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Monday, 7 May 2018

What we’re tracking on 07 May 2018

It’s the accidental legislation issue of Enterprise, as yesterday saw a flurry of updates on key business and econ laws, including the Banking Act, the Ride-hailing Apps Act, plans to bring SMEs into the tax system, and a harebrained scheme to turn Egypt’s parliament into a two-party system. We have more in the Speed Round, below.

Our friends at AmCham will be holding their fifth annual HR Day today. The gathering will discuss new ways of attracting talent, developing culture, implementing leadership practices and diversity and inclusion, in addition to raising questions on the value of a company’s culture. You can register for the event here.

The central bank will auction off USD 1.1 bn in one-year USD-denominated treasury bills today, according to Reuters.

Khaled Mohieldin, the last surviving member of the Revolutionary Command Council that ruled Egypt after the 1952 military coup, passed away yesterday at the age of 95, Reuters reports. The council, which included 14 members, had been “set up to run Egypt until 1956 when its head, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was elected president.” President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail were among the many who released statements yesterday mourning Mohieldin’s passing. Khaled Mohieldin was the uncle of former Investment Minister Mahmoud Mohieldin.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will meet today with his Ugandan counterpart Sam Kutesa in Cairo, Youm7 reports. The meeting will be followed by the closing session of the Egyptian-Ugandan joint committee and a press conference. An Egypt-Uganda business forum will follow tomorrow, Al Dostor reports. The two countries recently signed the pan-African Continental Freetrade Zone (CFTZ), which hopes to reduce and eventually eliminate customs duties between the zone’s member states.

Bloomberg thinks Naguib’s gold strategy is a rookie mistake: Last week, Naguib Sawiris said he’s investing nearly half of his USD 5.7 bn net worth in gold, which he believes will reach USD 1,800 per ounce from just above USD 1,300 now. Bloomberg’s Barry Ritholz schools him on the ABCs of investing. For one thing, it’s never wise to concentrate investments into one asset class, particularly if it is based on some kind of forecast — whether that be his prediction of a higher gold price or a potential stock market crash. “[The strategy] also reflects a misunderstanding one’s own abilities to time the market based on valuations.” Game, set, match in a long piece worth reading.

The next US bear market is going to be choppy and “rolling,” hammering one industry at a time—and it is starting to take hold. That’s the argument at Morgan Stanley, which sees earnings growth slowing in the second half of 2018 after a “temporary and unsustainable earnings boost” from tax reforms, Business Insider reports. “We expect both a deterioration in earnings quality and a peak in organic growth in 2018,” Morgan Stanley’s chief US equity strategist wrote clients. “The bear market in valuations has already begun and supports our overall view that the next cyclical bear market in the US may have already begun.” The next bear market will “lack the large 20-40% pullbacks” that characterized the last three bear markets dating back to 1987. Instead, the bank says, “we are likely to see a rolling bear market across individual stocks and sectors that results in a choppy, range-trading index for years.”

Already, investors are parsing every word execs say on earnings calls “searching for signs of how long the good times are going to last” some 10 years into a bull run, the Financial Times adds. Cases in point: Caterpillar, AIG and Tesla, the salmon-coloured paper says, adding, “the nervousness among investors is particularly noteworthy because of the strength of earnings.”

The FT really, really wants there to be some turbulence in EM, noting again that “Emerging markets investors are braced for turbulence in the coming days following last week’s sharp currencies sell-off that led to drastic measures by Argentina’s central bank to stop a slide in the peso,” as we explained yesterday.

Over in the Wall Street Journal, the question of the day is how Wall Street analysts missed the surge in oil prices to USD 75. If you’re into oil or predictions, you’ll want to give this one a read on your morning commute / as you settle into the office this morning.

**An Aussie financial advice firm has moved to a five-hour workday—and thrived, the Financial Times reports, writing that it all began when the firm’s boss moved to a five-hour day as his wife began treatment for cancer. “At the start of last year, the 30-odd staff at his firm, Collins SBA, began a trial of a five-hour day, with no cut in their pay. They had to start between 8am and 9am and get their work done by 1pm or 2pm. After that, most were free to hit the golf course, play with their children or whatever else they felt like. The reception desk stayed open all day and urgent client needs were met. Despite fears the move could blow up the business, it has worked so well to date that there are no plans to end it.”

The result of the experiment: “Sick days have plunged. Talented recruits have been hired. Some advisers have done record levels of new business. Clients did not mind waiting a few hours to see an adviser. The firm’s bottom line seems unaffected.” Read: The case for a five-hour working day.

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