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Sunday, 19 September 2021

THIS MORNING: IMF chief in hot water? Uncertain corporate earnings are ringing alarm bells on Wall Street.

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to the last week of summer in the northern hemisphere: This coming Wednesday is the first day of fall. We’re apparently going to be celebrating the end of summer with warm weather today through Wednesday, so don’t put away the sunscreen quite yet.

It’s an exceptionally busy morning on the news front between e-Finance dropping the intention to float overnight, the CBE leaving rates on hold for a seventh consecutive meeting, and Egypt (kinda-sorta) getting off the UK’s red list. We have all of this and more in this morning’s Speed Round — and you’ll want to check out Covid Watch and Last NIght’s Talk Shows, too, for the latest on this fourth wave of the pandemic.


EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference continues today, running through to 21 September with the theme of “After Reflation — FEMs in 2022.”

Do you, like us, miss the days when we used to do this type of thing in person in London or Dubai? The first bank that thinks it can pull off an in-person conference will have corporates beating down the doors asking for slots. The bigger question is when fund and portfolio managers will be unshackled and allowed to travel (or receive travelers in their offices) once again. Meanwhile…

The UN General Assembly is ongoing in New York until 30 September. The general debate will take place from 20-28 September. Leaders from at least 83 countries are expected to attend in person — in contrast to last year, when the meeting was almost 100% virtual. There’s no word yet on whether President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will attend in person or virtually.

IMF + EBRD webinar: Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik will speak during a webinar hosted by the IMF and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on Wednesday, 22 September at 3pm CLT. The gathering is running under title of “State-owned enterprises in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia,” with Tawfik set to speak on the role of the state in the economy alongside five other panelists including the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia head Jihad Azour and the EBRD’s head of external relations Alan Rousso. Register for the event here and check out the agenda here.

The Cityscape real estate investment conference gets underway this week at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The event runs from Wednesday, 22 September through Saturday.

The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates on 21-22 September. Pressure has been building on the Fed to take a more hawkish stance to combat inflation by bringing its stimulus programme to a (premature?) end and start raising interest rates earlier than planned. But a slight slowdown in US consumer price inflation last month could give the Fed a breather and relieve pressure for a policy change.

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

Gohar, Farag champions of CIB Egyptian Squash Open: Two Egyptians were crowned champions of the 2021 CIB Egyptian Open on Friday night in two finals played in front of the Giza Pyramids. World no.2 Nouran Gohar overcame first seed and fellow Egyptian Nour El Sherbini 3-2. The men’s final was also taken to five sets, with world no.1 Ali Farag beating Mohamed El Shorbagy.

** IN CASE YOU MISSED IT — highlights from Thursday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • Egypt needs to accelerate its vaccine rollout pronto, the World Health Organization said last week in a report that noted a “significant surge” in cases.
  • Vaccines could wane in effectivnessover time — without a booster shot: Pfizer said that booster doses are an effective way to restore immunity that is bound to erode over time with a two-jab regimen. But the US FDA voted over the weekend only to recommend the boosters for people above the age of 65.
  • Just when you thought covid couldn’t get any worse: Your cup of morning joe is getting more expensive as a lockdown in Vietnam hits global supply.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Is a corruption scandal brewing at the IMF? IMF head Kristalina Georgieva has been accused of pressuring statt to artificially improve China’s ranking in the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report during her time heading up the bank, the Financial Times reports. An inquiry commissioned by the bank found that the irregularities — which saw China’s ranking improve from 85 to 78 as a result of changes made by WB staff to business conditions indicators — happened as a result of Georgieva’s instruction. They took place against the backdrop of a capital increase campaign by the bank, and concerns that countries including China might reduce their commitments. Georgieva has denied the allegations.

RIP Doing Business: In a statement acknowledging the damage caused by the “data irregularities” found in the 2018 and 2020 reports, the World Bank announced Thursday that it would scrap the Doing Business report, and that it would be working on “a new approach” to measuring business and investment conditions.

Egypt was last ranked #114 in the report and policymakers in Cairo have for well over a decade taken very seriously the regulatory and legislative changes that necessary to improve our ranking.

ALSO MAKING HEADLINES- The Pentagon has admitted a drone strike that killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan last month was “a tragic mistake,” backtracking on its initial claim that the strike — one of its final acts in its 20-year war in Afghanistan — had targeted IS militants. After a New York Times investigation, the story is all over the foreign press from the Financial Times to Bloomberg and CNBC.

One of the Western world’s oldest alliances is in unprecedented territory after Paris recalled its ambassador to Washington over Australia’s cancellation of an agreement to buy French submarines in favor of a new security pact with the US and the UK known as the Aukus pact, the FT reports. France’s ambassador to Canberra is also on the way home. The alliance will see the US and UK sell the Aussies nuclear-powered attack submarines instead of the fleet of conventional boats they had agreed to buy from Paris in what was one of France’s largest-ever defense contracts. The New York Times has a deep dive here.

Former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika passed away on Friday at the age of 84, Reuters reports. Bouteflika was in power for 20 years until mass protests forced his resignation in 2019.


Corporate earnings could falter in latest alarm bell for US markets: An “alarming number” of US companies are warning that earnings won’t meet expectations when they report in a month, Bloomberg reports. The S&P 500 has weathered inflationary pressures, widespread supply-chain disruptions, and the delta variant so far this year, largely on the back of strong earnings that have seen companies beat profit estimates by at least 15% for five quarters running. But the tide now seems to be turning: The index closed down for the second week in a row last week, while Bank of America’s “corporate misery indicator” is pointing to “a bad inflation environment.” A poor earnings season could pull the rug out from under investor optimism about an economic recovery: “It’s been upward earnings revisions that have supported stocks here and rather high valuations,” one investment strategist told Bloomberg . If “we start getting some disappointment, as we’ve recently had with the economic data, that could undermine the key support for the market.”

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