Monday, 28 February 2011
REUTERS: The massive U.S. budget deficit is the gravest threat facing the economy, topping high unemployment and the risk of inflation or deflation, according to a survey of forecasters released on Monday.
The National Association for Business Economics said its 47-member panel of forecasters increased its estimate for the 2011 federal deficit to $1.4 trillion from $1.1 trillion in its previous survey in November.
"Panelists continue to characterize excessive federal indebtedness as their single greatest concern," with state and local government debt the second-biggest worry, the survey said. It was conducted between January 25 and February 9.
The panel's deficit forecast is lower than the Obama administration projection of a record $1.65 trillion this fiscal year, or 10.9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.
Although the White House budget proposes $1.1 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years, Republicans in the House of Representatives say that is not enough. >>> Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Dan Grebler | Washington | Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, 27 February 2011
THE GUARDIAN: King Abdullah's offer of bribes to his country's alienated youth is no substitute for genuine reform
No kingdom is an island, particularly when it sits in a sea of revolution. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, watching the assault on Libya's strong man Muammar Gaddafi with his monarchy's usual complacency, thinks he can buy off protests with the promise of gifts.
Of course, the scale of the bribes the king offered last week to his country's alienated young generation – £22bn – is something only an oil-rich monarch could deliver. The Saudi king speaks as a father to the youthful population – after all, this is the only royal family to give its name to its people – and he expects them to obey the name al-Saud as they would their own father.
But the king has compromised his authority by combining it with the role of "sugar daddy". Nowhere else are subjects promised such largesse to not rock the boat.
Throughout the Arab awakening that began in Tunisia, the 86-year-old monarch and several of his elderly royal brothers have watched the turmoil across the Arab world convinced that the traditional pillars of their political control would see them through: oil revenues, US protection and custodianship of the holy places.
But Abdullah's kingdom is surrounded by waves of revolutionary rage lapping at the fortress: Yemen in the south, Bahrain in the east, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya in the west. Even the usually docile kingdom of Jordan is racked by the spectre of change. Saudi Arabia's royals have no doubt been shaken to their core by these disturbances and feel threatened by the successive, swift revolutions that have put paid to their cronies in Cairo and Tunis. How is it possible, they ask, for a few hundred shahids [martyrs], in just two to three weeks, to bring down their fellow autocrats so quickly? Continue reading and comment >>> Mai Yamani * | Sunday, February 27, 2011
* Mai Yamani is the author of Changed Identities: The Challenge of the New Generation in Saudi Arabia
Saturday, 26 February 2011
REUTERS DEUTSCHLAND: Dubai - Der weltgrößte Ölexporteur Saudi-Arabien ist Kreisen zufolge für die Öl-Lieferausfälle aus Libyen eingesprungen.
Die Saudis hätten in aller Stille ihre Produktion um 700.000 Barrel pro Tag ausgeweitet, sagte eine Person aus der Branche am Freitag der Nachrichtenagentur Reuters. Aus Libyen fällt der Internationalen Energieagentur zufolge wegen des Aufstandes gegen Präsident Muammar Gaddafi derzeit der Export von 500.000 bis 750.000 Barrel Öl pro Tag aus. Das entspricht knapp einem Prozent des weltweiten täglichen Verbrauchs. Rohöl verteuerte sich nach den Preis-explosionen der vergangenen Tage am Freitag kaum noch und lag bei rund 111 Dollar pro Barrel für Öl der Nordsee-Sorte Brent. Am Donnerstag war der Preis mit knapp 120 Dollar auf den höchsten Stand seit zweieinhalb Jahren geklettert. >>> © Reuters | Freitag, 25. Februar 2011
Friday, 25 February 2011
THE GUARDIAN: Office for National Statistics stuck to its view that the harsh winter weather in December - the coldest December on record - contributed 0.5 percentage points to the decline
Britain's economy shrank by 0.6% in the final quarter of last year, a sharper fall than previously thought.
The surprise downward revision, from a 0.5% drop reported last month, was blamed on industry and service sector firms whose performance was worse than originally estimated. Consumer spending also slipped and the economy was kept afloat by higher government spending, which will see sharp cuts in coming months.
