By Ian Dixon and Sajal Kishore

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges when it comes to financing, constructing and maintaining infrastructure. Now Africa’s largest sovereign infrastructure investor and trading partner, China has been undeniably changing the infrastructure landscape of Africa, with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) driving further investment.

The UN is forecasting SSA’s population to double to two billon and for the urbanisation rate to reach 58% of the population by 2050, from 40% today. That said, SSA remains ranked the most challenging region in the world to do business in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index…


“Fear of floating” is alive and well among EM central banks says Global Head of Sovereigns, James McCormack, in his latest Global Perspectives commentary.

The recent strength of the US dollar, which is up about 3.5% in nominal effective terms since late January following a two-year depreciation, is causing investors to re-evaluate their emerging market (EM) exposures. Comparisons with the 1982 Mexican crisis and the 1997 Asian crisis are alarmist and overdone, but faith in better EM macroeconomic and credit fundamentals in support of a view that “this time is different” is equally misplaced. The dollar remains the single most important consideration for EM finances.

If January was, in fact, a dollar inflection point and trend appreciation lies ahead, the outlook for EM sovereigns…


Revival of active currency policy may chime with Trump’s China objectives

By James McCormack

News that Japan has overtaken China as the top foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities comes perhaps fortuitously as the incoming Trump administration girds for potential confrontation on economic and trade issues with Beijing. The development could play into a coordinated initiative that might help with Japan’s extended deflation battle and offer the U.S. a chance to tilt Asia’s regional economic balance in its preferred direction.

There are two reasons why the decline in China’s foreign reserves could be viewed positively by the U.S. Most obviously, as China gradually runs down its holdings of U.S. Treasuries to lean against yuan…


US Mobile Wallets Lack Strong Value Proposition

According to MasterCard, nearly 85% of payment transactions globally are still made with cash, creating a significant growth opportunity for digital payment providers.

By Michael Taiano

Despite growing sharply off of a low base in recent years, consumer adoption of mobile wallets in the U.S. has developed at a much slower pace than most industry experts would have predicted.

According to MasterCard, nearly 85% of payment transactions globally are still made with cash, creating a significant growth opportunity for digital payment providers. Mobile wallets are a subset of this addressable market, which we define as payments made by consumers at a physical point of sale using a mobile device. There have been numerous constituencies that have invested heavily in recent years in mobile payment technologies. Among…


Sin City’s moves beyond gaming ensuring a better hand

Las Vegas strip at night

By Alex Bumahzny and Colin Mansfield

Nearly half of Atlantic City’s resorts have closed in the past two years, a scene not altogether unlike the noted closures of the Las Vegas’ casinos of yesteryear like The Dunes and Sahara. Where the storyline differs, however, is in the fate awaiting that other casino resort city. In short, Sin City has a much brighter future ahead of it.

Why? Because Las Vegas has had the foresight to broaden its appeal beyond gaming. The city’s main entertainment cluster, the Strip, has positioned itself over the decades as a coveted leisure and convention destination. …


“No running commentary” not sustainable for two years

By James McCormack

The UK is on the verge of embarking on its biggest and most abrupt transition since the end of World War II with only a rudimentary public understanding of what it will entail. Nearly four months after the referendum confirmed a majority in favour of leaving the EU, there is no greater clarity on the alternative future the country has chosen, how it will materialise, or over what timeframe. Why? These are fundamental questions to remain unanswered for such a momentous change in direction.

Brexit referendum result came as surprise

Brexit confusion reigns in the UK primarily because the referendum result caught the government completely unprepared…


‘Nothing to be done’ again for UK commercial property funds [post-Brexit]

By Alastair Sewell

Vivian Mercier famously reviewed “Waiting for Godot” as the play in which “…nothing happens, twice.” We may well have just seen the very same effect in the UK commercial property fund market. Following on from the Brexit vote in June 2016 the vast majority of UK open-end commercial property funds closed to redemption — or gated. That is, they stopped investors from being able to withdraw money. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Following the financial crisis in 2009, many such funds also closed to redemption. …


Growth in African Sukuk Shows Positive Momentum, but Structural Challenges Remain

By Bashar Al Natoor

Many African countries are working to develop their legislative and regulatory frameworks to establish Islamic finance and sukuk as a sustainable funding alternative. With Africa’s demand for infrastructure financing solutions and its significant Muslim population, such an opportunity might be well received.

Khartoum, Sudan at Sunset. The country has a fully-fledged, 100% Islamic financial system.

Islamic finance is already present in more than 20 African countries, with Sudan having a fully-fledged 100% Islamic financial system. However, the size of the Islamic finance industry in Africa is still small in relation to the industry as a whole. Fitch estimates around USD1bn of sukuk total issuance from the whole of Africa in 2016 compared to…


New ‘Core Four’ emerges amid questions around Tiger’s return to the PGA

By Chad Lewis

The Safeway Open, which begins Thursday and effectively kicks off the 2016–17 PGA TOUR season, was supposed to mark the return of one of golf’s most recognizable names, Tiger Woods. Tiger withdrew from the event on Monday citing vulnerabilities with his game. This reignites questions around Tiger’s return and, specifically, ‘When?’ or ‘Will he ever return’, ’In what form?’ and ‘Will we ever see the early 2000’s Tiger?’. Which raises another overarching question: ‘Is the PGA stronger today with or without the presence of one of golf’s marquee players?’

Is the PGA stronger today with or without the presence of one of golf’s marquee players?

A new ‘Core Four’

Whether or not we’ve seen the last of…


Brexit may introduce new players to compete with the UK in Islamic Finance footrace

By Bashar Al Natoor

September 2016

The UK has played a central role in growing the global footprint for Islamic finance over the past several years, with significant growth at the turn of the century when the Islamic Finance taskforce was established by the Government. Since the UK referendum in June and the decision to leave the European Union, now widely known as ‘Brexit’, questions have been raised about the far-reaching implications of Brexit and whether it could weaken the UK’s hold on Islamic Finance and open the door for other contenders.

The Shard at London Bridge is a pyramid-shaped skyscraper in Southwark, which in December 2011 became the tallest building in the EU. Several Qatari investors are funding the construction of the tower via Islamic finance. The architect is Renzo Piano, who worked with the architectural firm Broadway Malyan during the planning stage.

The short answer appears to be ‘no’. The UK’s central role in…

Fitch

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