The protests in Egypt may be striking a blow for democracy, but they are devastating the country’s economy. Fear of looting and violence mean many businesses remain shuttered.
The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s joined Moody’s in downgrading Egypt’s debt by a notch. S&P said it could cut the country’s rating by a bigger margin within three months if the political crisis leads to significant instability.
The closure of the banks meant employers were not able to pay wages – which are mostly handed out in cash – at the end of the month.
Many cash machines have been smashed by looters and most others have run out of money or have been turned off.
Egyptians are desperate. One man said: “If this continues how are we going to afford to live, we’ve no money left from our salaries. How are we going to live? And how are we going to eat?”
The protests have also frightened away holidaymakers. Tourism accounts for more than 11 percent of the country’s GDP. One in eight Egyptians is employed in the tourism industry.
A shopkeeper with premises near the pyramids – which are closed to visitors – complained: “Before this we were working in tourism, after what happened there is no tourism. So, what do you think the situation is? We get our food from the supermarket and the food in the supermarkets has run out and they are unable to bring any more food and now we are starving.”
Corruption, oppression and economic hardship are the reasons for the unrest but, for the moment it is creating more hard times.