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Wednesday, 12 September 2018

More what we’re tracking on 12 September 2018

**#3 EARLY MORNING NEWS ALERT: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued a decision early this morning approving changes to customs duties on a range of items, according to Al Shorouk, which appears to be the only publication to have so far picked up the news. These include setting a 20% tariff on all imports by hotels and tourism businesses. A number of items also saw tariff increases of between 5-40%, including juices, where import duties rose to 60% from 20%.

Clothes, electronics, pet foods and some other food items are also getting more expensive as tariffs on them rise to 40%.

The decision also imposes a 10% duty on all items that have been sent abroad for maintenance and repairs and were reimported back to Egypt.

On a related note, the Trade and Industry Ministry imposed an export tariff on copper of EGP 20,000 per tonne, acting head of Foreign Trade department Amani El Wasal said.

EFG Hermes annual London conference continues today at the Emirates Arsenal Stadium in London. Investors and fund managers with aggregate AUM of more than USD 12 tn are meeting with senior execs from more than 150 companies across frontier and emerging markets in 11 sectors with a combined market cap of more than 850 bn (or about 85% of Apple, for those keeping track at home). The conference press release (pdf) is here.

Ethiopia, Eritrea reopen border: “The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea re-opened crossing points on their shared border for the first time in 20 years on Tuesday, cementing a stunning reconciliation and giving Addis Ababa a direct route to its former foe’s Red Sea ports.” (Reuters) Want more in the days ahead? Follow Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff on Twitter.

Emerging markets champion Mark Mobius is looking to raise GBP 200 mn for a new EM investor trust that will take positions in 20-30 undervalued EM and frontier market companies, the Financial Times reports. Mobius sees the ongoing EM slump as an “exciting” window for investment, noting that EMs tend to swing between irrational highs and lows. “The Mobius Capital founding partners and employees each intend to invest around GBP 5.7 mn into the trust, which will look for companies on the brink of a turnaround and also have an environmental, social and governance focus.” The new trust, which comes after Mobius launched Mobius Capital in May, is set to launch on 1 October on the London Stock Exchange. You can check out the Mobius Investment Trust’s website here.

The secrets to growth in emerging markets? There are two, according to a McKinsey survey cited in a guest op-ed for the Financial Times: “They have pro-growth agendas that include steps to increase capital accumulation, often through mandatory retirement saving, and efforts to improve government effectiveness. Some of these countries have also sought to create more competitive dynamics in their home markets.” That’s how seven Asian nations grew their economies at least 3.5% per year in the 50 years to 2016, while 11 others grew by at least 5% per year in the 20 years from 1996 to 2016. Read Emerging markets can still drive global growth.

The tenth anniversary of the global financial crisis is on Saturday, and the international business press is slowly ramping up its coverage. A handful of the best pieces out so far:

Start with What we need to fight the next financial crisis, written by former treasury secretaries Hank Paulson (also ex-Goldman) and Tim Geithner and former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke.

Then, read Andrew Ross Sorkin’s From Trump to Trade, the Financial Crisis Still Resonates 10 Years Later. Sorkin, the NYT Dealbook founder and CNBC Squawk Box anchor, wrote Too Big To Fail, the (so-far) definitive history of the crisis that spawned the movie of the same name.

Now, go check out Nouriel Roubini’s Is the next financial crisis already brewing? The NYU economist and EM expert lays out a scenario for another financial crisis hitting some time around 2020 when he figures “the tools available to policymakers will be constrained. Fiscal policy is hampered by higher public debts, but returning to unconventional monetary policies may be thwarted by the bloated balance sheets of central banks. Bailouts will be run up against the populist mood and less solvent sovereigns.”

Also worth a read this morning:

  • China Is Detaining Muslims in Vast Numbers. The Goal: ‘Transformation. (NY Times)
  • Investing in Kuwait is the subject of a substantial package of stories in the Financial Times.
  • The 29-year-old running the world’s largest crypto hedge fund, Polychain Capital (check it out — it’s the most blatant F-U hedgie website we’ve seen in forever) is struggling to prove he wasn’t a one-hit wonder. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Building boom under the microscope: EM architects of big infrastructure projects need to be ready for new scrutiny in the wake of this piece from the Journal: Building boom unravels, deepening Turkey’s economic crisis.

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