Tuesday, August 27, 2019

When we were in Lebanon this summer, discussions about the economy included likely scenarios of Lebanon being downgraded by the world’s financial rating organizations. This was and is of concern because their ratings have an impact on how investors perceive the risk worthiness of countries and institutions, as well as companies and organizations that are the subject of their evaluations. Being downgraded affects the entities capacity to manage borrowing to maintain its credit and fiscal worthiness. Lebanon’s political leaders mentioned the upcoming ratings in remarks these past two months.

The end of summer brought with it the much anticipated ratings that provide a measure of the various indicators of Lebanon’s fiscal and monetary health. Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings, according to the...

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Since the budget has not been in effect for a fiscal quarter yet, there is little data available to show that it will bring about the changes needed to meet Lebanon’s commitments under the CEDRE program and, more importantly, bring about visible changes to the quality of life and economic standard of living for the Lebanese people. 

There have been concerns that upcoming credit ratings from global agencies will downgrade Lebanon’s bond rating, but according to the most recent report, it will remain at one step about junk status. Al-Joumhouria newspaper said the reports are based on “high-level contacts between Lebanon, the US, a host of other countries, the agency itself [Standard & Poor’s], and similar international agencies.”

With the 2020 draft budget a priority discussion in the cabinet,...

Monday, August 19, 2019

An-Nahar News:Another month long visit to Lebanon by an expatriate was just concluded, and that urge is here again just like last year to write, draw or sculpt an impression.

Lebanon remains mired in its existential and its societal problems, both broad based issues seemingly unsolvable since 1975. All parties seem to play the existential issues (Qadaya massiriyyi) wrong because there’s only one way of dealing with them and that is authentic internal unity.

Still one can be pleasantly surprised and grateful that we are at a great advantage compared to our Arab neighbors and beyond. We have more political vibrancy and the terrible discord is in and by itself a sign of a livelier society than most of our neighbors.

And we have more peaceful coexistence on a community level than most other count...

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Lebanese are exhausted from the lack of follow-through on government commitments to rebuild the country’s power sector. The mistrust continues to deepen as short term solutions, such as the off-shore generator platforms, have not appreciably improved the situation as blackouts still exist.

Nada Boustany, Lebanon's Minister of Energy and Water, has launched a campaign to remove illegal links on the defective electricity grid across the Lebanese territory. Doing this should reduce theft and losses on the network and do more to distribute power equally. This campaign is delivering reliable results, but unfortunately, it is not enough. Furthermore, the cost of consumer power hadn't changed since 1996 when, at that time, a barrel of oil was around $23. Now it costs around $70 per barrel.


Monday, August 12, 2019

The recent weekly summary on the Lebanese economy published by the Byblos Bank Economic Research and Analysis Department carried a story on Lebanon’s ranking in the 2019 KPMG Change Readiness Index (CRI). The CRI measures how effectively a country’s government, private and public enterprises, as well as people and civil society anticipate, prepare for, manage, and respond to change and cultivate opportunities. It is based on 150 variables grouped into three equally-weighted baskets: Enterprise Capability, Government Capability, and People and Civil Society Capability.

It will be of little surprise that Lebanon scored best on the enterprise capability with a global rank of 71, and worst on the government capability with a score of 93. Lebanon has rather weak rankings relative to others, comi...

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Lebanon has finally caught up with Israel in rankings; in this case it is negative, being tied for second place in the world for water stress, which occurs when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use. The World Resources Institute report ranks Lebanon second after Qatar and tied with Israel at 4.82, which means that Lebanon withdraws an average of more than 80% of its water supply every year. Baalbeck-Hermel province ranks the worst for water stress, with a score of 4.93 out of 5, where five denotes the highest stress levels.

Of the worst 17 countries, 12 are in the MENA region. The report points out that the situation can be reversed if Lebanon rebuilds and revamps its infrastructure to “better store its water supply...

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