You’d expect luxury goods imports to decrease dramatically when an economic crisis hit a country followed by a dramatic currency collapse, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in Lebanon where caviar imports, as highlighted by Jad Chaaban in his latest post, dropped significantly in 2019 but then increased dramatically from 0.5 in 2020 and 2021 to 3.2 tons in 2022. Cars imports also witnessed a major increase last year and even surpassed the 2018 number, while meats imports dropped slightly between 2019 and 2020 before increasing once again.

Why aren’t we taxing luxury goods higher? How can one explain these numbers when 92% of the Lebanese population made less than 400$ a month in 2021? Two words: Shadow economy, which now accounts to roughly 40% of Lebanon’s GDP.