by Patrick Fearon-Hernandez, CFA
Working at NATO Headquarters in Brussels in the 1990s was a diverse experience: my coworker was Belgian, my boss was British, his boss was French and our secretary was Turkish. But what felt especially exotic were my weekends in eastern Belgium, on the Dutch border, with my Turkish, Egyptian and Lebanese friends. Many nights were spent in the clubs of Liège, Leuven and Maastricht! I wonder how much hearing I lost to the throbbing beat of Eurotech and World Pop. There I got my first taste of flamenco-rock and the intoxicating, wavering Arabic stars like Lebanon’s Haifa Wehbe. It felt like I was reliving Beirut in its heyday.
But that Beirut was already gone, destroyed by Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war. My Lebanese friends were refugees who might never go home. Although a fragile peace may have been put into place, the country was not healed. And now, throughout the autumn of 2019, mass political protests have paralyzed the country and highlighted its continuing problems. In this report, we’ll explain what’s behind the turmoil and why it may continue. As always, we’ll conclude with the ramifications for investors.