Egypt in Transition

By Jean Lacouture; Simonne Lacouture et al. | Go to book overview

IV
Economic Growing-Pains

Since 1953 Egypt has been passing through a grave economic crisis. Everyone knows this and the most pessimistic foretell bankruptcy. The crisis is obviously a real one. To be convinced of this one has only to read the daily list of declarations or petitions of bankruptcy. It is true that Egyptian trade is in a state of stagnation. But is the country's economy beyond hope or cure?

Before July 1956 the finances looked sound enough. In 1956 the gold reserves covered 37.3 per cent of the paper money and bills in circulation. There was no inflation and the National Debt was only £E160 million. The finances were carefully managed in spite of resort to government loans up to £150 million with a view to creating a sound money-market. A French banker described this as 'too timid a financial policy -- sound, but too much so. A povertystricken economy.' Here we see the effects of British financiers' lessons being practised by the Egyptian leaders, and their haunting memory of the Khedive Isma'il's mistakes and imprudence which brought Egypt under alien rule. Their caution is praiseworthy but is hardly compatible with a vast plan for equipment and economic expansion. However, 1955 and 1956 showed a tendency towards a 'controlled inflation' after the systematic deflationary policy of 1953-4, which the 1950-1 inflation had made imperative.

But at the same time the balance of payments in 1955 showed a deficit of £35 million instead of the £33 million surplus of the year before. As for the internal trade balance, it has worsened and Cairo has been the first to suffer. The causes of this economic crisis are both national and international.

The Egyptian economy depends on cotton. For two years -- up to the end of 1955 -- Egypt passed through a serious crisis owing to international conditions in the cotton trade. The declining demand for cotton threatens to continue with the growing use of artificial fibres. After the 1951 boom the awakening was painful. The drop

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Egypt in Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 8
  • Introduction - Egyptian Continuity And Revolutions 11
  • Part One - The Awakening of Egypt 37
  • I - The Advent of Bonaparte 39
  • II - Mohamed Ali Creates a State 50
  • III - The Cotton Boom 56
  • IV - A Revolution in Irrigation 60
  • V - The Adventurous Khedive 63
  • VI - The Arabi Revolt 69
  • VII - The Reformers 74
  • VIII - British Technocracy 78
  • IX - The 1919 Revolution 82
  • X - The Wafd 86
  • XI - Making the Best of War -- 1939 97
  • XII - The Burning of Cairo 105
  • Part Two - The Officers' Republic 123
  • I - A Short History of the 'Free Officers' Movement 125
  • II - Power -- to What Purpose? 160
  • III - Neguib's Fall 179
  • IV - The Structure of Nasser's State 192
  • V - The 'Diplomacy' of Small Nations 196
  • VI - The Political Parties 240
  • VII - Revolutionary Tendencies, 1952-57 275
  • VIII - Not a Real Revolution. 292
  • Part Three - Working Life in The Valley 307
  • I - The Land and Its Men 309
  • II - The Agrarian Reform 340
  • III - The Problem of Over-Population 357
  • IV - Economic Growing-Pains 362
  • V - Industrialization and Social Problems 367
  • VI - The Aswan Dam Problem 388
  • Part Four - Forging a Society 397
  • I - Cairo -- City of Convulsions 399
  • II - In Search of a National Culture 413
  • III - Egypt, Islam and the Modern World 430
  • Part Five - The Great Test 451
  • I - Nasser as He Really Is 453
  • II - The Suez Crisis 467
  • III - The Franco-British Invasion 481
  • IV - Egypt Carries On 493
  • V - The 'United Arab State' 505
  • A Chronology of Modern Egypt 515
  • Reading List 519
  • Index 523
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