Economics & Policy articles

Wishing for a miracle

Wishing for a miracle

Reading Time: 6 minutes “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?

Reading Time: 4 minutes 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

Uncertain times ahead

Reading Time: 5 minutes 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

Reading Time: 6 minutes 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

Reading Time: 5 minutes 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

Reading Time: 4 minutes 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

Reading Time: 12 minutes 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

Lebanese bonds: stable but vulnerable

Reading Time: 4 minutes As the world markets, mature and emerging, went through the turbulent transition from low rates by the Federal Reserve to “a measured and consistent rise,” most bond markets suffered. In fact all bond markets suffered. The reverberations of each pronouncement by Federal Reserves chieftain, Alan Greenspan, are felt all over, in commodities, equities, but most

Reviving capital markets

Reading Time: 6 minutes Back in the mid 1990s, Lebanon showed a promising entry into the world of capital markets, which coincided with the significant boom of emerging markets during that period. The first Eurobond in US dollars issued by an Arab state was the 1994 $400 million Eurobond issue by the Lebanese Republic, which also became “Eurobond deal

Slippery Business

Reading Time: 6 minutes 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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