International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This paper discusses findings of the assessment of Lebanon’s financial system. Lebanon has maintained financial stability for the last quarter century during repeated shocks and challenges. Over time, macroeconomic and financial vulnerabilities have accumulated. Although central bank policies have helped to maintain confidence, fiscal adjustment is needed to reduce risks to financial stability. The banking system has thus far proven resilient to domestic shocks and regional turmoil, but the materialization of severe shocks could expose vulnerabilities. Significant progress has been made to further strengthen Lebanon’s financial integrity framework, with some scope for improvement remaining.
Using narrative-based country-case studies, war episodes in the Middle East were examined to assess their economic impact on conflict and neighboring economies. The paper found that conflicts led to a contraction in growth, higher inflation, large fiscal and current account deficits, loss of reserves, and a weakened financial system. Post-conflict recovery depended on the economic and institutional development of the country, economic structure, duration of the war, international engagement, and prevailing security conditions. The net economic impact on neighboring countries varied according to their initial economic conditions, number and income level of refugees they hosted, economic integration, and external assistance.
Mr. Sami Ben Naceur, Barbara Casu, and Hichem Ben-Khedhiri
This study examines the effect of financial-sector reform on bank performance in selected Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries in the period 1994 -2008. We evaluate bank efficiency in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and Tunisia by means of Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and we employ a meta-frontier approach to calculate efficiency scores in a cross-country setting. We then employ a second-stage regression to investigate the impact of institutional, financial, and bank specific variables on bank efficiency. Overall, the analysis shows that, despite similarities in the process of financial reforms undertaken in the five MENA countries, the observed efficiency levels of banks vary substantially across markets, with Morocco consistently outperforming the rest of the region.Differences in technology seem to be crucial in explaining efficiency differences. To foster banking sector performance, policies should be aimed at giving banks incentives to improve their risk management and portfolio management techniques. Improvements in the legal system and in the regulatory and supervisory bodies would also help to reduce inefficiency.
This report assesses performance of Lebanon Under the Program Supported by Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance (EPCA). The performance has remained broadly favorable, though there has been limited progress on structural reforms. The end-June quantitative target on international reserves was met by a wide margin. Although the primary balance target was also met, the program ceiling on net government financing by the Banque du Liban (BdL) was missed. The BdL has adopted formal policies for the selection, appointment, and rotation of the BdL’s external auditors.
Based on data collected on a wide range of financial sector indicators, new indices of financial development for countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are constructed, encompassing six themes: development of the monetary sector and monetary policy, banking sector development, nonbank financial development, regulation and supervision, financial openness, and institutional quality. The paper finds that the degree of financial development varies across the region. Some countries have relatively well-developed banking sectors and regulatory and supervisory regimes. However, across the region, more needs to be done to reinforce the institutional environment and promote nonbank financial sector development. Based on a subset of indicators, the MENA region is found to compare favorably with a few other regions, but it ranks far behind the industrialized countries and East Asia.