It doesn’t take much to set off a panic in Egypt these days. The finance minister talked about a new 10 percent capital gains tax, and that was enough to ignite a stock market crash–a sudden drop of nearly 5 percent that triggered an automatic half-hour timeout.
Egypt’s main problems are economic. First, the new government has to restore stability, so that foreign investors and tourists return to the country. That’s what the people want. Then the new leaders might have the political capital they need to enact the sweeping and painful reforms needed to reset Egypt’s economy, It won’t go peacefully–this is a society that has pitched out two governments in the last three years with mass demonstrations–so it’s handy that Egypt’s new government is backed by the military.
no tourists in downtown Cairo
And a final word about today’s Cairo stock market crash…that finance minister is part of the interim government. There’s no guarantee that he’ll continue in his post, or that his new tax will ever happen. It doesn’t take much to set off a panic in Egypt these days.