| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

Lebanon’s pound slides to new lows amid financial meltdown

The Lebanese pound continued to slump against the dollar on Friday and touched lows close to 10,000 to the dollar with exchange rates of 9,650/9,700 pounds per dollar in the black market.

Today’s rate is slightly higher than its previous close on Thursday at 9,550 LBP.

Lebanese banks had raised the exchange rate to 3,850 pounds per dollar for withdrawals from US dollar accounts as a liquidity crunch erodes the currency’s value. The pound remains officially pegged to the dollar at 1,507.5, but that rate remains available only for imports of wheat, medicine and fuel.

The Syndicate of Money Exchangers in Lebanon fixed the Lebanese pound at a rate hovering between 3,850 and 3,900 to the dollar.

“The rate is will be around 10,000 Lebanese pounds [against the dollar] in the next few days,” according to estimates by money exchangers.

Lebanon’s financial meltdown, the biggest crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, has fueled unrest, locked depositors out of their accounts and sparked a collapse in the currency, which has more than 70% of its value against the dollar.

A scarcity of liquidity in the country has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has overwhelmed all sectors, forcing nationwide lockdowns and curfew orders.

In parallel, political deadlock is still blocking the formation of a new cabinet. The Lebanese parties continue to bicker over their personal interests while the people are grappling with multiple crises, namely power outages, high prices of commodities, monopolistic practices, unemployment, poverty, etc.