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Tuesday, 6 November 2018

What we’re tracking on 6 November 2018

No raise for you? President Abdel Fattah El Sisi hinted yesterday that there may be no raises for civil servants this fiscal year. Pointing to the EGP 130 bn his administration will need to build as many as 250k new classrooms, El Sisi said yesterday: “That’s a big challenge. Tell me what to do. How do I solve this? I’m going to say something difficult. Make cuts in all the ministries. I’m going to say something even more difficult. We’re not going to give raises this year to employees in Egypt.”

See this in the context of civil service reform: The president’s remarks came little more than a week after Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly told the business community that (a) he would consider downsizing his cabinet and (b) that he was going to cull the civil service, predicting that 38% of government employees will retire within 10 years — and that many of them will not be replaced, particularly as more government services are moved online. With at least 5 mn employees, the Egyptian government is the largest employer in Africa.

It’s election day in America as Democrats look to wrest control of the House away from the party of President Donald Trump. Start with this piece in the New York Times and then get ready to open Politico / the NYT / the Washington Post / CNN tomorrow morning and hit “refresh” non-stop. Polls generally close on the east coast at 9pm, so exit poll results (and actual race results) will begin trickling in at around 4am CLT on Wednesday.

Want to get really nerdy about the US election? Go read Mike Allen’s newsletter from this past Saturday, wherein he (a) identifies the “Axios 8”: Eight races to watch to judge how well the Dems will do and (b) six factors that will shape a 2020 presidential contest — one that he writes will that will “make this one seem civil.” A distant second: The Upshot’s rundown of how the Dems could win or lose control of the House.

The 2018 Institute of International Finance MENA Financial Summit will kick off today in Abu Dhabi. The two-day event will bring together global finance industry leaders and policymakers to discuss economic development, investment, and fintech and innovation in the MENA region.

The US reimposed economic sanctions on Iran yesterday, hitting more than 700 entities, including 50 Iranian banks and 200 individuals, Bloomberg reports. Tehran said on Monday it would defy Washington and continue selling oil on global markets, the BBC reported. Egypt is not among the eight countries getting waivers that will allow them to temporarily continue buying crude from Iran, Bloomberg notes. On the list: China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey. Oil prices were largely stable yesterday as traders bet that the eight-country waiver program would keep demand in check.

Speaking of sanctions: Aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska is a fixture of Davos and London — and practically PNG in Amreeka. His years-long bid to avoid US sanctions and ensure he has regular access to the United States is a fascinating tale of influence peddling by the global elite in this morning’s New York Times.

Emerging markets made their best one-week gain since 2016 last week, Bloomberg writes, suggesting stocks advanced as prospects of an all-out China-US trade war have eased. The next checkpoint: Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to meet The Donald at the G20 summit in Argentina on 30 November and 1 December.

Six charts that signal the approach of the (US) bear market: “Nine years, seven months, four weeks and one day into the current bull market, some investors are asking whether a bear is on the horizon,” the WSJ writes. “The S&P 500 is up 305% since the bull market began in 2009,” and while there’s no single indicator that suggests US equities are headed into a bear market (20% down from a recent peak), you’ll want to keep an eye on everything from the steepness of the yield curve to investor sentiment and jobs claims. The best part of the story: It’s told in “indicator – what it is – what to watch” style that breaks it down even for newbs (or rubes like us).

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