The Office for National Statistics stuck to its view that the harsh winter weather in December – the coldest December on record – contributed 0.5 percentage points to the decline, so without the snow GDP would still have shown a slight fall.
The pound slipped to the day's low of $1.6110 against the dollar. >>> Julia Kollewe | Friday, February 25, 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The fate of the global recovery rests on events in Riyadh, says Jeremy Warner.
Be careful what you wish for. After an ambiguous start, Western leaders have broadly welcomed the wave of protest and revolutions sweeping North Africa and parts of the Middle East. But beneath the words of encouragement about people taking charge of their own destiny, there is a growing and vital concern – the security of our oil and gas supplies.
The West’s complicity in supporting the autocratic regimes that characterise many of the big oil-exporting nations is in part explained by the fact that, whatever their sins, they did at least seem to provide stability in the energy markets. That stability, however, has been thrown up in the air by the wave of protest sweeping the region.
Initially, it was assumed that there was a difference between oil-poor Arab nations such as Tunisia and Egypt, where the uprisings have been as much about living standards as anything else, and the much richer Gulf states. That theory was swiftly proved wrong.
In Saudi Arabia, even King Abdullah’s panicky decision to order another multi-billion-dollar splurge of spending on education, healthcare and infrastructure may not be enough to buy off the opposition. People seem to want something more precious than money: freedom. >>> Jeremy Warner | Thursday, February 24, 2011
Thursday, 24 February 2011
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: RIYADH—Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah returned to the kingdom Wednesday after a three-month absence for medical treatment and introduced a number of nonpolitical reforms amid regional uprisings that have toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and infected neighboring Bahrain.
The social and economic overhaul, estimated to cost around 135 billion Saudi riyals ($36 billion), include housing support, funding to offset inflation and guarantee of payment for students overseas, according to a series of royal decrees published on the official Saudi Press Agency, or SPA. They come as political upheaval continues to sweep the Arab world.
"The measures are paying particular attention to housing, unemployment, education and helping the brunt of Saudis who work for the public sector be better protected from cost of living pressures. The unemployment benefits are the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia," said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi. "The message from King Abdullah is that he's aware of the challenges facing the economy and steps are taken to address immediate and more medium-term issues." >>> Summer Said | Thursday, February 24, 2011
Monday, 21 February 2011
REUTERS: Oil prices charged to a fresh 2-1/2 year high on Monday as traders eyed increasing violence in major producer Libya, feeding fears about rising inflation and restraining gains in equities.
Global stocks were slightly higher with emerging markets down and European shares flat. U.S. markets were closed for a national holiday.
Protests broke out in the Libyan capital Tripoli for the first time following days of unrest in the city of Benghazi and some army units defected to the opposition in what has become one of the bloodiest revolts to convulse the Arab world.
Financial markets are particularly sensitive to the violence in Libya because it exports around 1.1 million barrels per day of crude.
Brent oil was up $1.90 a barrel at $104.44 having earlier risen to a new high of $104.60. >>> Jeremy Gaunt, European Investment Correspondent, London | Monday, February 21, 2011
REUTERS: Swiss franc, Treasuries gain on Mideast tensions: The safe-haven Swiss franc and U.S. government bonds rallied on Thursday, while crude oil prices rose as unrest in the Middle East and tensions between Israel and Iran escalated. >>> Wanfeng Zhou, New York | Thursday, February 17, 2011
Sunday, 20 February 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Greedy MPs and rapacious bankers are just as dishonest as welfare fraudsters and freeloaders, says Jenny McCartney.
David Cameron, at the launch of the Welfare Reform Bill last week, made a rousing plea for the restoration of our ethics. In his speech, he bemoaned the end of “a collective culture of responsibility”, of an age when people’s self-image was measured by “whether they did the decent thing”. In such an era, he said, “fiddling the system would have brought not just public outcry but private shame”.
Mr Cameron was speaking with specific regard to our welfare system, and much of what he said is true. We are all familiar with those lurid tales of enterprising gentlemen who have claimed disability allowance while giving disco-dancing lessons on the side, or ladies whose complicated housing scams trawl in the annual GDP of a small Baltic country.
