bitcoin-1813503_1280

A Bitcoin Is Worth Gold

Bitcoin is now worth a half kilogram of gold. Indians have taken to trading in the cryptocurrency as 11 bitcoin trading platforms have cropped up in the country where about 30,000 members on average trade on any given day. Is it a bubble waiting to be burst or currency waiting to be recognised, is not known yet. What’s known is that it is not legally recognised in India and IT watchdog is hawk-eyeing every Bitcoin transaction on these exchanges.

 

Rs 14.1 lakh

What is it? The amount one has to pay to buy one unit of bitcoin from Bengaluru-based bitcoin firm Unocoin, including a fee and tax, according to the rate on Wednesday evening.

Why is it important? Bitcoin is not legally recognised in India. Income tax authorities are reportedly investigating transactions at bitcoin exchanges, including in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Gurgaon. It is not clear if these investigations are related to money laundering or tax evasion. Also, there is no clarity on the levy of taxes related to Bitcoin transactions in the country.

Tell me more: There are reportedly at least 11 Indian bitcoin trading platforms that claim to have about 30,000 members actively trading at a given point of time.

 

50%

What is it? The percentage of world population that does not have full coverage of essential health services, according to a report by the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

Why is it important? This highlights the distance the human race needs to go in terms of achieving universal basic health coverage. It says about 100 million people are being pushed into extreme poverty (living on $1.9 or less) as they have to pay for healthcare and nearly 12% of the global population spends at least a tenth of their household budget on healthcare.

Tell me more: According to a study by medical journal Lancet, India ranks a poor 154 of 195 countries in access to healthcare. It also fares badly in terms of government spending on healthcare, parting with just 5% of its total expenditure compared to China’s 10.4%.

 

0.25 percentage point

What is it? The amount by which the US central bank has increased its key interest rate, in a move that was widely expected.

Why is it important? The US federal funds rate, which helps determine rates for mortgages, credit cards and other borrowing, will now hover in the range of 1.25% to 1.5%. This is the fifth time the Fed has lifted interest rates since the 2008 financial crisis. Policy makers plan to raise rates three more times in 2018, and then twice in 2019. Despite the current and planned increases, US interest rates remain at historically low levels.

Tell me more: Key US share indices hit all-time highs following the government reporting healthy macroeconomic numbers and news that it would be able to muster the numbers to push through a business-friendly tax package.

 

10-12%

What is it? The increase in overall cost of solar projects following the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST), according to the All India Solar Industries Association (AISIA).

Why is it important? The AISIA general secretary, in letters to the revenue secretary and other government officials, has said that this would be detrimental in achieving the solar power capacity of 100 GW by 2022 under the National Solar Mission. The association says that solar power generating systems are being charged 5% tax, but equipment such as module mounting structures, transformers, cables and trackers are subjected to different rates under GST.

Tell me more: In a note this May, consulting firm Bridge to India had said that a 5% tax on solar panels, instead of 18% proposed earlier under GST, would translate to an increase of 4% in cost of solar power projects.

 

3

What is it? Number of double hundreds scored by Indian batsman Rohit Sharma in one-day internationals. His latest came on Wednesday, when Sharma carted Sri Lanka for 208 not out in 153 balls.

Why is it important? No other batsman has two double hundreds in ODIs, leave alone three. In all, five batsman have scored 200 or more in the 50-over format, including three Indians. The pace of evolution of batting in this format can be gauged from the fact that the first 200 was scored only in 2010. And since then, six more have been racked up.

Tell me more: Sharma’s knock on Wednesday was a tale of two innings. In his first 126 balls, he scored 116 runs. In the next 27 balls he faced, he smashed 92 runs, including 11 sixes and three fours. Such acceleration has been the feature of all his three efforts.

 

Read More

metoo-2859980_1920

Person Of The Year: The Silence Breakers

 

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

Last month, several women who had experienced sexual harassment came out on Facebook and narrated their bitter experiences with #Metoo. Some of these experiences were fairly recent and some were decades old. But, their memories of the incident/s was just as new. The ripple effect of this movement shook Hollywood the most and has slowly engulfed few senators in the US parliament as well. This year Times Magazine has declared these Silence Breakers as the ‘Person of the year’.  Why is it important, you ask? Read on.

 

3

What is it? The number of times since 2007 when Time magazine’s Person of the Year was not one person, but a group or a movement. On Wednesday, Time declared ‘The Silence Breakers’—the women who have spoken out against sexual harassment and sexual assault at the workplace—as its 2017 Person of the Year.

Why is it important? As actor after actor came out against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, it emboldened more women and men to narrate their incidents of sexual assault by men in positions of power. This had a domino effect, trickling down to the masses through the Twitter hashtag #MeToo, and bringing sexual harassment at the workplace into conversations and actions than ever before. The well-known names accused include actors Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman, Tv host Bill O’Reilly and Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar.

