Egyptians Cut Back on Staples as Inflation Rises

Prices for staples such as meat, clothing, travel and medicine have been rising as the Egyptian pound fell 36.5% last year against the U.S. dollar, making it the third-worst-performing currency in the world after the Sri Lankan rupee and the Argentine peso. Inflation hit nearly 19% in November and economists expect it to rise to 25% by March, the Wall Street Journal reported. As prices surged, it became more expensive for the government to import food, sparking hoarding. Government officials have said that bread, rice and cooking oil have been missing from some store shelves. Ragab Shehata, head of the rice division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, said there was a brief shortage of the cereal in November. Many Egyptians, the majority of whom already receive bread and food rations from the government, say they are cutting back on a variety of goods and services amid an economic crisis. The war in Ukraine and Western sanctions on Russian oil pushed up food and commodity prices around the world, but Egypt has been hit especially hard because it is a huge importer of food, including wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Consumer prices have since been coming down in much of the developing world, yet Egypt is an outlier. Read more. (Subscription required.)