The Circus is Here, What About the Bread?

The entertainment value of the current Egyptian scene is obvious. Whether by design or accident the current people in charge (if any?) have provided the circus (see Abu Ismael’s Mother). But can they provide the bread?

The current economics situation of Egypt is precarious. While the long term prospects for Egypt are great, the short term situation is near disastrous.  A country that relies on imports for half its food can not be running out of foreign reserves without expecting a “bread revolution”. It seems to be a near deadly combination of no one minding the store and a whole array of forces looking out for their short term gains.

If there is going to be any hope of avoiding a nasty explosion whoever minding the store needs to :

1- Mount a massive effort to restore tourism to bolster currency reserves. This involves a clean up of the security situation and reduction in street protests and what the Egyptians aptly call “Kalam Fadi”, nonsense talk about Islamic dress and other tourism-inhibiting rules.

2- Convince the IMF that there are adults minding the store, that will bring short-term relief and also improve the investment environment. The current bickering between the Military and MB is a farce, except not a terribly funny one. Neither inspires confidence that they can manage anything resembling the size of Egypt. Even Mubarak did better!

3- Start talking seriously about long term economic development, and it is not the stuff El-Shater and his crew are currently peddling. Wealthy as they are, they seem like rank amateurs as economists.

There is a simple and quick solution to all that, if the so-called Egyptian patriots are willing to engage in it. Appoint a strong Prime Minister with broad powers for 6 months or so, someone like El-Baradei who has a record of un-compromised politics and an excellent image abroad. This will provide relief for a few months until a new President is elected and also provide a transitional period for the President to get a grip on the situation and also for the Constitution to be completed. The current crew of mysterious and inept generals, kindly Uncle Katatny, absent-minded Grandpa Ganzoury,  and the various shades of hirsute politicians just do not cut mustard with any serious body of economists.


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