Lebanon Crisis Among World’s Worst Since 1850’s, World Bank Says

Lebanon’s severe economic and financial crisis is likely to rank as one of the worst the world has seen in more than 150 years, the World Bank said in a report released Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. The World Bank said that since late 2019, Lebanon has been facing compounded challenges, including its largest peace-time economic and financial crisis, the spread of coronavirus and a massive blast at Beirut’s port last year that is considered as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history. The crisis has worsened in recent months amid a paralyzing power struggle between the president and prime minister-designate that has delayed the formation of a new government, The Cabinet of outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned days after the Aug. 4 blast, and the country has been without a fully functioning government since. The explosion in the Port of Beirut killed 211 people, wounded more than 6,000 and damaged entire neighborhoods. In the face of these colossal challenges, continuous policy inaction and the absence of a fully functioning government threaten already dire socio-economic conditions and a fragile social peace with no clear turning point in the horizon, the World Bank report said. “The economic and financial crisis is likely to rank in the top 10, possibly top 3, most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century,” it added. The report said the country’s gross domestic product is projected to contract 9.5% in 2021, after shrinking by 20.3% in 2020 and 6.7% the year before. Lebanon’s gross domestic product plummeted from close to $55 billion in 2018 to an estimated $33 billion in 2020, while GDP per capita fell by around 40% in dollar terms, the report said. Read more.