Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Would a Lebanese trust a bank again?

Lately, a Lebanese banker said that if we combine what is left in the reserves of the Central Bank (currently 16 Billion Dollars), to what the Lebanese are hoarding in their houses as cash (estimated anywhere between 5 to 10 Billion Dollars), to what is left stuck in the Lebanese banking system (commonly known as Lollar, as coined by Dan Azzi), all this can be added together to relaunch the Lebanese economy.
On paper the idea makes much sense. In the end - what are banks for? Remember the ads with house loans, car loans, personal loans, business loans, heck, even plastic surgery loans, and all other loans? Those were supposed to sustain and launch enterprises, except of course for the bit when all this created a rentier economy based on interest rates, pseudo-Ponzi schemes, and the list continues (for details just check the daily life of an average Lebanese living in the age of hyper-inflation and super devaluation).
Now the bit where the banker went wrong is that - no person in his right mind would trust a bank in Lebanon for a long, long time. Granted, people have short memories, but really. Banks, as institutions have soiled their brands, their reason of existence, have breached the trust of their clients, and all in all have been either idiotic with people's money, or demonic in terms of self-enrichment for their management and top clients.
So basically, whereas the banker means well (I think, though not sure considering the antecedents), that man is not going to touch the money I managed to take out of the bank at a loss and which I am keeping at home. Not just me, I previously talked about how all Lebanese are doing this. In the end, it is this money that constitutes some sort of an insurance against - literally - poverty as the middle class is eroding faster than me writing this post.
Long, long time ago, Byblos Bank had an ad that went with a selling line "a bank for life"... But in English the saying goes, "he cheated on me once, shame on him. He cheated on me twice, shame on me", in my lexicon, banks have cheated us once. I do not want the experience repeated.