What we’re tracking on 21 February 2020
Good afternoon, everyone — we hope the first day of the workweek has treated you well.
THE BIG STORY OF THE DAY- We’re getting mns of doses of a covid vaccine next week — and you’ll be able to sign up online to get jabbed. We have chapter and verse in this afternoon’s Speed Round, below.
HAPPENING NOW- Gulfood 2021 — the world’s largest food and beverage exhibition — kicked off today at the Dubai World Trade Center and will run all week. Some 55 Egyptian major Egyptian companies are taking part in the event, Ahram Online reports. This is apparently the first major live, in-person food and beverages industry event since the pandemic began.
*** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from this morning’s edition of EnterpriseAM:
- Are we closing in on a supply of Sputnik V after Russia said it would provide 300 mn doses to the African Union?
- Are direct flights from Moscow to Sharm and Hurghada back on — or not? There were conflicting reports this weekend.
- The academic year just got longer at public universities, with exams likely to run into August as the year is extended to make up for time lost to covid.
THE BIG STORIES ABROAD as we slide into day’s end: Israel has reopened large portions of its economy including malls and leisure facilities, Reuters reports, also noting that Facebook has “tentatively friended [Australia] again,” as the tech giant went back to the bargaining table. Meanwhile, Bloomberg is leading with the upcoming SPAC-enabled IPO of Lucid, an EV manufacturer backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Across the Atlantic, the WSJ warns that vaccination delays could see the appearance of more and more virus variants — and is running with a video suggesting Tesla’s quality problems are threatening its position in China. And last, but not least, Fortune picked up on a UK court decisions declaring that Uber drivers are workers — and so deserve minimum wage and paid leave. It’s the exact opposite of a ruling in California that suggests the “gig economy is coming for mns of jobs,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes.
Our mood right now? We’ll let the inimitable, immortal strip Calvin & Hobbes speak for us.
YOUR STATUTORILY REQUIRED COVID UPDATE: The Pfizer / BioNTech jab is highly effective after the first dose — and can be stored and transported in normal freezers (-25°C to-15°C) instead of the -80°C to -60°C recommended until now, Axios reports (or check out Pfizer’s statement).
That comes as G7 leaders said over the weekend that they may kick in another USD 4.3 bn to help emerging economies access vaccines.
GOOD NEWS- The US officially rejoined the 2015 Paris climate agreement on Friday as President Joe Biden reversed Agent Orange’s decision to exit the pact, writes CNN. Signatories to the accords agreed to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2°C and make efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. The Biden administration will announce its plans to reduce carbon emissions on 22 April, when the US will host a global climate summit to coincide with Earth Day.
Take it all as suggesting that “America is back”: Biden used the G7 summit and this weekend’s Munich Security Conference to “tick through a daunting to-do list … that he said would require close cooperation between the U.S. and its Western allies.” On the list: A nuclear Iran, the economic fallout from the pandemic and both economic and security challenges from China and Russia. The AP and NYT have more.
The 2021 ISSF Shooting World Cup takes place here tomorrow, with participants loading up at 6 October’s Shooting Club. Over 300 shooters from 31 countries are participating and you can watch the competition live from ISSF’s YouTube and Facebook pages. The program includes mixed, individual and team events.
The Second Arab Land Conference kicks off tomorrow, with discussion focusing on land management, access to land for women and vulnerable groups, efficient land use, technologies and smart solutions, and private-sector participation.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The Donald will launch his political comeback a week from today when he plans to speak on the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida, Reuters reports, citing a source who spoke on condition of anonymity. Expect plenty of the usual blah, blah, blah: “He’ll be talking about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Also look for the 45th President to take on President Biden’s disastrous amnesty and border policies,” the source tells the newswire.
Russia and Saudi Arabia are once again on opposite pages heading into next week’s Opec+ meeting. The summit, scheduled for Thursday, 4 March, sees KSA lobbying to leave output stable to support prices, while Russia is pushing for a supply increase, Bloomberg says.
🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-
Do we have another epidemic to which to look forward? Russia has detected the world’s first cases of the H5N8 strain of bird influenza in humans, with seven people testing positive for the strain connected to a poultry farm in southern Russia, Bloomberg writes. Russia’s chief public health official is already sending a warning: “It is not transmitted from person to person. But only time will tell how soon future mutations will allow it to overcome this barrier … giving us all, the whole world, time to prepare for possible mutations and the possibility to react in a timely way and develop test systems and vaccines.”
All that’s missing is a misty bridge: Israel is (quite secretly) funding an unknown number of vaccines for Syria as part of a prisoner swap.
It’s bonus season for commercial and investment bankers around the world — and the outlook is decidedly mixed. European investment bankers are making … bank … with their 2020 bonuses, but commercial bankers? Not so much, the Financial Times reports. Credit Suisse and Barclays boosted payouts, while Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo, Germany’s Commerzbank and the UK’s Lloyds have all slashed bonuses. HSBC is set to announce its bonus plans on Tuesday and Standard Chartered on Thursday. Corporate and consumer divisions are taking it on the chin, the salmon-colored paper writes. It’s a mixed picture across the pond, where traders and investment bankers “have flourished despite the global economic crisis,” the Wall Street Journal notes, yet most Wall Street bankers are in line for lower bonuses.
