Lebanon sells cheapest Big Mac in the world as currency collapses

Lebanon sells cheapest Big Mac in the world as currency collapses
For those paid in Lebanese pounds, the Big Mac is becoming an increasingly unaffordable luxury. (Reuters)
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Updated 27 July 2021

Lebanon sells cheapest Big Mac in the world as currency collapses

Lebanon sells cheapest Big Mac in the world as currency collapses
  • Lebanese pound is 70 percent undervalued according to the Big Mac Index
  • A split is emerging between those paid in Lebanese pounds and those in dollars

RIYADH: Lebanon is home to the world’s cheapest Big Mac after the pound slumped in value, leaving it more than 70 percent undervalued against the US dollar, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

At 29,904 Lebanese pounds, a Big Mac is not cheap for those being paid in local currency, but with an exchange rate of 17,800 to the dollar, it costs just $1.68 for tourists and those lucky enough to get paid in dollars.

The slump in the Lebanese pound is exacerbating and accelerating inflation on a basic basket of goods, such as rice, sugar and flour, on a daily basis, said Lebanese economic analyst Bassel Al-Khatib.

Most people are paid in the local currency in Lebanon, where the national minimum wage stands at 675,000 Lebanese pounds per month, which was once worth almost $450 at the official exchange rate, but today barely fetches $30 on the black market, according to the Crisis Observatory at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

The Observatory said the cost of food has soared by 700 percent over the past two years, and this increase had picked up pace to 50 percent in the past few weeks alone.

Most Lebanese people are getting poorer on a daily basis, pushing some of them to sell their gold, cars and even furniture to survive, while others wait for US dollar transfers from their relatives abroad, or wait for civil society aid, Al-Khatib told Arab News.

This is all reflected in Lebanese social media, which is flooded with donation requests for new-born baby milk and medications that are not available anymore in the markets or are sold for extremely high prices. There are also numerous donation requests for people in need of food.

At the same time, others are sharing their expensive restaurant bills, such as Babel Baher who spent 5 million Lebanese pounds on a meal and posted the cheque on Facebook.

“$250 is almost nothing for someone coming from abroad,” a Facebook user called Rania wrote under the post. “This is a very cheap bill for someone who has US dollars and this dinner is not expensive at all compared to abroad.”

Al Khatib said that those paid in US dollars are living an affordable life with only $300 out of their salaries while before they needed $3,000 to have the same quality of life.

“The patchwork policies to support some commodities is not helping as all commodities that are subsidized are smuggled, ” said Al Khatib.

The country’s mismanagement with no plan or economic vision to save Lebanon from its worsening crisis, led us here, and there are no positive prospects as long as there are no radical solutions in the country, he said.


European shares slide 1% to near two-month low on global growth worries

European shares slide 1% to near two-month low on global growth worries
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 8 sec ago

European shares slide 1% to near two-month low on global growth worries

European shares slide 1% to near two-month low on global growth worries
  • European shares sank 1 percent to a near two-month low on Monday
  • The benchmark European stocks index has now fallen for three straight weeks on worries about slowing global growth

European shares sank 1 percent to a near two-month low on Monday, tracking Asian equities lower, as investors feared major central banks would start giving cues about tapering their pandemic-era stimulus programs at various meetings this week.


The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 1.4 percent in early trading, with energy and mining stocks leading declines on a slide in commodities prices.


The benchmark European stocks index has now fallen for three straight weeks on worries about slowing global growth and the spillover from tighter regulation of Chinese firms.


The U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting is in focus on Tuesday and Wednesday, where the central bank is expected to lay the groundwork for a tapering. On Thursday, the Bank of England holds its own policy meeting.


German shares slumped 1.6 percent as data showed a bigger-than-expected jump in producer prices last month.


In its biggest ever overhaul, the benchmark German index began trading on Monday with an increase in the number of constituents to 40 from 30.
 


Saudi remains China's top oil supplier as arrivals surge

Saudi remains China's top oil supplier as arrivals surge
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 7 min 58 sec ago

Saudi remains China's top oil supplier as arrivals surge

Saudi remains China's top oil supplier as arrivals surge
  • Saudi oil arrivals surged 53 percent from a year earlier to 8.06 million tonnes
  • Shipments from the United Arab Emirates fell nearly 40 percent year-on-year

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, kept its ranking as China's top crude supplier for a ninth straight month in August as major producers relaxed production cuts.

Saudi oil arrivals surged 53 percent from a year earlier to 8.06 million tonnes, or 1.96 million barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Monday.

