Egypt’s IMF cure poses health risk for Middle East

August 5, 2016

The most populous Arab state wants a $12 bln IMF deal, but not the harsh austerity sometimes attached. Funding would boost the economy, but reforms could also stoke unrest. In a country at the centre of uprisings that swept across the region six years ago, that's no small risk.

Heineken’s challenge is to keep glass half full

August 1, 2016

The Dutch brewer's operating profit was strong, thanks to stellar Asian growth. But first-half revenue fell short of expectations. Headaches in Africa show that its reliance on emerging markets comes with a snakebite of currency, macroeconomic and geopolitical hazards.

Egypt fosters false economic expectations

November 29, 2011

In the post-Mubarak era, the Muslim Brotherhood’s call for “social justice” is now popular with every political force. But the concept means different things to rich and poor. Delivering the democratic dividend will be hard for any new government. Failure may lead to more unrest.

Egypt-Israel energy ties look broken

April 25, 2012

It is hard to believe that Egypt’s termination of a long-term contract to supply gas to Israel is a pure business dispute given the odd timing of the move. In the absence of a resolution Israel faces some difficult months. That’s bad for peace but doesn’t destroy it.

Iran offers Egypt limited lesson in subsidy reform

April 26, 2012

The IMF says Cairo should look to Tehran’s example in its bid to reform energy subsidies. But a poor country like Egypt can hardly afford Iran’s near-universal and inflationary cash handouts at a time when it needs to slash public spending.

Qatar play for EFG Hermes stokes backlash in Egypt

June 6, 2012

The possible bidding war for the investment bank illustrates the growing fears about the emirate’s influence in post-Mubarak Egypt. EFG agreed to be partially taken over by QInvest. But the Gulf state’s rivals promise to keep the bank whole, and Egyptian. Now anything can happen.

No quick wins for Egypt’s new Islamist president

June 25, 2012

For the Muslim Brotherhood, victory is bittersweet. The top job carries little power and might not last long. Securing an international aid deal would be the fastest way to jumpstart the economy and consolidate support. But donors may look on Egypt just as warily as before.

Saudi $4 bln lifeline to Egypt won’t come for free

May 23, 2011

Autocratic governments can act faster than multi-lateral financial institutions. Saudi Arabia's $4 billion lifeline to Egypt comes just as the country is still discussing an aid package with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Egypt needs a reconstruction fund too

March 24, 2011

Japan will be spending tens of billions of dollars on rebuilding after its tsunami. Egypt can't afford to finance an equivalent fund after its political tsunami. But foreign powers could help by showing they are not just interested in bombing neighbouring Libya.

Swiss make life a bit more difficult for despots

February 14, 2011

Switzerland's decision to freeze assets belonging to Hosni Mubarak after he was ousted smacks of hypocrisy: after all, the former Egyptian president and his family have long been suspected of enriching themselves at the country's expense.