Finding solutions to the current socio-economic crisis in Lebanon.
Finding solutions to the current political situation in Niger.
The current socio-economic crisis in Lebanon is multi-faceted and has been exacerbated by several factors, including an economic and financial crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut in August 2020. The crisis began in October 2019 and has led to a significant economic contraction, with the nominal GDP plummeting from about US$52 billion in 2019 to an estimated US$23.1 billion in 2021. This drastic reduction has caused a sharp decline in disposable income and reclassified Lebanon from an upper middle-income to a lower-middle-income country. The banking sector, facing severe challenges, has informally adopted strict capital controls, ceased lending, and does not attract deposits, exacerbating the economic situation. One proposed solution to stabilize the Lebanese economy is the introduction of a currency board. A currency board issues notes and coins convertible on demand into a foreign anchor currency at a fixed rate of exchange and is required to hold anchor-currency reserves equal to 100 percent of its monetary liabilities. Unlike the previous pegged exchange-rate regime, a currency board has no discretionary monetary powers and cannot issue credit, potentially providing more stability. The successful implementation of currency boards in countries like Hong Kong, Estonia, Lithuania, and Bulgaria suggests that this could be a viable option for Lebanon.
The political situation in Niger has been significantly impacted by a recent military coup. On July 26, a military junta seized power, arresting the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum and suspending the constitution. This action has been met with widespread condemnation from regional and international organizations, including the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations, and various countries. In response to the coup, ECOWAS has warned of potential military intervention against the junta and has imposed economic sanctions and cut off electricity to Niger. These actions aim to restore democratic governance but also risk exacerbating the country's existing challenges. The coup's leaders have justified their actions by citing poor governance, poverty, and unsuccessful military campaigns against jihadist insurgents. The situation is complex, with the putschists using governance issues and poverty as justifications for their actions. Niger has historically been a strategically important country for Western powers in the fight against terrorism, hosting approximately 1,000 American soldiers and a French military base. However, despite significant natural resources, Niger faces extreme poverty and governance issues, contributing to growing anti-Western sentiment in the region.
Crisan Zoe (she/her)
Rosca Stefan (he/him)