What we’re tracking on 21 February 2018
CORRECTION- The proposed stamp tax rate on stock market transactions is five thousandths, or 0.5%, not as we mentioned incorrectly in yesterday’s issue 0.005%. We apologise and regret the error. Our plan is to dust off our primary school math books, read them, then commit seppuku afterwards. The entry has been corrected on our website.
Is the EGP, up 14% in the last two weeks to 15.73, setting itself up for another tumble? The EGP’s surge in the last two weeks is “the strongest fortnightly surge in an emerging market currency in the last five years,” the Financial Times writes, citing calculations by Renaissance Capital. RenCap chief economist Charles Robertson has hinted that the CBE may have intervened to support the currency in a bid to curb inflation. Robertson stressed there is no direct evidence of intervention, but said “this has all happened too quickly for my liking.” He predicts that recovering trade and tourism would help the EGP rally in 1H2017. RenCap had targeted an exchange rate of EGP 15.50 by mid-year and said the EGP “still offers value, but a pull-back in the coming days / weeks would not surprise us at all.”
On a slow news day in Egypt, we have a handful of international stories that we in the chattering class will be mumbling about today. They include:
Famine has been declared in South Sudan’s Unity state, CNN reports. The UN says that 100k people are on the verge of starvation and that 5 mn people — or 40% of the country — is in “urgent need of help.” CNN is in rare good form with its on-the-ground report (read and watch, runtime: 2:50). (Apologies to Ben Wedeman and Ian James Lee, of whom we are unabashed fans. They’re CNN correspondents who are always in good form.)
The owners of Kraft Heinz have USD 15 bn in dry powder to deploy on a “megadeal,” the Financial Times reports, noting that Brazil’s 3G Capital raised USD 10 bn in its last fund and “has the option to ask investors to contribute a further USD 5 bn.” 3G spearheaded portfolio company Kraft Heinz’s failed USD 143 bn bid for Unilever. A week ago, nobody was talking about the desperate need for growth at Kraft or Unilever, but whether you’re reading the Wall Street Journal or Reuters, that’s suddenly the conventional wisdom. Worth reading for those of you following the mini-saga is Reuters’ look at how 3G Capital’s “ruthless approach to costs” may cost it deals in the future. The piece was written with Unilever in mind, but it holds no matter what 3G looks to buy.
The Donald has a national security adviser. Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, an active-duty general who is one of America’s top strategists and a “respected intellectual” who was once close to the late spy / ‘80s technowar novelist Tom Clancy, has agreed to serve as US President Donald Trump’s national security advisor.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations died suddenly yesterday, the day before his 65th birthday. The inimitable Vitaly Churkin passed of a heart attack.
Footballer Lionel Messi is set to fly to Egypt today to promote the Tour n’ Cure hepatitis C medical tourism program. The trip has been postponed twice already, Al Masry Al Youm says.
RANDOM FACT of the morning: There are 2,473 bn’aires in the world right now. Oddly enough, nobody at Enterprise is among them.