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Sunday, 29 August 2021

THIS MORNING: Fed to dial back stimulus by year’s end + OPEC+ is expected to open the pumps when it meets on Wednesday

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to the final days of August. We have a busy news morning for you, so let’s jump right in.

THE BIG STORY here at home has to be our potential membership in the African Finance Corporation, which cabinet gave the green light on Thursday, potentially unlocking bns in fresh investment. A close second: The Tax Authority is putting a shot over the bow of e-commerce players who aren’t playing ball. It’s the latest in a series of moves the taxman has made to capture what it sees as its fair share of business done online. We have chapter and verse on both stories in this morning’s news well, below.

(And before you complain: We don’t like tax grabs any more than you do, but Egypt isn’t alone in this. Countries around the world are doing their damndest to (a) make certain local online players are fully registered with the tax system and (b) to claim a chunk of revenues generated in-country by multinational players including the FAANG gang.)

THE BIG STORY ABROAD? There are three of them for you on this fine morning. Joe Biden has warned that a second attack on Kabul airport is likely in the coming 24-36 hours. The news comes after a suicide bombing on Thursday by Islamic State offshoot ISIS-K left at least 60 Afghans and 13 US military personnel dead. The US has begun withdrawing its troops from the airport as the 31 August deadline for its evacuation from the country looms. Evacuations are winding down and the UK said Saturday that its last evacuation flight had left the country. The story is everywhere from Bloomberg and the Financial Times to Reuters.

Also vying for your attention this morning: Fed boss Jay Powell says the US central bank will start dialing back bond purchases by the end of the year (we have more on that story below), and a regional summit in Baghdad saw early signs of rapprochement between onetime rivals including Egypt and Qatar — and Saudi and Iran. We have more on the latter in this morning’s Speed Round and Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.

** CATCH UP QUICK with the top stories from Thursday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

SMART POLICY- The social solidarity ministry will launch a sign language version of its relationship and marriage education platform Mawadda, giving persons with hearing disabilities access to the platform’s video content, Amwal Al Ghad report.

The Health Ministry reported 251 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 234 the day before and 203 cases on Thursday. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 287,644 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 8 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,714.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

OPEC+ countries are widely expected to proceed with plans to undo oil production cuts when they meet on Wednesday as oil prices recover, according to a Bloomberg survey. The majority of traders and analysts surveyed agree that the 23-nation alliance — led by Saudi Arabia and Russia — will move ahead with the planned output hike in their meeting this week as the “uncertainties over the world economy and the growth recovery in China have largely peeled away,” one analyst said, noting that OPEC+ will likely stick to the plan if the recovery continues. OPEC+ had reached an agreement late last month to gradually increase production till the end of 2022, extending the supply cuts to December 2022 instead of April.

Egypt hosts Digi Sign Africa this week: The three-day advertising and digital printing exhibition gets underway at the Cairo International Convention Centre on Wednesday, 1 September.

Cypriot prez in town this week: President Nicos Anastasiades arrives in Cairo on Saturday, 4 September for a joint Egypt-Cyprus summit.

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

MARKET WATCH-

Powell drops strong hints of an end to stimulus measures this year: The Federal Reserve could start tapering its USD 120 bn per month bond-buying programme as early as this year, Fed head Jerome Powell signaled in his hotly anticipated keynote speech at the annual Jackson Hole symposium on Friday. Stopping short of giving a clear timetable for when the bank could begin to wind down the purchases, Powell said that the US economy has achieved “substantial further progress” toward average inflation of 2%, one of two goals it has said it needs to meet before it begins winding down the stimulus, and has made “clear progress” on its second target of maximum employment. A majority of Fed officials have been lobbying for an end to the bond-buying program by mid-2022, to give more flexibility to tackle increasingly aggressive inflation, even as unemployment remains high and the delta variant threatens to halt the recovery.

The markets were soothed by Powell’s dovish tone as he called for a cautious approach to tightening policy, stressing that inflationary pressures were likely temporary. Any potential rate hike would be subject to a “different and substantially more stringent test” than that set out for ending the stimulus, Powell added.

The S&P 500 hit a record high on the back of the speech, gaining 0.9%, as did the Nasdaq Composite, which rose 1.2%. The Dow Jones was also up 0.7%, leaving all three benchmarks up for the week. Yields on US ten-year treasury notes dropped only marginally after the speech, falling from 1.34% to 1.31%. The greenback fell, while gold rose. “Investors are breathing a sigh of relief as Powell suggests a kinder, gentler Fed tightening,” one analyst told Bloomberg.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES-

#1- You can pay for your stay at Samih Sawiris’ luxury Swiss hotel using crypto. Chedi Andermatt announced that it will start accepting BTC and ETH and will consider accepting other cryptocurrencies in the future, the hotel said in a statement picked up by Bloomberg. Sawiris opened the Chedi in 2013 as part of his redevelopment of the alpine town of Andermatt. Switzerland has become one of the biggest proponents of cryptocurrencies in Europe: Last year the Swiss town of Zug announced that it will start allowing citizens to pay their taxes in cryptocurrencies, while ski resort Zermatt accepts it as payment for some services.

#2- Solar panels produced a record-breaking 10% of the EU’s electricity during June and July this year, an increase from just over 6% three years ago, according to data from energy think-tank Ember picked up by the Financial Times. But solar panels still generated less energy than the EU’s coal plants, which were responsible for 14% of EU electricity this summer.

#3- The super-rich got 62% super-richer during the pandemic: New figures from progressive US think-tank the Institute for Policy Studies show that 708 US bn’aires have added USD 1.8 tn to their combined wealth in the 17 months since the start of the pandemic, all while over 86 mn Americans lost their jobs. The pandemic’s biggest profiteer beneficiary by a long shot was Elon Musk, whose net worth skyrocketed by more than 600% from under USD 25 bn to over USD 175 bn.

TOKYO 2020 PARALYMPICS-

Egypt’s powerlifters grabbed six medals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics over the weekend. Fatma Omar claimed silver in the women’s 67kg, lifting 120kg, while Rehab Radwan came second in the women’s 50kg with a 120kg lift. In the men’s events, Mahmoud Attia lifted 191kg in the 72kg competition to come second and Sherif Osman narrowly missed out on a gold medal with a 187kg lift in the 59kg final, while Mohamed Sohbi clinched a bronze medal in the 80kg competition after lifting 212kg, and Hany Abdelhady also earned a bronze medal in the 88kg competition after lifting 214kg

An honourable mention: Despite losing his opening match 0-3 against South Korea, Egyptian table tennis player Ibrahim Hamadtou won plaudits in the global media over the weekend for his performance playing only with his mouth. Read more here, here, and here or catch some video here (watch, runtime: 0:33).

AS IT STANDS-

Country

🏅

🥈

🥉

Total

1

China

34

24

27

85

2

Great Britain

20

15

16

51

3

RPC (Russia)

14

7

21

42

4

USA

12

9

4

25

5

Ukraine

10

17

9

36

41

Egypt

0

4

2

6

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