Iranians line up outside a currency exchange shop in Tehran in this recent photo published by Iran’s Fars news agency.
Iranians line up outside a currency exchange shop in Tehran in this recent photo published by Iran’s Fars news agency.

A sharp recovery of Iran’s currency against the dollar stalled Wednesday, as some Iranians complained that they could not find dollars for the cheaper prices being reported by Iranian media.

Some Iranian media had reported the rial surging to around 100,000 to the dollar in unofficial trading Tuesday from a record low of 190,000 set last week, an almost 50 percent jump in the Iranian currency’s value in one day. But, the website that tracks Iran’s unofficial exchange rates showed the rial later retreated to 147,000 to the dollar by late Wednesday.

A screen shot of the website that trac
A screen shot of the website that tracks Iran’s unofficial exchange rates. It showed the Iranian currency at 14,700 tomans, or 147,000 rials, to the dollar, Oct. 3, 2018.

Iranian state media had reported long lines at currency exchange shops Tuesday as people rushed to convert their dollars into rials, driving down the value of the U.S. currency. 

Cheap dollars hard to find

The reports attributed Tuesday’s rial rally to a variety of factors, including the Iranian government authorizing the central bank on Sept. 29 to intervene more strongly in the market to support the national currency. They also cited psychological factors, including public perceptions that various external pressures on the Iranian economy could be easing. 

But Wednesday, several callers from Iran to VOA Persian’s Straight Talk program said Iranian state media reports of dollars becoming much cheaper did not reflect the reality. 

A woman who identified herself as Sogand in Tehran said she went to a currency exchange shop Wednesday, looking to buy dollars for around 100,000 rials, but found that no one was selling at that rate. Rather, she said currency traders were offering to sell dollars for 147,000 rials.

“Everything is still expensive,” she said.

Another caller from Tehran, who gave his name as Afshin, said banks and currency exchange shops were buying dollars from people for around 100,000 rials but selling them at the higher 147,000 rate, meaning the dollar has not weakened for much of the public. 

Stockpile dollars

Many Iranians have been trying to stockpile dollars in recent months, anticipating economic problems linked to Washington starting a process of reimposing financial sanctions against Iran in August. The next set of U.S. sanctions to be reimposed, targeting Iran’s energy exports, are due to take effect Nov. 5. 

President Donald Trump announced in May that he was reimposing U.S. sanctions that had been lifted by his predecessor as part of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers. Trump withdrew from the deal as part of that announcement, saying he wanted to pressure Iran into a new deal to end its nuclear weapon ambitions and other perceived malign activities. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service.