CAIRO - A cartoon which appeared on social media shows a drowning Egyptian, only his hand protruding from the depths, waving for help. The next strips show President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi diving in, taking the drowning man's watch and turning away.
The cartoon captures the mood of desperation and anger among Egyptians clobbered by tax rises, soaring food price inflation and cuts in state subsidies. Some fear a repeat of the mass street protests that drove Sisi's two immediate predecessors from power.
Core inflation is at seven-year-highs, near 14 percent, as a foreign exchange shortage and a hike in customs duties bite hard in a country that imports everything from sugar to luxury cars.
The government raised electricity prices by 25-40 percent in August and is phasing in a 13 percent value-added tax approved by parliament in the same month.