Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. US Housing Market Real Estate Crash The Next Shoe To Drop – Part II - Chris_Vermeulen
2.The Coronavirus Greatest Economic Depression in History? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.US Real Estate Housing Market Crash Is The Next Shoe To Drop - Chris_Vermeulen
4.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications and AI Mega-trend Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Are Coronavirus Death Statistics Exaggerated? Worse than Seasonal Flu or Not?- Nadeem_Walayat
6.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications, Global Recession and AI Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Fourth Turning Accelerating Towards Debt Climax - James_Quinn
8.Dow Stock Market Trend Analysis and Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Britain's FAKE Coronavirus Death Statistics Exposed - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Commodity Markets Crash Catastrophe Charts - Rambus_Chartology
Last 7 days
Fasten Your Seatbelts Stock Market Make Or Break – Big Trends Ahead - 17th Sep 20
Peak Financialism And Post-Capitalist Economics - 17th Sep 20
Challenges of Working from Home - 17th Sep 20
Sheffield Heading for Coronavirus Lockdown as Covid Deaths Pass 432 - 17th Sep 20
What Does this Valuable Gold Miners Indicator Say Now? - 16th Sep 20
President Trump and Crimes Against Humanity - 16th Sep 20
Slow Economic Recovery from CoronaVirus Unlikely to Impede Strong Demand for Metals - 16th Sep 20
Why the Knives Are Out for Trump’s Fed Critic Judy Shelton - 16th Sep 20
Operation Moonshot: Get Ready for Millions of New COVAIDS Positives in the UK! - 16th Sep 20
Stock Market Approaching Correction Objective - 15th Sep 20
Look at This Big Reminder of Dot.com Stock Market Mania - 15th Sep 20
Three Key Principles for Successful Disruption Investors - 15th Sep 20
Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager Warns of 10% Inflation - 15th Sep 20
Gold Price Reaches $2,000 Amid Dollar Depreciation - 15th Sep 20
GLD, IAU Big Gold ETF Buying MIA - 14th Sep 20
Why Bill Gates Is Betting Millions on Synthetic Biology - 14th Sep 20
Stock Market SPY Expectations For The Rest Of September - 14th Sep 20
Gold Price Gann Angle Update - 14th Sep 20
Stock Market Recovery from the Sharp Correction Goes On - 14th Sep 20
Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
The Silver Big Prize - 13th Sep 20
U.S. Shares Plunged. Is Gold Next? - 13th Sep 20
Why Are 7,500 Oil Barrels Floating on this London Lake? - 13th Sep 20
Sheffield 432 Covid-19 Deaths, Last City Centre Shop Before Next Lockdown - 13th Sep 20
Biden or Trump Will Keep The Money Spigots Open - 13th Sep 20
Gold And Silver Up, Down, Sideways, Up - 13th Sep 20
Does the Stock Market Really "See" the Future? - 12th Sept 20
Basel III and Gold, Silver and Platinum - 12th Sept 20
Tech Stocks FANG Index Nearing Critical Support – Could Breakout At Any Moment - 12th Sept 20
The Tech Stocks Quantum AI EXPLOSION is Coming! - 12th Sept 20
AMD Zen 3 Ryzen 4000 Questions Answered on Cores, Prices, Benchmarks and Threadripper Launch - 12th Sept 20
The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
Gold / Silver Ratio: Slowly I Toined… - 11th Sep 20
Stock Market Correction or Reversal? The Jury Isn't Out! - 11th Sep 20
Crude Oil – The Bearish Outlook Remains - 11th Sep 20
Crude Oil Breaks Lower – Sparking Fears Of Another Sub $30 Price Collapse - 11th Sep 20
Inflation by Fiat - 10th Sep 20
Unemployment Rate Drops. Will It Drag Gold Down? - 10th Sep 20
How Does The Global Economy Recover After This Global Pandemic? - 10th Sep 20
The Best Mobile Casino - 10th Sep 20
QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
AMD Ryzen Zen 3 4800x 10 Core 5ghz CPU, Cinebench Benchmark Scores (Est.) - 9th Sep 20
Stock Traders’ Dreams Come True – Big Technical Price Swings Pending on SP500 - 9th Sep 20
Should You Be Concerned About The Stock Market Big Downside Rotation? - 9th Sep 20
Options Traders Keep "Opting" for Even Higher Stock Market Prices - 8th Sep 20
Gold Stocks in Correction Mode - 8th Sep 20
The law of long-term time preference and Gold ownership - 8th Sep 20
Gold Bull Markets: History and Prospects Ahead - 8th Sep 20
Sheffield City Centre Coronavirus Shopping Opera Ahead of Second Covid-19 Peak - 8th Sep 20
Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
From Trump’s TikTok Mess to US Tech Cold War against China - 7th Sep 20
The Federal Reserve vs. Judy Shelton And Gold - 7th Sep 20
Fed Dials Up Inflation Target…Own Gold - 7th Sep 20
Does Gold Still Have Plenty of Potential? - 7th Sep 20
CDC Shock Admission - THERE IS NO PANDEMIC! Over 90% of Deaths NOT From COVID19 - 7th Sep 20
Stock Market SPX to Gold/Silver Ratios Explored – What To Expect Next - 7th Sep 20
Is the Precious Metals Market really Overwhelmed and Chaotic - 7th Sep 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

