Skip

Iranian banknotes uprising
December 7, 2009 7:27 PM   Subscribe


 
Via what?!? Don't leave me hanging!
posted by hincandenza at 7:29 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, that kind of defiance is unlikely to make any difference. The mullahs have all the guns, and plenty of reasonably loyal men willing to use them.

There have been a couple of times in Iran where it seemed as if protest was ready to boil over and unseat the current regime there, but they hung on. Revolution seems as distant now as ever.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:18 PM on December 7, 2009


I think this great and beautiful and poetic and will only make things better. It's psychologically important to put a dent in the fascist regime's facade of complete control.
posted by mert at 8:23 PM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's interesting that currency is being used for political expressions against Ahmadinejad. He came to power as a "people's President", running with a populist agenda to revert oil monies to the public. Everyone has to buy stuff, so it's a good and safer way to spread the message.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:34 PM on December 7, 2009


I approve. It may not directly result in the revolution some are looking for, but it must be nice for other dissenters to see that they aren't alone.

It looks like some of the currency designs lend themselves very well to this.
posted by a_green_man at 8:39 PM on December 7, 2009


I like the one that had "Death to Khamenei" scratched out and then someone wrote in response to the scratching. It felt like looking at bathroom stall graffiti! I could almost imagine getting a bill as change and looking at it to find "Free Palestine!" "I'll take one." "Press here for blowjob." scrawled across it. Thankfully, Canadian currency isn't as ideal.

It looks like some of the currency designs lend themselves very well to this.

Lends itself well? It was pretty much made for it.
posted by battlebison at 8:47 PM on December 7, 2009


Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has documented evidence that the United States is doing what it can to prevent the coming of the Mahdi, the Imam that Muslims believe will be ultimate savior of mankind, press reports said Monday.

“We have documented proof that they [U.S.] believe that a descendant of the prophet of Islam will raise in these parts [Middle East] and he will dry the roots of all injustice in the world,” the hard-line president said, addressing an audience of families of those killed during the 1980’s war against Iraq.

"They have devised all these plans to prevent the coming of the Hidden Imam because they know that the Iranian nation is the one that will prepare the grounds for his coming and will be the supporters of his rule." · Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

posted by netbros at 9:02 PM on December 7, 2009


Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has documented evidence that the United States is doing what it can to prevent the coming of the Mahdi, the Imam that Muslims believe will be ultimate savior of mankind, press reports said Monday.<I

Let nobody speak agagaainst thies expression ore religions faith, for it truly is an excpression of understtanding that couldf not habe comr tro thrm other than through divinr relevation

posted by Pope Guilty at 9:16 PM on December 7, 2009


Anybody know how often the average bill is spent?
posted by empath at 9:46 PM on December 7, 2009


I think a more interesting story is how protesters were able to smuggle out video footage of yesterday's protests in Iran despite a massive government block on internet and cellphone communications.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:07 PM on December 7, 2009


This should be dead fucking easy for the mullahs to quash.

Anybody who's ever been travelling in developing countries would be familiar with how some can be stupendously anal about any notes with even the tiniest tear or marking on them - the banks won't accept them, so neither will any shopkeeper.

Even beggars will sometimes thrown them back at you, like "How the fuck do you expect me to spend this?!?? It's got a centimetre-long tear in it!!!"

So, all the mullahs need to do is decree that any banknote with any kind of marking on it is not legal currency & therefore worthless, thus cutting off both the production & the circulation of the protest messages.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:38 PM on December 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Remember remember the seventh of December. (Yeah, I know that many already do.)Sometimes I wish that university students in the US still had this kind of fervor. Despite that, I think marking currency is probably one of the less interesting aspects of this saga. Sorry to just jump in to be snarky, but, ya know.
posted by chemoboy at 10:38 PM on December 7, 2009


Ha! When I worked night shift, writing insurrectionary messages on currency was like all I did.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:03 PM on December 7, 2009


That was my first thought too, UbuRoivas. But then I wondered what effect that would have on the money supply. That in turn would depend on how widespread this form of protest was. A large enough protest would have a significant effect on the economy. (Not being an economist I don't know how widespread it would have to be to be significant).

This raises other issues too. If banks refused to take money with protests on it then any individual or business accepting that money would effectively be running a book on regime change. If enough people and businesses were to accept the money then it wouldn't matter that banks weren't taking it as long as it could stay in circulation. Got no "clean" notes to bank? You're in trouble (or have to spend rather than save, or have to pay debts to "rebels" rather than supporters of the regime). Got no need to bank cash and have no difficulty getting others to take protest note? Everything's sweet.

