Corm teaches the Lebanese opposition a few lessons

On al Manar TV...

This was picked up by Al Akhbar today. Former Finance Minister (but most importantly, economist, political scholar, and a few other things) Georges Corm says that Opposition groups have several topics they can talk about. To name but a few:

1- The “Daman” issue (social security) and how it depletes the State’s budget uselessly. Corm says that the Opposition groups should look at the root of the crisis in the 2000 government decision to cut back significantly subscriptions to the social scheme.

2- The alleged costs inflicted on the Lebanese economy because of the presence of demonstrators in downtown. By asking where does Finance Minister Azour gets his numbers from (and showing that 75 million dollars of losses is just logically impossible because all the business that goes on in DT does not amount to anything close to that number…), Corm incites the Opposition groups to try to track down these figures.

3- And that’s the best one: How come people buy stories of ‘economic disaster’ and ‘million digits worth of losses’ when our balance of payment is positive, exports have risen, our real estate sector is strong (land price going up too), etc. In short nobody questions the numbers that the parties in power give.

4- Corm demystifies the whole ‘International aid will help us get rid of our debt’ paradigm. First of all, even if international aid can help, it will be giving at the top most 2 billion dollars. The Debt is of 45… Corm also mentioned that Jordan and Egypt, with all their ass-licking-the-West strategies got peanuts in terms of debt relief.

PS: Of course (especially for 4) this was not the exact ‘Cormian’ phrasing (with all my respect for him I present my apologies). But yet I would tend to think that he may have phrased it this way in a more informal setting…


7 Replies to “Corm teaches the Lebanese opposition a few lessons”

  1. what utter rubbish..
    How can you publish such nonsense?
    OK, losses from downtown may not be 75million daily but, I dooubt it’s too far off.
    I dont have exact figures, but, just consider this…

    1. all the businesses that are shut because of the sit in.
    2. all the money that was spent during the nightlift – including disco’s nightclubs, restaurants etc..
    3. all the hotels that are now empty – which were – and should be fully booked this time of year
    4. the drop in tourist numbers
    5. all the people who have been laid off from their jobs because of the reduced demand for their services.
    6. a budget deficit that went up instead of down – because of the war and sit-in
    7. the foreign debt that went up significantly instead of down because of the war and sit in.
    8. pressure on the pound and stabilising the pound so that all the people dont lose all their savings.
    9. increased spending on military, police in controlling and patrolling the streets because of HA and other goons.
    10. rebuilding damaged infrastructure and compensating civilians who lost their homes… etc…..

    of all people to make such stupid remarks, I would have thought Corn would have more sense than that.

  2. i haven’t read the corm article, but with regards to his 75million comment, he is correct.

    75 million / day => 27.4 billion / year, while Lebanon’s GDP is only 20 billion $ (2006 est.)

  3. Yo cedop,
    It’s not because you look angry that you’re going to impress anyone with your arguments.

    1-Corm did not say that businesses have not lost anything in downtown. He just said that it is much less than anyone would think and it has to take into considerations other variables such as:
    2- He did say though that figures from the Lebanese government show that Touristic activity is up (you can check their website). now deal with that!
    3- the debt has nothing to do with the war. the debt is made of bonds issued by the government. unless the government issues new batches of T bills you won’t have a rise in debt. Or unless the interest rates goes up. None of this happened. and as the Central Bank stressed that the Lebanese Pound is ‘as strong as ever’, it means no need to change interest rate. Even the government does not say that the debt is up as a result of the war! only phony economists are talking like that!

    now that’s the funniest:
    9. increased spending on military, police in controlling and patrolling the streets because of HA and other goons.
    heheh you watch too many police American sitcoms… It’s you “the goon” hahahaha, it’s HA who should “spend money” to monitor the erratic behavior of the para-state armed organizations of the state.

    And the funniest of all:

    10. rebuilding damaged infrastructure and compensating civilians who lost their homes… etc…..

    Ok this needs to be answered slowly so that you understand the true extent of the ‘non-sense’ (as you like to say) of it:
    1- the government did not spend a dime on reconstruction. All the money is coming as donations from other countries.
    2- this money has been sitting in government’s coffers for months now, and nothing has been distributed.
    3- The only country that has been doing actual work is Qatar, because it chose to bypass the government and rebuild destroyed infrastructure itself.

  4. hey bech,

    i strongly congratulate you for your impressing demonstration.and i have an unbiased point of view…
    just one more point about the debt:
    have a quick look at the level of the public debt (and more especially at its level of growth)at these different times: 1992/1998/2000/2005/2007. you’ll be amazed by the result. roughly:
    – 1992/1998 2 bM $ to 35$ (approximatively as far as i remember) this is suffucient to understand that the july war is not responsible for this incredible level of debt (if we consider that today it’s, again roughly, about 45 bM$).

    see you

  5. Thanks for pointing this out Moon, I think not one serious economist would have it that the war had even the slightest bearing on the level of the debt. For the simple reason that

    a- the lebanese pound was never destabilized (because saudi Arabia and co were looking for a bright future after the war and nobody changed anything in teh economy.

    b- actually business activity picked up after the war as highlighted by G. Corm

    c- there was no issuing of T Bills that could increase the level of debt.

  6. Of the 10 or so Lebanese talking heads I have seen in person since I moved back to the states, George Corm was the only one who struck me as personally impressive with respect to intelligence, honesty, and integrity. Although I would grant that the competition was not much.

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