That compares with 1.58 million bpd in July and 1.24 million bpd in August last year.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, decided in July to ease production cuts and increase supply by a further 2 million bpd, adding 0.4 million bpd a month from August until December. In July, OPEC output increased by 640,000 bpd to 26.66 million bpd. read more

China's crude oil imports from Russia stood at 6.53 million tonnes in August, or 1.59 million bpd, flat versus 1.56 million bpd in July.

The big gap behind Saudi volumes was due to Beijing's decision to slash crude oil import quotas to its independent refiners, who favour Russia's ESPO blend.

Crude oil arrivals from Malaysia more than doubled from year-ago levels to 1.75 million tonnes, with traders saying refiners might have rebranded Venezuelan heavy oil previously passed on as bitumen blend into Malaysian crude after Beijing imposed hefty import taxes on blending fuels. read more

Meanwhile, shipments from the United Arab Emirates fell nearly 40 percent year-on-year, a possible sign demand for Iranian oil passed on as grades including UAE supplies remained lacklustre after peak arrivals early this year.

Official data has consistently recorded zero imports from Iran or Venezuela since the start of this year. 


Growth in ESG, Islamic investments support stronger asset inflows in the GCC: Moody’s

Growth in ESG, Islamic investments support stronger asset inflows in the GCC: Moody’s
Updated 29 min 49 sec ago

Growth in ESG, Islamic investments support stronger asset inflows in the GCC: Moody’s

Growth in ESG, Islamic investments support stronger asset inflows in the GCC: Moody’s
  • There will be a significant increase in demand for ESG-compliant investment products, around 38 percent of respondents said

DUBAI: The growing demand in Islamic and environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-compliant investments is expected to increase asset inflows over the next 12 months.

This is according to asset managers in Gulf countries, based on Moody’s 2021 survey of chief investment officers (CIOs) from eight leading fund firms.

“Half of CIO respondents expect double-digit growth in net inflows, and another 33% foresee a high single-digit increase,” Vanessa Robert, vice-president of senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service said.

“Improved investment results and stronger fees, already comparatively high in the GCC region, will further support revenue growth,” she added.

There will be a significant increase in demand for ESG-compliant investment products, around 38 percent of respondents said, while half of them expect sales of Islamic products will grow faster than sales of conventional investments in the next year.

The report also found around 50 percent of respondents said they were open to merger and acquisition activities within the next two years


France’s OVHCloud takes first step toward IPO and hopes to raise around $470m

France’s OVHCloud takes first step toward IPO and hopes to raise around $470m
Updated 20 September 2021

France’s OVHCloud takes first step toward IPO and hopes to raise around $470m

France’s OVHCloud takes first step toward IPO and hopes to raise around $470m
  • OVHCloud hopes the IPO will “accelerate its growth trajectory and consolidate its European leadership position while continuing to expand in North America and Asia”

PARIS: French cloud computing services provider OVHcloud said it was hoping to raise 400 million euros ($468.64 million) via the issuance of new shares as part of a planned initial public offering (IPO) on the Paris stock market.
OVHCloud hopes the IPO will “accelerate its growth trajectory and consolidate its European leadership position while continuing to expand in North America and Asia,” the company said, as it released its IPO registration document.
The family-owned company added on Monday that it was targeting a revenue growth of 10-15 percent for 2022 and an organic revenue growth rate in the mid-twenties by 2025.
These growth targets would be achieved while maintaining an adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) margin in line with the fiscal 2020 level.
No dividend payments were anticipated in the mid-term with cash-flows expected to be re-invested in line with the company’s accelerating growth trajectory, it added.
Following the IPO, the Klaba family will retain a substantial majority stake in OVHcloud.
The company had initially announced its IPO plans in March, two days before a major blaze destroyed one of its data centers in eastern France — a disaster that had raised concerns about its capacity to go public.
In June, OVHCloud re-committed to an IPO but provided no timetable.


Pakistan banks move to close gender gap

Pakistan banks move to close gender gap
Updated 20 September 2021

Pakistan banks move to close gender gap

Pakistan banks move to close gender gap
  • The policy titled “Banking on Equality: Reducing the Gender Gap in Financial Inclusion” identified five key pillars

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) launched a gender mainstreaming policy, which aims to reduce the gender gap in the financial industry and improve women’s access to financial services, a statement said.

The policy titled “Banking on Equality: Reducing the Gender Gap in Financial Inclusion” identified five key pillars, according to the statement issued on Friday.

It will aim at improving gender diversity in financial institutions and their access points; developing and marketing women centric products and services; creating women desks at bank branches for improved facilitation for women customers; cgathering gender-disaggregated data and target setting; and institutionalizing a policy forum on Gender at SBP.

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