Egypt's Next Crisis: The Economy

Economics / Middle East Feb 18, 2011 - 03:27 AM GMT

By: STRATFOR

Economics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleUntil just a few years ago, Egypt’s ruling military elite was able to “borrow” money from Egyptian banks with no intention of paying it back. President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal changed all that, reforming and privatizing the system in order to build an empire for himself. For the first time in centuries, Egypt’s financial position was not entirely dependent upon outside forces. Now, Mubarak and his reform-minded son are out of the picture and Egypt has a budget deficit and a government debt load that are teetering on the edge of sustainability.


Analysis

Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit called on the international community Feb. 15 to help speed Egypt’s economic recovery. Such foreign assistance will certainly be essential, but only in part because of the economic disruptions caused by the recent protests. Even more important, the political machinations that led to the protests indicate Egypt’s economic structure is about to revert to a dependence upon outside assistance.

Egypt is one of the most undynamic economies of the world. The Nile River Delta is not navigable at all, and it is crisscrossed by omnipresent irrigation canals in order to make the desert bloom. This imposes massive infrastructure costs upon Egyptian society at the same time as it robs it of the ability to float goods cheaply from place to place. This mix of high capital demands and low capital generation has made Egypt one of the poorest places in the world in per capita terms. There just has not been money available to fund development.

As a result, Egypt lacks a meaningful industrial base and is a major importer of consumer goods, machinery, vehicles, wood products (there are no trees in the desert) and foodstuffs (Egypt imports roughly half of its grain needs). Egypt’s only exports are a moderate amount of natural gas and fertilizer, a bit of oil, cotton products and some basic metals.

The bottom line is that even in the best of times Egypt faces severe financial constraints — its budget deficit is normally in the range of 7 to 9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — and with the recent political instability, these financial pressures are rising.

The protests have presented Egypt with a cash-crunch problem. At $13 billion in annual revenues, tourism is the country’s most important income stream. The recent protests shut down tourism completely — at the height of the tourist season, no less. The Egyptian government estimates the losses to date at about $1.5 billion. Military rule, tentatively expected to last for the next six months, is going to crimp tourism income for the foreseeable future. Simultaneously, the government wants to put together a stimulus package to get things moving again. Details are almost nonexistent at present, but a good rule of thumb for stimulus is that it must be at least 1 percent of GDP — a bill of about $2 billion. So assuming that everything goes back to normal immediately — which is unlikely — the government would have to come up with $3.5 billion from somewhere.

