What we’re tracking on 26 February 2017
The Finance Ministry reportedly wants the IMF to delay sending a delegation to Cairo for a review of progress on the reform program to which we committed as a condition of the USD 12 bn extended fund facility. The delegation was expected in March, but unnamed sources tell Al Masry Al Youm the Finance Ministry wants a bit more time to finish working on the 2017-18 budget before the IMF arrives in town for a review that would lead to the disbursement of a second USD 1.25 bn tranche of the facility. No other media outlet has yet confirmed AMAY’s story.
Finance minister Amr El Garhy speaks today at AmCham Egypt’s monthly gathering. The topic, as usual: The Ismail government’s fiscal reform program, Youm7 reports.
We’re finally standing up to the Brits on their Sinai flight ban: That Boris Johnson fellow was in Cairo to bloviate this past weekend, and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke for all of us when he told the UK foreign minister that it’s time the Brits stopped Tweeting platitudes about their love of Egypt / strong-arming Egypt on IOC payments and lift its ban on flights to Sinai. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released after the meeting: “The continuation of the halt of the British airline to the Egyptian tourist destinations despite the progress that has been made in securing airports is completely not understandable and unjustified.” Reuters has the story of the travel ban, while Al Masry Al Youm has a take on Boris’ visit. (In fairness: The bit about Tweeting platitudes and strong-arming on IOC payments is us, not MoFA.)
US Democrats have chosen Obama-administration labor secretary Tom Perez as the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, defeating Keith Ellison, Politico says. Perez tapped Ellison as his deputy chair. While a conventional choice for Dems, Perez is being forced to stand his ground by swelling anger in Democratic ranks: “Trump is anathema to America,” he told the political news website.
The Donald, meanwhile, spent the weekend picking fights with the press, the FBI and the intelligence community as he hopped back on Twitter (check out @realDonaldTrump). So much for GOP hopes of a reset. How could that ever go wrong for him… Elsewhere: “Wary of Trump unpredictability, China ramps up naval abilities,” reports Reuters.
Food for thought this morning if you manage third-party money: Some twelve years on, Warren Buffett is still waiting for someone to take him up on his wager that “no investment pro could select a set of at least five hedge funds – wildly-popular and high-fee investing vehicles – that would over an extended period match the performance of an unmanaged S&P-500 index fund charging only token fees” — and he’s as polemic about it as ever in this year’s Berkshire Hathaway annual report: “When tns of USD are managed by Wall Streeters charging high fees, it will usually be the managers who reap outsized profits, not the clients. Both large and small investors should stick with low-cost index funds.” As usual, Buffett’s annual report is all over the Western business press. Bloomberg’s coverage is typical, or you can read it yourself here (pdf; the tired against asset managers starts on page 21) on Berkshire Hathaway’s ridiculously old-school website.