Before God instituted this great tribulation in Egypt, the people were a relatively free people, living where they wished and enjoying the private ownership of land. They also owned the means of production; in this case, the livestock. Egypt was not, at this time, a socialist state. Yet, as a result of this great distress that they were suffering, the money supply dried up, and the people became serfs. They became slaves to the government.
They were relocated at the will of the government that owned them. Their basically capitalistic system—capitalistic because capitalism is connected with the ownership of land—gave way to a far more limiting and inefficient means of allocating goods and services called "feudalism." The people became serfs, sharecroppers. All of this in seven years!
What happened in Egypt can only be described as a time of social and economic revolution. It was indeed a great tribulation.
The Other Great Tribulation