These days, the drop in Iran’s stock index has intensified people’s anger at the government’s economic mismanagement, a phenomenon that continues despite political rivalries.
In this context, at the first hours of Monday, January 18, the stock index drop reached 1,158,345 units with a 28,346-unit decrease. Meanwhile, the stock market has experienced a drop of more than 80,000 units.
State-run media outlets have warned over the eruption of stockholders’ anger due to this financial failure. Siasat-e Rouz daily reacted to the stock market’s freefall and described it as “burning the people’s money.” In parallel with the news, a large number of stockholders who have lost their assets held a gathering in front of Tehran’s Bourse building.
“You have stolen our money and are boasting with it,” “Death to [President Hassan] Rouhani,” and “Death to the economic criminal,” chanted the protesters. Outraged people also downed the flag of the Tehran Stock Market and chanted the slogan: “Islamic casino is right here—in contrast to officials’ claims against gambling and betting.”
Furthermore, plundered people continued their protests in front of the Parliament (Majlis) on January 19. MPs affiliated with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s faction criticized the Rouhani administration in what Iran observers described as attempts to evade responsibility for Khamenei and themselves. This is while in his speech on November 18, 2019, Khamenei personally encouraged citizens to engage in stock market transactions. “The people should invest in the Bourse,” the Supreme Leader said.
Following the stockholders’ protests, Tehran Stock Market Chief Hassan Ghalibaf resigned. However, the resignation neither extinguished public ire nor political rivalries. In this respect, Ahmad Naderi, MP from Tehran, declared the Majlis’ plan for impeaching Economic and Financial Affairs Minister Farhad Dejpasand. “The Bourse’s scandal is at the top of the articles for impeachment,” Naderi said.
“Using TV Channels, the [Rouhani] administration encouraged the people to invest in the bourse and dragged people’s capitals to the governmental casino’s slaughterhouse. Today, the government should be held accountable,” the MP added.
Majlis Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf also expressed concern over further protests and the loss of “social capital.” Recently, high-ranking officials have time and again spoken about the erosion of the establishment’s social capital, which is considered an inverse admission to society’s volatile condition and upcoming protests.
“The 2021-22 budget bill removes parts of incomes, facilities, and the country’s resources from the people’s food basket, in addition to expanding financial disorder in the country. The Stock Market has experienced a sharp freefall and even the Refinery Fund that was severely advertised by the [Rouhani] administration has imposed a 44-percent disadvantage to its customers,” said the Majlis Speaker.
“We do not accept such a state in the Stock Market, and the administration must seriously be held accountable in this context. It is impossible to use official tribunes to incite the people to invest their capitals in the bourse. Then [the administration] harms ‘public trust’ and devaluates people’s assets with its mismanagement,” Ghalibaf added, claiming, “The Majlis cannot ignore such expanded disadvantages and cons of people in the bourse… The administration must revive ‘social capital’ and the people’s trust in the stock market as soon as possible.”
In his remarks, another MP from Tehran Delkhosh Abatari expressed concern over public anger. “My first note is about the bourse’s condition. Currently, a riot has taken place inside the country. Those people who had trusted in the Bourse Organization have fallen into challenges and dilemmas,” said Abatari.
Deputy Speaker Ali Nikzad announced, “The Majlis Economic Commission has summoned Economy Minister and the Stock Market chief at 12:30 pm. They are supposed to explain the bourse’s conditions. However, our dear people must know that those who had invited citizens to the bourse must be held accountable.”
Iranian officials previously boasted about investing in the stock market as a means to collect people’s assets. In fact, they sacrificed citizens’ capital to counter economic pressure and, in this context, they resorted to fabricated statistics.
At the time, even government-linked economists issued numerous warnings about the hollow stats and the bourse’s fragile conditions. However, the state in its entirety had intended to collect people’s assets at all costs.
On August 26, 2020, Aftab Yazd daily revealed that the money of people who had invested in the stock market was ‘evaporating.’ “The stock fell so deep that it even said goodbye to the index of 1.7 million, reaching 1.662, a subject that has instilled fear and panic in the hearts of shareholders – mostly newcomers – and many are trying to leave the market,” the daily added.
Moreover, the daily Keyhan, known as Khamenei’s mouthpiece, had exposed that after the emotional growth of the stock market in a five-month period, the stock market index had decreased by 20 percent, more than 400,000 units, in just two weeks.
“The stock market also experienced a relatively significant decline today. All the promises and actions of the government to return the market to a normal situation have not borne fruit, about 15 trillion rials [$65 million] have vanished. Now the situation that has arisen needs to be investigated and necessary action needs to be taken,” the daily had added.