Crisis in Egypt: The Economic Repercussions

The crisis in Egypt can soon turn from a political uprising to an economic catastrophe and humanitarian emergency if things don’t return to normal operation soon.


In the port of Alexandria, among others, army tanks stand guard to ensure no one enters the area. Good plan, except that hardly anything is going out, including exports that are crucial to the country’s economy. Though reports claim that some ports are closed, the Suez Canal is apparently open to shipping traffic. Shipping companies, however, are hesitant to enter the area. If the Suez Canal should close, it would not only spell disaster for a country already in serious turmoil, but it would also mean a worldwide shipping disruption.

Production Plants

  • Nissan: the automaker suspended operations Sunday until February 3rd.
  • Unilever: the multinational corporation’s offices in Cairo have been closed since January 28th.
  • General Motors: the car maker’s plant near Cairo has not produced vehicles since January 28th with production estimated to resume Friday, February 4th.
  • Lafarge SA: the a French building materials company has temporarily stopped operations due to the situation. The company has six production sites in Egypt, six quarries and 62 ready-mix plants and employs 8,172 Egyptian workers.
  • Heineken NV: the Dutch brewer has halted operations and told its 2,040 employees in Egypt to stay home.


The nation’s tourism sector has taken a huge hit that is expected to last for some time.

Foreigners are struggling to flee the country, tour and cruise companies are seeing cancellations and a growing list of Western and Arab nations are sending in flights to evacuate their nationals. The tourism sector is vital for Egypt — and is among one of the four top sources of foreign revenue for the country.

Tourism accounts for 5 to 6% of the country’s GDP, while Cairo International Airport is the second largest airport in Africa, after Johannesburg, handling 15 million tourists per year.

Call Centers and Online Retail

Egypt is home to numerous call centers and IT outsourcing companies. But little can be done when the government cuts internet access throughout the entire nation. Microsoft is just one of the 120 companies in Cairo’s Smart Village, an area built for major multinational and local, high-tech companies.

Asked about the situation in Egypt, Microsoft said in a written response to a query that it “is constantly assessing the impact of the unrest and Internet connection issues on our properties and services. What limited service the company as a whole provides to and through the region, mainly call-center service, has been largely distributed to other locations.”

Hewlett-Packard is another company with operations in the Smart Village. They have asked their employees there to stay home. Though President Obama has urged the Egyptian government to restore internet access, little has changed for fear that protesters will use social networks to organize further riots. For a country that has taken pride in its growing outsourcing and call center business, the suspension of internet access is taking a huge toll.

All of the above have affected financial markets worldwide. And with a “million man march” planned for tomorrow in the Arab world’s most populous nation, little is expected to change in the near future.

Yes, It’s Data Privacy Day

It may surprise you, as it did me, to learn that today is Data Privacy Day, an “international celebration of the dignity of the individual expressed through personal information.” But Data Privacy Day also highlights the need for individuals to protect their data and how they can go about doing so.

There are many organizations out there that aim to help individuals protect their personal information and help businesses comply with data protection laws and regulations. The Online Trust Alliance is one such organization, whose mission is to create an online trust community, promoting business practices and technologies to enhance consumer trust globally. They recently released their “2011 Data Breach Incident Readiness Guide” to help businesses in breach prevention and incident management.

According to their newest guide, the true test for organizations and businesses should be the ability to answer key questions such as:

  1. Do you know what sensitive information is maintained by your company, where it is stored and how it is kept secure?
  2. Do you have an incident response team in place ready to respond 24/7?
  3. Are management teams aware of security, privacy and regulatory requirements related specifically to your business?
  4. Have you completed a privacy and security audit of all data collection activities, including cloud services, mobile devices and outsourced services?
  5. Are you prepared to communicate to customers, partners and stockholders in the event of a breach or data loss incident?

With the White House, members of Congress, Commerce Department and the FTC calling for greater privacy controls and breach notifications, self-regulation by businesses is becoming more and more important.

Google, one of the supporters of Data Privacy Day and the initiatives of The Privacy Projects, is hosting a public discussion on privacy later this afternoon with representatives from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the FTC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology scheduled to attend. If you can’t stop by Google’s DC office for this event, don’t worry — it will be captured on video and posted to YouTube soon after.

The Financial Crisis Was a Failure of Risk Management, Says the Federal Government

We already knew this, but the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has confirmed the fact that the financial meltdown that spurred the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression was avoidable and only occurred because no one involved understood the risks they were taking.

Regulators, politicians and bankers were to blame for the 2008 US financial meltdown, a report has claimed.

The US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, tasked with establishing the causes of the crisis, said it was “avoidable”.

Its report highlighted excessive risk-taking by banks and neglect by financial regulators.

Only the six Democrat members of the 10-strong commission, set up in May 2009, endorsed the report’s findings.

“The crisis was the result of human action and inaction, not of Mother Nature or models gone haywire,” the report said.

“The captains of finance and the public stewards of our financial system ignored warnings and failed to question, understand and manage evolving risks within a system essential to the well-being of the American public.

“Theirs was a big miss, not a stumble.”

The best part will be when nobody learns anything from this and it all happens again in like five years.

7 Workers Comp New Year’s Resolutions

Everyone is always looking to improve the workers compensation system. Much like cell phone reception, it seems that there are no good options, only ones that are less bad. No matter what the outcome, people will complain.

Of course, in many cases there are real reasons to complain. All too many states and companies have huge problems with workers comp. To help ease the burden, Risk & Insurance is suggesting the following 7 New Year’s resolutions for workers comp.

Resolution #1: Identify your “medical cost culprits” and build plans to deal with them.

Resolution #2: Insist on real value from the cost-containment programs you have in place today.

Resolution #3: Explore new opportunities, programs and partners.

Resolution #4: Demand innovation from your partners.

Resolution #5: Connect as many dots as you can.

Resolution #6: Build relationships with medical providers.

Resolution #7: Give consideration to dealing with the co-morbidities impacting a successful claim resolution.

Head over to their site for a more detailed description of each.