Economy: Recovering But Slowly

Indian economy is forecasted to grow at a pace in 2017-2018 which is slowest in four years. Though, in comparison with the first six months of the current fiscal, the predicted growth is higher, and that signals that economy is recovering, but at a slower pace overall. In other news, Lalu Prasad Yadav is sentenced to prison for his role in fodder scam. That and there’s more in news in numbers today.


3.5 years

What is it? The number of years for which former Bihar chief minister and RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was jailed by a special CBI court in Ranchi on Saturday in the second of the six fodder scam cases against him.

Why is it important? This is the second time Yadav is going to prison, resulting in his disqualification from contesting elections. In 2013, he was sent to jail for five years in a similar case, though he was out on bail after about three months. His legal troubles are far from over, as judgment on two other fodder scam cases is expected in about a month.

Tell me more: In the second case, the court had convicted Yadav for cheating and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act. Last December, the court found Yadav and others guilty of fraudulently withdrawing Rs 89.23 lakh from the Deogarh Treasury using fake bills for fodder procurement between 1991 and 1993.



What is it? India’s estimated economic growth rate in 2017-18, according to the first advance estimates released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Friday.

Why is it important? If the prediction holds, this would be the slowest pace in four years and a drop from the 7.1% registered in 2016-17. The estimated GDP (gross domestic product) growth in 2017-18, which is lower than the government’s earlier estimate of 7.5%, has been mainly hit by the 2016 demonetisation move and the rollout of the nationwide GST (goods and services tax) last July.

Tell me more: The CSO forecast implies the economy is recovering: it grew at 6% in the first six months of the current fiscal and is likely to grow at 7% in the second half. The farm sector is expected to grow at 2.1% (against 4.9% last year) and the manufacturing sector at 4.6% (against 7.9% last year) in the current fiscal.



What is it? The gross enrolment ratio (GER), which is the number of students enrolled in a specific level of education expressed as a percentage of the total eligible students in the same level, in higher education in 2016-17 in India, according to the 8th All India Survey on Higher Education.

Why is it important? This was 19.4 in 2010-11, which means more students are pursuing higher education. This means there will be a greater number of educated people looking for jobs in India, where the unemployment rate dipped to 5% in 2015-16, the lowest in five years. This could be an issue in the 2019 general elections, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while campaigning for the 2014 elections, had promised to provide a crore jobs.

Tell me more: The GER for women has improved to from 17.9 in 2010-11 to 24.5 in 2016-1 and that for men from 20.8 to 26.


30 years

What is it? The number of years that Mark Mobius would have spent at Franklin Templeton Investments. On Friday, the company announced Mobius would be retiring on January 31.

Why is it important? Mobius, 81, joined Franklin Templeton in 1987 as president of the Templeton Emerging Markets Fund. He has been synonymous with emerging markets, lifting its profile as an asset class. He made Singapore his base, and traveled about 250 days a year across the world in search of investment opportunities. His retirement had been coming since 2016, when it was announced that Stephen Dover would take over from Mobius as head of emerging market equity at the firm.

Tell me more: According to City Wire Americas, in the last five years, Mobius gave a total return of 17.9%, to be ranked 174 of 264 fund managers tracked. The best return in this set was 78.2% and the average return was 20.1%.


£142 million

What is it? The transfer fee paid by Spanish football club Barcelona to Liverpool to acquire Brazilian playmaker Phillippe Coutinho.

Why is it important? It brings to an end a six-month wrangling between the two clubs for Coutinho. The Catalan giants, smarting from the loss of Neymar, have wanted Coutinho since last summer’s transfer window, and had three bids rejected by Liverpool. His signing bolsters Barcelona, on the field and off the field. It leaves Liverpool with a question, though with added millions to plug it. Liverpool bought Coutinho from Italy’s Inter Milan five years ago for 7.5 million pounds, and he scored 41 goals for Liverpool in 152 appearances in the Premier League.

Tell me more: Coutinho is the world’s second-most expensive football signing, after Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain, and Barcelona’s most expensive signing. Barcelona also have the third-most expensive signing of all-time, in the form of Ousmane Dembele.

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Is the Indian love for gold tapering?


Three months is a small time to determine whether it’s a trend or not. But the latest GDP numbers released by the Statistics Ministry shows India’s love for gold has come down by nearly half.

First, a background. There are two ways to estimate GDP growth numbers. The first is by estimating what different industries like agriculture, manufacturing, construction etc., have produced. The second way is to estimate the expenditure by private consumers, government and investment by companies.  This is where you will find ‘valuables’.

