Economics & Policy articles

2004 national budget

There was much debate and not a little bad feeling, but in the end Parliament, after a three-day marathon debate, approved the 2004 state draft budget on April 7, with a vote of 65-31 and one abstention. It was a more realistic budget to the one originally set for 2003, probably due to the government’s

Trouble with stocks

The re-opening of the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) in 1996 offered local businesses the means to raise equity funding to finance restructuring and development plans, as well as expansion strategies. It also coincided nicely with the rise in emerging market equities, and the initial listings of Lebanese companies and banks, such as Solidere, Banque Audi

Revitalizing banking

Despite its proud regional reputation, Lebanon’s banking sector has faced a number of hurdles in the past few years. Strong regional competition, stemming from the spawning of a number of large-scale Arab banks – mainly in the Gulf – have created obstacles for a sector seeking expansion, while a high level of liquidity, a large

Moneyed marriage

Following the failed merger talks between Banque Audi and Banque Libano-Francaise in 2002, few anticipated the announcement of last month’s $159 million merger acquisition of Banque Audi and Banque Saradar. Moreover, such a merger differs significantly from the type of consolidation sought by the central bank, namely a consolidation of the smaller, less efficient, banks

Q&A: Freddie Baz

How long were the two banks involved in negotiations before signing the agreement to form a single group? The two banks have had a long proactive relationship. Every now and then we sat together on the managerial level and assessed the situation of the banking industry in Lebanon and the consolidation process. In this favorable

Waiting for BASEL II

The Basel II Capital Accord, the set of rules issued by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in 1999 to establish new regulations for banks world-wide, aims to encourage the development of better risk management by banks. Additionally it aims to add momentum to consolidation in the banking sector, change the shape of the credit

Spike in the Euro

Back in January 2002, we analyzed the fate of the euro in this section, looking at its performance since its launch and placing the technical framework for what appeared to be a move up, destined to hit the $1.17-$1.20 area. As is often the case in the currency markets, the euro has not only overshot

Year of the bull

The year 2003 is history and, in the US, the market battle is now beginning again. For the month of January, we will have to struggle with summaries of what happened during the last year and predictions of how the major indices will perform in 2004. Neither times gone by nor anticipation will make us

Yet another bad year

It has become customary, in the first few weeks of January, to lay out forecasts for the rest of the year. Analysts from the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to the World Bank get the chance to wipe clean their slate and begin a new framework, maybe with a little carried over optimism from the

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