BEIRUT: Consumer Confidence, the measure of general confidence in an economy, and even more importantly the willingness of Lebanese citizens to spend money, continued its decline into the fourth quarter of last year - usually a time of Holiday making.
The results of the Byblos Bank/AUB Consumer Confidence Index for the fourth quarter of 2019 show that the Index averaged 47.8 points in the fourth quarter of 2019, constituting a decline of 30.7 percent from 69 points in the third quarter of 2019 and a decrease of 36.7 percent from 75.5 points in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a release Monday from Byblos Bank.
Further, the Byblos Bank/AUB Present Situation Index averaged 40.3 in the fourth quarter of 2019 and retreated by 35.4 percent from the preceding quarter, while the Byblos Bank/AUB Expectations Index averaged 52.8 and regressed by 28.1 percent from the third quarter of 2019.
The decline over the last quarter has been markedly steep. The average monthly score of the Index in the fourth quarter of 2019 was 54.8 percent lower than the quarterly peak score of 105.8 registered in the fourth quarter of 2008, and was 50.5 percent below the annual peak of 96.7 reached in full year 2009. The fourth-quarter results constitute the 21st lowest level in 50 quarters, the bank said.
Also, household sentiment plunged to its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2016, "As the mounting frustrations of Lebanese citizens at the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions led to the eruption of nationwide protests on October 17," said Nassib Ghobril, Chief Economist at the Byblos Bank Group, adding, “The accumulation of grievances over worsening economic conditions, and the increased dissatisfaction of citizens at the failure of the political class to address the long-standing socioeconomic challenges in the country, as well as to fight corruption and nepotism, triggered the protests. "
He noted, "But the perceived indifference and lack of urgency by the political class to address these concerns worsened the skepticism of households."
The Byblos Bank Economic Research and Analysis Department has been calculating the Index on a monthly basis since July 2007, with January 2009 as its base month. The Index is based on a face-to-face monthly survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,200 males and females living throughout Lebanon. The monthly field survey is conducted by Statistics Lebanon Ltd, a market research and opinion-polling firm.
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