The transition team of Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rouhani was busy last week lowering expectations for a quick economic recovery, saying that things are far worse than they had thought.
At the same time, the outgoing economy minister was briefing Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei with a rosy picture.
Politics aside, it is hard to exaggerate the difficulty Rouhani faces in turning Iran’s economy around, especially without some relief from the international sanctions.
The Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration stopped publishing national income data in 2008 as part of the annual balance sheet of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), placing in doubt the most important indicator – the rate of economic growth.
Last week, the CBI announced a rate of inflation of 35.9 percent for the Iranian month that ended on Jun. 21, averaging the increase in the consumer price index over two 12-month periods.
In reality, the index had increased by 50 percent during the last 12 months.
Government reports have shown unemployment to be rather steady in the 11-12 percent range. This provided an image of a stable jobs situation while the government’s own survey data indicated rising unemployment.
Iran’s last two censuses of 2006 and 2011 show a substantial increase in the unemployment rate of prime-age (20-54) workers from 11.5 to 15.4 percent. For obvious reasons, these figures were not part of the economy minister’s report to the Supreme Leader.