One Investor's Take on the Valuation of the Dinar
By Roger Isaksson
Iraq's current government has been staggering badly under the pressure of growing violence and widespread infrastructure failures. As a result, government consolidation is taking place, including dismissals, arrests, and the emergence of strong personalities. Yet still, most government participants appear to lack the will to stick their neck out and make bold moves that would ultimately help the Iraqi people.
The Iraqi Dinar
Economically, according to my estimates, the Iraqi dinar is hopelessly undervalued, and should have been revalued long ago. The dinar is held down artificially by the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), resulting in very little buying power for the Iraqi working class. Currently, most of the day-to-day products needed by Iraqi's are produced outside of the country, but when buying it with an undervalued currency, nobody except the intrepid merchant benefits. In order to justify the costs of manufacture and import into the country, most things that we in the West take for granted are priced far beyond the average Iraqi's ability to pay for it, due in large part to the vast exchange rate differences.
Due to these currency differences, few Iraqi's can afford the items they want or need. As fewer people can afford them, the market for these items is artificially small, resulting in less competition and higher prices. This, coupled with the day-to-day disruption of goods and services due to the violence plaguing large tracts of the country, have led to high levels of inflation.
By revaluing the Iraq Dinar to it's true value towards the market, the Iraqi people will regain a measure of their buying power back. Imported goods will now be within reach of nearly everybody, helped to infuse the Iraqi economy with a new vitality.
True Dinar Value
In analyzing the true value of the dinar, many have predicted a value as high as parity with the US dollar ($1 = 1 dinar), while more conservative estimates have been in the range of a $0.01 = 1 dinar. This range, of course, can only be estimated, because the dinars true strength can only be determined, as with all currencies, once it is freely traded on the world market.
The continued lack of purchasing power of the Iraq dinar will be yet another factor in a long line of social problems, and some have the idea that those problems have to be addressed first before the economy can be fixed. The Iraqi man on the street is having a hard time feeding his family, and in such dire circumstances he may even be tempted to work against his fellow Iraqi's through insurgency, crime and even terrorism. This writer urges the current Iraqi Administration; fix the dinar.
The "Big Guys" are standing at the gate waiting to get in, but have to wait until they get assurances that the investment will not be socialized as in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, or lost completely due to a full-blown civil war. The new Iraq Investment Laws are tentative right now, but hopefully the Iraqi Government will make it a top priority when they return to session this fall. However, as with everything in Iraq these days, this supposition is a moving target at best.
Posted by Lawk Salih