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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

What we’re tracking on 17 January 2017

We’re trying not to hold our collective breath as we wait for the cabinet shuffle promised to come “very soon” by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

In the meantime, we’re going to be watching the IMF presser today to unveil the terms of Egypt’s USD 12 bn extended fund facility. The fund will also discuss its economic outlook on Egypt, Al Ahram reports. This should quiet down the media and MPs who have been clamoring lately for more details on the facility three months after the agreement was signed.

Finance Minister Amr El Garhy and company should be in New York to pitch the eurobond issue to investors today before moving on tomorrow to Boston. El Garhy told Al Ahram that the bond sale could take place as soon as the roadshow ends in London on 23 January. Bloomberg’s Ahmed Feteha writes a short guide to the issuance. Even with additional firepower, the central bank won’t lend to the government as liberally as it used to and will keep reserves as “a cushion for possible economic shocks,” said Noaman Khalid, an economist at Cairo-based CI Asset Management. Reuters adds some color on yesterday’s presentation, adding that government representatives provided no “specific pricing indications” but a source close to the matter said that the sale could “offer a premium of up to 20 basis point to Egypt’s existing curve.” The presentation was compelling, one investor told Reuters.

Is a sukuk next? The same Reuters piece quotes investors who attended yesterday’s Abu Dhabi session as saying “government representatives” had suggested that Egypt could issue USD-denominated sukuk this year.

Kabil, Khorshid, Sahar Nasr in Davos: Dalia Khorshid (Investment) and Sahar Nasr (International Cooperation) join Tarek Kabil (Trade and Industry) and the Egyptian delegation in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, Al Masry Al Youm reported. Khorshid will be meeting with investment bankers and multilateral institutions to drum up investment opportunities in Egypt, Al Borsa reports. Ditto Kabil, who will also take part in the Future of Arab Economies panel and meet with his Chinese counterpart, according to Al Shorouk. Nasr is scheduled to discuss on Thursday the medium-term benefits of Egypt’s economic reform plan including an improved business climate, and increased productivity and exports, as part of wider development in the MENA region.

Speaking of the WEF, Chinese President Xi Jinping emerged a champion of globalism at highly anticipated opening plenary sessions. Xi denounced protectionism, urged against a trade war, and promised that China has no intention of devaluing its currency. We’re not sure why it’s a surprise that the world’s export powerhouse likes trade, but Xi’s speech is getting incredibly wide coverage. See the Financial Times or Reuters for starters.

A new name all of you will want to remember going forward: Anthony Scaramucci. He’s the Trump advisor who, in the wake of Xi’s speech, was sent out at Davos to put a positive spin on The Donald’s antagonistic stance on China. His message to the elite at Davos: The new administration does not want a trade war with the Middle Kingdom, but wants fair trade, the Wall Street Journal reports in a very interesting profile of Scaramucci. Scaramucci’s conciliatory remarks also covered the EU and NATO, which he said are not obsolete, but need fine tuning.

Sound smart: Scaramucci is a hedge fund manager and has just sold his USD 12 bn fund of funds, SkyBridge Capital, to fully engage with the Trump administration. He’s in charge of “explaining his ideas and projects to Americans,” the WSJ says — and to the Denizens of Davos, Bloomberg notes in a shorter profile.

What’s freaking out those Denizens of Davos? Not the global economy. For the second year running, no economic issue has made the list of biggest global risks we face this year, according to some 750 experts polled by the World Economic Forum. This year’s list, from the top: extreme weather, involuntary migration, major natural catastrophe, large terrorist attacks, massive data fraud / theft. (Hit the link for additional commentary as well as a table of what survey respondents saw as risks in past years.)

Also today: The Administrative Court has referred a lawsuit calling for the suspension of the IMF agreement to the State Commissioner’s body, Ahram Online reports. The lawsuit was filed by yet another random group of ham-and-egger / press [redacted] lawyers seeking a few moments in the sun.

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