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Thursday, 17 May 2018

What we’re tracking on 17 May 2018

Good morning, friends, and Ramadan kareem. We hope those of you observing the Holy Month are doing better without your morning dose of coffee than we are.

Look for a daytime high of 36°C in Cairo on this first day of fasting, kicking off a heat wave that will see temps stuck in the 40s well into next week.

Bank hours for Ramadan will run 09:30 am to 01:30 pm for customers and from 09:00 am to 02:00 pm for employees, CBE announced.

The EGX will run shorter trading hours for the holy month. The trading session will kicks off at 10:00 am, but closes at 1:30 pm. Tap or click here for the full schedule.

The Cairo Metro system is running additional trains and is moving to extended hours for Ramadan, Al Shorouk reports. All three lines will operate from 5:30 am until 02:00 am (instead of midnight), while only lines one and two will put on extra trains. Egyptian National Railways is also tweaking its service schedule between Cairo, Alex, Mansoura and Ismailia for the month. The full schedule is here for the curious.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib is at 6:43 pm CLT today. You’ll have until 3:20 am on Friday to finish your sohour. By the last day of Ramadan, you’re looking at 3:08am for fajr prayers and 6:58pm for maghrib.

It’s not just Ramadan — it’s interest rate day: The central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold when its Monetary Policy Committee meets today. Nine of 11 economists polled by Reuters expect rates to remain on hold.

A basket of factors argues in favor of stasis: The prospect of an inflationary spike this summer when the next round of fuel subsidy cuts kicks in (annual headline inflation rate dropped to 13.1% in April from 13.3% in March, while core inflation was up fractionally to 11.62% from 11.59%). Oil prices are high and could still rise, as CBE Governor Tarek Amer acknowledged earlier this week. The US Fed is still going to hike interest rates at the same time as the greenback gathers strength.

Oh, and Brazil unexpectedly left its key interest rate unchanged yesterday, with the central bank there explaining in a statement that the ongoing emerging markets rout was at the heart of its decision: “The external scenario became more challenging and volatile. … there was a reduction in risk appetite for emerging economies.”

Not to worry: Tastemaking fund managers are still bullish on EM. The founder of emerging market-focused hedge fund Pharo (which has generated double-digit annualized returns at all of its funds save one over the past five years) still likes the asset class very much, he tells the Financial Times. Meanwhile, Franklin Templeton has thrown Argentina a lifeline, snapping up more than USD 2.25 bn in Argentine bonds.

Back here at home, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi believes “Egypt’s economy needs to grow at least 7.5% a year to lift living standards for a surging population,” Bloomberg reports, picking up on remarks the president made yesterday at his latest youth conference. We have the full rundown in Speed Round, below.

Meanwhile, Reuters will make waves this morning with its investigative piece on the extent of the Armed Forces’ involvement in the economy. The story, headlined From war room to boardroom. Military firms flourish in Sisi’s Egypt, is the product of a year of interviews and includes video content and images.

In our to-be-read pile for this evening as we slip into a steak, sambousek and konafa-induced food coma:

Killing strategy: The disruption of management consulting by CB Insights is deep dive into the creation of the management consultancy industry — and why the industry that claims to have invented the very idea of disruption could now itself be disrupted. Look no further than changing corporate business models (the industry faces its own version of the “inside counsel” revolution that turned the legal world on its ear in the 1970s) and new technologies. Definitely worth a read this morning, whether you’re a consulting geek or a newbie.

The Wall Street Journal is turning heads in Saudi with its piece headlined “I am the mastermind:” Mohammed bin Salman’s guide to getting rich,” which claims to set out how MbS amassed his fortune after realizing as a teenager “that his father … was, by Saudi royal standards, a pauper.”

Speaking of partnerships being disrupted, something is happening in law, too, John Gapper writes for the Financial Times, arguing that law firm partnerships are losing their lustre.

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