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There are no dollars.. The foreign exchange crisis is hitting the Egyptian economy

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With foreign currency in short supply in Egypt, Rafik Clovis spent December waiting to see if his bank would be able to provide the $67,000 he needed to finance the import of a shipment of auto parts from Europe.

But by the end of the year, the dollars were still not available; As a result, its imports in 2022 were just a tenth of a normal year’s amount.

“The conditions are catastrophic,” Clovis said. There are no dollars and I have no idea how to solve it. I have five employees, and we are now beating what we have achieved in previous years.”

The importer’s dilemma is shared by many companies Egypt Struggling with the forex crisis. The first three weeks of full-scale Russia Ukraine invasion Last February, it triggered $20 billion in outflows from the Arab world’s most populous country, as foreign portfolio investors rushed to safe havens.

In spite of $13 billion in deposits From the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and another $3.3 billion in asset sales to the UAE in 2022, foreign currency has remained in severe short supply from the import-dependent country.

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A week ago, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said that banks would secure the foreign currency needed to clear the accumulated imports within four days, without going into details. According to Mostafa Madbouly, the prime minister, goods worth $9.5 billion are still being held at the country’s ports.

The inflationary impact of the Ukraine war on the prices of basic commodities such as wheat – Egypt is the world largest importer of grains – increased pressure on the country’s foreign exchange resources, forcing the Central Bank of Egypt to devalue the pound in March and October. November’s inflation rate was 18.7 percent, the highest rate in five years.

For the fourth time in six years, Egypt has had to turn to the International Monetary Fund, which last month agreed to $3 billion loan more than four years. The core of the agreement lies in Cairo’s commitment to moving to a flexible exchange rate regime in which market forces determine the value of the currency – something Egyptian governments have long resisted.

A worker delivers bread to vendors in Cairo
A worker delivers bread to stalls in Cairo © Roger Anis / Getty Images

In an effort to conserve foreign currency, the central bank placed restrictions on imports in March. The requirement to use letters of credit slowed the process and caused a backlog of unfulfilled orders for dollars. It also prioritized access, placing essential commodities such as food and medicine at the top of the list. The Central Bank of Egypt removed the requirement to use letters of credit on December 29.

These two reductions reduced the pound from about £16 to the dollar to £24.7. The black market rate is even lower.

The central bank raised interest rates by 300 basis points on December 22, raising the overnight deposit rate to 16.25 percent. The rally exceeded analysts’ expectations and reflected growing concern about inflation and the pound’s fall, according to London-based advisory firm Capital Economics.

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Businesses from poultry farms to car manufacturers have been hit hard in a country that imports most of its food and many inputs for its industries. While policymakers contemplate when and how to move to a flexible exchange rate regime where the value of the pound is not backed by the central bank, entrepreneurs complain of a lack of vision for the future.

“We are working day in and day out,” said the head of a poultry farming company, complaining that shipments of grain, especially soybeans and corn used for feed, were stuck at ports due to a dollar shortage. “Every day we have to find forage, and sometimes we run out and the birds don’t get fed.”

He said the agribusiness has had to “clear out” some flocks by selling the birds at a loss before they can usually be sent to market. “The price is well below cost and we know some of our competitors have had to kill chicks,” said the executive. He added that the “significant” drop in the supply of chicken sold for meat had led to an increase in prices of more than 50 percent.

A seller extracts a live chicken from a cage in a Cairo market
A vendor pulls a live chicken from a cage in a Cairo market. © Islam Safwat/Bloomberg

Mohamed Abu Basha, head of macroeconomic analysis at Cairo-based investment bank EFG-Hermes, said the shift to a flexible exchange rate could not happen “overnight” and that the authorities needed to “build up foreign currency reserves first in a comprehensive manner.” Perfect to help “clear the backlog of demand” before moving on to the exchange rate.

Farouk Sousse, an economist at Goldman Sachs, explained the difficult choices facing Cairo in its quest to build liquidity to deal with the demand for dollars in the near term.

“The central bank can liquidate the market by continuing to raise interest rates, float the currency and restrict the money supply, but the implications for prices and growth are problematic,” he said. “The preferred option for the authorities is to wait for inflows from the Qataris, Emiratis and Saudis to buy assets in Egypt, but this is also uncertain.”