As well as such criminal fraudsters, however, there are the opportunistic freeloaders who trigger public ire without actually breaking the law. The latter are open in their intention to have large families that will be wholly supported by a groaning state. It was reported last week that the anti-social antics of the family of Tom O’Leary and Tanya Walsh (two adults, 12 children) had caused distress to the neighbours of their £1.2 million council-funded abode in Muswell Hill. Miss Walsh wrote on her Bebo site recently that her hobbies were “eating chocolate and having children”: the only people cheering her on were the makers of confectionery and Pampers. Read on and comment >>> Jenny McCartney | Saturday, February 19, 2011
At last, a refreshing bit of common sense! Thank you for this extremely sensible article, Jenny McCartney. It is very tiresome to listen to the fraudsters at the top always going on about the people at the bottom milking the system. Who milks the system more than the greedy bankers and fraudulent MPs? And I write as a disinterested observer. Cameron had better start looking sideways before he looks down. He should get his chums to lead by example. – © Mark
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Friday, 18 February 2011
Thursday, 17 February 2011
RADAR ONLINE: Steve Jobs - who is on another medical leave of absence from Apple, the company he co-founded and manages as its longtime CEO - is receiving treatment at a cancer clinic where Hollywood star Patrick Swayze was a patient in his final days.
RadarOnline.com has confirmed Jobs, 55, has been attending the Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, California, where Swayze sought radical chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer before his death in September, 2009.
The skeletal-looking Apple boss was photographed outside the clinic in images set to be published in the next edition of The National Enquirer. >>> | Wednesday, February 16, 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: David Cameron has halted plans to sell off parts of Britain's woodland.
The Prime Minister surprised the House of Commons yesterday by admitting that he was not happy with the policy, which has caused outrage among countryside groups, MPs and members of the public.
Mr Cameron has been shocked by the hostility to the sell-off of state-owned forestry and has admitted defeat.
Within days, it will be announced that plans to let Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, decide whether 100 per cent of England's national forests can be sold off will be scrapped. Read on and comment >>> Andrew Porter, Political Editor | Thursday, February 17, 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Roman Abramovich, the Russian oligarch, has declared his assets for the first time in more than a decade, disclosing that he has 16 properties, seven cars, 22 bank accounts, six companies, and one football club.
The 44-year-old businessman and owner of Chelsea Football Club made the declaration as part of a campaign to run for re-election as a local MP in Chukotka, a remote region in Russia's far east which he used to run on the Kremlin's behalf.
The disclosure is part of President Dmitry Medvedev's anti-corruption drive as he pushes all politicians to declare their assets.
Mr Abramovich's declaration listed seven properties in Britain, two in the United States, three in France, and four in Russia.
They are known to include two houses in Lowndes Square, Belgravia, which are together estimated to be worth up to £150 million; a house in the South of France once used by Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson which he is thought to have spent £30 million; his main Moscow residence, two properties in Aspen, Colorado together worth £30 million, and a luxurious residence in the Caribbean worth £56 million.
The publicity-shy tycoon also disclosed that he owned seven cars, mostly a mixture of high-end Mercedes and BMWs that would altogether cost an estimated £650,000 to buy new. >>> Andrew Osborn, Moscow | Thursday, February 17, 2011
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
LE FIGARO: Les étrangers venant travailler au Royaume-Uni avec un salaire annuel de plus de 150.000 livres (près de 180.000 euros) seront exclus des nouveaux quotas migratoires afin de ne pas priver le pays des "meilleurs talents", a annoncé mercredi le gouvernement.
La mesure, qui répond à une demande pressante du monde économique, s'appliquera aux immigrants pouvant justifier d'un contrat de travail, a précisé le secrétaire d'Etat chargé de l'immigration Damian Green. Elle permettra aux avocats, banquiers ou chercheurs étrangers de haut niveau d'échapper aux règles mises en place à compter d'avril pour juguler l'immigration, à condition toutefois que leur casier judicaire dans leur pays d'origine soit vierge. La Grande-Bretagne doit attirer pour son économie "les meilleurs talents et les professionnels les plus brillants", a expliqué M. Green, tout en estimant que "cela ne doit pas se faire au détriment des travailleurs déjà présents". >>> AFP | Mercredi 16 Février 2011
ZEIT ONLINE: Die US-Schulden wachsen dramatisch. Doch Demokraten wie Republikaner schweigen über die notwendigen Sparmaßnahmen, denn 2012 wird gewählt.
