Good news from Iran is rare, and the IMF is seldom a font of happy tidings about anything. So when a mission from the Fund cheered the Islamic Republic’s economy earlier this month, heaping praise on the policies of its ruthless government, eyebrows spiked upwards as in a comic scene in a Persian miniature. The shock was even sharper given that the IMF, whose biggest shareholder happens to be the Great Satan, America, is a pillar of global capitalism, a system that Iran’s maverick president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, gleefully lambasts as evil.
Whatever its name, the sweeping reform of a ruinous, three-decade-old system of state subsidies that Iran began last December seems to be radically reshaping the country’s economy for the better.
Yet tight controls on the money supply have kept inflationary pressure lower than feared. By some counts it has already fallen from an annualised 20% in March to 14% in May. With government finances now in better shape, that may drop still further, and quickly.