The unnamed woman is one of countless Iranians who say their savings have been wiped out by the collapse of fraudulent businesses and unlicensed credit institutions in recent years. Economists are now pointing to the abrupt closure of these poorly regulated institutions as laying the foundation for the unrest that struck Iran starting in late December.
.. “Banks are shutting down without any kind of notice, and it’s creating a huge political and economic backlash at a local level,” said Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow on Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution.
.. it seems to have tapped into a deep sense of alienation and frustration, that people aren’t just demonstrating for better working conditions or pay, but insisting on wholesale rejection of the system itself.”
.. the average budget of Iranian households declined by 15 percent from 2007 — when the U.N. Security Council adopted some of its toughest sanctions on Iran — to 2016.
.. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who was reelected to a second term in May, has carried out a program of fiscal austerity. It has brought down inflation but hurt job growth
.. Rouhani has also imposed what Salehi-Isfahani called “regressive policies,” such as raising energy prices while shrinking cash transfers that the poor use to pay for essential items.
.. Other new policies have favored businesses and the middle class, whose members predominantly reside in the capital, Tehran
.. Iran has seen a “divergence in living standards (measured by per capita expenditures) between Tehran on one side and the rest of the country on the other
.. The budget envisioned steep cuts for cash subsidies to the poor, while increasing fees for things like vehicle registration and traveling abroad.
.. Rouhani’s budget was also notable because it was the first time the government made public the funds allocated to Iran’s wealthy religious foundations — as well as its powerful military and paramilitary forces.
.. The disclosure of an $8 billion budget for the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most influential security body, prompted sharp criticism from protesters who objected to government spending on Iranian involvement in regional wars, including in Iraq and Syria.
.. Religious foundations, many of which are tax exempt, also got a boost in the new budget, including, for example, a 20 percent increase for representatives of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, posted at Iran’s universities.
.. Rouhani sold the nuclear deal to Iranians as crucial for reviving the ailing economy. Iranians have been disappointed that growth has not been faster, including 74 percent who said in July that there had been no economic improvement as a result of the deal