Tehran, Iran, Jul. 21 – The Tehran Stock
Exchange (TSE) has suffered another plunge this week, as political
uncertainty over the future of nuclear talks with Europe and growing indications of
ultra-conservative figures sweeping all the key positions in the new
cabinet of President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continue to frighten investors.
On Monday, the market’s TEPIX all-share index slid by 51.3 points, the
biggest loss in a single day since the elections, wiping 1,600 billion rials (or 183 million dollars) off the value of stocks.
The market has not yet recovered from a massive panic selling that followed
the election victory of the ultra-conservative camp on June 24. Since then,
the TSE index has been losing an average of 43.5 points a day, amounting to
a total loss of 1.8 billion dollars.
“Investors and entrepreneurs are extremely worried”, said Mohammad-Mehdi Behkish, a university
professor and chairman of Iran-Italy Chamber of Commerce. “The
psychological shock created by the president elections results could have
far-reaching and irreversible consequences for Iran’s economy”.
Comments by Ahmadinejad’s top political and
economic advisers and hard-line newspapers have only added to market
jitters in Tehran. In a Tuesday editorial, the influential
daily Kayhan challenged the European trio –
France, Germany and Britain – to send Iran’s nuclear file to the United
Nations Security Council.
“Nothing will happen in the Security Council”, the ultra-conservative daily
wrote. “The only thing that will happen is that we will be able to resume
our suspended activities and quickly reach results. The Security Council
will open up big avenues in front of us, but the Europeans will lose the
only option that they now have”.
Analysts say Ahmadinejad’s populist message and
his daily pledges of “an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign” are
rattling nerves within the business community.
“They just don’t know what these guys will be up to”, Hossein
Moshiri, a Dubai-based financier said in a
telephone interview. “To be seen by the public as having done something, Ahmadinejad and his men will need someone to pounce on.
Right now, the business community looks like a fair hunting ground”.
Moshiri does not see any prospects for the return
of calm to the stormy markets before the middle of autumn. By then, he
says, the future of nuclear talks will be clearer and the orientation of Ahmadinejad’s cabinet will be easier to read.
“Even Rafsanjani’s allies in the Bazaar will not
be getting much sleep before then”, Moshiri said.