UK Investment Minister Graham Stuart is in town today for the second day of meetings with stump for opportunities in financial services, tech and education. We had an exclusive sit-down with Stuart yesterday, during which he told us the UK is committing c. USD 1.6 bn in financing to a more than USD 10 bn petrochemical complex being developed by Basil El Baz’s Carbon Holdings. We have chapter and verse on the financing for Tahrir Petrochemicals Corporation and other announcements in today’s speed round.
In our chat yesterday, Stuart stressed the UK’s interest in boosting economic ties as Egypt grows into a regional economic power. The minister is meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Sahar Nasr, as well as Trade Minister Tarek Kabil and Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar and held talks yesterday with Oil Minister Tarek El Molla.
Is it is just us, or do people seem to _need_ to worry right now? While the Emerging Markets Zombie Apocalypse continues to simmer in the background, the global financial community has something else to worry about this morning, the pundits tell us: The prospect of a political and financial meltdown in Europe, our largest trade partner, thanks to political turbulence in Italy.
Italian politics sparked a global equities selloff yesterday that is the lead story in every international business publication we track this morning. Asian shares extended the rout today, Reuters notes.
So, what happened in Italy yesterday? A political crisis over who forms the next government “spooked international markets on Tuesday,” the Financial Times reports, “after its central bank chief warned that Rome was on the cusp of losing investors’ hard-won trust, sending European and US bank shares lower as traders gauged which lenders could weather a new eurozone storm.”
Bank shares in Italy, the US and the UK really took it on the chin. Citi, JPMorgan, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley were all down 4% or more yesterday. Investors flocked to the greenback, the yen and US treasuries, where the 10-year yield declined 15 bps to 2.78%.
Where does it go from here? CNBC quotes analysts who it says think Italy could be “the next Greece — only much worse,” with one noting that “Italy’s economy is 10 times larger than that of Greece.” The best (and most balanced) explainer we’ve read so far is Patti Domm’s Market Insider piece for CNBC. The hand-wringing suggests we are looking at consequences as far reaching as Italy dumping the euro, another Greece-style crisis or even Brexit, Mark II. It’s the apocalypse — run.
Where did this Italian political crisis come from, anyway? The country’s president, Sergio Mattarella, decided on Sunday to block the formation of a eurosceptic government, the WSJ said, reviving “longstanding worries about the broader stability of the eurozone” amid the specter of a “fresh round of elections that could strengthen the hand of antieuro forces.” It all has George Soros worrying about “another major financial crisis,” the FT and Bloomberg add.
Do we all have financial PTSD? Much of the global financial press (and a certain type of investor) really seem to need, deep in their bones, for there to be another global financial crisis. It feels a bit like those of us who had trouble re-adapting to a 9am-5pm work day, five days a week, after years post-2011 that were punctuated nearly every week by, “Oh no, ‘X’ road is closed because of protests ahead of the Latest Friday of Idiocy, let’s send the staff home.”
Abraaj has lost two more senior executives, the Wall Street Journal reports, saying that the CFO and COO of the embattled outfit’s private equity unit have followed out the door our friend Mustafa Abdel Wadood (former managing partner) and the firm’s head of impact investing. Now-former COO Matthew McGuire reportedly said in an email to staff that he was stepping down because of “recent developments” after just three months in his role. The Dubai-based emerging markets private equity firm has been under fire since high-profile investors forced an audit of how funds in a USD 1 bn healthcare fund were used. (The fund in question is not the one through which Abraaj invested in Egyptian healthcare opportunities.)
Okay, is there an antidote to all the negativity out there? Not so much this morning. People, globally, are in a reasonably grumpy mood. That said, we can offer you this:
Cairo is the cheapest big city in the UBS Global Cities Ranking 2018. The study, which ranks cities by purchasing power and earnings, saw Cairo fall to the bottom of the 77 cities named in the report. Just to give you a sense as to how cheap we are, a haircut (one of the 128 goods and services measured) in Cairo costs on average USD 7.50, while in Zurich (which topped the list) a standard haircut for women costs USD 94.30. To get the perspective on the earnings side, Egyptian bus drivers make USD 860 per annum, while those lucky enough to drive in Luxembourg make USD 99,241 a year. You can checkout the list and run your own price analysis at the UBS microsite when it comes back online, as it was down as of dispatch.
Sleeping in on the weekend could save your life. Don’t get enough sleep on weekdays? You have 65% higher mortality rate than your peers if you get five hours’ sleep a night or less. Scary, right? But there may be a remedy: Researchers have found that people who sleep too little during the week had no increase in mortality risk as long as they slept longer on weekends, the Guardian reports.
Global green banking principles to go live in November? Our friends at CIB were one of 26 global financial institutions that helped draft new global banking principles that “align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.” The UN Environmental Programme Finance Initiative will look to drive change worldwide by capitalizing on “the influence banks have on other industries.” The green banking principles will launch in November at a global event in France, CIB notes in a statement.
Your Ramadan rundown for today:
Bank hours run 09:30 am to 01:30 pm for customers and from 09:00 am to 02:00 pm for employees, CBE announced.
The EGX is running shorter trading hours. The trading session kicks off at 10:00 am, but closes at 1:30 pm. Tap or click here for the full schedule.
We’re looking at reasonably good weather for the rest of the week, with the mercury set to hover between 32°C and 34°C all the way through Friday. A spell of warmer weather is on the horizon starting Saturday, according to the long-range forecast on our favorite weather app.
So, when do we eat? For those of us observing, Maghrib is at 6:50 pm CLT today. You’ll have until 3:11 am tomorrow to finish your sohour.