What we’re tracking on 09 January 2018
Food for thought on this fine Tuesday morning, where we once again remind you that Egyptianwinters are the best winters in the world:
We’re basking in a relatively quiet news day. You should too. Hit the link here for our full 2018-19 holiday calendar. Then get a fresh cup of coffee, close your door and sit back to figure out what it means to your business (and your holiday plans). As you do, keep in mind the words of reader Davide C., who reminded us as 2017 drew to a close that Egypt took 17 national holidays last year — making us the country with the fifth-highest number of vacation days in the world. How good is that for productivity? By his calculations, Italy — our Mediterranean sibling from another mother — had an average of 9.4 national holidays over the past five years (they don’t get ‘replacement days’ if they fall on a weekend). That means we work one and a half weeks less each year than the Italians do — or two and half weeks less if you presume everyone in the country drops down to a six-hour workday for Ramadan.
And if you, like us, are the type who will spend the next month or so figuring out and refining your list of business and personal goals for 2018 and into 2019, go read Andrew Hill’s latest Managing Yourself column for the FT. It’s a short hit that urges us all to do less this year, but do it better. The column rides on the work of Norwegian academic Morten Hansen, whose blog won our hearts with stories including “Cut Your Work in Half This Holiday Season: Do a George Costanza.” Anyone who can reference Seinfeld can’t be all bad, right? Hansen is the author of the forthcoming “Great at Work: How top performers do less, work better and achieve more,” which is due out at month’s end — and which we have just pre-ordered. (And yes, we’re very aware that one way to do less, work better and achieve more is probably to spend less time reading modern-day self-help books…)
Why are we so chipper this morning? All the good news in yesterday’s edition (here, here and here) has us upbeat, sure, but we were also reminded overnight by the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof that 2017 was the best year in human history. Set aside everything that’s easy to hate in this day and age, he reminds us, and embrace the fact that “a smaller share of the world’s people were hungry, impoverished or illiterate than at any time before. A smaller proportion of children died than ever before. The proportion disfigured by leprosy, blinded by diseases like trachoma or suffering from other ailments also fell.”
Meanwhile: Expect foreign policy to dominate today’s news cycle as Egypt engages with the United States (the Pence visit is back on) and our neighbors in Sudan (which is stirring the pot on Halayeb), Eritrea (whose president is here today) and Ethiopia (GERD, which continues to give us GERD). We have a full rundown at the head of today’s Speed Round, below.
In other headlines worth a moment of your attention today:
Let them eat cake: In a nation as obsessed with food security as we are and should be, surely there are opportunities in agricultural technology — or agtech as it’s now known. The FT tells us that fundraising for the sector more than doubled last year (admittedly to a still-paltry USD 700 mn).
Quant funds will soon have more than USD 1 tn in assets under management, according to the salmon-colored paper.
How much do you know about fintech, which looks to be one of the themes of the year in Egypt’s banking sector as the central bank pushes financial inclusion? Beginners should take the Wall Street Journal’s cute little quiz and find out.
Offspring of Almarai founder in jail? The sons of Almarai dairy founder and chairman Sultan bin Mohammed Al Kabeer are among the 11 princes arrested last week for complaining about rising utilities prices, Bloomberg claims.
Business woman and entertainer Oprah Winfrey is said to be “actively considering” a 2020 bid for the White House after her widely applauded speech at the Golden Globes on [redacted] harassment this week, CNN reports. The story is front page news everywhere from the Financial Times to the New York Times, with the latter also throwing in an op-ed on why a run would be a bad idea in the Age of Trump.