Sind die USA noch zu retten? Ein Drittel der laufenden Ausgaben kann das Land nur durch Aufnahme neuer Schulden decken. Die Gesamtverschuldung durchbricht gerade die Schallmauer der kompletten Wertschöpfung eines Jahres. 14.300.000.000.000 Dollar. Amiland ist abgebrannt. Es ist das neue Griechenland – nur viel schlimmer.
Erstens sind die USA die größte Volkswirtschaft der Erde, mit weitem Abstand vor der neuen Nummer zwei, China. Zweitens hängt die wichtigste Weltwährung, der Dollar, von der Seriosität amerikanischer Finanzpolitik ab. Drittens war die Finanzkrise nur der Auslöser; die Probleme enden nicht, wenn die Konjunktur anspringt. Die Ursachen sind vielmehr struktureller Natur, auch die US-Bevölkerung altert, die staatlichen Zuschüsse zu den Sicherungssystemen explodieren. Viertens muss die Rettung von innen kommen. Im Fall Griechenlands hatten die Euro-Partner Druckmittel: Sie machten ihre Hilfe abhängig von Athens Selbstdisziplin. Es gibt keine Autorität, die die USA in ähnlicher Weise auf den Pfad der Tugend zurückzwingen kann. >>> Von Christoph von Marschall | Dienstag, 15. Februar 2011
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has warned that inflation could remain high for the next two to three years, leading to a substantial fall in many people's real incomes.
With the average worker's salary forecast to tick up by little more than 2 per cent a year, unable to match the escalating the cost of living, millions of families will feel significantly worse off, experts warned.
Mr King's warning came as official data revealed that inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, climbed from 3.7 per cent in December last year to 4 per cent in January, the highest level for over two years.
The surging price of oil, petrol and the increase in the rate of VAT, which pushed up the price of alcohol and restaurant meals, were the main reasons for the jump.
The Retail Prices Index, a measure of inflation that many believe more accurately reflects the true cost of living because it contains housing costs, increased from 4.8 per cent to 5.1 per cent.
This is now the 13th consecutive month that the CPI figure has been above the Treasury target of 2 per cent, prompting Mr King to write a letter of explanation to George Osborne, the Chancellor. >>> Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor | Tuesday, February 15, 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The Bank of England has been utterly and consistently wrong on inflation: stupidity or dishonesty? >>> Daniel Hannan | Tuesday, February 15, 2011
TAGES ANZEIGER: Die Deutsche Börse und die NYSE Euronext haben sich auf eine Fusion zur weltgrössten Börse geeinigt. Die Verwaltungsräte beider Unternehmen hätten den Plänen zugestimmt, teilten die Börsenbetreiber heute mit.
Die Verwaltungsräte beider Unternehmen hätten den Plänen zugestimmt, teilten die Börsenbetreiber in Frankfurt und New York am Dienstag mit. Durch den Zusammenschluss entsteht der weltweit grösste Handelsplatz für Aktien und Derivate. Die Aktionäre und die Aufsichtsgremien müssen dem Zusammenschluss noch zustimmen. >>> pbe/sda, dapd, AFP | Dienstag, 15. Februar 2011
Sunday, 13 February 2011
THE NEW YORK TIMES: After Hosni Mubarak’s younger son, Gamal, left his job as an executive with Bank of America in London in the mid-1990s, he joined forces with Egypt’s largest investment bank. Today he has a significant stake in a private equity company with interests throughout the Egyptian economy, from oil to agriculture to tourism, corporate records and interviews show.
During President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule, he and his family were not flamboyant with their wealth, particularly by the standards of other leaders in the Middle East. While there is no indication that Gamal Mubarak or the bank were involved in illegal activity, his investments show how deeply the family is woven into Egypt’s economy.
Now with Hosni Mubarak out of power, there are growing calls for an accounting to begin.
