Here is the opening:
These are among the latest symptoms of an economic implosion that is accelerating at an alarming pace in Lebanon as its government, its banks and its citizens run out of foreign currency simultaneously.
The Lebanese pound has lost over 60 percent of its value in just the past month, and 80 percent of its value since October. Prices are soaring and goods disappearing.
Bread, a staple of the Lebanese diet, is in short supply because the government can’t fund imports of wheat. Essential medicines are disappearing from pharmacies. Hospitals are laying off staff because the government isn’t paying its portion, and canceling surgeries because they don’t have electricity or the fuel to operate generators.
Newly impoverished people are taking to Facebook to offer to trade household items for milk. Crime is on the rise. In one widely circulated video, a man wearing a coronavirus mask and wielding a pistol holds up a drugstore and demands that the pharmacist hand over diapers.
“Lebanon is no longer on the brink of collapse. The economy of Lebanon has collapsed,” said Fawaz Gerges, professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. “The Lebanese model established since the end of the civil war in 1990 has failed. It was a house of glass, and it has shattered beyond any hope of return.”
Lebanon’s Western allies long ago made it clear that they won’t help out until the government undertakes efforts to reform the corrupt and bloated public sector. An $11 billion package of loans and investments has been on offer since 2018 — on the condition that the government undertake some limited changes. It hasn’t.
And if you had any doubts:
Staggering amounts are now missing from the banking system — perhaps as much as $100 billion, according to government figures.
Three-quarters of the deposits in the entire banking system were denominated in U.S. dollars, and many ordinary Lebanese may have lost most or all of their savings, said Jad Chaaban, an economist at the American University of Beirut.
Here is the full article by Liz Sly.