Nytt

Egypt taper penger. Turistinntekter og overføringer fra egyptere utenlands har dekket gapet mellom eksport og import. Men nå svikter begge deler.

Turiststrømmen har tørket inn, og befolkningen i Egypt er enten arbeidsløse eller har flyktet fra Tunisia og Libya.

Egypt er helt avhengig av importert amerikansk hvete. Pengefondet har nettopp bevilget noen milliarder, men det forslår ikke. Egypt lider av strukturelle mangler, og faren er at de militære vil falle for fristelsen til å gå løs på den økonomiske eliten. Den har vært korrupt, men den har også stått for veksten de siste tiårene. Hvis de føler seg truet, vil de ta med seg pengene og dra. Derfor er ikke et oppgjør med Mubarak-regimet like enkelt.

Spengler i atimes.com har noen dystre spådommer: The hunger to come in Egypt:

The Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice is already forming «revolutionary committees» to mete out street justice to bakeries, propane dealers and street vendors who «charge more than the price prescribed by law», the Federation of Egyptian Radio and Television reported on May 3.

According to the ministry, «Thugs are in control of bread and butane prices» and «people’s committees» are required to stop them. Posters on Egyptian news sites report sharp increases in bread prices, far in excess of the 11.5% inflation reported for April by the country’s central bank. And increases in the price of bottled propane have made the cost of the most widely used cooking fuel prohibitive.

The collapse of Egypt’s credit standing, meanwhile, has shut down trade financing for food imports, according to the chairman of the country’s Food Industry Holding Company, Dr Ahmed al-Rakaibi, chairman of the Holding Company for Food Industries. Rakaibi warned of «an acute shortage in the production of food commodities manufactured locally, as well as a decline in imports of many goods, especially poultry, meats and oils». According to the country’s statistics agency, only a month’s supply of rice is on hand, and four months’ supply of wheat.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen by US$13 billion, or roughly a third during the first three months of the year, Reuters reported on May 5. The country lost $6 billion of official and $7 billion of unofficial reserves, and had only $24.5 billion on hand at the end of April. Capital flight probably explains most of the rapid decline. Egypt’s currency has declined by only about 6% since January, despite substantial capital flight, due to market intervention by the central bank, but the rapid drawdown of reserves is unsustainable.

At this rate Egypt will be broke by September.

Egypt imported $55 billion worth of goods in 2009, but exported only $29 billion of goods. With the jump in food and energy prices, the same volume of imports would cost considerably more. Egypt closed the 2009 trade gap with about $15 billion in tourist revenues, and about $8 billion of remittances from Egyptian workers abroad. But tourism today is running at a fraction of last year’s levels, and remittances are down by around half due to expulsion of Egyptian workers from Libya. Even without capital flight, Egypt is short perhaps $25 billion a year.