Lebanon Needs Drastic Steps to Avoid Bankruptcy
There is no doubt that the main economic challenge before the new Lebanese government is the burden of the public debt, which has recently grown at an alarming pace. The lack of growth and the widening fiscal deficit are putting great pressure on public finances. This puts the central bank in front of serious risks, not least of which is the high inflation rate and what may happen at the monetary level if the appropriate monetary policy is not implemented to support the Lebanese pound.
By the end of January, Lebanon’s public debt had reached $64 billion and its debt-to-GDP ratio has reached 163.1%. It should be noted that the debt in Lebanese pounds reached the equivalent of $37.8 billion, up 12.6%, while foreign currency debt increased by 6.7% to reach $26.1 billion. The rate of growth of the public debt is worrisome because it has exceeded 10%, and gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2012-13 didn’t exceed 2%. In other words, the debt is growing faster than the economy at a rate exceeding 500%. One doesn’t need to be well-versed in economics to see that the country is heading for bankruptcy.