CBE’s Amer strikes conciliatory note with bankers, says he is “hands off” with the EGP
Inside Tarek Amer’s Sunday meeting with bankers: We spoke with senior bankers at three different institutions yesterday to get the inside track on Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer’s Sunday sit-down with senior members of the banking community. All of them described a meeting that gives us confidence that the CBE is moving in the right direction on FX policy.
The CBE is “hands off” with the EGP, they agreed. Contrary to our report yesterday, Amer provided no guidance on the USD:EGP rate, and instead took a very conciliatory tone as he offered a positive review of how the bankers have managed the interbank system since the float. Liquidity is flowing into the system, he said, and the natural downward pressure on the USD reflects that. The CBE, he said, has not been involved in any way in setting the rate and will continue to maintain a hands-off posture. Bankers have described that as key to the credibility of the float, as have foreign investors with whom high-profile EGX companies have recently met.
As one of the nation’s most senior bankers relayed the remarks, Amer said: “In practice, I’m not a market maker anymore, I’m a regulator — and the market is being made by the banks.”
Take their time on the backlog: Amer also told the gathering that the banks need to keep chipping away at the backlog. A few more days’ delay in opening LCs, he said, would ultimately accrue to the benefit of clients provided USD inflows into the system continue and, as a result, maintain natural downward pressure on the exchange rate.
No hurry to close out open shorts: The CBE governor, we’re told, also encouraged banks to be cautious in closing out their open FX positions, urging them to earmark inflows of liquidity to clearing their backlogs and opening LCs. Again, the logic is that the greater the inflows of FX, the more the USD:EGP rate will trend downward, minimizing losses when banks eventually do close out their positions.
The overall tone of the meeting: “Very pleasant,” said one. Amer arrived exactly on time and was upbeat throughout, urging bankers to work together for the good of the system and “turn a new page.” “We’re in this together,” he said, clearly looking to move beyond the tension that had prevailed between bankers and the CBE in the run up to the float.
On a related note: Banque Misr has managed to draw in USD 77 mn yesterday alone, said the bank’s chairman Mohamed El Etreby, according to Al Ahram. Banque Misr was able to clear USD 115 mn in import backlogs yesterday, he tells the newspaper. He assures readers that the EGP will continue to strengthen moving forward.
Meanwhile: The EGP gained strength against the USD again yesterday as importers reported better liquidity, and the EGX30 broke a 12-day rally yesterday as traders took profits. The benchmark index closed down just over 2% at 10,694 points.
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Hot and bothered in a rather less pleasant way: 2016 will be the hottest year on record, the third year in a row in which we’ve set a new high, the Guardian says, citing figures from the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation.
Does the climate news have you feeling morbid? If you have a free Washington Post article left (or know how to use Incognito Mode), head over and page through the paper’s (depressingly long) gallery of “Notable Deaths of 2016.”
Wait, Breitbart’s what? It’s a one-sentence mention (with no elaboration) in the lede of a New York Times piece, but get this: “There is talk of Breitbart bureaus opening in Paris, Berlin and Cairo, spots where the populist right is on the rise.” For the uninitiated: Breitbart is the pro-Trump outlet whose chairman is now chief strategist for the Trump White House.