Economics & Policy articles

It ain’t broke but it needs fixing

It ain’t broke but it needs fixing

The year 2004 revealed a great dichotomy between the “feel” of the economy – i.e., the anecdotal chatter and the empirical improvements. The primary reason for the downbeat mood was, and continues to be, the lack of political vision, and the continuing wrangling between the poles of political power. While very little true reform was

Wishing for a miracle

“I trust Lebanon and its beloved people to God Almighty.” While Rafik Hariri’s resignation flourish may have had more than its share of melodrama, one has to question whether the end of his 12-year “reign” – punctuated as it was with a Hoss-led INTER-REGNUM – will mark the end of an era characterized by donor

Does it really matter who wins?

By the time of this publication, and barring any confusion á la Florida, or a major 9/11-type ‘event,’ the new president of the US will be known. But while in the US the presumed majority will be celebrating and the others put up a good face to it, we in the rest of the world

Go West or East young bank

Banque Audi’s recent move into Jordan is much more than just a reflection of Lebanese pioneering tradition. Lebanon’s dire economic situation has affected the quality of loan portfolios and domestic placement opportunities and has forced many of Lebanon’s leading banks to look beyond their borders to diversify assets, improve the quality of profits and revenues,

Uncertain times ahead

There has been much speculation surrounding the implications of the presidential extension, especially given the reservations articulated by international leaders, the UN, and prominent members of the Arab League, including the GCC and Jordan. Lebanon’s economy is highly fragile and vulnerable to local and regional political developments. Historically, times of uncertainty led to economic downturns,

On the edge of oblivion

Fitch, the powerful international rating agency, warned in July that Lebanon risked being downgraded if the government failed to act on its much promised monetary reforms and privatization, the two conditions that determined the Paris II donor conference. While the first condition has been more or less met, the second has been postponed ad vitam

Beware of stockbrokers bearing gifts

In November 2003, EXECUTIVE predicted that the revival in stocks would prove ephemeral (‘Happy Days?’, November 2003), stressing that technical and even fundamental factors would prevent a genuine new bull market from developing out of the ruins of the old. Furthermore, the dizzying move up from October 2002 appeared to be mostly a corrective move

It’s a hard road to economic health

In a highly publicized speech at the end of July 2004, Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir called on the government to review the minimum wage in Lebanon (which currently sits at $200 per month, 40% lower in real terms, than the minimum wage of 40 years ago) and pleaded for improved living conditions, which

Banking on the good times

The banking sector in Lebanon continued to witness sustained growth throughout the first half of 2004, continuing the trend adopted in 2003, which followed a short lull. Total banking sector assets grew by more than 11.8% year-on-year, reaching LL94,377 billion as of June 30, 2004. Main growth was driven by growth in deposits, with bank

Slippery Business

Declining domestic consumption and an inability to compete on the international volume market are forcing Lebanon’s olive oil producers to go niche. It’s a nice idea (selling as it does, Lebanon’s ancient olive-oil-producing heritage and a quality attributable to the country’s soil, climate and general environment), but for the $250 million olive oil sector, which

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