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bankingMarch 14, 2021

Lebanon Currency Takes Another Downturn

The Lebanese pound hit an all-time low against the dollar Saturday, prompting money exchange shops in the area of Chtoura to shut their doors.

On Saturday, it was trading at nearly 13,000 pounds to the dollar on the black market, money exchangers told LBCI.

It took a new leap of 2,500 pounds in only 24 hours, said LBCI reporter from Chtoura.

Before Saturday’s downturn, the pound had hit 11,500 to the greenback on Friday.

LBCI reporter said money exchange shops could no longer meet the “crazy” market exchange demand and chose to shut their doors, also fearing legal persecution.

Angry new protests over a deepening economic crisis has thrown more than half of the Lebanese population into poverty.

The pound had been pegged to the dollar at 1,500 since 1997, but the country's worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war has seen its unofficial value plummet.

Hundreds of protesters blocked off roads in Beirut and other parts of the country for a week, some of them burning tyres.

Before the latest downturn, the pound had briefly stabilised at 8,000-8,500 to the greenback in recent weeks.

The dizzying depreciation came as the central bank started reviewing Lebanon's lenders, under international pressure for reform.

As part of a series of demands, it had given them a Sunday deadline to increase their capital by 20 percent.