Egypt’s Mubarak may step down Thursday night, reports say
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ADRIENE HILL: There are reports coming in now that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will step down in a speech tonight. Reports say he’ll turn power over to the vice president.
Marketplace’s Alisa Roth is in Jordan. She joins us now live. Hi Alisa.
ALISA ROTH: Good morning.
HILL: The Egyptian economy has been suffering since the protests began last week. Does it sound like Mubarak stepping down will help improve the situation?
ROTH: It’ll depend a lot on what the new government looks like. And even if Mubarak does step down, it’s going to be awhile before we really know who’s in power, what that means, how quickly and how completely whoever it is can get the country under control. The protests could continue. The handover to the new government could be very messy. Even in the best case scenario, turning Egypt into a democracy will take awhile and it could be messy. And it could be, as I said, messy. None of those things are good for business. In a way, it would be hard for things to get much worse for Egypt’s economy right now.
HILL: Now can you explain that? What is the situation with Egypt’s economy today?
ROTH: It’s really pretty grim. One analyst’s estimate suggested the instability has been costing the country more than $300 million a day. Today there were big strikes — everybody from doctors to the laborers at the Suez Canal stopped working. So that brought the country pretty much to a standstill. Hotels on the Red Sea, which are a big source of tourist income, are reportedly shut. The country’s been downgraded by all the ratings agencies. The country’s currency has been losing value, although government intervention helped it regain a bit yesterday. Foreign companies have been gone for weeks now. Here in Amman where I am, the place is supposedly filling up with western businessmen who’ve been fleeing Egypt in droves.
ROTH: So even if Egypt returned to normal tomorrow — whatever the new normal is — it’ll take awhile before the economy comes back.
HILL: Marketplace’s Alisa Roth in Jordan. Thanks Alisa.
ROTH: You’re welcome.
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