What we’re tracking on 02 September 2018
It’s September, ladies and gentlemen, which carries with it the hint of cooler weather and the specter of more crowded streets as the new school year starts. Your colleagues in North America are celebrating with a three-day weekend in observance of Labor Day (US and Canada).
Cairo loves Beijing: The local press is hailing “a new age of cooperation” between Egypt and China after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi signed five new agreements with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. The signing comes ahead of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in Beijing, which runs from tomorrow until Tuesday. We breakdown the agreements in today’s Speed Round, below.
GERD meeting? President El Sisi was reportedly set to discuss the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed yesterday, but we’ve heard nothing on that from the press over the weekend. Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s new ambassador to Cairo, Azanaw Tadessea, arrived in Egypt yesterday to submit his credentials and assume his new post, AMAY reports.
New US ambassador tapped? David Satterfield (bio) is seen as the “leading candidate” to become the new US ambassador to Egypt, a position that has been vacant for over a year, two US officials told Reuters. Satterfield is currently assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, and will officially be announced as the new envoy to Egypt if the US Senate confirms David Schenker as his replacement. “A former U.S. official said Satterfield had particularly good contacts with the Egyptian military because of his 2009 to 2017 service heading the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai Peninsula, which oversees security provisions of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty.”
Busy fall season for diplomacy: The China trip is the first big meeting of El Sisi in what looks set to be a busy fall on the diplomatic front, with both French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian PM Narendra Modi so far confirmed as due in town before year’s end. The president is also due to meet Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in October.
Don’t expect last week’s Moody’s upgrade to impact Egypt bonds, says Arqaam.Last week’s upgrade of the ratings agency’s outlook on Egypt to “positive” from “stable” will likely not impact Egypt’s fixed assets as the market has already priced in the gains from the reform agenda, Abdul Kadir Hussain, the head of fixed income at Arqaam Capital, tells Bloomberg TV. “The progress has been seen fairly early by the market,” he said in response to questions on if there is wiggle room to improve following the upgrade (watch, runtime: 2:44).
Global private equity firm Actis has put in a bid to acquire “the bulk” of Abraaj Group’s emerging markets funds, two sources familiar to the matter said, according to Reuters, which gave no further details on Actis’ alleged bid. Actis is up against Abu Dhabi Financial Group as well as a consortium formed by Kuwait’s Agility and New York-based Centerbridge Partners. The transaction should close before the year is out, according to one of the sources.
Argentina is freaking out investors already spooked by Turkey, as we suggested on Thursday.The peso “tumbled to a record-low” on Friday, becoming the worst-performing EM currency, according to Bloomberg, falling 12.6% against the USD, even after Argentine policy makers decided to hike interests rates by 15 bps to 60%. “That took the peso’s year-to-date decline against the dollar to 51.7%, past the 42.9% drop the lira is nursing,” the FT said. The salmon-colored paper has an FAQ if you need to get up to speed.
And it’s sending yields through the roof: Yields on emerging market bonds are approaching 2006 levels, when US interest rates were 3x what they are now, the FT also notes. “Yields for local currency-denominated EM bonds have risen all the way back to 2006 levels, while high-yield corporate — and in particular sovereign — USD-denominated debt now pay more than before the global financial crisis.”
Trade talks between Canada and the US broke off on Friday without an agreement and the two sides have since agreed to sit down again on Wednesday, according to Reuters. This comes as The Donald doesn’t seem terribly interested in an agreement, having told Bloomberg in off-the-record remarks late last week that he’s driving such a hard line that “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make an [agreement].” Trump later turned to Twitter to declare, “There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA [pact]. If we don’t make a fair [agreement] for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out. Congress should not interfere w/ these negotiations or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off.” The Financial Times and Wall Street Journal both have the story. The talking heads who had cheered the prospect of a pact early last week as signaling an end to trade worries are the same ones now predicting doom and gloom if there’s no agreement this week.
Elsewhere this morning:
Apple fans will get their first look at the iPhone XS and Apple Watch 4 on Wednesday, 12 September sometime around 7pm CLT when the company’s fall product event kicks off. 9to5Mac has a shot the iPhone XS and the new face of the Watch. You can stream the Apple event here or click here to add it to your calendar.
Also next week: The 10-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the real beginning of the global financial crisis. Expect lots of hand-wringing. The Financial Times gets us all in the mood with a really solid Weekend Read piece by Gillian Tett looking at “why the warning signs were missed and where the next crash may strike.”
Night work may not be killing us after all. Instead, night owls are being killed by the tyranny of the early birds, where everything from school schedules to office jobs and sports leagues were designed with a “lark’s” schedule in mind. While 40% of people are programmed to rise with the sun, at least 30% of us are genetically primed to do our best work at night — and the rest of us fall somewhere in between. Read Maybe Your Sleep Problem Isn’t a Problem in the New York Times.