Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Scandal of Privatization in Iran

Probably the worst thing that the Islamic Republic of Iran has done for its working people is to educate its young economists at "the most prestigious Western economics departments." The horror, the horror! It's not the Western fashion in clothing but economics that the IRI should have kept out, but, as Sohrab Behdad has argued, the idea of Islamic economics met its demise soon after its rise -- much like the idea of socialist economics, I may add.

Despite the resurgence of gharbzadegi in its economics, though, hardly any privatization worth its name has been going on in Iran: "a main buyer of government assets over the last decade has been the para-governmental sector, which includes state banks, government-linked investment and holding companies, religious foundations, and pension funds" (Mohammad Khiabani, "The Great Tehran Expo Privatization Scandal You've Never Heard Of").

That is largely thanks to the Western sanctions, I suspect. It is probably also thanks to the political culture of Iran. Get ten Iranians to speak up, and you'll probably get twenty contradictory opinions about how thing are and why they are as they are in Iran, at least about fifteen of which are conspiracy theories. Nothing changes very fast in a country like that.

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