Egypt: protests and the economic impact

Protests in Egypt over the past few days have ignited concerns that the country is on the cusp of another period of political upheaval. Past experience suggests that this would be disruptive for the economy and government efforts to quell unrest, such as fiscal loosening and keeping a tight grip on the currency, could fuel a renewed build-up of macro imbalances. Structural reforms needed to boost productivity growth and living standards would be put on the back-burner.
Jason Tuvey Senior Emerging Markets Economist
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Middle East Economics Weekly

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The US-led release of oil reserves earlier this week did little to bring down the price of oil as President Biden would have hoped and, if anything, could provoke OPEC+ to raise oil production more slowly than its current plans imply. Even so, the move is unlikely to drastically alter the outlook for the Gulf economies. Meanwhile, the spillovers from Turkey’s currency crisis are likely to be contained, although Tunisia's poor external position leave it vulnerable to financial contagion. Finally, Egypt’s government has announced it will cut electricity tariffs which could pose a threat to the fiscal position further down the line.

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Tunisia fiscal policy, Egypt’s private sector, COVID-19

Tunisia’s government upwardly revised its 2021 budget deficit target this week which, coupled with growing signs of it making concessions to appease the UGTT labour union, adds to our view that the public finances will continue to deteriorate and a debt restructuring will be needed. Elsewhere, Egypt government announced plans to scale back its involvement in the economy. While encouraging, there are reasons to be sceptical. And finally, COVID-19 vaccine rollouts in parts of North Africa have picked up the pace and the news of the development of an antiviral pill will provide countries with a further tool to add to the arsenal.

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Iran: nuclear deal, elections and the economy

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Talk this week of rate cuts in Turkey has led to further falls in the lira and, ironically, means that the central bank will stand pat at this month's MPC meeting. In Israel, the coalition proposal formed to topple incumbent PM Benjamin Netanyahu is so fractured we don't think it will lead to major changes in economic policy. Finally, the announcement by Russia's government to de-dollarise its National Wealth Fund assets won't have an economic impact, but it is a clear move ahead of the Biden-Putin summit this month that Russia sees its future as isolated from the West.

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Turkey Consumer Prices (May)

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