Good afternoon, wonderful people. We’ve made it through another week together (the last full week in August, at that). Our reward is a pleasantly brisk newsday — overlaid with a thin layer of worry about global equities as we head into September next week.
HAPPENING NOW- Global markets are down and US futures are wobbling ahead of today’s opening across the pond as investors wait for US jobless claims — and look forward to this year’s virtual edition of the US Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole meeting. Shares in Asia finished down for the day and major European indexes are on track to do the same. Futures show the Dow opening in the green, while both Nasdaq and the S&P were in the red at the opening bell later this afternoon.
RAY OF SUNSHINE- The EGX30 is comfortably bucking the trend, closing the week up 0.6% (+2.6% year to date).
The annual gathering of US central bankers and policy makers at Jackson Hole takes place tomorrow. Feb boss Jay Powell will speak tomorrow evening our time, with analysts expecting him to remain vague on the timing of a potential tapering of the Fed’s bond buying program. This is the second year in a row that the gathering will take place online. The Fed has a delicate balancing act to pull off as it looks to start dialing back stimulus, and the Financial Times’ editorial board hopes it uses the Jackson Hole meeting to provide some clarity.
What are policymakers weighing? Among other things, the likelihood that the delta variant will have a significant impact on the economy, which would add another layer of complexity to the Fed’s fundamental debate: Is the bump in inflation transitory or not?
ALSO HAPPENING NOW- We’re on tenterhooks waiting to see if we get off the UK’s
black red list of countries from which passengers landing on British soil are required to quarantine. We have the rundown in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
MEANWHILE- We’re declaring ourselves American today. Not for the truth, justice and apple pie (they’re nice, of course), but because it’s National Dog Day in Amreeka. The Wall Street Journal is sure we find pups cute because of the shape of their eyebrows. Resident dawg Luna thinks that’s an oversimplification.
THE BIG STORY ABROAD- The United Kingdom has rung warning bells about a “highly credible” threat of the Daeshbags sending suicide bombers to target crowds outside Kabul’s airport. The alarm prompted the US and other countries to urge citizens to stay away from the airport for their own safety — and in some cases halt evacuation flights altogether. Nations have been sprinting to evacuate their citizens before US President Joe Biden’s 31 August deadline to withdraw troops. The warning has done nothing to thin crowds outside the facility. The story is everywhere from Bloomberg and Reuters to CNBC and the New York Times.
** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:
- Foreign investor launches takeover bid for agrifoods player Galina: An unnamed investor submitted a bid for 100% of the company, CEO Abdelwahed Soliman told us yesterday. Galina has set an EGP 6.50 per share asking price, valuing it at around EGP 780 mn.
- GERD hasn’t hurt Sudan’s water supply just yet: While the filling had no impact on water supply, preparing for the unknown was expensive and caused indirect socioeconomic damage as Sudan undertook crisis-management measures.
- Cairo reconsiders plan to hike permits to film on city streets: The government could instead enact a new set of regulations to regulate how it charges producers for filming permits after receiving intense backlash from media industry stakeholders.
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FOR FINANCE NERDS (and do-gooders alike)- “The ESG investing industry is dangerous” warns FT columnist Robert Armstrong, channeling a dissident investor from Blackrock in a solid, nine-argument takedown of why ESG investing may not be a one-way ticket to Woke Capitalist Nirvana. Bonus: Armstrong gives space to his opponents in a follow-on column — and then gently deconstructs their deconstruction of his argument.
Deutsche Bank asset management arm DWS Group is being investigated over allegations it overstated its sustainable investing efforts, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. The probes by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors are in early stages. DWS has struggled to define and implement an ESG strategy, telling investors in March 2020 that more than half of its USD 900 mn assets were graded under ESG criteria before an internal report questioned the claim.
Asset managers have flocked to ESG as investors applaud the idea that they can grow their wealth while feeling like they are contributing to a better society. Assets in ESG funds surpassed USD 2 tn globally in 2Q2021, tripling in the past three years.
WARNING– US investors have cut back on their use of leverage for the first time since the start of the pandemic, meaning they’re borrowing less and less to trade on margin and turbocharge their expected returns. The salmon-colored paper wonders whether this means folks are getting jitters about the durability of our very long bull run in US equities.
FOR TECH NERDS- Steve Jobs stepped down 10 years ago this week. We love Walt Mossberg’s essay on this occasion. Use a time machine to go back to 2011 and read Jobs’s departure as CEO of Apple is the end of an extraordinary era. Are we the only iSheep getting a bit itchy over the lack of leaks about when the company’s expected September event is due to take place?
PRESENTED WITHOUT COMMENT- The Financial Times also thinks all of us here in this part of the world have taken chill pills thanks to covid and Joe Biden. Leaders out here, from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to MbS, MbZ, the guy in Ankara and whoever is running Iran these days have been exchanging nice notes, holding talks (sometimes in secret) and generally using nice language with longtime foes.
Hybrid and remote working have changed the economic landscape in the US. People are moving away from the gravitational pull of cities, possibly revitalizing the suburbs or countryside, writes Bloomberg. Meanwhile, shorter commute times meant an increase in productivity in the corporate world at the same time as workers got more time for leisure and to simply … be home with their families. The downside: Cafes, shops and businesses in the cities, who are losing clients and potential workers at the same time.
