Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lebanese Economy in 2007: Brief Review

While Syria's goons - led primarily by Hizballah - have threatened a series of civil disturbance actions [one of which we witnessed yesterday just before the attack on a U.S. Embassy vehicle] meant to intimidate the country into handing all executive authority back to Syria and its instruments in the country, I thought it would be interesting to briefly highlight the state of the economy in the country...

...especially as social and economic woes will be the guise under which the protests will take place [kinda like those barely perceptible labour strikes we were hit with last January before the attempted coup - or coup rehearsal]. In any case, here is the briefest of looks at Lebanon's economic situation in 2007 provided by the Oxford Business Group [HatTip David B. Kenner],
Rather remarkably, given the political turmoil, some elements of Lebanon's economy functioned quite well during the year. On January 8, 2008 the finance ministry announced the state deficit for the first 11 months of 2007 had been reduced from 37% to 31%. To the 11 months ending November 30, Lebanon recorded a primary budgetary surplus, excluding debt servicing costs, of $643m, a 372% improvement over the same period in 2006.


One area that saw little improvement during the year was Lebanon's debt level, which remained fixed at $41bn, 185% percent of GDP. Servicing that debt ate up 48% of the state's revenues of $5.3bn to the end of November, with wages payments to public servants being the next largest singe expense, an expense the government wants to reduce through reforming the civil service in the coming year.

Read more here.
And if you think having debt is bad, consider how bad it is when a country can't even conduct an analysis of the short-term costs of that debt vs. the long-run benefits derived from an economic policy based on the long-term infrastructural investments [supposedly] built with that debt.

But then again, it is hard to do any such analysis when those benefits are blown to smithereens in a July War of a certain group's [Hizballah's] making and all you're left with are coffins, burnt cinders, and - of course, the debt.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. debt of Lebanon will only get worse with all political parties not agreeing to anything. Also the current government is only focused to beautify one area in the country and ignore the rest of the country. Give me one example when Lebanese government decided to invest in the suburbs of Beirut, such as Dahieh? Also Lebanon was at its highest debt to GDP even before the war, and the rich to poor income ratio is huge. Moreover, you compared 2007 and 2006 data (data source?) but did not include 2005? Why? The debt level in Lebanon is very high because the country is not improving its infrastructure, education, labor force, public sector and rural/urban areas across ALL the country. Corruption is at its highest level. Can you tell me if the money received for aiding Lebanon post the war was spent to reconstruct a single area in the areas that were damaged the worse?
    Wasta is still number one and many people are without jobs.

    If you consider Hizballah as Syria's goons, then people like you are Israeli goons.

  3. Anonymous4:30 AM

    Dahieh is not part of Lebanon anymore! it is Land that belongs to the Lebanese State or to Christians and Sunnis and was taken by Shiite militias by force during the civil war and illegally occupied, and now it is a defacto mini iran inside Lebanon where the Lebanese State has no say, so why should the Lebanese people even care about the filthy place called occupied dahieh???

  4. Arabic Coffee Pot4:40 AM

    Give me one example when Lebanese government decided to invest in the suburbs of Beirut, such as Dahieh?

    I recall a certain Minister (or was he an under-Minister) getting attacked by Hiballah goons back in 2004 at the inauguration of a bridge in Ouzai (same story as Dahieh).

    LOL, I love the bit about not improving infrastructure, this from a guy who supports the one party who (with the help of Israel, of course) managed to destroy all the infrastructure.

    Bravo ya shater, you're very smart Tarek. Now if you care about something called Lebanon, get over yourself and see whats happening in the country.

  5. BJ,

    Unfortunately, no matter who one turns to, no Lebanese leader or party is equipped or willing to deal with the real issues.

    One one hand, the Lebanese gov't is certainly corrupt. On the other, Hezb'O & Co. have contributed much to that corruption, and now the ballooning deficit. It is sad when someone shows facts, only to be attacked by nefarious idiots who call him an "Israeli goon"...

    Through its serial callousness and blind alignment with Iran, ShaterHassan and his flock are serving the long term Interest of all of Lebanon's enemies. You cannot rely on outsider to impose your will on your fellow Lebanese without paying the price; most of the Lebanese leaders assassinated in the past have learned that first hand.

  6. Anonymous2:37 AM

    Hezbillah is the enemy of Lebanon

  7. And Israel would not be an enemy of Lebanon if Lebanon would stop being used as an aft based for terror acts against its population. Let's face it, Israel is far from perfect, treats Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular as subhumans and uses most of the time the most heavy handed counterproductive approach it can. But the alternative in the Middle-East, especially the ones like Hezbollah, Hamas, the FPLP and tutti quanti are a lot worse. So when they justify their violence, illegal acts and destabilisation of the states which host them by the "resistance to Israel", let me laugh. People should clear then own backyard first. When Syria, Iran, Egypt and even Lebanon will be as "bad" as Israel is, then maybe their cronies will have the moral right to talk. Until then, we will have regular episodes like the sad war of last year... :-(

  8. Arabic Coffee Pot8:16 PM

    Israel and Syria as just as bad. While the Syrians don't practice discrimmination in their oppression the Israelis do. They're both just as bad.


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