March 19, 2019

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Iran’s Economic Crisis Drags Down the Middle Class Almost Overnight

Iran’s Economic Crisis Drags Down the Middle Class Almost Overnight
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Mr. Taymouri, saying it was best to let his money — or lack of it — do the talking, sat down and calculated the financial calamity that had befallen the family in the past year. Their monthly income fell from 50 million rials, or about $1,400, a year ago to 10 million rials, or $90, at the current heavily devalued rate.

“If someone had ever told me I would one day live like this, I would’ve laughed,” Mr. Taymouri said bitterly, before falling silent. Finally, his wife spoke.

“I’m not really that sad, because we are not alone,” she said. “It’s happening to so many people.”

Mr. Taymouri attributed the fall in the currency to speculators as well as the government “for just having stood by.” Others blame Mr. Trump.

“It’s really because of Trump,” said Nasim Marashi, the 29-year-old author of a best-selling book, “Autumn Is the Last Season.” The book, on the lives of three middle-class young women in Tehran, has had 35 print runs in four years. “He left the nuclear agreement, not Iran.”

Iran, with a population of about 80 million, has long had a large and thriving middle class, covering roughly everyone from bus drivers to lawyers and doctors, and earning an average of $700 a month in local currency, according to government officials. That income was frequently padded by unreported side businesses in the country’s large black market and government subsidies that lowered the cost of utilities, food and gasoline.

Politically quite influential, Iran’s middle class has consistently favored candidates like the current president, Hassan Rouhani, who support better relations with the West. But seldom have they been under as much economic pressure as they are today. Recently at least two people have been hanged after they were convicted in highly publicized trials for manipulating markets.

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