That probably means it’s prime time to go talent hunting: Pronounced disparities in how individual banks perform (and reward their staff) will set up a situation that sees “weaker franchises lose more talent to stronger ones than in the aftermath of a normal bonus season” EFC predicts.
No, damnit, your mobile will not make the benzina blow up. Don’t believe the good people at Jalopnik? Perhaps we can all agree to trust the US industry association for the folks who provide equipment to petrol stations? Or the US Federal Communications Commission? Don’t bother trying to explain this to the kids at your local filling station. They’re just doing their job. And besides, you can definitely do without your electronic pacifier for the five minutes it takes to fill up and pay. Heck, the one thing we miss the most about flying? Being able to guiltlessly disconnect from the internet for the duration of the flight.
📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-
⚽️ It’s Sunday, so it’s all football, all the time. Let’s start with Egypt’s Pyramids FC facing off against Cote d'Ivoire's Racing D'Abidjan Club at 6pm CLT for the CAF Confederation Cup’s second leg.
The Egyptian League is also on today with three matches: El Gouna and Al Mokawloon are already on the field, while Ismaily will play against Enppi at 5pm CLT and Al Ittihad will play against Aswan at 7:30pm CLT.
Premier League, Serie A, and La Liga each have four matches on today: In the Premier League, West Ham and Tottenham should be finishing up their match as we dispatch this issue, but you can still catch Aston Villa and Leicester City at 4:05pm CLT, Arsenal and Man City at 6:30pm CLT. Man United and Newcastle will hit the field at 9pm.
Parma and Udinese kicked off Serie A today at 1:30pm CLT, while AC Milan and Inter Milan will face off at 4pm CLT, Atalanta will play against Napoli at 7pm CLT, and Beneveto and Roma will play at 9:45pm CLT.
Barcelona and Cadiz started playing at 3pm CLT in La Liga, Real Sociedad will play against Alaves at 5:15pm CLT, Huesca will face off Granada at 7:30pm CLT, and Athletic Club and Villareal will hit the field at 10pm CLT.
KUDOS- Egypt’s national basketball team has qualified for FIBA AfroBasket 2021 after an undefeated streak in all Group E matches. Egypt is playing a final match against Morocco as we dispatch, but the score currently stands at 84-59 in favor of Omm El Donia, so we’re expecting our b-ball team’s streak to continue.
EAT THIS TONIGHT-
Don’t eat junk food. Easier said than done when you have the munchies after dark, but the very smart Anahad O’Connor at the New York Times notes that our favourite comfort foods can elicit “intense cravings, a loss of control, and an inability to cut back” — they’re not just bad for us, they’re addictive.
At the top of the list? Our favourite food groups, including pizza, chocolate, potato chips, cookies, ice cream, French fries and cheeseburgers.
Try a low-carb comfort food instead — like these ridiculously good and fantastically easy creamy scrambled eggs. The secret ingredients? A tiny bit of cornstarch and some cold butter. J. Kenji López-Alt takes a deep dive into the science of scrambled eggs, or you can just jump ahead to the recipe here.
🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-
An exhibition of handmade products entitled Deyarna is on at Cairo Festival City in New Cairo. The exhibit is organized by the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development and is on from 10am-10pm everyday until Thursday. A tip on how to find it: Head towards the parking lot that leads you to the back of the dancing fountain, then keep an eye out for the big white tent.
Jazz group Tonic Quartet are on at Cairo Jazz Club in Agouza tonight at 9pm CLT, promising a tranquil night to kick off your week.
💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-
For true business nerds (of a certain age): The guy who had to preside over the (downfall? diminution?) of GE is out with a memoir. Jeff Immelt had a tough act to follow: 1990s / early 2000s business legend Jack Welch at GE, a guy lionized by Wall Street and the business press alike who passed away last March. Fortune’s Geoff Colvin chronicled Welch closely and spoke for many when he wrote in the man’s obit that “blaming an ex-CEO for trouble 16 years after his departure surely violates some reputational statute of limitations.”
But Immelt seems to make a decent case that his predecessor should share responsibility for what has become of GE. In a preview of the book, the Wall Street Journal notes that “Immelt says that many of GE’s problems were inherited. ‘I’d become CEO of a company where perception didn’t equal reality,’ he writes. GE’s shares were overvalued, high returns from its pension funds inflated earnings, and the company relied too heavily on its financial division, GE Capital, which contributed nearly half the firm’s earnings in 2001 by loading up on debt and becoming overleveraged in the ins. business.”
Hot Seat: What I learned leading a great American company is out on Tuesday. You can pre-order it on Amazon or read Colvin’s What the Hell Happened at GE? wherein he argues that while “few corporate meltdowns have been as swift and dramatic as General Electric’s, the problems started long before.”
🌤 TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The outlook for tomorrow is beautiful: Sunny skies with cloudy periods and a high of 20°C. Tonight may be chilly, with a low of 8°C
And it looks like we may be in for rain on Tuesday, with our favourite weather app calling for as much as 5mm of the wet stuff in the capital city and a daytime high of 18°C. The national weather service is calling for high winds in Cairo on Tuesday and a 70% chance of rain in Sinai (falling to 50% along the Mediterranean coast).