Valuables are money spent in buying precious stones and metals like gold, diamonds and silver. Some might argue these are investments, and therefore capital. But they cannot be classified as capital as they are stored and not put to use. So a separate head is created while estimating GDP.

Measured at 2011-12 prices, valuables stood at Rs 22,129 crore in April – June 2016 as compared to Rs 43,138 crore in April – June 2015.

The big question: Is this an exception or an indicator of Indians finally moving away from buying gold?

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How Brazil’s economy compares with that of India on eight economic indicators

This piece originally appeared on


The Brazilian economy has lost its tailwind between 2007, when it threw its hat in the Olympic ring, and 2016, when it will host those Games, raising the stakes for it that much more. How Brazil has been challenged on eight economic indicators in the last decade and how it compares with India.

Growth: GDP growth

The last BRIC-worthy year that Brazil had was 2010. And last year, its economy even shrunk.



Finances: current account balance

Brazil’s current account has gone from surplus to deficit, and mounted alarmingly in 2015.



Stocks: S&P global equity indices

Annual returns from Brazilian stocks have been in the red for each of the past five years.




Investment: gross capital formation

Brazil’s investments in capital assets, which yield future payoffs, have declined in the last two years.




Prices: inflation, consumer prices (annual percentage)

After floating in moderate territory for years, inflation in Brazil surged in 2015 to 9%.



Consumption: household final consumption expenditure per capita growth

The average spend by Brazilian households was muted in 2014 and declined in 2015.



Exports: export volume index

Brazil’s exports have barely grown in volumes in the last decade, increasing its reliance on domestic growth.




Currency: official exchange rate per us dollar

After several years of strengthening, the Brazilian Real depreciated nearly 50% in 2015.




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News in Numbers, May 3, 2016: Factory output in March, three earth-like planets discovered…


What is it? The percentage of shares state-owned National Aluminium Co Ltd (Nalco) has agreed to buy back from the government.

Why is it important? This is to partly help the government raise funds to meet its fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of GDP for 2016-17 after having contained it at 3.9% of GDP in 2015-16. The price at which Nalco will buyback the shares is yet to be fixed and if it is done at market prices, it would cost the firm $450 million (less than Rs 3,000 crore).

Tell me more: It remains to be seen if this would affect Nalco’s expansion plans, which includes setting up of a $2-billion smelter facility in Iran. The company’s chairman has claimed otherwise.

< 40 crore

What is it? The number of unorganised workers who would be benefitted by government schemes including insurance and pension using Aadhaar and Jan Dhan accounts.

Why is it important? The near-universal coverage of Aadhaar (93% of adults have Aadhaar cards and 25 crore bank accounts linked) would enable the government to do away with its earlier plans of issuing social security smart cards to unorganised workers. This would help save the government an estimated Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 crore on the smart cards’ project, besides cutting down on implementation time.

Tell me more: Unorganised workers, who account for nearly 90% of the total workforce in the country, face problems including inadequate legal protection in terms of job security, wage-related issues and poor access to formal credit.


What is it? The growth of the combined output of eight infrastructure sectors in March 2016 compared with a year-ago period.

Why is it important? This was the fastest growth in 16 months, mainly due to a sharp increase in fertiliser, cement, electricity and refinery products, indicating that the economy may be on the recovery path. However, the higher numbers could be because of the base effect as factory output contracted by 0.7% in March 2015.

Tell me more: Interestingly, Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a composite indicator of India’s manufacturing activity based on a survey, declined to a four-month low – indicating trends in contrast to the factory output numbers.


What is it? The percentage of water left in 11 major dams in Marathwada region covering eight of the 36 districts in Maharashtra, compared to 10% a year ago.

Why is it important? The region is facing its fourth drought year in the last five years. With a month and a half for the monsoons to set in, only three dams have live water storage (water that can be used) while the rest are on dead storage levels (water that cannot be drained out by gravity but needs to be pumped out). Officials say they would manage with the available water.

Tell me more: Reduction in crop production by 70% over the last one year is not helping the situation. 370 farmers have reportedly committed suicide in the region in the last four months.


What is it? The number of earth-like planets an international team of scientists have discovered.

Why is it important? This is the best possible chance to find traces of life outside the solar system, scientists say, taking research one step further in finding potentially habitable planets. All the three planets may have regions with temperatures apt for sustaining liquid water and life, and the availability of technology and proximity of these planets makes the research all the more promising.

Tell me more: The three planets, which orbit a small star, are 39 light years away.

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