Except for the oil exporting countries, the economic consequences of the Arab revolutionary wave have been almost entirely negative. In a report published last month, the Institute of International Finance predicted that growth in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia will fall from 4.4% in 2010 to -0.5% this year. Egypt’s economy will contract by 2.5%, Yemen’s by 4%.
Egypt’s Central Agency for Statistics estimates that the economic losses incurred when the crowds thronged Tahrir Square were about $1.7 billion. Add to that the subsequent losses in revenue from tourism, the cost of ongoing disruption due to strikes, and the enforced return of more than a million migrant workers fleeing war-torn Libya.
The big story, however, is capital flight. Rich Arabs do not trust this revolution and have been rushing to get their cash into safe havens. According to Reuters, the country’s foreign-exchange reserves fell by as much as a third in the first three months of the year. Al-Hayat estimates that $30 billion has left Egypt since the onset of the Arab Spring.
(Niall Ferguson – Newsweek)