Lebanon’s Economy in Free Fall

Sveriges Radio | 8 July 2020

In recent months, the country's currency has lost more than 60 percent of its value and annual inflation is now estimated at 500 percent.

In March, a US dollar cost 1,500 Lebanese lira, now just over 9,000 on the black market and Lebanese purchasing power is virtually erased. At the same time, unemployment is rising and a broad middle class has slipped below the poverty line. Protests against the deteriorating life situation have become a recurring feature of Lebanese everyday life.

Patrick Mardini is director of the Lebanese Institute for Market Research, LIMS.

- Annual inflation is now estimated at 500 percent and in a couple of weeks Lebanon will be the first country in the Middle East with hyperinflation, says Patrick Mardini.

Weeks of mass demonstrations in the fall of 2019 fell to the government, but the new one that took off in December has so far failed to prevent the economic decay. Lebanese queue outside bakeries, grocery stores, bank offices and more and more rely on private donations, food rations, or property exchanges to survive.

Lebanon is one of the world's most indebted countries, and the poor economy is also evident in how the country's various authorities are dragging down. Electricity supply has been reduced to a maximum of three hours a day in some cities and meat has been removed from the Lebanese army menus.

In addition, decades of state corruption and mismanaged state finances have come to the surface when the Lebanese negotiating delegation with the International Monetary Fund IMF presented contradictory figures on the country's debt. After 17 meetings over six weeks, no progress has been noted and negotiations have now been put on ice.

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