When Mohamed Morsi was elected to the Egyptian presidency in June, 2012, the country was in economic shambles. The political instability and occasional outbreaks of violence that followed the toppling of his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, had eviscerated the country's tourism industry. Foreign currency reserves were dwindling, and foreign investors who fled during the popular uprising had yet to return.
In the months after his election, Morsi and his cabinet struggled to present a coherent economic program and lacked the broad popular support needed to implement even the few ideas they did have in their arsenal.
"They had no list of refoms; they had no clear social allies," says Amr Adly, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.
"It was a disaster," says Steve Henke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, of Morsi's economic record. "The Morsi government never had a credible economic plan for the economy. In fact, I don't think they knew what the word 'plan' meant."
As the deficiencies of Morsi's government became clearer, the country's foreign reserves plunged, and unemployment, inflation and black market activity rose higher. The government took a few stabs at specific economic initiatives, including an attempt to reform subsidies that cost the Egyptian government about $17 billion each year. To many they smacked of inefficacy, if not desperation.
"There is no doubt that Egypt desperately needs to reform the subsidy structure it has," says Moises Naim, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "But [Morsi] achieved nothing in terms of changing subsidies."
Naim is similarly dismissive of the Morsi administration's efforts to narrow Egypt's deficit by issuing Sukuk, or Islamic bonds, and to negotiate a $4.8 billion loan with the International Monetary Fund.
"Egypt was not giving the IMF the priority it needed," Naim says. "And negotations were just a sideshow."
High-speed Internet access is in the ether this week. Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook friends want to bring it to the developing world. And a recent New York Times article pointed out that as many as 20 percent of Americans aren't using the Internet at home, work or on a mobile device. And now the Federal Communications Comission has pledged $382 million to help fix this issue. It's part of the Connect America Fund, and it's targeted at 600,000 rural homes and businesses that don't have broadband infrastructure.
Rebekah Goodheart, senior legal advisor at the FCC, says private service providers will match some of the federal money and provide the broadband access. Click on the audio player above to hear more.
It's quiz time on Marketplace Tech. 19.68 seconds, 1 in 5 Americans, 71 million, and 78.9 percent: Can you guess what these numbers mean?
We put Buzzfeed President Jon Steinberg to the test for our latest edition of Silicon Tally. Click on the audio player above to play along.
All this week we've been looking at how technology is helping people with disabilities approach their lives in new ways. Today we hear from a guy who is looking toward the future of accessibility. Paul Louden is a Google Glass Explorer. The Texan scored an early pair of the wired glasses by telling Google he was on a particular mission: to help people with autism. He himself has autism and he thinks Glass could help with a common challenge for people like him.
Louden joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to discuss. Click on the audio player above to hear more.
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was released from prison on Thursday. He is under house arrest at a military hospital in Cairo. A court ordered his release this week, but Mubarak could go back to prison if he's convicted in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising against him.
There are no strings attached. People can spend the money on whatever they want, and they never have to pay it back.