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Sunday, 26 July 2020

What we’re tracking on 26 July 2020

It’s a slow news day to get this second shortened workweek started — with just about everyone in the private sector having taken Thursday off, our Speed Round is this morning full of government-led news.

We’re all off on Thursday for the Eid Al Adha holiday. The wa’fa is on Thursday and the first day of Eid is Friday. Cabinet has yet to make clear how long the break will last, but we expect to be back to work on Tuesday, 4 August.

The Madbouly government announced a series of measures related to Eid, the highlight of which is that we’ll soon see some form of enhanced contact tracing. We have chapter and verse in Speed Round, below.

The same announcement suggests that conference season will resume as soon as we all come back from Sahel: Cabinet will now allow conferences and meetings of no more than 50 people provided the capacity of the conference venue is sufficient for at least 100 people. The government is also preparing to allow expos and large gatherings as of October.

Restaurants, cafes and retail stores are getting the longer hours they’ve been lobbying for: The Madbouly Cabinet also decided to allow restaurants and cafes to remain open until midnight instead of 10pm, and raise their maximum capacity to 50% from 25%. Retail stores and malls will be allowed to keep their doors open until 10pm instead of 9pm. These measures come into effect today. The shortened hours were first in effect to clamp down on the spread of covid-19.

Meanwhile, the House is in recess (look for some news, though, as a number of committees continue to meet) and MPs are due back in the House by 16 August after the 11-12 August elections for the Senate.

Expect to see lots and lots of campaign ads and billboards tomorrow as the campaign period officially opens. Some 762 candidates are vying for seats, head of the National Elections Authority Lasheen Ibrahim said, according to Youm7.

Among the things that should be on your radar this morning:

#1- The US won’t admit new students whose universities are going to online-only instruction. If you or your spawn are heading to the US as a student for the first time this fall, you may want to check in with the school. US Customs and Immigration enforcement “said on Friday that newly enrolling international students won’t be allowed to come to the U.S. if their courses will be taught entirely online,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Speaking of college: US parents want tuition breaks, too, according to the Financial Times. Some Egyptian parents of K-12 aged kids have been asking for breaks on tuition as schools move to distance education.

#2- Plenty of companies are now second-guessing whether they want to be remote forever. While we still believe that many (and certainly not all) “knowledge-worker” jobs can be done remotely, companies are waking up to the question of how you build a team and culture when we — as social animals — can never meet face to face. Read: Companies start to think remote work isn’t so great after all.

All Enterprise staff have worked at least part of the month from home since we got started, and we can tell you this: Culture is built in the office, and tested on WFH.

#3- Prepare for the latest round of hand-wringing over passive vs. active approaches to fund management. Bears are still calling a 20-30% “correction” in frothy western markets, but for the time being, passive funds are “battering active” managers so far this year, the Financial Times reports.

#4- No, you can’t get covid-19 twice, the New York Times’ Apoorva Mandavilli reports — reminding us all of basic immunology known for at least 30 years (like since one of us was taking second year biochemistry): Antibodies in your blood trail off, but there’s a small army of memory cells that help you respond with tons of newly made antibodies if you’re challenged by the virus again.


The number of single-day infections in Egypt fell to a low not seen since 17 May yesterday, after the Health Ministry confirmed 511 new cases of covid-19. The country now has a total of 91,583 infections and 4,558 deaths after the ministry yesterday reported 40 new fatalities. The single-day death count hit a new six-week low on Friday when the ministry reported just 38 new deaths. We now have a total of 32,903 cases who have fully recovered.

Most new covid-19 cases are in people who exhibit only minor symptoms, Hossam Hosny, the head of the scientific committee of the state’s anti-covid task force, said during an interview on Al Hadath TV on Saturday (watch, runtime 5:57). He added that there is still a possibility that a second wave could emerge, but that there are also positive signs that a vaccine could reach the market by December.

Cafes and restaurants in new developments will have usufruct fees waived for the period of lockdown and will only pay 25% of the fees owed from 27 June, the New Urban Communities Authority said in a statement on Saturday.


The global pandemic is continuing to break records: A record 284,196 new cases were reported on Friday, almost half of which came from the US and Brazil, the World Health Organization said. There were 9,753 deaths in the 24-hour period, the highest number since the record high of 9,797 were reported on 30 April.

Global infections topped 15 mn on Wednesday and are now climbing rapidly towards 16 mn, data collected by Johns Hopkins University shows. “Almost 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the past week,” Reuters reports, about double the rate of the previous week.

The US reported over 1k covid-19 deaths for the fourth day running on Friday, with a daily count of over 75k new cases, according to the New York Times’ tally.

Fears of a second wave are gaining ground in Europe, as Spain, France and Germany report rising case numbers, the BBC reports.

India reported its largest single day surge of covid-19 infections with 49k new cases on Friday, Reuters reports.



It’s going to be a big week for the US markets: A spate of tech earnings, preliminary 2Q GDP figures, a Federal Reserve meeting, and (potentially) agreement on a new fiscal stimulus bill all make this week one of the “newsiest” (as CNBC terms it) weeks of the summer.

A little bit of good news for brokerage and research houses in our corner of the world: MiFID II is being relaxed thanks to covid-19. A newly approved “capital markets recovery package” includes “targeted amendments” to Mifid II requirements that had, among other things, forced brokerages to charge market value for access to research. The rules, announced on Friday, will allow the rebundling of research on companies worth less than EUR 1 bn and on fixed-income markets, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

Qatar Airways is suing Egypt as it launches an international arbitration case seeking at least USD 5 bn from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain for blocking flights in their airspace and access to their markets as part of the boycott of Qatar that started in June 2017, the Associated Press reports. The airline has not specified where it initiated the arbitration, but in a statement said it involves three separate agreements: a bilateral investment treaty between Egypt and Qatar, the Organization of the Islamic Conference Investment Agreement, and the Arab Investment Agreement.

Nothing says economic recovery like record-high gold prices: Gold prices surged to record highs during trading on Friday, as a handful of less-than-optimistic trends fuel a rush into the safe haven asset. Bullion surpassed previous 2011 highs to hit USD 1,902.02 an ounce last week as investors — wary of the unprecedented wave of liquidity injected into the global financial system, the cratering bond yields, the USD’s dive against the EUR and JPY and the threat of more lockdowns — seek safety in the precious metal.

And with data like this, gold probably isn’t going to lose its shine anytime soon: A string of real-time economic trackers are showing that the US recovery is losing steam and about to go into reverse, Axios reports. The New York Fed’s Weekly Economic Index, the St. Louis Fed’s coincident employment index, and data trackers from Goldman Sachs, Jefferies and Oxford Economics are all showing that prospects for the US economy are once again becoming dimmer. “Economic data over the next few weeks will likely underscore the depth of the recession and provide a warning that a full recovery is still far from being achieved,” David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, wrote in a note to clients.

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