Of course, if almost everyone continued to accept these notes (allowing them to be circulated but not banked) then the effect on the money supply would be negligible. But that in turn would mean that any changes in central bank policy designed to prevent the banning of protest currency would have undesired consequences. (I'd guess inflationary pressure, but IANAE as I said).

Any experts on money supply in the house want to give us an analysis of what banning these notes would actually do? (Also, wouldn't there be a black market for laundering such notes? This could be a very complex topic.)

I think PG's response should be "the pffaone has been drinking (not me)".
posted by GeckoDundee at 12:08 AM on December 8, 2009


So, all the mullahs need to do is decree that any banknote with any kind of marking on it is not legal currency & therefore worthless, thus cutting off both the production & the circulation of the protest messages.

That was my first thought too, UbuRoivas. But then I wondered what effect that would have on the money supply.

This seems like one of those policies that might work only when an insignificant proportion of the notes are marked (as they probably are now). If a significant portion are marked and they are well distributed throughout the economy, suddenly banning them as legal tender without any policy to exchange them (and such policies have windows measured in years; see e.g. the introduction of the Euro) just pisses a lot of people off, incurs a needless expense for whatever department of the central bank prints the notes, and risks disrupting the money supply while you wait for the ink to dry on the replacement notes.

If an insignificant proportion are marked (this is probably the case, given where we are in the news cycle with this), then banning them still pisses people off but not that many, and not that much, especially given that a significant proportion of people still seemed pretty upset that, you know, the government was stolen. But it still seems unwise for an autocracy to do anything that would encourage the creation of a parallel revolutionary currency outside the central bank's control, especially if (as I suspect; never been there) the Iranian economy is cash-heavy.
posted by Vetinari at 12:46 AM on December 8, 2009


I meant of course "any changes in central bank policy designed to alleviate the effects of banning protest currency".

Vetinari's point about an exchange window is interesting. What would the effect be of the government strongly hinting that a ban with a very small exchange window was imminent?
posted by GeckoDundee at 1:24 AM on December 8, 2009


If enough people and businesses were to accept the money then it wouldn't matter that banks weren't taking it as long as it could stay in circulation.

Or the banks could do the same as the North Koreans did, and introduce a new currency, and a panic.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:39 AM on December 8, 2009


What would the effect be of the government strongly hinting that a ban with a very small exchange window was imminent?

The Burmese junta did that once or twice, although not even hinting. They decided that a great way to address wealth disparities in the country was to arbitrarily declare that the largest banknotes were now unusable & worthless.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:49 AM on December 8, 2009


I wonder if there's any consensus among Iraqi shiites about where to stand on the issue of the Iranian conflict.
posted by Anything at 4:19 AM on December 8, 2009


You don't happen to have any links for that Ubu? It sounds like an attempt to stamp out an emerging middle class, as in DreamerFi's NK link.

Anything, I would say the consensus among Iraqi shiites is to avoid another Gulf War.
posted by GeckoDundee at 5:30 AM on December 8, 2009


The danger in trying to ban the currency is that if they fail it would be a huge undermining of the government.

Interestingly North Korea just revalued it's currency, and put a cap on how many of the old bills they would accept. This was seen as a way to screw merchants who had been hording cash.
posted by delmoi at 6:10 AM on December 8, 2009


This is really cool, however, now it makes me stamping money with my website logo feel really pretentious by comparison.

Oh well, I have stamps.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:57 AM on December 8, 2009


From Wikipedia:

The 50 and 100 kyat notes were demonetized on May 15, 1964. This was the first of several demonetizations, ostensibly carried out with the aim of fighting black marketeering [...]

On November 3, 1985, the 25-, 50-, and 100-kyat notes were demonetized without warning, though the public was allowed to exchange limited amounts of the old notes for new ones. All other denominations then in circulation remained legal tender. On November 10, 1985, 75-kyat notes were introduced, the odd denomination possibly chosen because of dictator Ne Win's predilection for numerology; the 75-kyat note was supposedly introduced to commemorate his 75th birthday. It was followed by the introduction of 15- and 35-kyat notes on August 1, 1986.

Only two years later, on September 5, 1987, the government demonetized the 25-, 35-, and 75-kyat notes without warning or compensation, rendering some 75% of the country's currency worthless. The resulting economic disturbances led to serious riots (see 8888 Uprising) and eventually a coup d'état in 1988 by General Saw Maung. On September 22, 1987, banknotes for 45 and 90 kyat were introduced, both of which incorporated Ne Win's favorite number, nine.

posted by UbuRoivas at 7:36 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]




It's been done before. In 1984, after Nicolás Barletta stole Panama's election, people wrote "Nicky Fraude" on dollar bills.
posted by tesseract420 at 3:17 PM on December 9, 2009




« Older You better watch out...   |   Not Right Now, Derrick! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post