It's looking less and less likely that we'll ever know where covid-19 came from: The team appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to find the cause of the global pandemic said yesterday that the search process has stalled, and that “the window” to conduct crucial studies into how the virus emerged “is closing fast,” the Associated Press reports. In their March analysis the WHO team concluded the virus probably jumped to humans from animals, and described the possibility of a laboratory leak as “extremely unlikely.” The experts said their report was intended only as a first step, and called on political and scientific leaders to expedite studies — which had been stalled due to a lack of data and access from China — “while there is still time.”
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Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience offers a fresh look into the second-generation immigrant experience. The show tells the story of a flawed but deeply loving Korean family that runs a convenience store in Toronto, probably the world’s most multicultural city. With perceptive observations of quirky human behavior and relatable everyday experiences, it seamlessly weaves in the funny contrasts that result when cultures collide. The show ended abruptly after producers decided to move on to other projects, prompting critics to nitpick the show, saying that it needed at least a couple of more seasons to wrap up. A storm of controversy was then stirred in early June when some cast members claimed they endured a challenging and racist work environment. The comments came as a surprise to many fans who saw Kim’s Convenience as a beacon of representation and multiculturalism.
⚽ Gameweek three of the Premier League is kicking off on Saturday with a whopping seven matches: Man City will kick off the day with a match against Arsenal at 1:30pm ????. At 4pm, Newcastle will go up against Southampton, Brighton against Everton, West Ham against Crystal Palace, Norwich City against Leicester City, and Aston Villa against Brentford. Finally closing out the day are Liverpool and Chelsea who will hit the field at 6:30pm.
Serie A’s gameweek two starts tomorrow: Udinese and Venezia will play tomorrow at 6:30pm while Verona and Inter Milan will compete at 8:45pm. On Saturday, Lazio is up versus Spezia at 6:30pm, Atalanta versus Bologna at 6:30pm, Fiorentina versus Torino at 8:45pm, and Juventus versus Empoli at 8:45pm.
A match you don’t want to miss: Real Madrid and Real Betis are playing on Saturday at 10pm in La Liga’s gameweek three.
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If you’re in the mood for Italian: Casa Talia at Arkan’s new extension offers a nice atmosphere with gorgeous interior design that boasts plants hanging from every corner of the ceiling and elegant murals on the wall. It works as a place to meet friends and family during the day or a place to chill at night, paired with the incredibly fresh, distinct, and authentic food. The Italian restaurant offers freshly made Neapolitan style-pizzas, pastas, and an array of enticing Italian dishes. Their honey-roasted pineapple and date gratin are a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth. For an Italian restaurant, we were surprised at how good the mac n’ cheese was.
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El Sawy Culturewheel is hosting two standup comedy shows, courtesy of Ali Kandil, at 4:00pm and 8:00pm, respectively.
It’s Sufi night at the GrEEK Campus today at 7:30pm, featuring performances by whirling dervishes and musicians.
Pink Floyd cover band Andromida is performing the album Animals at Agouza’s Cairo Jazz Club tonight at 9pm.
Dawar Arts is hosting a ladies’ dance-jam night tomorrow at 7pm.
The HOH acoustic concert at Zamalek Theater tomorrow at 8pm will feature Hany Adel from Wust El Balad, Ousso Lotfy from Nagham Masry, and Hany El Dakkak from Massar Egbari.
Tour guides Walk Like an Egyptian are exploring the Museum of Islamic Art, Khayameya & Fatatry al-Hussein tomorrow at 1:30pm.
Darb 1718 are having a Hip Hop Explosion event on Saturday at 8pm with Begad Osama, Dodzy, Lee Awam, Bebo, Yasser, and Yousef Al Araby taking the stage.
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The Price You Pay for College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make. Written by New York Times columnist and bestselling author Ron Lieber, the mouthful title of the book pretty much says it all. Lieber dissects the confusing mess that some parents and aspiring students find themselves in. The book serves as a thorough and comprehensive guide of the true price of the four years (or more) of college. Although aimed initially at parents, the book should be read by aspiring students too, especially those planning for a postgraduate degree and feel this could be the biggest financial decision they ever take. The research in this book is sure to make it an enjoyable read despite being a stressful topic.
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Egypt will participate in a summit in Baghdad on Saturday as Iraq looks to carve-out a role for itself in regional politics. On the invite list are high-level delegates from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Qatar as well as reps from the European Union and the UN. It’s still anyone’s guess who will attend.
Egypt is looking to spark a conversation about what’s next in development, sustainable finance and the road to recovery for developing economies. The International Cooperation Ministry will hold the first iteration of its new International Cooperation Forum on 8-9 September. The two-day event will focus on fostering partnerships in development finance and sustainable development, according to a statement (pdf) yesterday.
Sustainable development will be front and center at the Greenish Environmental Festival on 3 September. Organized by Egyptian social enterprise Greenish and Fab Lab Egypt’s parent company San3a Tech, the event aims to bring to light the impacts of climate change and how to combat them through talks, seminars, and workshops that teach everything from compost manufacturing to creative recycling, according to Egyptian Streets. You can get tickets for the event here.
☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- We’re back to 40°C in Cairo this weekend, falling to 24°C at night, according to our favorite weather app. Meanwhile, Sahel is at 32-33°C weather on Friday and Saturday, with nighttime lows of 23-24°C.