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Lebanon Opportunities

Lebanon Opportunities December 2019

Lebanon Opportunities is a quarterly business magazine that covers: Finance, Real estate, Economy, and Local business. Lebanon Opportunities has tens of thousands of readers in Lebanon and across the globe. It is the prime local business magazine in Lebanon in terms of readership, advertising, and name-awareness. Lebanon Opportunities is written to a target of small business owners, entrepreneurs and middle management, as well as to Lebanese living abroad. It aims at bringing complex business issues in a simple manner understandable by readers who are not experts and whose English language is not the mother tongue.

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3 min
revival worthy of a revolution

The priority for citizens and businesses is the creation of a workable post-crisis revival plan. This is a prerequisite to their placing their confidence in any upcoming government. This is more important than whom the next Prime Minister will be, or who the ministers are. If the new government is intended to respond to the street revolt, it needs to undertake revolutionary measures. Many of the past recipes and approaches have expired. The new government must implement a plan with immediate impact, outside the norms, that aims primarily at creating economic growth and, subsequently, jobs. ALL AT ONCE This is a comprehensive plan, aimed at advancing out-of-the-box, sometimes unorthodox, even provocative, measures that address our extraordinary circumstances. These measures would be deemed suboptimal or even undesirable in normal times. This is an…

1 min
bits & bytes

SOUND BYTES Billions of dollars of banks sent abroad must be returned Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri No one will touch depositors’ money Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank Poverty may reach 50 percent in 2020 The World Bank Help from the international community to recover from the economic crisis will not materialize without a government that enjoys the trust of the international community Ghassan Hasbani, Deputy Prime Minister We have requested a 50 percent decrease in interest rates Mansour Bteish, Minister of Economy and Trade There will be no haircut and no change in official exchange rates Mansour Bteish, Minister of Economy and Trade We are not negotiating with Syria to import fuel Nada Boustany, Minister of Energy and Water The weapon they use is money, banks, currency differentials, economic and living pressures Mohamed Raad, Hezbollah MP We attracted 800,000 European tourists in 2019. We were…

1 min

What was deemed a worst-case scenario has become reality. Each pillar of the economic temple is toppling. It is too late for a rescue plan. What is needed is a ‘Revival Plan’. All the past budgets and proposed plans focused on fiscal and monetary policies, and aimed at achieving the lowest deficit while maintaining stability in the exchange rate. Such an approach is understandable when there is a cyclical economic crisis with a 2-3 year horizon. It becomes very damaging – as was demonstrated – when this approach becomes a permanent fiscal and monetary policy. We effectively operate in an environment of never-ending crisis. Economic growth – or the lack thereof – has always been a random consequence rather than a policy objective. In this proposal, we study the most contentious issues…

2 min
how did we get here?

Every pundit has analyzed and suggested the reasons why we are where we are now. It would be pointless to add to this myriad of repetitive or contradictory points of view, especially when looking for a transitory, short term, plan. Lessons learned are useful when writing history, or when trying to reach a national consensus on what our permanent economic model should be like. Most analysts have laid the blame for the current situation on past fiscal policies, a lack of economic vision, corruption, and ineffective public administration. The local and regional political dimensions have generally been overlooked, or have merely been mentioned in passing. This is due to the lack of political insight shown by some ‘economists’, fear of physical retaliation by stating the obvious by others, and, in the…

8 min
what happens now?

Three scenarios are discussed, and their expected impact predicted. The following suggestions are best guesses rather than results from econometric models. The forecasted figures, while having sound assumptive reasoning, are not based on academically sound methodologies. The objective of this theoretical exercise is to illustrate basic trends and ballpark changes, rather than forecasts to be used in detailed policy making. Obviously, this is a pitch to shatter the current classical economic model. Scenario 1 LIFT BARRIERS AND DO NOTHING Restrictions are lifted on the access to bank deposits, and transfers outside the country. The Central Bank will allow breaking the lock-in periods of deposits against hefty penalties such forfeiture of interest earned in addition to a 20 percent discount on principal. IMMEDIATE IMPACT Banks and the Central Bank will lose a sizable part of their…

2 min

Our problems are all rooted in politics and the structure of the regime. All the country’s economic challenges are the result of the broken political system. We are a country at war. This is an issue that has been overshadowed in politics and in the setting of economic and fiscal policies. A large part of our political system is in support of a non-State, armed component that rests in the very fabric of our country. This component, Hezbollah, enjoys popular support from a large portion of the population, and has received cover, acquiescence, or temporary political acquiescence, from most political parties. Hezbollah’s positioning has placed it, and often our country, at odds with countries that view themselves as our friends. Hezbollah has become the main pillar of the political regime. As a…