Egyptian protests concern major U.S. companies

Egyptian soldiers stand on their Abrams tank as people protest in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The stock market in Egypt is closed again today and everyday economic activity is restricted. But what kind of consequences can we expect for the U.S. and global economy?

John Hamilton is a North African specialist at Cross Border Information. The firm provides risk analysis for companies investing in the region. John is with us now from London. Good morning.

JOHN HAMILTON: Good morning

CHIOTAKIS: How much of a concern are these demonstrations for Egypt and for foreign investors?

HAMILTON: I think that there will be quite a number of major U.S. companies who will be extremely concerned today. They've got used to doing business with a government that hasn't really changed in the past 30 years. Now you've got companies like Houston-based Apache Corporation which is a big oil exploration company. You've got Keller Brown and Root, and Foster Wheeler -- the big engineering companies. In terms of the cost of their doing business, suddenly they've got to pay for a lot more political risk than they used to in the past.

CHIOTAKIS: Now I know food and energy prices triggered these riots. Will a change of government make things any better there?

HAMILTON: I think that if there is a democratically supported government, it will have a better chance at solving the problems that they've got with these incredibly subsidized food and energy prices which is economically unsustainable. The deal in the past has been that the military government give stability in return for economic stability for the population. That deal's broken down. The Egyptians have gotten neither the political stability nor the economic stability -- that's why they need a better government.

CHIOTAKIS: John Hamilton, from Cross Border Information. John, thank you.

HAMILTON: My pleasure.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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