I sniffed something was wrong in Lebanon when the Central Bank governor Riad Salame announced to us all that there were plenty of dollars in the system. No shortages. No tightening of the purse strings. I still have the papers with his announcement on page one.
Both before, during and after the 1975-1990 civil war, you’ve been able to pay for anything here in Lebanon in US dollars: dinner bills, rent, militias, guns (during the war), cars, airline tickets, groceries. The Lebanese pound fell amid the conflict but settled afterwards – courtesy of the country’s billionaire prime minister Rafiq Hariri – at 1,500 “Lebs” to the dollar.