Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Was my previous post hooey?

Egypt has posted solid economic growth numbers, particularly in the past half-decade, but that growth has failed to improve the quality of life or income of most of its 80 million citizens. In the 1990s, Cairo embarked on a broad privatization and liberalization project, redoubling its efforts to attract foreign investment again in the mid-2000s. Those efforts succeeded, boosting GDP growth from about 4 percent in 2004 to more than 7 percent in 2008. Egypt has also fared well through the global recession, with gross domestic product increasing 4.7 percent in 2009 and 5.2 percent in 2010, even as other developing economies faltered.

But those gains have not been shared broadly. According to World Bank statistics, Egypt's top quintile of earners has increased its share of income since the 1990s, while the country's bottom quintile has seen its portion of the pie get smaller. Poorer Egyptians feel no richer, despite the recent gains.
Emphasis on "feel" in the original -- is that because the lowest quintile is better off in absolute terms due to the reforms?

More, on food prices:
[M]uch of the recent increase can be explained by the simple laws of supply and demand. First, there are constraints on yields, caused by recent droughts in Russia, floods in Australia and Pakistan, and increased production of crops for ethanol and other biofuels, rather than food. At the same time, demand for food commodities has continued to climb in big and fast-growing countries like India and China. And rising oil prices—a key component of food costs, given the cost of shipping goods—aren't helping, either.
Then, there is a secondary problem: a huge run-up in food costs in recent months.

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