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Thursday, 17 December 2020

What we’re tracking on 17 December 2020

Good morning, nice people — we made it through another week together. The big story this morning: Increasing clarity on when Egypt’s vaccination campaign may begin and a warning from a top government official that stricter enforcement of anti-covid measures could all be in the cards alongside potential curbs on New Year’s Eve celebrations.

On that subject: We may not be Operating Thetans of any level, but we have newfound love and appreciation for Tom Cruise after the Scientologist went on this gloriously profane rant, telling crew members on his Mission Impossible set that they are “[redacted] gone” and “mother[redacted]ers” for having violated covid-19 protocols that risked shutting down production.

The big business story of the day globally: It’s been a really bad week for Big Tech as 10 US states said yesterday that they’re suing Google for anti-competitive behavior in the advertising market. The search giant is accused of having conspired with Facebook (itself the subject of a new anti-monopoly probe) to rig the ad market. This comes just days after the US Federal Trade Commission said it is investigating Facebook, Amazon and seven other tech giants and as the European Commission moves to rein in big tech.

THURSDAY MORNING MUST-READ: What if you could do it all over? in the New Yorker, which gets into the existential angst of “unlived lives.” Or, you know, we could all decide to “optimize for happiness” in the one life we have.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES at home and abroad:

  • Vanguard is the first to have an equity fund with more than USD 1 tn in assets under management. Kinda makes you wonder: How big is too big?
  • European tech companies are salivating over the IPO (and Spac) craze in the US, with the US’ relatively lax listing rules making an overseas listing a more lucrative and attractive option, bankers tell Reuters.
  • Chinese online food retailer Wuong Net Technology’s shares shot up more than 400% yesterday two days after its IPO, Bloomberg reports. It all adds to investor befuddlement over the state of the IPO market, the Wall Street Journal suggests.
  • 3 mn Egyptians have registered for the government’s universal healthcare scheme, says Finance Minister Mohamed Maait.

Emerging markets are still heading into 2021 with considerable risks even with the prospect of a vaccine on the horizon, says Bloomberg. The issue: EMs will lag behind advanced economies in obtaining and distributing their share of the jabs. As the vaccines become available in all corners of the world and brings the pandemic under control, EM central banks could face pressure to reverse their record policy easing — especially as the EM debt pile is at all-time highs thanks to massive stimulus packages. These risks are also compounded by the possibility of a Biden administration taking a hardline on dictators, and geopolitical tensions from the rise of China.

That’s not to say developed markets are going to coast through, either: There are growing concerns of a potential inflationary burst as we go further into economic recovery, particularly in the US, the Financial Times quotes analysts as saying. The US Fed may be forced to tighten policy sooner than the market had priced, leading to a reverse in market expectations and a potential sell-off of both stocks and bonds.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR- The Central Bank of Egypt is scheduled to meet a week from today for its last review of rates this year. Economists here are anticipating a hold this time around after cutting rates 400 bps in 2020 on the back of food prices driving the headline inflation rate up for the second consecutive month, to 5.7% in November from 4.6% in October.

The Egypt-UK post-Brexit trade agreement will come to effect on New Year’s eve. It is hoped that the agreement will unlock a spate of UK investments in Egypt, including in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, oil and gas, manufacturing, agribusiness, healthcare and education sectors, UK Trade Envoy to Egypt Sir Jeffery Donaldson said last month.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is set to visit Egypt in the first week of January 2021 in what will be his final official trip, Bloomberg reports. The tour is also expected to include Israel and Qatar.

Taxpayers have until 12 February 2021 take advantage of a partial waiver of penalty fees on late tax payments, Tax Authority boss Reda Abdel Kader said earlier this week.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

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