What we’re tracking on 12 June 2018
HOLIDAY WATCH- Everyone from the Central Bank of Egypt to the EGX and the Ismail Cabinet has now confirmed that with Ramadan set to end on Thursday, we will have a four-day long weekend running Friday-Monday. Enjoy seeing all the people you’re getting away from in Sahel while we revel in having the capital city to ourselves. We’re off on Sunday and Monday, but will be back in your inboxes on Tuesday morning.
Want a safinga chaser? Mark the looming end of the holy month with the WSJ’s Orientalist-headlined “Beers at Ramadan: Dubai Relaxes Rules as Gulf Countries Adapt to Draw Business” and then marvel that booza (no, not *that* booza) has crossed the pond to New York, where a new shop in Brooklyn (where else?) will serve the sahlab-based ice cream.
Prime Minister-designate Mostafa Madbouly has yet to unveil his cabinet lineup. Madbouly is apparently still meeting with prospective candidates, and the echo chamber from the local press is again highlighting the candidates, adding Mac Optic President and CEO Ahmed Radwan to the list of potential entrants to cabinet. Sources tell Al Mal that Madouly gave candidates a 48-hour window to respond to his offer. The new cabinet was expected to be sworn into office before the Eid El Fitr break.
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi spoke in public for the first time on the new cabinet, saying that change in government was necessary, according remarks picked up by our friends at Al Masry Al Youm. The president thanked outgoing Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and his cabinet on behalf of a grateful nation.
Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker will announce new electricity prices at a press conference today. The rate hikes will come into effect on 1 July as widely expected, Reuters’ Arabic service reports. The price hikes will be implemented across the board, but the lowest consumption tier be shielded from the full brunt of the rise, Shaker told Youm7. Previous reports had suggested that prices would rise by as much as 55% and that the ministry was mulling having imposing a surcharge on consumption during peak hours for users in the uppermost bracket.
Capital Economics is the latest to suggest the Central Bank of Egypt will leave interest rates on hold when its monetary policy committee meets on 28 June, writing in a note to clients yesterday that, “Inflation should resume its downward trend later this year, eventually allowing the CBE to push ahead with rate cuts. We expect the easing cycle to be resumed at September’s MPC meeting and that the overnight deposit rate will be lowered by a further 350 bps this year, taking it to 13.25%, and by another 200bp in 2019. That is a quicker pace of easing than most anticipate.”
The Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un summit in Singapore got underway in the week hours of this morning as we were writing today’s edition. Dude shook hands with a guy who assassinates political rivals living abroad, kidnaps innocent civilians, threatens to lob nuclear weapons, and blows relatives to pieces with anti-aircraft fire. “I think we will have a terrific relationship,” The Donald said. But Canadians? Close the borders, bubba. Damn them and their cheap cars and milk tariffs (and healthcare, multiculturalism and lack of handguns). Hit the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico or Axios for the blow-by-blow as the day unfolds — the whole summit looks set to wrap in less than seven hours.
If not by the EM Zombie Apocalypse, the End Times will be inaugurated by Donald Trump’s “America First” trade policy. That’s the suggestion from IMF boss Christine Lagarde, who warned yesterday that “the global economic outlook is darkening by the day.”
Latest sign we are indeed in the early days of the End Times: Back-to-back front-page headlines in our favourite non-business newspaper announcing Dennis Rodman arrives in Singapore ahead of Trump-Kim summit and Actor Robert De Niro slams Trump at Toronto event, apologizing for President’s ‘idiotic’ behavior.
Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi “scrambles as [his] empire teeters,” the headline in the Wall Street Journal blares, quoting the 57-year-old CEO as saying a dispute over the use of investor funds for general corporate purposes was “caused by differing interpretations of Abraaj’s agreement with investors. ‘We felt we were within our rights to interpret it the way we wanted,’ he said. ‘In hindsight would we have done things differently? Possibly.’” The Journal spoke with former Abraaj staff who said that “Mr. Naqvi had a dominating attitude that laid the groundwork for trouble. Several of these former employees blame the problems on what they say was Mr. Naqvi’s overly ambitious expansion beyond Middle East deals.”
It looks like internal OPEC politics could play against Saudi’s bid to ramp up production. Other OPEC members, including Iraq, have voiced opposition to lifting production curbs, according to Bloomberg. Iraq “rejects unilateral decisions made by some producers which do not consult with the rest,” Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar Al Luaibi said in a statement. “Producers from within and outside OPEC have not yet reached the goals set,” he added. Iraq, the second largest producer in OPEC, is now lending its voice to both Iran and Venezuela.
And the award for the best use of a marketing hook to make sell-side research readable goes to…Goldman Sachs for its “The World Cup and Economics 2018” (pdf). You can hit the landing page for the publication here or flip to page 17 of the pdf version to Goldman’s synthesis of football and economic analysis as applied to Egypt: “An economic recovery to match a footballing renaissance…While there are still significant risks of delivery, so far the [reform] programme has been surprisingly successful: the current account deficit is gradually correcting alongside inflation and business, and investor confidence has been restored.”
Okay, but who does Goldman think will win the World Cup? Not the Pharaohs, who GS suggests won’t make it to the group of 16: “England meets Germany in the quarters, where Germany wins; and Germany meets Brazil in the final, and Brazil prevails.”