS A WHOLE than you must look at that indicator that describes it AS A WHOLE and thats GDP.

Now, ill tell you why using per capita as you have is misleading... As Iran underwent a baby boom in the 80s, the increase in the population skews the indicator. Iran's economy as a whole did increase substantially during the years that I mentioned. My argument in my article is that if we were to believe the western press's "31 year long economic depression in Iran" than Iran couldn't have physically achieved this growth.

I really don't understand the fascination with South Korea for Iranians, there are dozens of countries that had similar situations in the 80's with Iran, but South Korea which was an exception of rapid growth is always used by Iranians to say Iran is doing so awfully. In reality the Koreans have been very successful and hardworking. Yet we forget that almost 10 years of the time that South Korea had to expand, Iran spend almost a trillion dollars fighting a war.

Anonymous said...

Dear Amir,

I am afraid that you are wrong. Total GDP is a function of the size of a country and not how well off its citizens are. If the population of a country is growing at 5% and its total GDP is growing at 4% per cent, it means the government is doing a terrible job managing the economy because people are getting poorer.

For example, Norway is near the top in terms of per capita income while it is number 22 in terms of total GDP. Surely you are not arguing that Iranian people or Iran's economy is better off than Norway's. Total GDP is directly related to the size of the country. This is one factor that is almost entirely outside the control of the government. That is, outside population policies, there is nothing the government can do that would affect the size of the country. European Union has the largest GDP, but only because someone decided to add up the GDPs of its member countries. It is almost unheard of to use the absolute level of GDP as a measure of economic performance of a country. You would either use per capita income or the real growth rate in total GDP. Of course, per capita income has its own problems. For example, it does not take income inequality into account. Therefore, in most analysis per capita income or even better median income is used along with the gini coefficient (By the way, as I am sure you know, Iran has one of the highest gini coefficients, indicating it has one of the worst income distributions).

As for South Korea, I believe it is a very good example for Iran. Because it is resource poor country that has been able to become an economic power through sound economic and financial policies. Just imagine where Iran could have been with is enormous resources if its leaders had followed sound economic policies. Even if you ignore South Korea, how could you ignore Malaysia and a host of other countries who have pulled ahead of Iran through sound economic policies? Finally, how could you explain the real growth of 1.6% per year over a 30 year period, which is one of the worst track records for that period. I would recommend that you read the World Economic Outlook of the IMF to get a better appreciation of the damaging policies of the Iranian government.

By the way, I am an economic consultant for an international organization, and would be happy to recommend some books in this area, should you be interested.


Amir Taheri said...


You started your comment with my analysis is totally wrong... Yet if you read my article the entire premise was that the western press portrays the Iranian economy has in constant recession. By your own words you say that Iran's economy has grown 1.6% on average. So, economist or not, you have to agree that an economy in recession for over 30 years should be below where it was so many years ago...

Additionally, I am not of your opinion that data from the WB or the IMF is reliable. Due to the disconnect between these organizations and Iran, and the political nature of such information, I can not in good conscious hold much faith in their data.

If you are indeed someone who is affiliated with these or similar organizations than I am also hesitant in your views as well.

Please in the future refer to my post for what they were and not something that you want to draw out of them.

Anonymous said...


One last point regarding IMF and World bank. Iran is a member country of the two organizations and therefore these two organizations rely on the information provided by Iran central bank to perform their analysis. In cases were data is not available, they may use secondary sources. So blaming IMF or World Bank will not work.