Egypt Devaluation Calls Grow Louder, Longer as Crunch Time Nears

Traders are on a record-long streak of hedging against a decline in the Egyptian pound as some Wall Street banks warn growing pressures on the currency could soon force the central bank’s hand in allowing another devaluation, Bloomberg News reported. Time may be short for a country facing what Citigroup Inc. said is growing pent-up demand for dollars that won’t ease without more currency flexibility and stronger investment flows. Half measures haven’t been enough, stalling deals and resulting in an underperformance of Egypt’s bonds. The market verdict also reflects scrutiny of Egypt’s pledge in October to move to a flexible exchange rate, which helped it clinch a $3 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund. But the pound has been on a short leash for weeks as a dire inflation outlook at home becomes a focus for authorities, especially after hiking fuel prices and with only days left before the holy month of Ramadan. Accelerating inflation is adding pressure on the currency, which has traded “relatively flat” since the January devaluation “despite clear signs of ongoing FX liquidity shortages,” Farouk Soussa, an economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in a note. Read more.