Analysis & Opinions

Why can’t Lebanon’s leaders fix its economic crisis?

| Oct. 21, 2021

Abstract

Last week in Beirut, gunmen opened fire on protesters objecting to the pace of the investigation into the city’s port explosion more than a year ago. Six people were killed and dozens wounded in deadly street fighting that echoed the country’s past civil war. Just a week earlier, Lebanon’s electricity grid collapsed for four hours a day — the latest visible sign of Lebanon’s economic crisis, which the World Bank called one of the “most severe crises episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century.”

How bad is it? In March 2020, the government defaulted on its foreign debt. Over the past two years Lebanon’s lira lost more than 90 percent of its value. Between 2018 and 2020, the size of Lebanese economy decreased by 40 percent. As the middle class dramatically shrinksthree-fourths of the population now lives under the poverty line. Persistent shortages of fuel and medicine result in long lines and even armed clashes at gas stations.

And yet Lebanese political groups have barely managed to organize a government, 13 months after parliamentary elections. Little suggests the leadership intends to attempt reform or explore accountability for these catastrophic failures.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Malik, Adeel and Jamal Ibrahim Haidar.“Why can’t Lebanon’s leaders fix its economic crisis?.” , October 21, 2021.

The Authors