Lebanon

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Lebanese authorities have started technical discussions to pull the country out of its crisis, a senior IMF official said, stressing the need to address the losses faced by the financial sector, Reuters reported. An IMF programme is widely seen as the only way Lebanon can unlock foreign financial help which it desperately needs to emerge from one of the world's sharpest economic depressions.
Read more
Lebanon’s new government held its first meeting Monday with a call by the president to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund to help kick-start its recovery from one of the world’s worst economic crises in more than a century, the Associated Press reported. The 24-member Cabinet’s most pressing mission over the coming weeks will be to help improve conditions in the country of 6 million, including a million Syrian refugees. More than half the population now lives in poverty amid extended power outages and severe shortages in fuel and medicine.
Read more
Lebanon’s new prime minister pledged Friday to gain control of one of the world’s worst economic meltdowns, saying lifting subsidies was a critical priority for the small country’s government formed after a year of political stalemate, the Associated Press reported. It is a momentous task facing the 24-minister Cabinet, which includes fresh faces who are prominent experts in their fields, but which still reflects Lebanon’s fractious politics. The country’s economic crisis, unfolding since 2019, has been described as one of the worst in the world in the last 150 years.
Read more
Lebanon’s government agreed yesterday to pay tens of thousands of poor families cash assistance in U.S. dollars from a World Bank loan as the country’s economic crisis deepens, the Associated Press reported. The decision comes as Lebanon is expected to end subsidies for fuel by the end of next month, a move that is expected to lead to sharp increases in prices of almost all products. Lebanon’s parliament approved in March a $246 million loan from the World Bank that would provide assistance for more than 160,000 families.
Read more
Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister warned Tuesday that the country is hurtling toward a “social explosion” and appealed on the international community for assistance to prevent the demise of the nation facing multiple crises, the Associated Press reported. Hassan Diab’s plea came as he spoke to diplomats in Lebanon, where politicians have failed to agree on forming a new government, nearly a year after Diab’s Cabinet resigned.
Read more
Lebanon's banks, which once powered the economy by sucking in billions of dollars of deposits from abroad, are shedding staff, watching loan books shrink and chasing liquidity to stay afloat, Reuters reported. About 3,000 bankers, or more than 10% of the banking industry workforce, have resigned or lost their jobs so far since a financial crisis flared up in late 2019 - and the numbers keep rising, four senior bankers told Reuters. De facto capital controls are in place, depositors are locked out of most of their savings and lending to the private sector has plummeted.
Read more
Lebanon’s currency hit a new low on Sunday, as the country’s economic and political crisis worsened with no apparent solutions in the near future, the Associated Press reported. The currency has lost more than 90% of its value since October 2019, when anti-government protests erupted. Inflation and prices of basic goods have skyrocketed in the country, which imports more than 80% of its basic goods. The U.S. dollar hit 15,300 Lebanese pounds on the black market, a level not seen since March. The official rate still stands at 1,515 pounds to the dollar.
Read more
Lebanon scrapped a new dollar-deposit rule on Thursday that triggered minor street protests and meant savers lost the ability to change their money at a more favorable rate, Bloomberg News reported. A day after the Shura Council, the country’s top judicial body, banned a long-standing rule allowing depositors to access their dollars at a rate higher than the official currency peg, Riad Salameh, the governor of Banque du Liban, said the decision was being revoked. The rule “is still in effect,” Salameh told reporters in Beirut after meeting with the president and the head of the council.
Read more

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.

Read more
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.
Read more