Lebanon’s lost opportunity
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Lebanon’s lost opportunity

The economy has been brought to a near standstill by domestic and regional political turmoil, but the country’s banks report rising deposits and profits and feel they can ride out the crisis. Dominic Dudley reports.

IF ANY ECONOMY in the Middle East should be inured to political unrest, it is Lebanon’s. The country has suffered more than its fair share of wars, political assassinations and the like, but even it has found the level of disruption this year unusual. From mid-January to mid-June, the country languished without a government, just as revolutions and uprisings elsewhere were moving ever closer, from Tunisia to Egypt and then right up to Syria on Lebanon’s border. One problem could perhaps be coped with, but the two events happening at the same time brought the economy shuddering to a virtual standstill.

After posting a 9.2% rise in GDP in the first half of 2010, Lebanon’s figure for the first half of 2011 was just 0.8%, according to Nassib Ghobril, chief economist at Byblos Bank, one of the country’s big three banks alongside Bank Audi and Blom Bank.

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