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Sunday, 15 December 2019

What we’re tracking on 15 December 2019

News this morning is as thin as trading volumes on the EGX, unusual for a Sunday morning. Has the dreaded (but secretly welcomed) end-of-year news slowdown begun? Or is it just that journalists were preoccupied with conferences in Aswan (Thursday) and Sharm (this weekend through Tuesday)?

The third edition of the World Youth Forum kicked off in Sharm El Sheikh yesterday, and will likely dominate today’s news cycle here at home. The three-day event will feature discussions on a range of topics including Mediterranean security and development, food security in Africa, and climate change.

One thing from the forum certain to get plenty of attention: The CBE is launching a new (EGP 50 bn?) tourism support initiative. We should expect to see details on what sources describe as Egypt’s largest initiative to support the tourism sector, which was agreed upon at the WYF, according to Al Shorouk. The initiative will reportedly allocate EGP 50 bn in soft loans to finance the renovation and development of hotels and tourism facilities, sources tell the newspaper. The sources also said to expect the announcement of an important decision on arrears and debt, without giving further details.

El Sisi pledges not to sign Personal Status Act unless it is fair to Egyptian women: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said during the Aswan Forum for Peace last week that he would reject the Personal Status Act currently being debated in the House of Representatives if it does not treat women fairly, according to Al Mal.

ADDH delegation in town this week for talks on USD 20 bn investment platform with Egypt’s sovereign wealth fund: A delegation from the Abu Dhabi Development Holding Company (ADDH) will be in Cairo sometime this week for meetings on potential investments for its USD 20 bn investment platform with the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, an unnamed source from the fund tells Masrawy. The ADDH officials and an accompanying delegation of Emirati investors have the chance to kick the tires on potential transactions in fields including energy, industry, agriculture, real estate, and tourism, the source says.

Google’s annual search trends indicated that sports topped Egyptians’ interests this year, with the Egyptian football league being the most widely searched topic on the search engine. Coming in at second place is the results of the secondary school examinations, followed by more football and former army contractor Mohamed Ali. Also on the list: Mohamed Ramadan’s song Mafia, footballer Amr Warda, the National Elections Committee and … Thanos. Tap here to see the full list of Egypt’s top searches or here for the full global rankings.

PSA- You’ll want to consider bringing your umbrella with you this morning. The national weather service and our favourite weather app alike agree that we’re looking at a daytime high of 17°C with a chance of rain. You may also want to leave a few minutes early this morning: Our app of choice is showing a 100% chance of rain between 6am and 8am, and that won’t do anything good for traffic…


The robots could be coming to Egypt: The Arab League’s Arab Union for Development will invest USD 6 mn in a factory to produce industrial, service, and educational robots, union Chairman Khaled Abed told the local press. The factory will be built either in Egypt, Jordan, or the UAE and will be completed by the end of 2022, he added.

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Brexit is now a certainty after voters handed Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party a commanding parliamentary majority in the UK election on Thursday, according to the BBC. Johnson has pledged to pass his EU withdrawal bill through parliament before the end of the year, paving the way for the country to leave the bloc at the end of January.

MUST READ- “The decisive Conservative victory leaves no doubt that in today’s global equation, national interests are supreme and globalization is suspect,” writes the New York Times. “The sense that policy moves in one direction, toward more liberalization and more integration, has been replaced by recognition that policy can go backward as well as forward.”

Central bankers getting woke on climate change can be a good thing — but there are limits to what they can achieve. Central bankers are always going to take a backseat when it comes to pro-climate policymaking despite the economic risks posed by global warming, Megan Greene argues in the Financial Times. Figures like Christine Lagarde and Mark Carney can perhaps generate momentum within certain circles, but it’s not immediately clear how the central bankers’ toolkit can actually be put in service of meeting climate targets. Purchasing green bonds is an option, but doing this would result in resource allocation, threatening central bank independence. In the end, monetary policymakers may have to accept their role as firefighters and not fireproofers: “Perhaps [banks] can find ways to finance the fight. But they have no real policy role. Their job is to contain the fallout,” Greene writes.

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US, China make trade breakthrough: President Trump and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping have taken the first steps to winding down tensions after agreeing a preliminary trade agreement on Friday. We have more details on what we know about the accord in this morning’s Macro Picture, below.

Could we be seeing more fiscal stimulus in 2020 as governments heed the call? Central bankers are likely to start seriously turning to governments for accommodative economic measures as the “monetary sugar rush” and “seemingly limitless rate cuts” are starting to lose steam, writes Principal Global Investors chief strategist Seema Shah for the FT. This trend, which Shah says will be evident in Europe, could see central banks effectively assume a new role of negotiators with governments to affect changes in fiscal positions.


In international miscellany:

  • Turkey wants to legitimize its maritime agreement with Libya: Turkey has sent the agreement made with Libya last month to redraw the maritime borders between the two countries to the UN for approval, according to a Turkish diplomatic official. (Reuters)
  • Al Bashir found guilty of corruption: Ousted Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir was handed a two-year sentence in a rehabilitation facility after being found guilty of corruption and illicit possession of funds in foreign currencies, according to Bloomberg. Al Bashir’s lawyer said he would appeal the verdict, according to Reuters.

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Fatma Ghali, managing director of Azza Fahmy, on generational change in a family business: It has taken 50 years and two generations to get to where they are, starting with the founder and matriarch Azza Fahmy. And like a prized family heirloom, the business has been handed down to her daughters. Fatma Ghali, the global fashion and design brand’s managing director, joined us in the studio to talk about how she and her sister spent their childhoods immersed in the business, learned the art of jewelry design, production and marketing, and overcame the challenge of taking on her family’s legacy.

** Listen to this week’s episode (runtime 29:27) on our website | Apple Podcast | Google Podcast.

Want to catch up on season one? Previous guests on our show about how to build a great business right here in Egypt have included:

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