What we’re tracking on 6 October 2020
Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to the next-to-last business day of the week as banks and the EGX prepare to join the rest of the business community in taking Thursday off in observance of Armed Forces Day. The central bank and the stock exchange made it official yesterday. The 6 October holiday has been pushed to the end of the week as part of the government’s new (smart) policy of moving midweek holidays to the weekend.
Enterprise will also be off on Thursday, but keep an eye out for the first episode of season three of Making It, our podcast on how to build a great business in Egypt. The episode will drop on Thursday morning — just in time for the long weekend — with new episodes available each Thursday thereafter. Making It is brought to you in association with our friends at CIB and USAID.
SMART POLICY- You can now open a new bank account with just your national ID thanks to new KYC regulations from the central bank, according to a statement (pdf) yesterday. Micro enterprises, freelancers, and craftsmen will now also be able to open an account by declaring their occupation, instead of requiring proof of employment from a company or other requirements to document their income.
This year’s annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development kicks off tomorrow, with International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat set to take part. The meeting will be held virtually.
Results for the Egyptian Scholastic Test (EST) will be announced tomorrow and Thursday, the Education Ministry said in a statement yesterday. American diploma high school students who took the test seeking to enrol in Egyptian universities will be sent emails to collect their certificates at the ministry. The EST was offered as an Egyptian equivalent to the SAT, which was suspended in September until June 2021 after test questions were leaked.
Other news triggers over the coming weeks:
- Foreign reserves figures for September should be out this week.
- Inflation data for September will land on Saturday, 10 October.
- Voters go to the polls to elect a new House of Representatives in a multi-stage process starting 21 October (voters abroad) and 24 October (in Egypt).
The Health Ministry reported 98 new covid-19 infections yesterday, down from 108 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 103,781 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 9 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 5,990. We now have a total of 97,398 confirmed cases that have fully recovered.
Egypt isn’t the only country in the region to shore up its food security amid the pandemic: Jordan has boosted its wheat reserves to a record 1.35 mn tonnes, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE are investing in overseas agriculture projects. The UAE is also importing dairy cows from Uruguay. As part of Egypt’s April plans to increase its wheat reserves to cover six months, the government boosted purchasing from local producers, and had imported 6.6 mn tons of wheat by September 2020.
On the global front:
- Paris will see its bars close among other safety measures as the capital city and its suburbs go into “maximum alert” following a surge in covid-19 cases, reports CNBC.
- Ireland is debating going back into a full lockdown as recommended by their health officials, reports the Irish Post.
- An apparent “glitch” saw nearly 16k positive cases left out of the UK’s daily figures for over a week, which health officials have called “shambolic,” writes the Guardian.
COVID / US ELECTION WATCH- The world’s most (in)famous covid patient is now back in the White House and is saying “don’t be afraid” of the coronavirus. US President Donald Trump left the hospital after going three days without a fever and will continue his convalescence at home. Trump’s prognosis and whether the treatment he is on may have had an impact on his mental state dominates front pages globally.
Kamala Harris and Mike Pence square off tomorrow night in the vice-presidential debate. The two will be separated by plexiglass, Politico reports.
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden is still willing to participate in a presidential debate scheduled for 15 October in MIami, reports Reuters. The two candidates had their first parley last Tuesday. You can catch the full encounter here, in case you missed it.
As a first-class leading golfing destination, Somabay will be hosting a 2020 edition golf tournament on its world renowned golf courses, upgraded with new innovative tweaks, driving ranges and floodlights.
Somabay’s golf course stands out when it comes to sustainability as solar energy is used for seawater desalination, in addition to applying smart irrigation systems to ensure minimum water consumption and cost of sand.
Emerging market stocks and currencies could continue to be attractive to investors holding out for a global economic recovery next year, despite uncertainty caused by the US election and the prospects for a second fiscal stimulus package, Bloomberg reports. EM equities had their best week since August last week, suggesting that the high yields offered by emerging economies and persistent USD weakness may still be holding the attention of investors.
But there are signs that last week may have been a blip: Investors withdrew USD 10.8 bn from EM equities in September, in a signal that the potential for US election mayhem may cause darker days ahead. “Our data shows that a big ‘risk-off’ is brewing in emerging markets,” IIF economist Jonathan Fortun wrote in a note picked up by business information service. “We are tracking high-frequency outflows from EM in the final weeks of September almost as big as in the 2013 taper tantrum,” he said, referencing the sell-off that occurred after the US Federal Reserve first tried to raise interest rates after the global financial crisis.
SMART IDEAS- Businesses are pushing G20 nations to agree to broad policy reforms to boost post-covid economic recovery during the G20 summit in November, CNBC reports. Their 25 policy recommendations — which included strengthening multilateral trade agreements, investing in digital infrastructure, and empowering women and youth — will be formally presented to the G20 during the Business Twenty (B20) virtual business summit on 26-27 October.
Other biz / econ headlines worth knowing about:
- Advanced economies need to ramp up public investment in infrastructure by taking advantage of low interest rates, the IMF said in its semi-annual Fiscal Monitor Report.
- The greenback could crash 35% by the end of 2021 as levels of domestic saving collapse and the current account deficit continues to widen, Yale economist Stephen Roach writes in the FT.
- As Big Oil finally starts to get on board with the renewables revolution, ExxonMobil has other ideas: The US oil giant plans to increase its carbon emissions by as much as the entire output of Greece each year, according to internal documents seen by Bloomberg.
- Google and Oracle’s legal dispute over APIs is heading to the US Supreme Court this week in a case that could substantially shape the future of software development and possibly limit open-source code, the FT reports.
Virologists who discovered Hep C take home Nobel prize: The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice, who discovered the Hepatitis C virus. Their discovery paved the way for “highly sensitive blood tests” for Hep C to essentially eliminate the virus post-transfusion.
The Nobel Prize in Physics will be announced later today, while the prizes for chemistry, literature, peace, and economic sciences will be announced over the course of the next few days.
Yesterday was the first Monday in October, which close watchers of US affairs will know is the date on which the US Supreme Court reconvenes. The First Monday in October is also the name of a classic 1981 Walter Matthau film, wherein the rumpled actor’s best line is that “a telephone has no constitutional right to be answered” (as The Colonel reminded us when we were kids). That notion that the phone has no constitutional right to your time is perhaps more relevant today than it was in the days of rotary-dial phones, though we would substitute the word “WhatsApp” for “telephone.”