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As policymakers consider options, the outlook for many companies is uncertain. A senior manager at a multinational auto components company said his company was better off than most because it was also an exporter, which gave it access to foreign currency. But these reserves were depleting and the company was not sure whether to accept new orders.

“I’m not sure I’ll be able to scan the imported entries for a new order and I’ll have to pay thousands [holding fees] While I wait for the dollars.” “If my overseas supplier agrees to defer payment and I can get the goods out of the port, maybe the dollar will go up by the time I have to pay.”

He added, “It is also possible that the manufacturer of the cars I supply here will run into problems because of this [supply] From a different part has failed, so there is no final product and we all fail.”


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Economic

We need to pay more attention to skewed economic signals

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The writer is chair of Queen’s College, Cambridge and advisor to Allianz and Gramercy

Inflation was the dominant economic and financial issue of 2022 for most countries around the world, especially for advanced economies that have a consequential impact on the global economy and markets.

The effects have been seen in declining living standards, increasing inequality, increasing borrowing costs, stock and bond market losses, and occasional financial mishaps (fortunately small and so far contained).

In this new year, recession, both actual and feared, has joined inflation in the driving seat of the global economy and is likely to replace it. It’s a development that makes the global economy and investment portfolios subject to a wide range of possible outcomes — something that a growing number of bond investors seem to be aware of more than their equity counterparts.

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International Monetary Fund iYou will likely review soon Her economic growth forecasts again, predicting that “a third of the world will be hit by recession this year”. What is particularly notable to me about these worsening global prospects is not only that the world’s three major economic regions – China, the European Union and the United States – are slowing down together, but also that this is happening for different reasons.

In China, a chaotic exit from the wrong Covid-19 policy is undermining demand and causing more supply disruptions. Such headwinds to domestic and global economic well-being will continue as long as China fails to improve the coverage and effectiveness of its vaccination efforts. The strength and sustainability of the subsequent recovery will also require that the country more vigorously renew a growth model that can no longer rely on greater globalization.

The European Union continues to deal with energy supply disruptions as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. Strengthening inventory management and reorientation of energy supplies is well advanced in many countries. However, it is not yet sufficient to lift immediate constraints on growth, let alone resolve long-term structural headwinds.

The United States has the least problematic view. The headwinds to growth are due to the Fed’s struggle to contain inflation after mischaracterizing rate increases as fleeting and then initially being too timid to adjust monetary policy.

The Fed’s shift to an aggressive front-load of interest rate hikes came too late to prevent the spread of inflation in the services sector and wages. As such, inflation is likely to remain stubborn at around 4 percent, be less sensitive to interest rate policies and expose the economy to greater risk for accidents from additional policy errors that undermine growth.

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The uncertainties facing each of these three economic areas suggest that analysts should be more careful in reassuring us that recessionary pressures will be “short and shallow”. They need to be open, if only to avoid repeating the mistake of prematurely dismissing inflation as transient.

This is especially important because these diverse drivers of recessionary risk make financial fragility more threatening and policy shifts more difficult, including potentially Japan. Get out of interest rate control Policy. The range of possible outcomes is extraordinarily large.

On the one hand, a better policy response, including improving the supply response and protecting the most vulnerable populations, can counteract the global economic slowdown and, in the case of the United States, avert a recession.

On the other hand, additional policy errors and market turmoil can lead to self-reinforcing vicious cycles with rising inflation and rising interest rates, weakening credit and compressed earnings, and stressing market performance.

Judging by market prices, more bond investors are better understanding this, including by refusing to follow the Fed’s interest rate guidance this year. Instead of a sustainable path to higher rates for 2023, they believe recessionary pressures will lead to cuts later this year. If true, government bonds would provide the yield and potential for badly missed portfolio risk mitigation in 2022.

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However, parts of the stock market is still weakly bearish pricing. Reconciling these different scenarios is more important than investors. Without better alignment within markets and with policy signals, the positive economic and financial outcomes we all desire will be no less likely. They will also be challenged by the risk of more unpleasant outcomes at a time of less economic and human resilience.

