The value of Iran's currency — which had been sliding steadily for months — took another plunge this week. Faced with new economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe, the rial now seems to be in free fall.
But at least part of the dive could be linked to currency manipulation by the government itself in an effort to fund candidates in upcoming elections.
In images posted on the Internet, hundreds of Iranians are seen gathered outside the headquarters of the Bank Melli in Tehran Monday. They wanted to buy dollars, but there were no dollars to be had.
In an effort to bring Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program through economic pain, both the U.S. and the European Union have imposed sanctions that should make it harder for Iran to sell its oil. But the global oil business is unpredictable, and sanctions are no guarantee.
President Obama opened and closed his speech with a tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces, holding out their "team" approach as an example for the rest of U.S. society. "At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down," he said, "they exceed all expectations. They're not consumed with personal ambition. They don't obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand."