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Thursday, 16 March 2023

THIS MORNING: Egypt to host Palestine-Israel talks on Sunday

Good morning, friends. Happy THURSDAY to you all — and happy issue #2002 to us here at Enterprise. It’s the two thousand and second time we’ve written you here at EnterpriseAM, and we are honored that so many of you choose to start your mornings with us, whether you’ve been reading since issue #1 (the subject of today’s My Morning Routine column started with us right around then) or just joined us yesterday. Thank you, from the bottom of our collective heart.

It’s one of those mixed news days: We have plenty of good news on the foreign direct investment side of the equation this morning as well as increasingly positive signals on the privatization front. On the other hand, the big question of the day is where European and US traders will take us today. Will a multi-day slide in bank shares become the Great Bank Share Rout of 2023?

PSA- You may want to leave for work a tad early this morning: The Greater Cairo area is in for a foggy morning — and will likely see dusty winds throughout the day, according to the latest from the national weather service. The dust will carry over into Friday and will be replaced by good old wind on Saturday, when the mercury will hit lows of 13°C.


RiseUp 2023: The RiseUp Summit starts today at the Grand Egyptian Museum. The three-day event runs through to Saturday.

Another Italian minister is here: Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi is in Cairo to discuss illegal migration with Egyptian officials, according to Italian news agency Nova. Piantedosi will be the second Italian minister to visit the country following Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who met President El Sisi and PM Madbouly to discuss migration, energy and economic ties.

The SCZone is in Vietnam: Representatives from the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) are in Hanoi where they’re meeting with local businesses and investors in a bid to attract investment. The roadshow lasts through to tomorrow.


Israel-Palestine summit to take place in Sharm El Sheikh on Sunday: Palestinian and Israeli officials are meeting in Sharm El Sheikh on Sunday as part of a five-party meeting with Egyptian, Jordanian and US officials, Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein El Sheikh said in a tweet. An agreement made during a first round of talks in Jordan last month failed to calm escalating violence in the West Bank.

The Finance Ministry will host the Public-Private Partnerships MENA Forum on 19-20 March at the Nile Ritz-Carlton, according to a Finance Ministry statement.

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


The Finance Ministry has already begun implementing its financial incentives program encouraging women not to have more than two children, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Enterprise earlier this week.

No means testing: The program is open to all Egyptian women regardless of their income, Maait said. FinMin will issue bonds on the public treasury for eligible women, funded directly from the state budget, he added.

ICYMI- FinMin will put EGP 1k into trust every year for every married woman between the ages of 21 and 45 who has a maximum of two children, in the government’s latest bid to tackle the rapid rate of population increase. The accumulated savings will be paid out to women who participate in the program once they turn 45, provided they stick to the terms.



The US banking crisis is no longer just a US banking crisis: Tremors in the US banking sector arrived in Europe in dramatic fashion yesterday after a vote of no confidence by Credit Suisse’s largest shareholder sent the embattled Swiss lender’s share price plunging as much as 31% and the cost of insuring its debt spiking.

Shares in Europe dived: The turmoil at Credit Suisse — Switzerland’s (long-struggling) second-largest bank and member of the “too big to fail” club — triggered a heavy sell-off in European equities, with many bourses suffering their worst day since the invasion of Ukraine. More than GBP 75 bn was erased from the FTSE100, which fell 3.8%, while Germany’s Dax was down 3.3% and bourses in Spain and Italy lost more than 4%. Losses on Wall Street were comparatively slight, with the S&P 500 finishing 0.7% in the red and the Dow down 0.9%.

Flight to safety + plunging oil prices signal recession: Bond yields across the world fell dramatically, the USD rallied and gold prices rose as investors turned to safe haven assets. Meanwhile, oil prices plunged almost 5% to their lowest level since 2021 as traders bet on an oncoming recession.

BlackRock isn’t doing anything to calm fears: The US banking system could be entering a “slow rolling crisis” akin to the Savings and Loan Crisis in the 1980s, with potentially “more seizures and shutdowns coming,” BlackRock CEO Larry Fink wrote in his annual letter to investors yesterday. “Are the dominoes starting to fall?” he wondered.

Swiss authorities are trying to instill calm: Credit Suisse will borrow as much as USD 54 bn from the Swiss central bank and will buy back some of its debt in a bid to improve liquidity and quell investors’ fears, it said last night.

The move may have (at least) triggered a pause, with European and US equity futures rising this morning and losses in Asia easing.

SOUND SMART- Why are European bank shares falling when the problems are so-far limited to (a) the United States and (b) to three banks that were heavily exposed to tech and crypto? Traders are jittery — and they’re herd animals. Traders have become anxious about everything from the pace at which the US Fed is raising interest rates to amorphous concerns about rising risk in the banking system, particularly amid the belief that rising rates were at the root of Silicon Valley Bank’s meltdown. In Europe, those generalized fears are tangled up in the troubled history of Credit Suisse — and the negative sentiment washed over the shares of much stronger financial institutions including BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, and Commerzbank, all of which saw their shares hammered yesterday.

The story is everywhere on the global front pages this morning: Reuters | Financial Times | Bloomberg | New York Times | Washington Post | Wall Street Journal | CNBC | BBC.

China could be driving a major diplomatic realignment in the Middle East: Fresh off signing a landmark agreement to normalize ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia is now signaling that it is prepared to take things to the next level and strengthen economic ties with its once arch foe. Riyadh is open to making investments in Iran “very quickly” on the condition that “the terms of any agreement would be respected,” Reuters reports Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan as saying yesterday. “We have no reason not to invest in Iran, and we have no reason not to allow them to invest in Saudi Arabia. It is in our interest to make sure that both nations benefit from each other's resources and competitive advantage,” Al Jadaan said.

ICYMI- China last week pulled off a major diplomatic coup by brokering an agreement between the two rivals that will see them reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies for the first time in seven years.

It’s not just the Saudis: Iran’s national security chief and a number of Iranian banking and security officials will visit the UAE today, Iranian state media reported yesterday. The delegation has been invited by the UAE’s national security advisor, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to discuss “mutual interests as well as regional and international developments,” the report said, without providing further details.


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