Lebanon's economy is experiencing a stuttering return to its former position as a leader in the Middle East. The Daily Star (Beirut) recently reported that GDP growth was zero in the first quarter of 2005.
The paper also reported that tourism was down in the first four months of 2005, as were other indicators of economic health such as exports and construction permits. The country's port activity also slowed.
Consumers were not helping. Deposits by consumers in Lebanon's banks declined by $1.5-billion adding more uncertainty to Lebanon's situation.
Nonetheless, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting 4 percent GDP growth for 2005. This would follow 5 percent growth in 2004, and 3 percent growth in 2003. Inflation, according to the IMF, is also under better control in 2005. The IMF is predicting that Lebanon's rate of inflation will increase by only 2 percent. Last year the rate of inflation increased by 3 percent, and in 2003 the increase...