Author Archives: Thomas Schellen

The many new faces of Lebanese poverty

The many new faces of Lebanese poverty

Reading Time: 8 minutes No wonder the Lebanese would rather be Swiss. In a world where global average wealth, according to the 2019 global wealth report (GWR) by Credit Suisse, has approached $71,000 and the average net wealth of the Swiss was said to be top of the world at $565,000, the disparity between the average net wealth of

The search for Lebanon’s new diaspora

Reading Time: 4 minutes Two months after the Beirut blast and one year into political and economic disruptions of local identities, the people of Lebanon are finding themselves divided in yet another invisible way. Some of the better-to-do individuals and families are proclaiming ‘never again’, and mean that they already have, or are seeking, to emigrate; their economic realities

Q&A with notorious cyclist Lance Armstrong and investment tycoon Tom Barrack

Reading Time: 12 minutes Diaspora as a state of mental allegiance Viewing the cityscape of Beirut’s Achrafieh district is like an invitation to rethink the meaning and the importance of the Lebanese diaspora, in a time where the capital and the entire country is in desperate need of support, including monetary assistance along with human sympathy and encouragement. Both

Q&A with legal expert Paul Morcos on judicial capacity and accountability

Reading Time: 6 minutes They are somewhat remote issues from the perspective of daily survival in the summer of 2020. But the questions of financial accountability and judicial processing of the complex aspects of the corrupted system and adequate prosecution of corruption are pregnant with implications for Lebanon’s systemic networks of fiefdoms, sublime tribal rulers, and previously extra-judicial interest

Q&A with economist Freddie Baz on Lebanon’s economic survival

Reading Time: 20 minutes In discussing Lebanon’s economic survival, some local opinion makers and economists have been making nothing but dire predictions since the fourth quarter of 2019. Executive wanted to take the perspective of Freddie Baz, a Lebanese economist, banker, and citizen who has for over two decades been a regular interlocutor of this magazine on banking and

Signs of positive disruptions in the Lebanese tech ecosytem

Reading Time: 16 minutes Moving counter-cyclically to conventional business wisdom and exhibiting disregard for old boundaries are attributes of enterprising minds, of those daring people who start pursuing an economic opportunity without regard for the current resources at their disposal. In the case of Lebanon in 2020, one could add that these have to be enterprising minds without regard

Q&A with Smart ESA’s Jihad Bitar on upcoming hackathon and future plans for the accelerator

Reading Time: 8 minutes The middle of 2020 is seeing three virtual hackathons—the first that are being staged in Lebanon in the space of just two weeks, from June 27 until July 10. Organized by the MIT Lebanon challenge, the American University of Beirut, and the Smart ESA accelerator at the Ecole Superieure des Affaires, all three separate hackathons

Teams in MIT hackathon give Lebanon’s virtual salvation their best try

Reading Time: 6 minutes The only things that are growing fast are bouts of desperation and the holes in people’s pockets. At least that’s the popular impression of the Lebanese crisis, one that can locally be reinforced by a trip to any supermarket and that has in recent weeks further been exacerbated by superficial and repetitive international media reporting.

Questions on data, policy design, and usefulness of assumptions

Reading Time: 11 minutes Economic man is a curious construct. Once thought to be a being superior to the common human in his pursuit of value creation and profit generation, the image of this specialized imaginary human subspecies has fundamentally changed. In fact, economic man has reached a point where some contemporary economists describe this model as emotionally dysfunctional—proposing

Banking economists on the Lebanese banking sector

Reading Time: 14 minutes Bankers are people. Brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, spouses, children, cousins, clients, business advisors, financial partners, and friends of other Lebanese people. Given that over 25,000 individuals are employed in the local banking sector, with high percentages of them being women (in comparison to most not “traditionally female” professions) in a banking workforce that is composed

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