Egypt's Economy Stumbles

Egypt's Economy Stumbles

Shortages of foreign exchange and limited growth make things precarious.

The corruption and excessive regulation keeps 40 percent of the economy underground. It will emerge only when the burden of demanding bureaucrats is lifted. This will require a major overhaul of the political and economic structure. Egyptian society is being torn between those impatient to have changes come quickly and the bureaucracy, the military and the established private sector seeking to maintain the status quo.

The lack of domestic savings means that foreign capital is desperately needed. While Cairo seeks to lure outside investors, populists are seeking to reverse the sale of industries by the previous administration, which was accused of selling off state enterprises below the real market value. It is giving potential investors another reason to doubt Egypt as a safe location. Foreign direct investment has fallen by 84 percent from its peak in 2007.

The forces that brought clashing mobs into the streets are still there. They are facing each other in a variety of ways and often beyond public view. The new movements do not have the time to mature into groups willing to negotiate. They are more inclined to turn any disagreement into street action. With so many grievances going unanswered by the administration, it’s a very safe bet that the mobs will be in the streets for a long time to come.

Felix Imonti is the retired director of a private equity firm.

Image: Wikimedia Commons/David P. CC BY-SA 2.0.