Several promising stories have recently appeared on Bloomberg’s business wire service concerning developments in Egypt.
First, because of shortages and price increases, the Finance Minister has announced a waiver of import fees on basic food items.
The Egyptian Central Bank has also stated that the banks will open by this Sunday and that pensioners will get payments by Wednesday.
Egypt, being mostly desert, must import a large percentage of its good and, in fact, one of the sometimes ignored causes of political unrest is often lack of or high price of food which translates to starving poor people.
History shows there is little that can drive people to protest their government more quickly and violently than lack of food.
Simply put, when people get hungry they quickly get desperate and, unnoticed by many individuals with a steady income, food prices have been surging around the world with the price of staples such as wheat for bread nearly doubling in the past year.
Inflation is one cause, but wheat prices have surged in large part due to shortages caused by floods in Australia and Canada, as well as a bad crop failure in Russia due to drought.
In fact, even the country which made “Let them eat cake” a slogan for revolution is facing a surge in the cost of the famous baguette.
What all this means is that unless there is some major development in the next few months, as price increases in there are a lot of people in the world who are going to be short on food and consequently will have little patience with their authoritarian or even democratic governments.