Lebanese central bank governor: Dollar offered in market since government formed

A man heads to the Lebanese central bank, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (AP/Hussein Malla)
Updated 05 February 2019
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Lebanese central bank governor: Dollar offered in market since government formed

  • Lebanese leaders agreed a new national unity government last week after nearly nine months of political wrangling over how to share out cabinet portfolios
  • The Lebanese pound has been pegged against the dollar at its current level for more than two decades

BEIRUT: US dollars are being offered in Lebanon's local market to buy Lebanese pounds since the formation of a new government, Al-Jadeed television quoted the central bank governor, Riad Salameh, as saying on Tuesday.
Lebanese leaders agreed a new national unity government last week after nearly nine months of political wrangling over how to share out cabinet portfolios.
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri has said bold reforms must now be taken to address problems in the heavily indebted state, which has suffered from years of low economic growth and has some of the world's worst debt and balance-of-payment ratios.
The Lebanese pound has been pegged against the dollar at its current level for more than two decades.
"After the formation of the government the dollar has been offered in the local market to buy pounds and this restores the strength of the role of national currency in savings," Al-Jadeed quoted Salameh as saying from the presidential palace.
Presidential sources said President Michel Aoun had discussed the monetary situation at a meeting with Salameh.
Moody's said on Monday the government formation was positive for the country's credit rating as it should help unlock a $11 billion, five-year international support package offered last year.
The international institutions and foreign governments that pledged the support, mostly in the form of concessional loans, want to see government reforms to put the state finances on a sustainable path. 


Google puts up $1B to ease housing headaches it helped cause

In this May 1, 2019, file photo, a woman walks past a Google sign in San Francisco. Google is making a $1 billion commitment to address the soaring price of housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, a problem that the internet company and its Silicon Valley peers helped create as the technology industry hired tens of thousands of high-paid workers. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Google puts up $1B to ease housing headaches it helped cause

  • A report by Working Partnerships called upon Google to build more than 17,000 homes in the area to help offset the anticipated price increases caused by the new campus

SAN FRANCISCO: Google is pouring $1 billion into easing the high-priced housing headaches that it and its Silicon Valley peers helped give the San Francisco Bay Area.
The pledge announced Tuesday by Google CEO Sundar Pichai consists of a $250 million investment fund and $750 million of company-owned land. It will be used to build at least 15,000 homes that will include low- and mid-income housing.
Google’s commitment eclipsed a recent $500 million pledge made by Microsoft to combat housing shortages in the Seattle area and a $500 million housing fund created by a consortium including Facebook.
Google is extending a helping hand as it draws up plans to expand into sprawling offices beyond its headquarters in Mountain View, California. That suburban city of roughly 80,000 people has been swamped with affluent tech workers since Google moved there shortly after its 1998 inception.
Since then, Google’s payroll has swelled from a few dozen workers to the more than 103,000 people now working for it and its corporate parent, Alphabet Inc. Nearly half of those workers are based in the Bay Area.
While Google has been expanding, so have a wide variety of other technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Salesforce and Netflix — all of whom also lavish their workers with six-figure salaries and stock options that can yield multimillion-dollar windfalls.
The high incomes have resulted in bidding wars for the limited supply of homes in the Bay Area that can only be afforded by the affluent, a group increasingly dominated by tech workers, while people employed in other lines of work struggle to make ends meet on more modest incomes.
That is making it impossible for people on the lower end of the economic spectrum to buy a home in the Bay Area, where a mid-priced house sold for $990,000 in April, according to the California Association of Realtors, a trade group. In 1999, a mid-priced home sold for $308,000.
It’s even worse in San Francisco, a city from which many tech workers ride company buses to the Silicon Valley suburbs. A mid-priced house in San Francisco sold for nearly $1.7 million in April, according to the realtors’ group, quadruple the price of 20 years ago.
Google’s next big project will be in the Bay Area’s most populous city, San Jose, where it plans to build a corporate campus consisting of offices and housing where 15,000 to 20,000 of its employees will work and live.
The project faced resistance from community activists worried about its effect on housing prices. Last week, a report by Working Partnerships called upon Google to build more than 17,000 homes in the area to help offset the anticipated price increases caused by the new campus. The report by the labor-union backed labor group envisions apartment rent increases of $235 million by 2030 if action isn’t taken.
“For several months, we have encouraged Google to make a bold commitment to address our region’s affordable housing challenge,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement applauding the company’s $1 billion pledge.