Egypt’s economic turmoil squeezes struggling middle class


Egypt’s economic turmoil squeezes struggling middle class

With Egypt's economy in crisis, the currency in freefall and inflation skyrocketing, the poor have been hit hard but the middle class is also teetering on the brink.

"It's like we were hit by an earthquake, suddenly you have to let go of everything," said Manar, a 38-year-old mother of two.

"Now whatever semi-humane life people had has been reduced to thinking about how much bread and eggs cost," she told AFP, asking to be identified only by her first name.

The Egyptian pound has lost half its value against the dollar since March, following a devaluation demanded as part of a $3 billion International Monetary Fund loan agreement.

Official annual headline inflation hit 21.9 percent in December, and food prices surged 37.9 percent in the Arab world's most populous nation.

But Steve Hanke, an economist at Johns Hopkins University who measures inflation based on purchasing power parity and factoring in black market exchange rates, estimated Egypt's real inflation rate at 101 percent.

The economy, dominated by state and military-owned enterprises, had already struggled after successive blows, from years of political unrest to the Covid pandemic.

But it was Russia's invasion of Ukraine -- with both countries key exporters of wheat and sources of mass tourism to