The Iranian Rial plunged to a record low against the US dollar on Tuesday. Though the Iranian economic woes can be attributed to many factors including President Trump’s rejection of Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal, one factor that cannot be ignored is the fiscal Divine Retribution prophesied to befall the wicked and Israel’s enemies in the end-of-days.
IRANIAN ECONOMY HITS RECORD LOWS
The foreign exchange site Bonbast.com set the value of one US dollar at 205,000 rials on the street market, up from 193,400 rials three days earlier. The official rate, cited by the central bank website, is 42,000. This compares to an exchange rate of 32,000 rials against the dollar five years ago when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, was signed. This rate began to rise in October 2017 after President Trump began to make moves to terminate the US’s participation in the agreement, withdrawing fully in May 2018 and reimposing economic sanctions.
Abdolnaser Hemmati, the head of the Central Bank of Iran, reportedly attributed the economic plunge to the COVID-19 pandemic and a June 19 resolution by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, reprimanding Iran for the first time for failure to comply with several guidelines.
COVID-19 surely played a role as Iran was the hardest-hit nation in the Middle East with more than 209,000 positive cases reported so far. June 23 121 new coronavirus deaths were reported, the highest daily toll in over two months, bringing the overall virus death toll to over 9,800. These figures are considered by many experts to be deceptively low with the government intentionally obfuscating the data.
Iran’s government closed non-essential businesses in March but did not impose a mandatory lockdown. Restrictions have been eased gradually since April.
Another contributing factor is the plummeting price of oil which represents 18.7% of Iran’s GDP. Hydrocarbon accounts for 60 % of total government revenues and 80 % of the total annual value of both exports and foreign currency earnings. Iran’s oil exports recently dropped to a record low average of 70,000 barrels per day. Last week, Iran’s oil revenues were reported to have plummeted to $8 billion from $100 billion in 2011.
Iran earned just $8.9 billion from the sale of oil and related products in the year to March, down from a peak of $119 billion less than a decade ago, according to Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, the head of planning and budget organization.
The Iranian people are especially hard hit with the Central Bank of Iran reporting that their economy is experiencing an average inflation rate of 41.3%. According to the World Bank, inflation has been alarmingly high for food items, with the consumer price index for meat products rising by 116%.
BIBLICAL AND PROPHETIC CONNECTIONS
This economic crisis could certainly be a form of divine retribution as described in the Midrash (homiletic teachings) on Proverbs teaches.
Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai said: In this world, the rich eat the poor, but in the world to come, God demands it back from him…Rabbi Yossi Galilee said, “Even though one robs and steals in this world, he does not leave this world until others rob him. Midrash Mishlei 13:23
In a prophetic context, as part of a description of the battles in the end-of-days, Zechariah describes the economic reversal of the nation of Tyre as part of the Divine retribution.
Tyre has built herself a fortress; She has amassed silver like dust, And gold like the mud in the streets. But my Lord will impoverish her; He will defeat her forces at sea, And she herself shall be consumed by fire. Zechariah 9:3-4
LEBANON: MODERN TYRE LINKED TO IRAN’S ECONOMY
This verse specifies Tyre, a city in Lebanon, as being enriched and then impoverished. Like its Biblical counterpart, Lebanon has suffered an extreme economic reversal. This year, Lebanon suffered an economic crisis identical to the one being experienced by Iran. The currency has collapsed and earlier this year, Lebanon defaulted on its debt. The purchasing power of the populace is practically gone, even for basic necessities making it difficult for the people to buy food.
The current reality stands in stark contrast to its not-so-distant past before the civil war that began in 1975 when Beirut was called the “Paris of the Middle East” and many of the streets and neighbors were given names of their Parisian counterparts. The moniker reflected the city’s role as a cultural and financial hub for the entire region. At the time, Lebanon boasted the largest Christian population in the region, claiming to be the oldest Christian community in the world, representing a slim majority of the population.
Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 established Iran as a Shiite Muslim entity and the concurrent Lebanese Civil War, relations between the two countries has deepened. Though international conventions prevent Hezbollah, a terrorist organization founded and funded by Iran, from running the government, Hezbollah has a powerful influence on the government and military of Lebanon.