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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

What we’re tracking on 25 September 2018

It’s our birthday: Enterprise is four years old today. We’ve done this 964 times now, not including our Your Wealth edition or the Weekend Edition we previously published on Fridays before the Resident 11 Year Old (then somewhat younger, but no less blunt) declared that our working seven days a week wasn’t smart on the work-life balance front. As you can see from our inaugural issue, we have come a long way — and we lots more to come. We are thankful for the support and kindness our readers have shown and hope to continue to be your trusted morning news source for many more years to come.

It is also a very slow news day at home and abroad. Enjoy what we’re sure will be a one-day respite — with the House due back in session next week, all good things shall come to an end.

What are folks talking about in the world beyond our fair shores? The now very messy confirmation process for The Donald’s nominee to the US Supreme Court (Brett Kavanaugh faces allegations of [redacted] impropriety) and, in parallel, the fate of Rod Rosenstein. He’s the US deputy attorney general who allegedly mused about invoking the 25th amendment to try to declare Trump incapable of continuing in office — and the guy who is ultimately responsible for the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The two stories lead the mainstream and business press on both sides of the Atlantic this morning.

**#4 Oil broke the USD 80/bbl mark, hitting a four-year high: Brent crude rose more than USD 2 yesterday to USD 80.82, breaking the USD 80/bbl mark, the FT reports. The fresh high comes after OPEC decided against further output increases despite demands from US President Donald Trump for renewed action to cool prices, as we noted earlier this week. Driving the decision was the US reinstating sanctions on Iran, which will resume in November. The era of “lower for longer” oil prices may be over, Bloomberg suggests.

Some oil traders are now talking about crude breaking above USD 100, the business information service adds, but the sell-side set is warning against irrational exuberance (forgive us for invoking Greenspan). Analysts at Bank of America, for one, sees a good chance oil will break USD 100, but warns “the likelihood of an oil spike and crash scenario akin to the one observed in 2008 has increased.” As Bloomberg explains: “A decade ago, Brent crude surged to nearly USD 150 a barrel, only to crash just months later as high fuel prices and the global financial crisis triggered a slump in demand. This time, the deepening trade war between the U.S. and China threatens economic growth in Asia and turmoil in emerging countries could amplify the impact of higher prices on global demand growth.” BofA’s outlook on crude for 2019 is for around USD 80 / bbl.

None of this is good for our budget deficit: The Finance Ministry is expected to amend targets for Egypt’s FY2018-19 budget deficit to 8.6% of GDP from 8.4% of GDP, a senior government official told us over the weekend. The official blamed rising oil prices, along with higher US interest rates, for the decision. Crude closing above USD 80 yesterday will also add new impetus to the government’s fuel hedging plan, which officials had suggested could be shelved if oil prices stabilized. Earlier this month, the government reportedly signed fuel hedging contracts with two international banks, with some in the press speculating that the firms were JP Morgan and Citibank.

There’s also the EM component: The International Institute of Finance put out a report last week suggesting that oil importers of the Middle East were most at risk of emerging market contagion. The spike in prices will not help, joining with potential fallout from global trade tensions to kick emerging markets in the seat of the pants despite the recent respite after a seven-month plunge in EM, Bloomberg writes.a

**#8 The world’s wealthiest families are liking private equity right now, just don’t expect them to allocate much to this part of the world after the Abraaj imbroglio. “The world’s wealthiest families plan to allocate more money to private equity after the asset class helped drive an average 15.5 percent rise in the value of their investments in 2017, according to a survey” by UBS and Campden Wealth, writes Reuters.

So, how are family offices splitting their portfolios? According to the survey:

  • 22% public equities in developed markets
  • 6% listed equities in emerging markets
  • 16% fixed income
  • 46% “alternatives” including private equity and real estate

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