September 18, 2019

Iran’s Top Banker Is Dismissed in Shake-Up as U.S. Sanctions Take a Toll

Iran’s Top Banker Is Dismissed in Shake-Up as U.S. Sanctions Take a Toll

“Iran has had a very large shock to the economy in the last few months. That’s the Trump shock,” he said. “You just can’t have people in there who expected this not to happen.”

Mr. Rouhani’s announcement of the central bank change at a cabinet meeting appeared to reflect his concession that such steps were needed to counter the criticism. Mr. Seif’s replacement, Abdolnaser Hemmati, a former economics professor, banker and insurance official, had been designated as Iran’s next ambassador to China before he was abruptly summoned from Beijing for the new job.

PressTV, an official Iranian news outlet, said Mr. Rouhani had described Mr. Hemmati as “an experienced banker and insurer, with good manners, high spirits and strong capabilities, recommending all members of the government to cooperate with him.”

Precisely how Mr. Hemmati intends to slow or halt the fall in the rial’s value remains unclear.

It took about 30,000 rials to buy $1 when Mr. Seif took over in 2013. Now it costs more than 90,000 to buy $1. By some estimates, Iranians have taken nearly $60 billion out of the country in the past few years.

“People don’t think holding rials is the best way of preserving their savings,” Mr. Salehi-Isfahani said.

The central bank shake-up came as Iran dismissed any prospect of talking with Mr. Trump, who on Tuesday appeared to keep open the possibility of negotiating a new agreement with Iran that he called “a real deal,” two days after he threatened Mr. Rouhani in an apocalyptic Twitter message.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, said negotiations with the United States would never happen “under the shadow of threats,” PressTV reported.

“The United States should not bite off more than it can chew and should know its place in this era, and make further efforts to understand Iran’s status, dignity and role,” Mr. Qassemi was quoted as saying.

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