The government of President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday approved the appointment of a 43-year-old economic functionary as Chairman of Central Bank of Iran (CBI).
Ali Salehababdi is now another younger member of Raisi’s team. He was during the revolution in Iran, which overthrew the monarchy and established the Islamic Republic.
Although Iran’s central bank does not have the independence that many other central banks around the world enjoy, its chairman can still have an input in economic decisions such as the extent of the money supply and interest rates.
Salehabadi, who was appointed as the first chairman of Iran’s securities and exchange commission when he was 28, has a PhD from Tehran University in “financial management” according to local media. He also held other positions in the quasi-governmental financial system, such as chairman of the state-owned Export Development Bank of Iran (EBDI) since 2014.
The bank was sanctioned by the United States in 2008, for violating United Nations sanctions in “providing or attempting to provide financial services to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).”
Salehabadi is yet another member of president Raisi’s team, along with several others, who have been either sanctioned in person or associated with sanctioned entities. Raisi, himself, has been sanctioned by the Trump administration.
Local media in Tehran said there are expectations that Salehabadi would lower interest rates and boost the Tehran stock market, which has a checkered history of government manipulation. In 2020, the market index grew to 2 million units encouraged by the government and then fell by 50 percent, wiping out the savings of many small investors, who had flocked to the exchange to protect their capitals from depreciation of the local currency against the dollar.
Iran has been printing money to finance government operations since the United States imposed sanctions in 2018, banning crude oil exports. This led to a huge growth in liquidity and a 50-percent inflation rate.
The only economic salvation for Iran would be an agreement with the United States over its nuclear program and other issues and lifting of economic sanctions.