The AUC Department of Economics organized a research workshop, featuring both economics and finance faculty from the School of Business, at AUC Tahrir Square on May 14.
The event, moderated by Distinguished Visiting Professor Karim Abadir, presented a unique overview of Egypt’s economic outlook while focusing on the post-floatation dynamics that are presently shaping the country. With many leading economics personalities in attendance, the workshop aimed to provide an avenue for productive dialogue and partnerships.
Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Adel Beshai put it best when he kicked off the event by noting that “pooling resources, in the end, will always result in wonderful things.” The subsequent presentations left little doubt of that as they jointly gave a holistic view of the Egyptian economy.
Analyzing the Egyptian stock exchange, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Management Aliaa Bassiouny opined that stock trading in the country is marked by erratic behavior, which increases risk and uncertainty, but also offers significant value. She pointed out that Egyptian traders usually make little profit, despite buying stocks at their lowest prices, all while their foreign counterparts make the most money in the Egyptian market – despite always buying high – due to educated and timely moves.
Assistant Professor and Director of the Master’s of Science in finance program Neveen Ahmed likewise focused her attention on an area for improvement within the economy, stating: “There are about 17 million people under the poverty line, but only 8 percent of them have access to micro-finance loans."
On the employment front, Assistant Professor and Abdul Latif Jameel Chair of Entrepreneurship Ayman Ismail used data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) annual report to illustrate the growing importance of entrepreneurship in Egypt, asserting that it is now perceived by many as a very desirable career path. Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics Mona Said, on the other hand, analyzed the relationship between corporates and employees in an in-depth study on labor-market relations inside the country. She pinpointed the private sector as a main example of a mismatch that exists between higher education and the job market.
Visiting Associate Professor Ahmed Al Safty overviewed how prepared the economy is to confront unexpected economic turbulences – “Increasing income inequality and a lack of educational reform are two issues that we [Egypt] are not addressing seriously,” he said. Associate Professor Abeer Elshennawy similarly highlighted the burden that factors such as congestion and pollution, among others, have on the economy. She noted that solving these logistical issues is likely to carry significant positive value for the country moving forward.
From a policy perspective, Assistant Professor Diaa Noureldin affirmed that limiting the state’s involvement in the market, while simultaneously having strong public institutions governing the country, is imperative for long-term stability.
All in all, faculty presenters agreed that the Egyptian economy has been undergoing considerable transformations over the last few years. While plenty of difficulties still abound, opportunities for progress are very much out there, too. Such room for growth, as showcased within the workshop, is as much a blessing as it is a curse.