Lebanon’s Financial Collapse Hits Where It Hurts: The Grocery Store

In normal times, Ziad Hassan, a grocery store manager in Beirut, would get a daily email from his chain’s management telling him which prices needed to be adjusted and by how much. But as Lebanon’s currency has collapsed, sending the economy into a tailspin, the emails have come as often as three times a day, ordering price increases across the store, the New York Times reported. “We have to change everything,” an exasperated Mr. Hassan said, adding that his employees often weren’t even able to finish marking one price increase before the next one arrived. “It’s crazy.” The country’s economic distress grew more acute last week as the Lebanese pound sank to 15,000 to the dollar on the black market — its lowest level ever — sucking value from people’s salaries as prices for once affordable goods soared out of reach. It has since rebounded to about 12,000. Lebanon has been grappling with a web of economic and political crises since late 2019 that have led to rampant unemployment, skyrocketing prices, road closures by angry protesters and a government with no clear plan to slow the descent. A catastrophic explosion in Beirut’s port in August, which killed 190 people and left a large swath of the capital in ruins, only deepened the misery. Food prices had risen 400 percent as of December compared with a year earlier, according to government statistics, while prices for clothing and shoes had gone up 560 percent and hotels and restaurants more than 600 percent. Read more.