Me no understand

I came across this interesting article about reported growth in the Egyptian economy. (It is produced below cos I know you won’t open a link. Also, sodding Blogger is acting up and won’t let me do rich text or whatever it’s called.)

I understand nothing about economics – macro, micro, or miniscule – but I sometimes hear the grown-ups anxiously whispering downstairs about the dire state of the Egyptian economy, its impending collapse and the armageddon which will ensue.

I’m therefore wondering whether anyone can help me out with the following queries:

1. Is the Egyptian Gazette independent?
2. Who organised this London forum?
3. Is the alleged growth referred to in this article mere government propaganda?
4. Can you recommend a publication which will help an economics layman and maths retard to understand the basics of economics? It can’t have algebra in it, and preferably not graphs with those lines that look like a heart-rate monitor reading. Pie-charts are acceptable. Also, it should tell me how, for example, the growth of an economy is measured. I know it’s not with a ruler, but that’s where my understanding stops.

Ta in advance to anyone who deigns to illuminate my economics darkness.

The Egyptian Gazette, Monday 6th November

Egypt’s economy gets guarded praise at London forum

Special to The GazetteLondon – Economists have hailed Egypt’s surging economy – with a warning that the country must overcome significant challenges if its boom times are to be sustained.

The economists, including Egypt’s foremost businessman Naguib Sawiris, gathered in London for two days to examine the evolving relationship between Egypt and the UK.The high but guarded praise came on the opening day of this prestigious conference, at which British and Egyptian politicians, diplomats, business people and education experts were gathering to mark the two nations’ growing friendship since the Suez Crisis 50 years ago.In the Evolving Economic Relations Session, leading Middle East economic analyst Fiona Moffitt told this unique gathering that the Egyptian economy – currently growing at an enviable 6.9 per cent per annum – was the source of huge optimism both at home and abroad. “Egypt’s reformist economic team have done exceptionally well,” she said. “They’ve overhauled customs, massively reduced corporate tax, revised tariffs and brought in financial sector reform. But their hard work has only just begun: they face substantial challenges that need to be solved if the economic revival is to keep on course.” The economic boom has encouraged massive foreign investment in Egypt, led by British companies: some 200 have now invested a staggering £18 billion, making the UK Egypt’s biggest Western investor.Moffitt said Egypt’s economic challenges now included creating jobs, solving unemployment and under-employment and addressing a ‘mismatch between the education people receive and the skills needed in the job market.’ Improving the lot of the lower-income population was also crucial, she said. ‘Growth will need to exceed the current 6.9 per cent – it will have to be 7-9 per cent – and, crucially, be sustained year on year.’ She outlined ways Egypt could maintain its economic surge, including encouraging more foreign investment, improving educational standards, creating more employment – 700,000 new jobs are needed each year – and by boosting tourism.She also said state subsidies of E£100 billion a year had to be addressed to ease Egypt’s budget deficit. “A number of hard decisions are going to have to be made with large social and political consequences, in areas like privatisation and reduction in subsidies and these will be controversial. They will test the government’s political will and its commitment to reform.”Sawiris, the CEO of Orascom Telecom Holding, backed Moffitt’s call for unemployment and under-education to be tackled as essentials for the long-term good of the economy. He also made a plea for the reformist government to “open the door a little bit” to multi-party politics – and not to lose heart in privatisation because “good private sector management and good private sector money means better salaries and better incentives.” But he warned those who doubt Egypt’s commitment to change that there was no going back on economic reform. “We have a great business environment now, run by a great government team,” he said. “They are composed of intelligent people who are really focussed on reform. The first impression you gain as a businessman is the qualities of the people you see around you – and the team now in Egypt is a winning team.”The conference considered how Egypt and the UK can develop closer ties in politics, economics, international relations, cultural heritage and education, through government and the public and private sectors.

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