The cost of a coup

Amidst tragedy, there's also an economic cost.

Consequences of Egypt’s summer coup will be, and already have been, devastating. That is one thing most people, apart from the Egyptian military, agree on. However, while commentators view consequences through the lens of religious clashes, political views and death tolls, a thought must be given to the economic consequences because, after all, a coup isn’t cheap.

Take a quick look at the figures:  A graph showing Egypt’s stock market looks like the course of a turbulent plane. Before it was forcibly closed under a state of emergency, the plane was about to crash – it was down 1.7 per cent. The Egyptian pound has also fallen 2.35 per cent since Morsi was over thrown.

Things look even worse according to the FT: General Motors, Toyota, royal Dutch Shell and Electolux have closed their factories. "Yesterday we just felt it was a bit too messy in the streets" commented Electolux. Banks are also closed, including Citigroup and HSBC as they express concern over a "further significant deterioration in the security situation".

Things look bad now, but will be even worse if the game of political check-mate continues, and blacker still if the US cuts all aid to Egypt, as argued by Senator John McCain. "The law is very clear that if there is a coup that aid is cut off", he said to the BBC.

So who will pay the bill for the 3 July coup? There are more lenders than you may think. Critically, $12bn has already been secured by the military backed government from coup-supportive Gulf countries, notably Saudi Arabia. Then there are always the Wonga’s of the world: the IMF and World Bank.

But a third source of funding has opened up: China. Trade volume between China and Arab countries has surged from less than $36bn in 2004 to nearly $200bn in 2011. An article this week in Your Middle East explains how: "The ravages of unrest in MENA [Middle East and North Africa] have enabled China to tap into major infrastructure projects because supply routes have been disrupted and electrical installations have been dilapidated".

The consequences of Egypt’s summer coup could well be shaped by economic choices as much as political.

The Egyptian pound has also fallen 2.35 per cent since Morsi was over thrown. Photograph: Getty Images

Oliver Williams is an analyst at WealthInsight and writes for VRL Financial News

Photo: Getty
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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.