Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Egypt Makes No Sense

Emerging markets are on the precipice of calamity, or at least that is what those driving money flows are trying to signal. China is slowing down, Turkey's currency is in a free-fall, Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Argentina and virtually every other leading developing country economy is suffering a crisis of some sort. In industrialized economies, the situation looks marginally better, but fears prevail about the pending end to the Federal Reserve's lax monetary policy.

Defying gravity
So what about Egypt, a country that in the past three years has gone through three constitutions, six prime ministers and seemingly endless acts of political violence, where there are shortages of basic commodities and falling exports, where a bloated public sector and unsustainable subsidy system plod along unreformed? No crisis here, at least if you believe the equity markets. The stock market is at an all-time high, flush with cash from friends from the Gulf and beyond whom, for a variety of reasons, remain desperate to prop up the country. Times are so good, and the line of donors so long, that Egypt can afford to return billions of dollars in concessionary loans from out-of-favor parties. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Eenie Meanie Miny Moe

In the stars?
The endless speculation of whether or not he will run is another of the illusions of choice in Egypt. There will be no democratic revolution or even reform of the Egyptian body politic any time soon, irrespective as to whether the Omega Star guides from onstage or backstage.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An Interview in Fake Egypt

On occasion of the overwhelming approval of the new constitutional “road map” returning Egypt to its real, democratic and modern self, Real Egypt reporter Mohamed Ahmed journeyed to interview Fake Egypt electrician Ahmed Mohamed.

MA: I apologize for the three hour delay in arriving. Traffic in Fake Egypt is horrendous, and I had to triple-park my car on the sidewalk. We never encounter such things in Real Egypt. Well, actually that is not entirely true, we do experience such problems in Real Egypt too. Come to think of it, this street looks quite familiar...we digress, let's get to it.

AM: 3ady.

MA: Tell me about the situation now in Fake Egypt.

AM: Conditions are not the best. It’s hard to find stable work. I have to pay private tutors to educate all of my children, since they learn nothing at school. Garbage rarely is collected on our dusty and overcrowded street. Bread and gas are relatively cheap, but not always available and of highly variable quality. Tap water comes in various different shades. 
Electric shop in Fake Egypt

MA: Sounds pretty bad. Is your government not assisting you?

AM: No, and what little they do ultimately comes after mass protest and under-the-table payments. They do, however, occasionally paint the street curbs.

MA: Did you vote in the latest referendum?

AM: I would prefer not to answer questions about politics, because if I give the wrong answer, I risk being deemed a foreign conspirator.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Brain-shrinking TV

Three minutes on Egyptian television this morning.
Authority on democracy   
  • Minute one: Egyptians leading the world in applying democratic principles.
  • Minute two: Egyptians bravely defeated the imperialist agenda seeking to undermine the great "Arab civilization".
  • Minute three: Americans begging Egypt to accept $1.5 billion in aid funds.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Abu Nazir and the No Vote

Local media outlets report that the infamous Abu Nazir has been spotted at various polling booths in Cairo, threatening to blow up himself and anyone around him should they vote in favor of the proposed text for the Egyptian constitution. Notwithstanding being gunned down by FBI agents in Season 2 of Homeland, CBC quotes high-ranking security sources as having seen Abu Nazir icily stare down women at Maadi voting stations.  As-yet unconfirmed reports from Al Goumhoraya link Abu Nazir with the supply of thousands of bottles of cooking oil and rice being handed out to encourage a "no" vote.

Thursday, January 9, 2014