Judging by the flood of refugees seeking refuge in Europe amid a violent civil conflict, it goes without saying that Syria's economy lies in tatters. However, one surprising indicator suggests conditions, while indeed dire, perhaps aren't as bad as they could be, at least not yet.
Syria, now being ravaged by a civil uprising and an insurgency led by the militant group ISIS, has devastated growth in an economy the Heritage Foundation recently ranked as one of the least free in the world.
That tumult has not spared the Syrian pound, an illiquid currency that has plummeted by about 80 percent since the country's woes began four years ago. The conflict has caused Syria's economy to contract by 60 percent, according to estimates from Chatham House, a U.K.-based think tank.
In fact, a black currency market has emerged, with the pound selling at nearly double on the black market to its current exchange rate of 180 pounds per U.S. dollar, and recently plunged to a record low of more than 300 per dollar.
Curiously, the decline is what one economist called an "orderly, not chaotic, deterioration." Faint praise to be sure, but not bad considering the oil producer's current turmoil.
Looking at raw data rather than unnerving headlines, "the Syrian economy seems to be somewhat stable," Steve Hanke, the head of the Johns Hopkins Troubled Currencies Project and a scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute.
Today, the Syrian pound now sits on the Project's "Watch List," a rundown of currencies Hanke and his colleagues monitor in relation to their depreciation to the U.S. dollar.
Even with all that ails the country, Hanke told CNBC that the pound isn't faring as badly as one might think: The currency has actually seen an uptick that allowed the economist to move it from his "troubled currencies" list to a "watch" classification.