Iran's central bank governor says his country may lop zeros off its currency to fight inflation.
The governor was quoted Monday by state-run radio. He says three options are under study: Lopping either three zeros or four zeros off the rial, or boosting each rial's value to one-hundredth of a gram of gold - now equal to 2,500 rials.
The Iranian rial is now traded at 9,600 rials to one U.S. dollar. That compares to 70 rials for each U.S. dollar back in 1979.
The central bank is believed eager to regain control of monetary policy after annual inflation hit 26 percent in June. Both conservatives and reformists blame Iran's hardline president.
The rial is subdivided into 100 dinar but, because of the very low current value of the rial, no fraction of the rial is used in accounting.
Although not an official currency since 1932, the toman (ten rial) is frequently used to express amounts of money. Prices are currently most commonly marked in toman, sometimes meaning 1,000 or 1,000,000 toman (10,000 or 10,000,000 rial).
There is no official symbol for the currency but the Iranian standard ISIRI 820 defined a symbol for use on typewriters (mentioning that it is an invention of the standards committee itself) and the two Iranian standards ISIRI 2900 and ISIRI 3342 define a character code to be used for it. The Unicode Standard has a compatibility character defined for "RIAL SIGN" at the position U+FDFC.
In 1932, the exchange rate with the British pound was 1 pound = 59.75 rial. This changed to 80.25 in 1936, 64.350 in 1939, 68.8 in 1940, 141 in 1941 and 129 in 1942. In 1945, Iran switched to the U.S. dollar as the peg for its currency, with 1 dollar = 32.25 rial. The rate was changed to 1 dollar = 75.75 rial in 1957. Iran did not follow the dollar's devaluation in 1973, leading to a new peg of 1 dollar = 68.725 rial. The peg to the U.S. dollar was dropped in 1975.
In 1979, 1 rial equaled $0.0141. The value of Iran's currency declined precipitously after the Islamic revolution because of capital flight from the country. Whereas on 15 March 1978, 71.46 rials equaled one U.S. dollar, in July 1999, 9430 rials amounted to one dollar. However, the value of the rial has become more stable since 1999, as the economy of Iran has been growing rapidly and away from the dollar zone.