The Revolution in Egypt’s Economic System, From Private Enterprise to Socialism, 1952-1965 by P. Patrick O’Brien. London: Oxford University Press, 1966.

Publication Year : 1968

Egypt occupies an important place in the Middle East. It has, for the last eighty years or so, acted as the mind of the Arab world. Its impact has not been confined to the realm of politics; it is influencing the intellectual, social and economic life of the area. It claims to have made a first full-dress experi¬ment in socialism in the Middle East. A study of the transformation of the Egyptian economy and society is bound to be interesting and enlightening.The Revolution in Egypt’s Economic System is one such study. Patrick O’Brien has written a valuable monograph on the new system and the manner in which it is operating. The author has made a systematic study of “the poli¬tical, legal and institutional framework within which economic enterprise has operated since the revolution”. The book is divided into nine chapters: two dealing with the pattern of the economy before the revolution and six discussing the transformations that took place after the revolution. The last chapter is devoted to an evaluation of the system and of its achievements in respect of achieving administrative efficiency and economic equity. The relationship be¬tween government and economy is an important area of study in the economic history of Egypt. State participation in the economic field began with the reforms introduced by Mohammad Ali which led to the emergence of public monopolies. The transition towards free-market economy began in 1844 and was completed by 1914. By the mid-twentieth century, Egypt had a predo¬minantly free market operating side by side with an effective public sector. Agriculture continued to occupy an important position but significant strides had also been taken towards industrialization. Around 1950, Egypt had ac¬quired an industrial structure dominated by the manufacture of simple con¬sumer goods. Fifteen per cent of Egypt’s national income came from industry and the per-capita income stood at $118.

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