CAIRO – Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak resigned as president and handed control to the military on Friday after 29 years in power, bowing to a historic 18-day wave of pro-democracy demonstrations by hundreds of thousands. “The people ousted the president,” chanted a crowd of tens of thousands outside his presidential palace in Cairo.
On that note, here’s a couple of interesting things that economists have to say about this situation. First, Barry Eichengreen tells us “Why Egypt Should Worry China,” and next Dani Rodrick tells us about “The Poverty of Dictatorship.”
Is this a Fukuyama moment?
Well, it’s not clear that Fukuyama thinks so.
There seems to be a very tumultuous situation in Egypt. In the face of mass protests being labeled “Angry Friday,” Jeff at the Cheap Talk blog and Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution assess the strategic implications for both protesters and for the government.
The decision to get out and protest is a strategic one. It’s privately costly and it pays off only if there is a critical mass of others who make the same commitment. It can be very costly if that critical mass doesn’t materialize.
Communications networks affect coordination. Before committing yourself you can talk to others, check Facebook and Twitter, and try to gauge the momentum of the protest. These media aggregate private information about the rewards to a protest but its important to remember that this cuts two ways.
If it looks underwhelming you stay home, go to work, etc. And therefore so does everybody who gets similar information as you. All of you benefit from avoiding protesting when the protest is likely to be unsuccessful. What’s more, in these cases even the regime benefits from enabling private communication, because the protest loses steam. Continue reading You Can’t Cut the Internet ‘Signal’