“One of the problems here is that you have a banking system in Egypt that is still very much controlled by the state. You have very large state-owned banks that still hold up something between one-third and forty percent of the total assets of the banking system. Despite rounds of privatization and liberalization and even without this crucial factor of the direct state ownership of the big banks, you have state regulation that is both formal as well as informal. All of these networks that have historically tied state-owned enterprises and then later on private businesses that are like crony businessmen that have been related to the successive ruling regimes in Egypt, all of these have created a regulatory environment that made it extremely hard for those who lack either initial capital or political and social capital.
[This interview was originally published by the Project on Middle East Political Science.]