But what's happening in the last week or so is a new, much more serious thing. On New Year's Eve, President Obama signed the defense authorization bill, which funds the military. However, in this authorization bill there was a provision which sanctions companies which use the Iranian Central Bank to purchase their oil. There was also an agreement among the EU nations to stop the purchase of Iranian oil, which is set for a vote on January 31st. The action by Obama was an attack on the Iranian currency; the EU action would seriously harm Iranian oil exports. These are serious economic sanctions. Iran itself contributed to the mess when it announced that it was cancelling all trade with the United Arab Emirates a few weeks ago.. a decision they have since rescinded.
The effect was immediate. By Monday January 2nd, the Iranian rial was down 12% on the black market. The Mehr news agency reported that housing prices were down 20% in the last few weeks. There are reports that people are beginning to sell assets and then converting the rials for USD and other foreign currencies. On Tuesday January 3rd, the rial was trading at 17,800 per USD.. which compares with the official rate of 11,000 on the Iranian Central Bank's website. The Iranian Central Bank is holding meetings almost daily now. On Wednesday, the decline continued. I don't have any more information since then. Although this is only the last few days-- and the situation could very well reverse itself-- this has the feel of capital flight. If it goes on much further, the people themselves will lose confidence in their own currency. Prices of basic goods will soar. This is worth keeping an eye on. If it gets serious for Iran's economy, expect them to retaliate.
This has happened before; Argentina in the 1990s to be exact: http://themeanoldinvestor.blogspot.com/2011/11/remembering-argentina.html
Update 1/10 4pm: Seems like the inflation rate in Iran is continuing unabated. "TEHRAN, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Iran's currency has slid 20 percent against the dollar in the last week despite central bank intervention, and some Iranians concerned about the economy said on Tuesday that attempts to send text messages using the word "dollar" appeared to be blocked... On New Year's Eve, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law by far the toughest financial sanctions yet against Iran, which if fully implemented could make it impossible for most countries to pay for Iranian oil. The Islamic Republic responded to the growing international pressure by warning last week that it could shut the Strait of Hormuz, the shipping lane for the Gulf's oil, if sanctions were imposed on its oil exports"