In a webinar dated June 8, 2020, American University in Cairo Scholar Amr Adly presented findings from his new book Cleft Capitalism: The Social Origins of Failed Market Making in Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2020). Egypt has undergone significant economic liberalization under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, USAID, and the European Commission. Yet after more than four decades of economic reform, the Egyptian economy still fails to meet popular expectations for inclusive growth, better standards of living, and high-quality employment. While many analysts point to cronyism and corruption, this study finds the root causes of this stagnation in the underlying social and political conditions of economic development. It offers a new explanation for why market-based development can fail to meet expectations: small businesses in Egypt are not growing into medium and larger businesses. The practical outcome of this missing middle syndrome is the continuous erosion of the economic and social privileges once enjoyed by the middle classes and unionized labor, without creating enough winners from market-making. This in turn set the stage for alienation, discontent, and, finally, revolt. With this book, Adly uncovers both an institutional explanation for Egypt's failed market making, and sheds light on the key factors of arrested economic development across the Global South.
[This talk was hosted by Stanford University's Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law and was posted to their website orginally.]