Tell me more: Time bestows this title to someone who impacted the world in a significant way, positive or negative. The previous two occasions since 2007 when it was not given to one person was 2014 (The Ebola Fighters) and 2011 (The Protestor).

 

92%

What is it? The amount by which cryptocurrency Bitcoin has increased in the past month. On Wednesday, it roared past the $13,000 mark.

Why is it important? The latest price rise comes in amid news that Chicago exchanges CBOE Global Markets and CME Group have received regulatory approval to launch Bitcoin futures, and are planning to do so on December 10 and December 18, respectively. It’s a move that has sparked new bouts of concern about regulatory preparedness and systemic risk for this one-of-a-kind asset class.

Tell me more: Two disparate events in the past week highlight the contrast in Bitcoin: on the one hand, South Korean financial regulators banned Bitcoin futures; on the other, the Winklevoss twins, who sued Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg over the claim that he stole the idea for the social network from them, have become billionaires on the back of their investment in Bitcoin.

 

5

What is it? The maximum number of players a franchise can retain for the upcoming seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Why is it important? It means each franchise has some chance to hold on to their core players, while all other players go into the auction pool again. Details of the announcement come as a shot in the arm for the two franchises that were handed a two-year ban in 2015 for illegal betting and financial irregularities, Chennai and Rajasthan. Their retention pool includes former players who joined the Gujarat and Pune teams in the interim, paving the way for MS Dhoni to rejoin his old team Chennai.

Tell me more: A franchise will retain players via two routes: retention before the auction (maximum three players) and right to match a bid in an auction (maximum three players, with a total of five under the two heads). Further, the salary cap of each IPL team has been increased from Rs 66 crore to Rs 80 crore.

 

6%

What is it? The rate at which India’s central bank held the benchmark repo rate—the interest rate at which it lends to banks—at its bimonthly policy review on Wednesday.

Why is it important? This the second consecutive review in which the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has not touched the benchmark repo rate. This is despite clamor from industry and the government to do so in order to spur economic growth. The RBI noted risks to inflation, but expressed optimism that the slowdown in economic growth had bottomed out.

Tell me more: Five of the six MPC members—Chetan Ghate, Pami Dua, Michael Debabrata Patra, Viral Acharya and Urjit Patel—were in favour of the monetary policy decision. Only one member, Ravindra Dholakia, voted for a policy rate reduction of 0.25 percentage point.

 

Rs 17.38 crore

What is it? The amount Infosys agreed to pay former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal as severance pay in October 2015.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, Infosys filed a consent plea, without admitting wrongdoing, with capital market regulator Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) over governance and disclosure issues related to this payout. Governance experts have expressed unhappiness over the latest move by Infosys—for long cited as the marker in corporate governance in India Inc—to handle the issue, seeing it more as a way of achieving closure rather than coming clean on it.

Tell me more: The severance pay to Bansal was one of the flashpoints in a tussle earlier this year that saw the Infosys board and previous CEO Vishal Sikka on one side and Infosys co-founders, notably NR Narayana Murthy, on the other side. Sikka was eventually ousted and the board had a new chair in Nandan Nilekani.

 

Read More

wall-e-1872683_1920

Bots May Take A Fifth Of Our Jobs

 

The cryptocurrency Bitcoin’s value shot through the roof. The skeptics think its a bubble that could burst. While in the world of automation, a fifth of human jobs would be lost by 2030, as per a study. Nestle is in hot water again, thanks to maggie noodles. And net profit of 25 Nifty stocks went up in double digits in last quarter. This is the fastest pace in six quarters.

 

$11,432 

What is it? The highest price that cryptocurrency Bitcoin scaled on a wild day of trading on Wednesday, according to Coindesk. Bitcoin pierced both the $10,000 and $11,000 marks, hit a low of $9,290 and closed at $9,719, amid trading outages.

Why is it important? At its highest price, Bitcoin would have recorded an 11-fold rise since the beginning of the year, resulting in the multiplication of warnings from skeptics that it could be a speculative bubble that could burst. Some others suggest the Bitcoin is unique as an asset class and its rise is not going to end anytime soon.

Tell me more: As the rally in Bitcoin gained pace, so did the banter. Tesla founder Elon Musk clarified he wasn’t fuelling its rise and musician Katy Perry asked Warren Buffett, the most insightful investor of our times, on what he thought about Bitcoin.

 

800 million

What is it? The estimated number of people who might lose their jobs to robots and automation by 2030, according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute.

Why is it important? This is over a fifth of the current global workforce and indicative of the impending drastic changes in employment and livelihoods. Machine operators, fast-food workers and back-office employees are among projected to be the most affected in both developed and emerging countries, if automation spreads fast enough. The silver lining in this is that those displaced would find other jobs but they would have to re-skill themselves.

