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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

What we’re tracking on 16 August 2017

Will former EGX boss Mohamed Omran be the next head of EFSA? That’s what unnamed sources are telling Al Ahram’s breaking news website, which says the former stock exchange boss may now cross the street to become the nation’s top non-bank financial regulator at the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority. Deputy Justice Minister Khaled El Nashar is reportedly set to be named Omran’s deputy. Both nominations will go to the House of Representatives for approval, the website reports. Reda Abdel Moati has been serving as acting chairman of EFSA since Sherif Samy’s tenure ended earlier this month. As does every such story by our friends in the domestic press, this one promises the official announcement will be made “soon.”

Getting us excited this morning is a very bullish report on Egypt from Goldman Sachs that a good friend of Enterprise passed on to us yesterday. The firm’s thoughts are going long on the EGP, shorter-term T-bills, and USD-denominated debt. GS sees the fiscal picture in Egypt is “improving” and the drive for structural reform continuing with little signs of fatigue as the IMF-sponsored reform program was mostly “front-loaded,” with the relatively difficult measures already completed. Goldman notes “good news” that boosted investor confidence, including a quick rebound in foreign inflows, growing international reserves, successful eurobond issuance, strong FDI flows, and improved FX liquidity situation. The report also suggests that Egyptian debt is trading at least one notch above what its current rating would correspond to.

The Ismail cabinet will review the Investment Act’s executive regulations — which we expect it would approve — and at the Factoring and Leasing Act at its weekly meeting today.

Members of the House of Representatives’ majority Support Egypt Coalition will be holding an “urgent meeting” with Transport Minister Hisham Arafat today to discuss the development of the national railway network, bloc leader MP Mohamed Elsewedy tells Al Shorouk. Arafat had said earlier this week that upgrades were ongoing, with the aid of foreign partners like Thales, and that they would cost c. EGP 45 bn to complete. In their upcoming session, House representatives also plan on introducing new legislation that would allow the private sector to directly build, manage, and maintenance of railway infrastructure, which is not allowed under current laws, House Transport Committee deputy Wahid Qarqar also tells the newspaper.

The End Times I: We’ve been saying this for more than two years now, but it’s not the prospect of the Trump presidency or solar eclipses (see below) that should have you worried about economic Armageddon, it’s the ticking time bomb that is unsustainable Chinese debt — including often -undocumented rural debt used by local chieftains to gin-up growth figures to the satisfaction of central officials. Enter the IMF, which warned in a tough country report yesterday that, “International experience suggests that China’s current credit trajectory is dangerous with increasing risks of a disruptive adjustment.” ‘Disruptive adjustment’ is IMFspeak for “Holy [redacted], it’s gonna be bad on a global scale.” As the Financial Times succinctly put it: “China’s economy will grow faster than expected over the next three years because of the government’s reluctance to rein in ‘dangerous’ levels of debt.” Check out a six-chart summary or the full report itself (pdf, look for the link under “electronic access”).

The End Times II: When they’re not losing it over their president likening left-wing demonstrators to neo-nazis, some Americans are preparing to go nuts over a rare solar eclipse this coming Monday, 21 August that has amateur astronomers and scientists alike excited, others predicting the end of the world and scam artists out in full force. But don’t worry about the eclipse, the UK’s Daily Star reassures us — the End Times are really signalled by the “Great Pyramid [of Giza, which] reveals EXACT DATE of end of world…and it’s NEXT MONTH.” Something about a giant planet named “Nibiru” crashing into earth sometime in October after becoming visible on 23 September. And we think our domestic press is nutty? Would that some other nations were judged in toto by the stuff their yellow press runs…

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