Which brings us to financing the deficit, and here we get into some of the political intrigue that toppled former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

One cannot simply walk out of Egypt, so since the time of the pharaohs the Egyptian leadership has commanded a captive labor pool. This phenomenon meant more than simply having access to very cheap labor (free in ancient times); it also meant having access to captive money. Just as the pharaohs exploited the population to build the pyramids, the modern-day elite — the military leadership — exploited the population’s deposits in the banking system. This military elite — or, more accurately, the firms it controlled — took out loans from the country’s banks without any intention of paying them back. This practice enervated the banks in particular and the broader economy in general and contributed to Egypt’s chronic capital shortage. It also forced the government to turn to external sources of financing to operate, in particular the U.S. government, which was happy to play the role of funds provider during the final decade of the Cold War. There were many results, with high inflation, volatile living standards and overall exposure to international financial whims and moods being among the more disruptive.

Over the past 20 years, three things have changed this environment. First, as a reward for Egypt’s participation in the first Gulf War, the United States arranged for the forgiveness of much of Egypt’s outstanding foreign debt. Second, with the Cold War over, the United States steadily dialed back its economic assistance to Egypt. Since its height in 1980, U.S. economic assistance has dwindled by over 80 percent in real terms to under a half-billion dollars annually, forcing Cairo to find other ways to cover the difference (although Egypt is still the second-largest recipient of American military aid). But the final — and most decisive factor — was internal.

Mubarak’s son Gamal sought to change the way Egypt did business in order to build his own corporate empire. One of the many changes he made was empowering the central bank to actually enforce underwriting standards at the banks. The effort began in 2004, and early estimates indicated that as many as one in four outstanding loans had no chance of repayment. By 2010 the system was largely reformed and privatized, and the military elite’s ability to tap the banks for “loans” had largely disappeared. The government was then able to step into that gap and tap the banks’ available capital to fund its budget deficit. In fact, it is this arrangement that allowed Egypt to weather the recent global financial crisis as well as it did. For the first time in centuries, Egypt’s financial position was not entirely dependent upon outside forces. The government’s total debt load remains uncomfortably high at 72 percent of GDP, but its foreign debt load is only 11 percent of GDP. The economy was hardly thriving, but economically, Egypt was certainly a more settled place. For example, Egypt now has a mortgage market, which did not exist a decade ago.

From Gamal Mubarak’s point of view, four problems had been solved. The government had more stable financing capacity, the old military guard had been weakened, the banks were in better shape, and he was able to build his own corporate empire on the redirected financial flows in the process. But these changes and others like them earned the Mubarak family the military’s ire. Mubarak and his reform-minded son are out of the picture now, and the reform effort with them. With the constitution suspended, the parliament dissolved and military rule the order of the day, it stretches the mind to think that the central bank will be the singular institution that will retain any meaningful policy autonomy. If the generals take the banks back for themselves, Egypt will have no choice but to seek international funds to cover its budget shortfalls. Incidentally, we do not find it surprising that now — five days after the protests ended — the banks are still closed by order of the military government.

Yet Egypt cannot simply tap international debt markets like a normal country. While its foreign debt load is small, its total debt levels are very similar to states that have faced default and/or bailout problems in the past. An 8-percent-of-GDP budget deficit and a 72-percent-of-GDP government debt load are teetering on the edge of what is sustainable. As a point of comparison, Argentina defaulted in 2001 with a 60-percent-of-GDP debt load, and it had far more robust income streams. Even if Egypt can find some interested foreign investors, the cost of borrowing will be prohibitively high, and the amounts needed are daunting. Plainly stated, Cairo needed to come up with $16 billion annually just to break even before the crisis and the likely banking changes that will come along with it.

By George Friedman

This analysis was just a fraction of what our Members enjoy, Click Here to start your Free Membership Trial Today! "This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR"

© Copyright 2011 Stratfor. All rights reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis.

STRATFOR Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Comments

pcow
18 Feb 11, 10:01
Egypt

I am agree with this news article. I think all should work for Egypt's economy. And no more violence. Protesters will do hard work for their country. Because they now free.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules