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Sunday, 15 July 2018

What we’re tracking on 15 July 2018

The Emerging Markets Zombie Apocalypse has put the squeeze on Egypt, with outflows from debt instruments in the USD 4-5 bn range, according to a Reuters report. But we’re not about to become walker-bait, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told us in conversation this weekend (admittedly, he didn’t use those exact words). Maait acknowledged that global headwinds in EM have hit Egypt and suggested the government will focus less on tapping the bond market this year and instead line-up longer term facilities.

Notably not freaked out is the IMF, which released on Thursday its third review of Egypt’s economic reform program. Among the highlights of the report is its assessment that Egypt is reasonably well positioned to handle external stress such as the EM Zombie Apocalypse and higher oil prices.

Still, you’ll want to keep an eye on the global debt market, suggests the FT’s Jonathan Wheatley, who notes debt is piling up globally — and that comparatively under-leveraged EM had been slapping it on faster than are developed markets. “The big issue this [increase in debt] raises is the importance of emerging markets growing sustainably [to reduce the burden of debt],” he quotes Mohamed El Erian as saying.

EM have already seen two of the three stages of a crisis this year, El Erian notes: “First, the reversal of flows; second, the contagion between currencies seen in the Argentina peso, Turkish lira and others. ‘In the third,’ he said, ‘either the strong names reassert with their fundamentals while the weak names succumb to their fragilities, which is what is happening now; or, you get one bad outcome leading to another.’ As to which of those outcomes will predominate, he said, the jury is still out.”

We have chapter and verse in Speed Round, below.

EXCLUSIVE- The first wave of the privatization program will include stake sales by five companies, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Enterprise. The announcement of program timeline will take place either this week or next, said Maait, who noted that the timeline announcement was delayed as some ministries were not ready. The Madbouly Cabinet would likely then sign off on the program at the meeting following the announcement, he added.

It’s going to be a wild ride in the House today as our fearless representatives try to push through as much legislation as possible and thus earn themselves their summer recess. Some in the local press had expected the House to go into recess today, but with 43 meetings and hearings still scheduled and a pile of bills on the agenda (see Speed Round, below), we think we’re looking at recess later in the week.

The centerpiece: MPs will begin today debate in plenary session of the Madbouly cabinet’s policy program, which emphasizes continuity with his predecessor’s agenda on key points including economic policy, shoring up the social safety net, the rollout of a universal health insurance program, improvements to education, and the war on terror. You can catch our recap of the program here.

Don’t expect a final vote on the program before Tuesday, Deputy House Speaker Soliman Wahdan said on CBC’s Hona Al Asema last night. He lauded the “ambitious” program despite its lack of a detailed time frame for social protection measures and economic reforms and noted that the House is widely expected to give the incoming cabinet its vote of confidence (watch, runtime: 7:04).

Also on the House’s docket: The three bills that comprise the Press and Media Act, part two are due to be discussed today, sources tell Ahram Online. The Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) had said in its review of the law that some of its core articles are unconstitutional and infringe on press freedoms — and called for 33 of its 55 articles to be amended. The Public Contracts Act will also be discussed in committee this week, according to Al Shorouk, and could have a first reading in the House as a whole.

You now have an extra month to settle your real estate taxes: Maait signed off yesterday on extending the deadline for the payment of real estate taxes to 15 August, from 15 July, according to a statement picked up by Al Masry Al Youm. The minister said the deadline would not be pushed a second time.

Further afield this morning: Donald Trump says he plans to run again in 2020 because there’s no Democrat out there who can unseat him. Trump’s remarks came as he heads off to a meeting in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Saudi and the UAE are throwing South Africa a lifeline as the Emirates pledged USD 10 bn worth of investment, largely in tourism and mining, matching Saudi Arabia’s offer made earlier in the week.

Croatia and France face off at 5pm CLT today in the World Cup final. We don’t know who to cheer, frankly, but will probably settle on Croatia — we love the underdog.

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