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Sunday, 10 September 2017

What we’re tracking on 10 September 2017

Keda bardo, ya Amreeka? Alabama 3’s song “Woke Up This Morning” (the opening theme of the Sopranos) came to mind Friday morning when we heard the US Senate’s Foreign Aid Appropriations Committee approved withholding 25% of the USD 1 bn in military and economic aid to Egypt in FY2018. A positive note has to be that the committee has left it to the Secretary of State to decide whether to waive the requirement. We have more on this in the Speed Round.

We await the central bank’s announcement of August inflation figures thisweek. Annual urban headline inflation rate increased to 33% in July, while core inflation also shot up to 35.26% on an annualized basis, on the back of subsidy cuts. Some analysts, including Pharos Holding’s Radwa El Sweify, believe inflation could rise to 36% in August and September “because it takes about three months for the full pass-through of the subsidy cuts into the economy.” The figure will play heavily in the CBE decision on interest rates when its Monetary Policy Committee meets on 28 September.

Speaking of inflation: ADSL services cost a bit more now that the 14% value-added tax was imposed on the sector this past Friday. The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has reportedly given IPSs the green light to pass the full increase onto their subscribers, which last we heard had just been an ongoing debate. TE Data’s smallest package will set you back EGP 57, up from EGP 50, while their most expensive will set you back EGP 570, up from EGP 500. Al Borsa lists TE Data’s new prices here. Vodafone Egypt have reportedly notified their subscribers of the increase, according to Al Mal, but we have not been able to confirm the fact (even though one of us here is a VFE ADSL subscriber). IPSs have been petitioning the NTRA for a while to raise their tariffs in order to factor in the VAT as well as rising expenses.

While something tells us that Egypt-style inflation is not universally in the cards, a 20-year downward trend in inflation across EMs may be reversing, writes Steve Johnson for the Financial Times. August has seen a number of EMs reporting higher inflation, including China, Mexico, and Turkey, following a record low of 2.5% in July. “Headline inflation will bottom out in emerging markets. We are looking for things to gradually lift back up but stay on the low side,” said Joseph Lupton, senior global economist at JPMorgan.

If you have a credit history in the US, you probably want to “freeze” your credit report. An unspecified number of folks in Canada and the US were also affected after hackers stole personal data on some 143 mn people, including, “names, social security numbers, birth dates, home addresses and some drivers’ license information” The tool that Equifax released to allow you to see if you’re affected is, apparently, basically non-functional, turning up positive results regardless of the information you put in. So what to do? That “freeze” on your credit report, which is going to cost you a few bucks, but the process is less onerous than it sounds. Try instructions from the New York Times, Toronto Globe and Mail or CNN Money, as you prefer.

Oh, and the best part? Three senior Equifax officials — including its CFO — sold shares worth almost USD 1.8 in the days before it came clean about having been hacked, Bloomberg reports.

Want to move abroad? Look at Bahrain, which joins Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan and Portugal as the top five places to live and work in, according to expats. Qatar, Kuwait and KSA make the bottom ten, according to the InterNations Expat Insider 2017 survey. Egyptian expats participated in the survey, but foreigners living in Egypt gave it a pass: The survey notes that “Egypt, Morocco, Mozambique and Tanzania are no longer part of the 2017 league table due to a lack of respondents.” The highlights of the report are worth a read, and the full thing is available for download here (pdf).

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