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INTERVIEW: Egypt’s economy shows positive indicators for recovery, says Bloomberg's Michelle Bond

Sunday 26 Aug 2018
Michelle Bond,
Michelle Bond, deputy head of Global Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy at Bloomberg LP
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Bloomberg participated in a training programme hosted last week by the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) for the first time in Egypt, which is seeking to develop a world-class capital market that will diversify the Egyptian economy and drive economic growth.

Ahram Online interviewed Michelle Bond, deputy head of Global Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy at Bloomberg LP, about her opinion on the Egyptian economy, the importance and outcomes of the FRA’s training programme, and Bloomberg’s work in Egypt and the region.

Based in Washington, Bond oversees regulatory affairs for the Bloomberg Professional Services and the company’s order management systems and execution platforms. She previously served as senior counsel at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in the Office of International Affairs.

The Egyptian FRA is responsible for supervising and regulating non-banking financial markets and instruments, and ensuring their stability and competitiveness to attract more local and foreign investments.

Ahram Online: How would you evaluate the current state of the Egyptian economy?

Michelle Bond: Egypt's economy went through a difficult period after 2011; however, analysts have been optimistic about the prospects of the economy. Recent reports have highlighted positive factors that could help the economy recover. According to analysis by Bloomberg Economics, these mainly include declining inflation, lower interest rates, recovering tourism and gas production from the Zohr field.

AO: Why did you choose to contribute to the FRA’s training programme? What is the aim of this programme?

MB: Bloomberg is committed to developing capital markets, and this is one of many training programmes we contribute to globally. Last year, we ran a similar programme in Kenya where we partnered with the Financial Services Volunteer Corp and the Kenyan Capital Markets Authority to increase capital market liquidity.

The Egyptian FRA training programme aimed to further the FRA’s goals to adopt and implement international best practices in an effort to develop a world-class capital market that will diversify the Egyptian economy and drive economic growth.

AO: How can providing training for an entity like FRA affect Egypt’s economic growth?

MB: The training, delivered by capital market experts from Bloomberg, Blockchain, the National Organisation of Investment Professionals, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, covered topics that are key for the development of capital markets in Egypt, which would in turn have a positive, long-term impact on the Egyptian economy.

These topics included discussion of new products (such as short-selling and derivatives), financial technology (fintech and regtech), and best practices in supervision and enforcement capacity at the capital market regulator.

The programme also included case studies that illustrated the necessary legislative authority and investigative techniques to ensure successful prosecution of securities law violations, such as insider trading, market manipulation and disclosure violations by public companies to ensure protection for investors, improve capital market liquidity and promote capital formation.

AO: What are the outcomes of this training and what did you learn from it?

MB: The outcomes of this training include measures designed for a world-class capital market that will diversify the Egyptian economy and drive economic growth. This training, led by current practitioners who are leading experts in their fields, provided FRA staff with an inside look into the systems and functions of the US markets, as well as the regulatory systems that supervise them.

This programme also allowed the FRA to engage the private sector to discuss their plans to introduce reforms to spur capital market diversification and liquidity. By improving the technical capacity of FRA staff, and seeking the buy-in from capital market stakeholders, this programme ensures that counterparts in Egypt have access to international best practices that can help Egypt develop deeper and more diversified markets where continued investment can impact economic development.

AO: Can you tell us more about Bloomberg’s work in Egypt and the region? How important is the Egyptian market to Bloomberg?

MB: Bloomberg's presence in the Middle East began in the mid-1990s, and this has only grown since. There are currently over 100 employees in the United Arab Emirates alone, which is our hub for the Middle East and Africa. Bloomberg employees in the region include News, Television, Financial Product Sales, Media and Data staff.

As for Egypt, it is a very substantial economy in the region, and it is not a new market for us. In fact, it was one of our first regions in the Middle East.

Both regional and international investors are very familiar with Egypt, and it is not an economy that is new to them either; there is currently a high-level of interest from them in the Egyptian economy. Providing timely and accurate coverage to international investors is very important to Bloomberg, and we take our mandate to provide services that are as localised as possible to Egypt seriously, as the economy continues to develop.

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