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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

What we’re tracking on 03 April 2019

MPs should receive today a report from a House subcommittee recapping debate on the package of constitutional amendments on which our elected representatives will vote on Sunday, 14 April. The sub-committee of the House legislative and constitutional affairs committee providing a recap on public hearings MPs held on the amendments, but is making no recommendations on how representatives should vote. The package includes changes that would lengthen presidential terms and restore the upper house of parliament.

Among the domestic events and news triggers you can expect in the next couple of days:

  • AmCham’s Doorknock lobbying tour of Washington, DC, continues until Friday. We have a report from the road in today’s Speed Round, below.
  • The Markit / Emirates NBD purchasing managers’ index for March is expected tomorrow. The index, which surveys non-oil business activity in Egypt, fell to a 17-month low in last month’s reading.
  • The CBE’s net foreign reserves position is due out sometime this week. Reserves climbed to USD 44.060 bn at the end of February.
  • Egypt’s monthly inflation figures, from both the central bank and CAPMAS, are expected on 10 April. Annual headline inflation accelerated to 14.4% in February, up from 12.7% the previous month.
  • Renaissance Capital’s annual Egypt Investors Conference in Cape Town on 9-10 April. EGX Chairman Mohamed Farid will deliver the keynote address on expanding the role of capital markets in Egypt’s economy. Tap or click here to view the preliminary agenda for the event (pdf).

The IMF isn’t going full doom-and-gloom but it’s not exactly optimistic either: Global growth is “losing momentum,” fund Director Christine Largade has said ahead of the IMF and World Bank spring meetings on 12-14 April. Speaking at the US Chamber of Commerce HQ in DC, Lagarde warned that growth prospects are being put in a “precarious” position by Brexit and US-China trade friction. Reuters and CNBC have more.

Lyft is crashing: Newly-listed ride-hailing company Lyft is going to need investors to “take a big leap of faith” to support its current valuation, which has already fallen 22% from its post-IPO high, Seaport Global analyst Michael Ward tells Bloomberg. Shares rose by almost 25% to USD 88.68 when the company began trading last Friday, but plummeted 12% on Monday over concerns about the company’s profitability. The stock was down slightly at the close of play yesterday, remaining beneath its USD 72 initial offering price. What’s going on? Investors are shorting the stock to get around lockup periods and it may get worse.

The bigger question here is what effect Lyft’s rough opening week will have on the other tech unicorns preparing to IPO. The listing is regarded by some as a test case for Uber, Pinterest and Slack, which are all planning to go public later this year. “This is a major gut check time for Lyft and the tech IPO world to see how this stock trades given it was the first one out of the box,” Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives wrote to clients yesterday.

But bitcoin is spiking: The cryptocurrency hit a five-month high of USD 5,080 yesterday, prompting Coindesk to suggest that the bear market for bitcoin is over — and that the “case for a longer-term bull market” is starting to look solid. Bloomberg says the “mysterious surge” in the currency yesterday comes after three months of calm and cites an analyst at blockchain investment and advisory firm Kinetic Capital as saying, “I don’t think today is anything special” because the “small” market is “emotional” and “still very much subject to waves of enthusiasm.”

A16Z isn’t a VC firm anymore. Have you noticed that weird disclaimer that suddenly appeared at the start of Andreessen Horowitz’s podcast? It may have something to do with the fact that A16Z isn’t venture capital firm anymore. In his first long-form interview in two years — with Forbes, of all places — co-founder Marc Andreessen says the firm is registering all of its employees as financial advisors and accepting a lot of new regulatory insight, including from the US Financial Industry Regulatory Agency.

Why is the firm that (re)defined what it means to be a VC in the modern era monkeying with its business model? To have more latitude to invest in things other than private companies — including cryptocurrency assets and publicly traded stocks. Writes The Information on the change, “the shakeup could be a way for the firm to adapt to a more competitive landscape in venture capital, in which a growing number of funds chase after the same unicorns. It also could mean that Andreessen Horowitz sees a competitive advantage in making bigger [plays] on cryptocurrencies as some VCs avoid investing directly in tokens. Andreessen was one of the first firms to take a meaningful step into the asset class, launching a USD 300 mn fund for crypto” with Yale’s endowment as an LP.

Read the interview if you’re a VC because it’s Marc Andreessen, dummy.

Read this if you’re not a VC because it’s Marc Andreesen. His iconic firm has at least five of its so-called ‘unicorns’ (potentially worth more than USD 1 bn apiece) going public this year, among them Airbnb, PagerDuty, Pinterest and Slack. A16Z was also an owner of Lyft (above). The Financial Times has a solid piece on the firm and its hard-charging, ‘pro-entrepreneur,’ aggressive-marketing ways.

Bouteflika exits stage left: Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned following six weeks of mass demonstrations and increasing pressure from the army. Bouteflika served as the country’s president since 1999 and was seeking his fifth term in office when anti-government protestors took to the streets to demand an end to his rule.

What happens now? Your guess is as good as ours, quite frankly, as it remains to be seen whether Bouteflika’s resignation will pacify the crowds and how the state intends on transferring power. In recent days protestors have indicated a desire for more fundamental change, and warned the army to keep out of politics. The story has the full attention of the international press: NYT, WaPo, WSJ, FT and BBC.

Your kid isn’t a videogame addict just because she has a mental breakdown when you turn off the console when it’s time homework or bed. Instead, it has everything to do with how games interact with still-growing brains. The Wall Street Journal explains why — and how parents and kids can come up with rules that allow gameplay while minimizing nuclear meltdowns at bedtime.

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