Within hours of Mr. Mubarak’s resignation on Friday, Swiss officials ordered all banks in Switzerland to search for — and freeze — any assets of the former president, his family or close associates. In Egypt, opposition leaders vowed to press for a full investigation of Mr. Mubarak’s finances.
Tracing the money is likely to be difficult because business in Egypt was largely conducted in secret among a small group connected to Mr. Mubarak.
“Now we open all the files,” said George Ishak, head of the National Association for Change, an opposition umbrella group. “We will research everything, all of them: the families of the ministers, the family of the president, everyone.”
Estimates of the Mubaraks’ fortune vary wildly, including a widespread rumor that they are worth as much as $70 billion. United States officials say that figure is vastly exaggerated and put the family’s wealth at $2 billion to $3 billion. >>> NEIL MacFARQUHAR, DAVID ROHDE and ARAM ROSTON | Saturday, February 12, 2011
THE SUNDAY TIMES: SFO hunts Hosni Mubarak’s missing millions >>> David Leppard and Richard Kerbaj | Sunday, February 13, 2011 [£]
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Coalition tensions over bankers’ bonuses have been laid bare with the sacking of a senior Liberal Democrat who criticised a controversial deal announced by George Osborne.
Lord Oakeshott, a close ally of Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, was last night removed from his post as the Lib Dem spokesman on Treasury issues.
His departure from the post came after he condemned the Coalition’s agreement with the banking industry as inadequate and accused Mr Osborne’s team of “arrogance and incompetence”.
Under the deal with the industry, the heads of the taxpayer-backed high-street banks will receive multi-million pound pay and bonus packages for last year.
The Chancellor said it was time to move from “retribution to recovery” and agreed to water down laws which would have identified multi-million pound bank traders.
However, under the terms of the “Project Merlin” deal, the country’s main high-street banks have agreed to increase lending and provide funding for community projects – in return for the Government not vetoing their bonus payments. >>> James Kirkup, and Robert Winnett | Wednesday, February 09, 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: RBS's Stephen Hester and Lloyds' Eric Daniels accept multi-million pound bonuses: The chief executives of state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group have accepted multi-million pound bonuses on the same day George Osborne unveiled details of a deal with UK banks that should cut pay-outs. >>> Harry Wilson and Andrew Trotman | Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Monday, 7 February 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: AOL, the online company, is buying [The] Huffington Post, the internet newspaper, in a $315m (£196m) deal that represents a big bet on the future of online news.
The acquisition, which will put [The] Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington in charge of all AOL content, brings AOL an additional 25m unique visitors a month.
That could help AOL begin to turn around its display advertising business, which has struggled to grow as the company tries to turn itself into a content provider and moves farther away from its roots providing dial-up Internet.
The deal "will create a next-generation American media company with global reach that combines content, community, and social experiences for consumers," Tim Armstrong, the AOL chief executive, said in a statement announcing the deal on Monday.
Founded in 2005, [The] Huffington Post is owned by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer and a group of other investors. AOL will pay $300m of the purchase price in cash.
Arianna Huffington will be named president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which will include all [The] Huffington Post and AOL content, including Engadget, TechCrunch, MapQuest, Patch and more. >>> AP | Monday, February 07, 2011
Sunday, 6 February 2011
THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Stuart Gulliver, the new chief executive of HSBC, is expected to accept a bonus of as much as £9m later this month in reward for his stewardship of the bank's investment arm.
Mr Gulliver, who took over from Mike Geoghegan at the turn of the year, is set to be awarded the windfall as part of an overall compensation package which could take the total amount he receives for 2010 to in excess of £10m.
Although the bank's remuneration committee, chaired by HSBC's deputy chairman, John Thornton, has not yet finalised any executive bonuses, City sources with knowledge of the situation believe that a bonus of £9m is highly possible.
If so, it would mirror the amount Mr Gulliver received for 2009, and would be in line with the amount his counterpart at Barclays, Bob Diamond, is set to be paid.
