What we’re tracking on 20 March 2019
It’s interest rate day in the US of A. Expect the Fed to leave rates on hold, much to the relief of emerging and frontier markets. The key element of the Fed’s statement (from where we sit in EM) is the central bank’s outlook, where analysts will be parsing chairman Jay Powell’s words for any sign there is “deep concern lurking behind [his] patient approach,” the FT writes in its rundown of the four things to look for when Powell speaks this evening (CLT).
The bond market will be paying close attention this evening to Powell’s statement on how the bank will proceed with unwinding its asset portfolio. The Fed began reducing its USD 4.5 tn portfolio in 2017 — mainly made up of long-term Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities purchased post-2008 — and has signaled that it will end later this year. Some commentators say the run-down has increased market volatility, and Fed economists now face a “crucial decision” about how they will balance the bank’s Treasury portfolio going forward. The Wall Street Journal has more.
The House of Representatives will begin hearings today on proposed amendments to the country’s 2014 constitution. The hearings will continue tomorrow and then resume next week. The domestic press reports that more than 100 people will participate today, among them academics, students, media personalities, members of civil society, and clerics from both Al Azhar and the Coptic Church. Ahram Online has the rundown.
Dame Minouche Shafik speaks this evening at AUC’s Tahrir Square campus. A former deputy governor of the Bank of England and once the youngest-ever vice president at the World Bank, Shafik is the serving director of the London School of Economics and will give the Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture at Ewart Memorial Hall tonight. Speaking on “global leadership in a changing world,” Shafik will “share reflections from her career spanning global finance, development economics and academia.”
Trade show: The Trade Ministry will open a trade show today featuring products from countries including Sudan, Kuwait, Uganda, and Burkina Faso.
Your morning dose of doom and gloom, courtesy of FedEx and Samsung: FedEx flagged “serious concerns in the global economy” as the company reported weaker-than-expected 3Q earnings yesterday — and cut its full-year guidance. “The multinational package delivery service reported declining international revenue as a result of unfavorable exchange rates and the negative effects of trade battles,” CNBC notes. Samsung’s co-CEO, meanwhile, is quoted in a separate story as saying: “We are expecting many difficulties this year such as slowing growth in major economies and risks over global trade conflicts.”
Hong Kong brokerage CLSA is losing its three top people amid a “growing culture clash between a western-style investment banking culture and a state-owned financial conglomerate,” the FT reports. CSLA has nibbled at Egypt on a couple of occasions through partnerships with local brokerages.
Can Bitcoin recover? The Wall Street Journal asks what it would take to turn winter to spring with the cryptocurrency having fallen 80% from its trading high of USD 19,800 in December 2017 to USD 4,000 today.
Random note: One of the lead builders of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina has designed an underwater restaurant in Norway, the Wall Street Journal notes this morning. The first seating is on 2 April and is sold out for the next six months.
In international news worth knowing this morning:
- Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has hired New York PR firm Karv Communications on a USD 120k / month retainer to buff its image. (FT)
- The longtime president of Kazakhstan has unexpectedly resigned. Nursultan Nazarbayev, 78, in power for some 30 years, gave no reason for the decision. (NYT)
There’s plenty of tech product news out there this morning:
Instagram has launched an in-app online shopping feature in the US with 20 fashion brands on board for starters, including Adidas, Burberry, H&M and Zara, Reuters reports.
Bonus content for iSheep: The Verge’s exclusive look at an original iPhone prototype.
Bonus content for Stranger Things nerds: Netflix released yesterday not a trailer, but a seven-second teaser for the trailer of the third season of its hit show. Season Three debuts on 4 July.
Coming up this week: AmCham’s monthly luncheon meeting, at which Planning Minister Hala El Said was scheduled to speak, has been postponed to a later date. UNIDO’s Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit takes place on Thursday