What we’re tracking on 21 October 2018
It looks set to be another busy news week as the House of Representatives convenes today for its first general assembly of the new legislative season — and as corporate Egypt slides into earnings season.
What’s more, an IMF delegation is in town to kick off the Fund’s fourth review of Egypt’s progress on a laundry list of economic reforms pledged as a condition of the USD 12 bn extended fund facility we landed back in November 2016. The delegation arrived on Thursday, government sources said, and the review begins this week. Expect sit-downs between IMF staffers and both the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank, sources tell Al Shorouk
End of an era: The Höegh Gallant floating storage regasification unit (FSRU), until recently the final critical link in Egypt’s natural gas import chain, left Egypt on Thursday, ending an era of gas imports and ushering Egypt’s re-emergence as a regional gas export hub. The FSRU set course for the US Sabine Pass production facility, according to Reuters. Höegh had agreed with Egypt to amend the terms of a five-year contract for the FSRU that will see the Norwegian company hired as an LNG carrier to a third party.
Saudi admits Khashoggi was killed at consulate: After two weeks of denying any knowledge of his disappearance, Saudi Arabia has admitted that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died at its consulate in Istanbul. KSA authorities said that Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate, but provided no details on the nature of the altercation, Reuters reports. Saudi prosecutors have launched an investigation into the incident and vowed to take action against any and all persons found to be implicated, the Saudi embassy in Cairo said in an emailed statement (pdf). Five top officials have been sacked (including the deputy head of intelligence) and 18 arrested, the Washington Post reports.
The international community is not buying it. Turkish officials, who had leaked audio recordings last week of what they claimed were Khashoggi’s final moments, promised to continue their investigation. They had said that Khashoggi was dismembered and beheaded by Saudi agents. The European Union asked for a more “in-depth” investigation, with Germany describing the story as “inadequate.” US President Donald Trump also said he would not be “satisfied until we find the answer,” but said the move “was a good first step.” Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, commended the kingdom for the “brave and decisive” preliminary investigations.
The story dominates front pages around the world this morning, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times, which delves into the history of Khashoggi’s squabble with the Saudi crown. Amr Adib also took a few moments to add his two cents (watch here, runtime: 3:03 and here, runtime: 1:44).
The Post has published Khashoggi’s last column, headlined What the Arab world needs most is free expression.
Stories worth reading on the fallout:
- Uproar Over Dissident Rattles Saudi Royal Family. (New York Times)
- The enduring myth of the young Arab reformer. (Financial Times)
- Saudis’ image makers: A troll army and a Twitter insider. (New York Times)
Is anyone going to MbS’ investment conference this week? Fox and Goldman Sachs exec Dina Powell (said to be in line to become US ambassador to the United Nations) aren’t going. But Russia is.
Care about the price of oil? Keep an eye on US shale output. “US shale oil production could fall short of its most optimistic projections because of emerging problems in the industry,” warns the CEO of Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services group. “The well-established market consensus that the Permian can continue to provide 1.5 mn barrels per day of annual production growth for the foreseeable future is starting to be called into question,” CEO Paal Kibsgaard said on a call with analysts.
In miscellany this morning:
Meet the new debt instrument that has the prophets of doom and gloom losing it: The collateralized loan obligation, a cousin of the CDO that helped trigger the global financial crisis.
A familiar playbook? Ukraine has signed up for a USD 3.9 bn bailout from the IMF and has pledged to raise household prices of natural gas as a condition.
Apple is expected to launch new iPad Pros (or should that be iPads Pro?) on Tuesday, 30 October at an event in New York. A refresh of the Mac lineup is a possibility, too.
PSA- It’s the last gasp of summer with daytime highs running to 33-34°C today through the weekend. Look for overnight lows of 22°C all week long. Our favorite weather app suggest we can expect a return to cooler fall weather starting Saturday.