What we’re tracking on 17 January 2019
Good morning, friends, and thank you for choosing to end your week with us. We’re still in the process of moving into our new offices in Maadi, from which we look forward not just to launching exciting new products, but to meeting many of you in person. Starting a move in the midst of an epic sandstorm was an experience we won’t soon forget. Thankfully, it looks like the weather will cooperate today: We can look forward to low winds and a daytime high of about 16°C in the capital city and, our favorite weather app suggests, to a gorgeous weekend.
Extra-special thanks this morning are due to the good people at Orange Egypt. Moving is never easy — and moving two fast-growing businesses while still delivering your morning read has been a challenge. As we unpack servers, computers and the like today, we have incredibly fast internet across all five floors because Orange Egypt CEO Yasser Shaker and his team pulled out all the stops to deliver reliable connectivity when we needed it most. That includes a microwave link that stood up beautifully to the insanity that was yesterday’s sandstorm. Thank you, folks — you stepped in when others wouldn’t, and we look forward to being clients for years and years to come.
BlackRock founder Larry Fink doesn’t see a recession coming and “sounded a positive note on the global economy despite ‘many reasons to be worried and hit pause,’” the Financial Times writes. “We are seeing stresses in Europe, in China, and an anticipation of a [slowdown] in the US,” the head of the world’s largest investment manager told the salmon-colored paper. “Overlay that with trade fears, the US government shutdown, the rise of populism in France and Brexit, and there are many reasons to be worried and hit pause.” Despite that, he said, “2019 feels good to me. We are recalibrating growth assumptions, but I don’t see a recession coming.”
A supporting glimmer of good news across the pond: Shares of Goldman Sachs and Bank of America shot up yesterday after the two reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter 2018 results. Barron’s and the FT have the story.
In miscellany this morning:
Saudi equities are in for a mixed year, Nomura Asset Management predicts. Although stocks are currently performing well on the back of the country’s upcoming inclusion in EM benchmarks (it joins the MSCI EM index in two phases later this year), the Tadawul is likely to suffer in 2H2019 as concerns about oil and economic reform creep back into the picture, the investment bank says.
Not clear on what countries are emerging, frontier or unclassified? MSCI’s categorization is here in a nice, easy-to-understand graphic.
Pour one out for John “Jack” Bogle: The iconic fund manager and investor rights advocate founded Vanguard and led the charge to create index funds and [redacted] fee investing. Vanguard today is the second-largest asset manager in the world and had some USD 4.9 tn in assets under management at the end of 2018. His death at age 89 is front page news in the global business press: Wall Street Journal | Financial Times | Reuters.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May narrowly survived a confidence vote in parliament yesterday. She is due before MPs on Monday with a new plan for how she intends to pull the UK out of the European Union, the New York Times reports.
China’s central bank made its largest net single-day injection on record into the country’s financial system on Wednesday, as part of measures being taken by the government to alleviate pressure as economic growth cools to a 28-year low. The USD 83 bn injection accompanies policy measures designed to stimulate growth rates without resulting in a mountain of debt, Reuters reports.
Smart proposal of the morning: Four former Fed chairs call for US carbon tax.
WEEKEND READ- Our century’s challenge to capitalism as we practice it today is changing global politics — and that process is going to accelerate in 2019, the gang at Axios predict in their geopolitical forecast for the new year. The global economy “has left behind swaths of populations around the world, disregarded them in political decisions, and all in all forgotten them in the calculus of power.” The backlash against Big Tech in western democracies has so far been the only reaction here, but you can expect to see it transmogrify this year into a “push to break up big companies whose market power may be behind a long period of essentially flat wages and productivity” — and that’s just for starters. Read The world buckles: Our geopolitical forecast for 2019.
Need more for your TBR pile? Check out the FT’s Business books of the month: January edition.