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Macro hedge funds end 2022 higher, investors say, while many others take big losses By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, US, January 5, 2023. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Svea Herbst Baylis

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Some hedge funds betting on macroeconomic trends have boasted of double and even triple-digit gains for 2022, while other high-profile companies that have long been on technology stocks have suffered heavy losses in volatile markets, investors said.

Rokos Capital, run by Chris Rokos and one of a handful of so-called global macro companies, gained 51% last year. Fund investors this week, who asked not to be identified, said Brevan Howard Asset Management, the company where Rokos once worked, posted a gain of 20.14% and Caxton Associates returned 16.73%.

Haider Capital Management’s Haider Jupiter Fund rose 193%, an investor said.

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Data from hedge fund research showed that many macro managers have avoided crumbling stock markets that have been rocked by rapid interest rate increases and geopolitical turmoil, including the war in Ukraine, to rank among the best performers in the hedge fund industry. The company’s macro index rose 14.2% while the general index of hedge funds fell 4.25%, its first loss since 2018.

Equity hedge funds, where the bulk of the industry’s roughly $3.7 trillion in assets are invested, fared worse with a loss of 10.4%, according to HFR data. And while that beat the broader stock market’s loss of 19.4%, some high-profile funds posted even bigger losses.

Tiger Global Management lost 56% while Whale Rock Capital Management ended the year with a 43% loss and Maverick Capital lost 23%. Coatue Management ended 2022 with a loss of 19%.

But not all companies that bet on technology stocks suffered. John Thaler JAT Capital finished the year with a 3.7% gain after fees after a 33% increase in 2021 and a 46% gain in 2020.

Sculptor Capital Management (NYSE::), where founder Dan Och is fighting the company’s current CEO in court over his salary increase, posted a 13% drop.

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David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital, which bet that Elon Musk would be forced to buy Twitter, ended the year up 37% while Rick Sandler’s Eminence Capital rose 7%.

A number of so-called multi-manager companies where teams of portfolio managers bet on a variety of sectors also boast positive returns and have been able to deliver on their promise that hedge funds can deliver better returns in distressed markets.

Balyasny’s Atlas Fund (NYSE: Enhanced) gained 9.7%, while Point72 Asset Management gained 10%. Millennium Management gained 12% while Carlson Capital ended the year with a 7% gain.

Representatives for the companies either did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment.

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German automakers point to easing supply chain problems

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Sales at BMW and Mercedes-Benz jumped in the final months of 2022 as the German premium auto brands indicated supply chain problems plaguing the industry were abating.

Automakers around the world have experienced parts shortages since the pandemic, especially semiconductors, leaving many of them with large fleets of incomplete vehicles that can’t be delivered to customers.

BMW and Mercedes each said their full-year vehicle deliveries fell last year by 4.8 percent and 1 percent, respectively, due to Suppliers Bottlenecks as well as lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine.

But supply pressures eased in the last quarter of the year, as BMW recorded a 10.6 percent jump in sales, with 651,798 vehicles delivered, and Mercedes fulfilling 540,800 orders, up 17 percent from the same period in 2022.

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BMW He said the main effects of supply chain bottlenecks and continued lockdowns were felt in the first six months of the year, adding that “sales were steadily picking up in the second half.”

Mercedes boss Ula Kallenius told the Financial Times last week that the list of problems in the auto supply chain was declining, but added that long waits for cars would continue into 2023.

“One chip is enough to be vital [ . . .] Missing, and then you can’t finish the car, even if you have everything else.

Both brands recorded strong sales growth electric car. Mercedes, which last week announced a plan to build 10,000 charging docks, said EV shipments grew 124 percent to 117,800 last year compared with its predecessor.

Similarly, BMW reported strong growth in electric vehicle sales, with deliveries of fully electric vehicles doubling last year to 215,755.

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Analysts at Bank of America said that sales of electric vehicles, including hybrid cars, reached a historic peak last November, with 1.1 million units sold. They attributed this largely to the upcoming phase-out of customer subsidies in Germany.

Participate in Mercedes BMW and BMW prices held steady Tuesday morning as investors priced in an image of an improving showing.

Rolls-Royce, a subsidiary of BMW, announced Monday that sales have hit a 119-year record, driven by strong demand in the United States, its largest market.

The luxury brand has been largely unaffected by the semiconductor pressure, mainly because it makes relatively few compounds and therefore needs fewer chips.

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