Stephen Hester, the chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, and Eric Daniels, the chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, are likely to be in line for awards of £2.5m and £2m respectively. >>> James Quinn and Kamal Ahmed | Sunday, February 06, 2011
David Cameron Won’t Stop the Bonuses >>>
THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY: Britain’s bankers are celebrating bumper bonuses. Whatever happened to the Government’s pledge to tackle them?
After umpteen calls for restraint by ministers, weighing the public relations impact, and consulting colleagues and advisers, Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond has made his most difficult decision. The multi-millionaire is set to accept a £9m bonus, one of the largest in the world, and will be followed by the bosses of the other major banks. This shows that they are all in something together, even if it's not what the rest of us are in.
Mr Diamond canvassed close City friends before deciding to take the bumper bonus which he fears will reignite the row over bankers pay. Sources close to him said: "Bob's been in a real dilemma as he can't stand this country's culture of banker-bashing and finds our attitude to bonuses extraordinary. But he is also aware of public opinion, so sounded out people about whether he should turn down his bonus again for the third year, take less or give some to charity."
Despite rising public anger about the scale of City payouts, David Cameron insisted last night that he was not interested in "headlines satisfying people today and tomorrow that I've given the banks a good kick in the pants. Can we do more on bonuses, particularly on those banks we own? Yes we can, and yes we will," he told The Sunday Telegraph. "But look, we've just been talking about growth. I don't believe actually in the long run, you can deliver the enterprise-growth agenda while having a running war with the British banking industry at the same time."
Some of those whom Mr Diamond – or his advisers – have consulted counselled him to show restraint. But the American decided that when he is offered the pay package – somewhere between £7m and £10m – he is minded to take it. >>> Margareta Pagano, Business Editor | Sunday, February 06, 2011
Why don’t they jail these SOBs? Then they would show some restraint! – © Mark
Saturday, 5 February 2011
Friday, 4 February 2011
THE NEW YORK TIMES: BAUTA, Cuba — Marisela Álvarez spends much of the day bent over a single electric burner in her small outdoor kitchen. Her knees are killing her. Her red hair smells of cooking oil.
She hasn’t felt this fortunate in years.
“I feel useful; I’m independent,” said Ms. Álvarez, who opened a small cafe in November at her home in this scruffy town 25 miles from the capital, Havana. “When you sit down at the end of the day and look at how much you have made, you feel satisfied.”
Eagerly, warily, Cubans are taking up the government’s offer to work for themselves, selling coffee in their front yards, renting out houses, making rattan furniture and hawking everything from bootleg DVDs to Silly Bandz and homemade wine.
Hoping to resuscitate Cuba’s crippled economy, President Raúl Castro opened the door to a new, if limited, generation of entrepreneurs last year, after warning that the state’s “inflated” payrolls could end up “jeopardizing the very survival of the Revolution.”
The Cuban labor federation said the government would lay off half a million of about 4.3 million state workers by March and issue hundreds of thousands of new licenses to people wanting to join Cuba’s tiny private sector, in what could be the biggest remodeling of the state-run economy since Fidel Castro nationalized all enterprise in 1968.
By the end of 2010, the government had awarded 75,000 new licenses, according to Granma, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, swelling the official ranks of the self-employed by 50 percent. >>> Victoria Burnett | Thursday, February 03, 2011
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Factories are closed, cash machines running dry, and food and petrol shortages feared, but some say it is a price worth paying
The industrial city of Abu Rawash sits in the desert beyond the pyramids. You reach it down a dusty road that seems to lead to nowhere. Then the factories and warehouses begin: Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda and Jeep deserted save for a handful of security guards sitting in front of a vacant parking lot for absent staff.
Outside the gates of the Toyota warehouse Ayman Ibrahim is talking to the gatekeeper. The factories are closed, the man tells Ibrahim, who owns a window business on the same site. They won't reopen until at least mid-week. Perhaps even Friday. No one really knows.
The closures in places such as Abu Rawash have been accompanied by calls from unions for an indefinite general strike. "I'm losing £10,000 pounds a week," says Ibrahim. "But it's worth it, I've been to the protest in Tahrir Square for the past three days with my kids. Mubarak is costing me money, but he has been costing Egypt money for 30 years." >>> Peter Beaumont in Cairo | Monday, January 31, 2011