Tell me more: A World Bank report released last year forecasted that 69% of jobs in India could be threatened by automation. However, the Indian government says the growth momentum of the economy would result in job opportunities and absorption of displaced labour.

 

11.9%

What is it? The average rate at which net profits of 25 companies (the data for which was available) in the 50-share NSE Nifty grew in the July-September quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data.

Why is it important? This is the fastest pace in six quarters (since a 31% growth in January-March 2016), a likely sign of recovery after a period of sluggish economic growth in the last few quarters. This could spur private investment, which continues to remain sluggish. The companies’ performance also indicates they managed to weather the impact of the government’s demonetisation move in November 2016 and the transition to the goods and services tax regime from July this year.

Tell me more: According to the data, the total profits of the companies is expected to grow 25% in 2018-19, which would be the highest in Asia.

 

Rs 45 lakh

What is it? The penalty imposed on Nestle India after samples of its popular Maggi noodles tested positive for high levels of ash content in a food-testing laboratory in Uttar Pradesh.

Why is it important? This is reminiscent of the trouble the firm landed two years ago when a laboratory in the same state had found excessive lead content in some samples of Maggi noodles that led to a furore, following which the government banned the product. The company had destroyed 37,000 tonnes of noodles and ended up losing more than Rs 500 crore due to the ban. In reaction to the latest lab report, Nestle India has maintained that ash is not added to their product, the samples date back to 2015 and that incorrect standards have been applied to the testing of the samples.

Tell me more: The district administration of Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh has also imposed fines on Nestle India’s three distributors (Rs 15 lakh) and on two of its sellers (Rs 11 lakh).

 

33 years

What is it? The number of years after which iconic Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo will return to Formula 1 motor racing in 2018.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, it was announced a multi-year technical and commercial partnership with the Sauber F1 Team. Car manufacturers have had an up-and-down relationship with Formula 1. In the last two decades, Ford, Toyota and Peugeot have quit, and Honda’s return has not gone as planned. In that sense, Alfa Romeo’s return comes a shot in the arm for the sport.

Tell me more: Alfa Romeo was a dominant force in the early years of Formula 1. It served an engine supplier for several teams from 1961 until 1979, before returning with a works team from 1979 to 1985.

 

Read More

Digital pink slips

~1000

What is it? The number of senior/mid level Infosys employees who might be asked to leave the company.

Why is it important? It comes on the back of news about layoffs at Wipro and Cognizant, and together they underline the pressure IT majors are facing on business and regulatory fronts. Wipro recently said that if the demand doesn’t improve it might let go of 10% of its employees. Last week, Cognizant announced a voluntary separation programme for directors.

Tell me more: A recent pressure for IT companies came from the visa restrictions imposed by the United States, the sector’s largest source of revenue. Infosys recently announced it would hire about 10,000 employees in the US in the next two years.

181

What is it? The number of wickets taken by cricketer Jhulan Goswami in one day international tournaments.

Why is it important? It makes Goswami the top wicket taker in women’s one day internationals. The position was previously held by Australian bowler Cathryn Fitzpatrick, who held the record for nearly 10 years.

Tell me more: Goswami played a total of 153 matches and bowled 1238.4 overs, against Fitzpatrick’s 109 matches and 1002.5 overs. Goswami claimed the wicket of South Africa’s Raisibe Ntozakhe to break Fitzpatrick’s record. Goswami made her debut in 2002.

 

$40 million

What is it? The amount Vijay Mallya is said to have received from Diageo in February last year.

Why is it important?  In violation of Supreme Court directions to use the money to repay loans, Mallya allegedly transferred the amount to his children. The court now holds him guilty of contempt and has directed him to appear before it on July 10. Mallya is facing cases for default of about Rs 9000 crore in loans to various banks, and is in United Kingdom at present.

Tell me more: Efforts are on to extradite Mallya from UK. Enforcement Directorate is making an additional case for extradition on the evidence of money laundering.

 

277,000

What is it? The number of passenger vehicles sold in April in India, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Why is it important? This is up 15% from 242,000 vehicles sold in April 2016, indicating that the impact of demonesation is wearing off. Analysts believe that the pent up demand could push automobile sales further during rest of the year.

Tell me more: Passenger cars (excluding SUVs and vans) sales went up 17.36% to 190,000 units April, largely driven by compact cars. Buyers picked up 7.34% more two wheelers in April compared to year ago period. However, commercial vehicles and three wheeler sales dropped.

 

$1,747.89

What is it? The close price of cryptocurrency Bitcoin on BitStamp platform on Tuesday.

Why is it important? Crossing the $1700 mark is an important milestone for Bitcoin, which continues to face skepticism from several quarters. The currency hit its all time high by surging over 80% in value since the beginning of this year. Starting April, Bitcoins became a legal tender in Japan, where it is trading at $1835 a coin.

Tell me more: As Bitcoin’s price surge in the market, businesses increasingly see more value in blockchain, the currency’s underlying technology.

Read More