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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

What we’re tracking on 19 December 2017

US Vice President Mike Pence is delaying his visit to the region (again) and will arrive some time the week of 14 January, according to US media reports. Pence was scheduled to be in Cairo this week before heading to Israel. Prominent regional spiritual and political leaders, including Pope Tawadros II and the head of Al Azhar, had announced they would not meet Pence to protest the Trump administration’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Reuters and CNN have the story.

Book-building and subscriptions for Al Tawfeek Leasing’s IPO of 24% of the company’s shares will begin today and continue until Sunday, 24 December. The listing has already garnered interest from some 15 funds, most of which are locally based, said Sherif Abdel Aal, head of investment banking at Pharos Holding, the sole coordinator and bookrunner for the transaction. Three quarters of the shares on offer will be sold through an institutional offering, with the rest earmarked for retail investors, the company had said on Sunday. The transaction could close in the EGP 150 mn range, Abdel Aal said, according to Al Borsa.

With the final days of the year now upon us, we’re leading this morning with four pieces we think you should ingest as you mull what to expect next year and beyond. Consider them essential — but not complete — primers on global macro to get you started. We’ll have more in the days ahead and then, in the new year, we’ll be back with thoughts from senior Egyptian execs on how things could play out here at home.

First up: The Pessimist’s Guide to 2028. Yes, Bloomberg’s annual feature (a favourite of Enterprise readers and editors alike) is out. It looks not just at 2018, but at how trends next year play out over the coming decade. Among them: Trump winning a second term in office, banks being killed by bitcoin, and the oil and gas economy being sent to its grave by electric cars. It takes a moment to figure out how to navigate the package, which is best experienced on a tablet or laptop / desktop, but it’s worth every tap and click.

Next: The man who helped save the global economy from *complete* meltdown thinks rate hikes could drive the US economy into recession. Think what you want about our friends across the pond, but a downturn there doesn’t bode well for global emerging markets. In an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal, “Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari warned Monday that bad things may lie ahead for the economy if his colleagues at the U.S. central bank press forward with interest-rate increases.” The Fed, remember, has signaled it will do as many as three rate hikes next year. Kashkari, a former Goldman exec, is sometimes poo-pooed for not being an economist, but the Wharton grad and former aerospace engineer helped quarterback the US government’s response to the global financial crisis, running bailout programs including TARP while working under Hank Paulson at Treasury. Definitely a guy whose views are worth considering.

Is there a chance that the hive mind of private equity knows something that the rest of us don’t? Like perhaps we’re at a high-water mark and now’s a great time to get out of the market? “Private equity groups are selling businesses at a faster rate than in the years leading up to the financial crisis as they look to cash in on record-high prices while the global economy remains strong,” the Financial Times suggests. What’s more, the PE gang is landing new commitments, “raising [a] record amount of fresh capital as institutional investors come under pressure to deploy money in a low interest world” and look beyond alternative investments including hedge funds.

Finally: Donald Trump will continue to be a destabilizing influence on global policy, whether you’re talking trade, economics or international relations. The Donald was expected to outline a Cold War-style foreign policy yesterday that warns of “a treacherous world in which the United States faces rising threats from an emboldened Russia and China, as well as from what it calls rogue governments, like North Korea and Iran. To fend off these multiple challenges … the government must put ‘America First,’ fortifying its borders, ripping up unfair trade agreements and rebuilding its military might.” Economic security, the policy notes, is national security. Trump struck a much different tone, though, in the speech in which he was to outline the policy, leaving analysts, enemies and allies alike scratching their heads. Mark Landler and David Sanger have coverage for the New York Times. Also worth reading is this piece from the Associated Press.

Today in miscellany:

  • The way to riches is through a nation’s stomach. It’s been true here, where food in all of its forms (from the basics to packaged snacks and restaurants across the income spectrum) has been largely resilient despite all that’s transpired since 2011. Heck, it only stumbled after a 50% devaluation — and is now recovering. It’s also true abroad, where food companies including Hershey and Campbell Soup are snapping up smaller, faster-growing brands in the search for growth.
  • What technology changed our lives in 2017? AirPods, Alexa, wireless charging, FaceID and “genuinely mobile payments” are among them, the Financial Times suggests.
  • Continuing with our year-end theme: The Times’ Smarter Living newsletter suggests you don’t waste your time with bad New Year’s resolutions, instead outlining a way to get them right. (New York Times)

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