Less cashless?

449

What is it? The number of times Pakistan violated ceasefire across the Line of Control in 2016, according to India’s Home Ministry.

Why is it important? It’s up from 405 violations in 2015, indicating that on average Pakistan has been violating ceasefire at least once everyday in the last two years. Last week, Pakistani forces crossed the LoC in Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir to kill two Indian soldiers and mutilate their bodies.

Tell me more: 236 security personnel were killed between 2012 and 2016, 23 of them in the last two years, according to a response by Home Ministry to a Right to information query.

 

4%

What is it? The target inflation rate – within a tolerated band of 2-6% – for Reserve Bank of India, according to RBI Act.

Why is it important? RBI governor Urjit Patel is reportedly taking a hawkish stand and keep the inflation below 4%, rather than be flexible with the band. It’s in conflict with the expectations of market players, who believe targeting a rate within the band (closer to 6% rather than 4%) could help push growth.

Tell me more: Retail inflation stood at 3.81% in March, but water shortages in many parts of the country could push inflation rate higher in the coming months.

 

Rs 2259 billion

What is it? The amount of cash withdrawn from ATMs in March.

Why is it important? This is marginally higher than the cash withdrawn in March last year, and raises questions about one of the stated goals of demonetisation – reduce India’s reliance on cash – announced in November last year. However, some part of cash withdrawals could be because of the pent-up demand (the limits on cash withdrawals were removed only on March 13th), and not be an indicator of a long term trend.

Tell me more: Demonetisation, which sucked out 86% of cash in circulation, has impacted GDP growth adversely, especially informal sector which is more dependent on cash.

 

66%

What is it? The percentage of votes won by Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential elections

Why is it important? The French elections were keenly watched from across the world because it is seen as a bigger ideological fight between the far right and centrists. Brexit (the referendum that voted for UK to leave European Union) and election of Donald Trump were seen as a victory for the far-right, raising concerns that the world is getting too nationalistic. However, with the electoral loss of the far-right right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, the fears appear to be abating.

Tell me more: At 39, Macron is the youngest ever French president. An ex-banker, he is pro-business and pro-European Union, and his victory has strengthened Euro against the dollar.

 

2 hours 25 seconds

What is it? The time Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge took to complete Breaking2 marathon at the Monza Formula One racetrack in Italy on Saturday.

Why is it important? Kipchoge was aiming for a two-hour marathon, which in the running world, occupies the same place that four minute mile did once upon a time. (It was broken by Roger Bannister on May 6, 1954.) While Kipchoge failed to make it by just 26 seconds, he still set a new standard for marathon, running faster than the present record holder Dennis Kimetto who ran 26.2 miles in2:02:57.

Tell me more: However, the attempt, sponsored by shoemaker Nike, will not go down as official world record because of the use of pacers and mopeds to give drinks to runners. Kipchoge and his fellow runners ran in Nike’s new, controversial Vaporfly Elite shoes.

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News in Numbers, Feb 23, 2017: Earth’s distant cousins 🌏

235

What is it? Total number of cases the Income Tax (IT) department registered till mid-February, since the Benami Transactions Act was enforced in November, 2016.

Why is it important? The IT department has picked up pace in booking people with unaccounted-for assets since the act’s enforcement. From 42 cases on January 31, cases registered in the following 15 days (193) jumped nearly five times. Section 24 of the acthas been invoked and as many as 124 cases have seen assets worth more than Rs 55 crore attached provisionally.

Tell me more: A total of 140 cases with questionable assets of Rs 200 crore have received show cause notices. The act applicable to both movable and immovable property allows the IT department to initiate criminal proceedings against those found depositing unaccounted old currency in someone else’s account, for example.

 

100%

What is it? The cut in salary of Snapdeal’s co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, announced by Bahl on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The founders were not only the highest paid among senior executives in all the nine unicorns from India but were also the seventh-highest paid in the country in the 2015 fiscal. But the austerity might have come a bit late for Snapdeal, as 600 layoffs loom large in a simultaneous news.

Tell me more: Valued at $6.5 billion, Bansal admitted to mistakes down the road and said a major rejig will follow to gain profitability. In FY16, it had run up losses worth $14.93 million.

 

~45%

What is it? The estimated percentage of Indians who illegally immigrated to the US and would now be subject to enforcement of stringent deportation guidelines, issued this week.

Why is it important? Indians are among the highest legal as well illegal immigrants (with 500,000 unauthorised immigrants in 2014) in the US. With a new enforcement memo from US’ Department of Homeland Security to find, arrest and deport any illegal immigrant, irrespective of a criminal record, will turn up the heat on 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Tell me more: The memo asks for more jails to be built to detain immigrants. This would be to replace the practice of releasing undocumented immigrants with an order to re-appear for court hearings.

 

7

What is it? The number of Earth-sized planets discovered by astronomers near solar system.

Why is it important? One or more of them may be warm enough to have water on its surface, increasing the possibility of finding life outside solar system. The planets revolve around Trappist-1 a dwarf star, 40 light years away.

Tell me more: The planets around Trappist-1 were discovered by NASA and its partners around the world. The star is smaller (it’s as big as a golf ball, if the Sun is as big as a basketball), its planets are closer, and revolve around it faster. Its nearest planet takes 1.5 days to revolve around it, and the farthest, 20 days.

 

6.6%

What is it? The projected GDP growth rate of India in 2016-17, according to International Monetary Fund.

Why is it important? It is 1 percentage point lower than 7.6% growth India saw in 2015-16, and higher than some estimates by observers who saw demonetisation impacting the economy more severely. Ambit Capital, for example, expected it to slow down to 5.8%.

Tell me more: The Washington DC-based international body sees GDP growth rate picking up to over 8% in the next few years, post adoption of Goods and Services Tax. In 2017-18, it expects India’s GDP to grow by 7.2% driven by private consumption.

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News in Numbers, Feb 09, 2017: Indian Unicorns: Softbank sends a message

$475 million

What is it? The amount written off by Softbank in value of its shareholding in Snapdeal and Ola, two Indian unicorns in e-commerce and cab hailing industries respectively.

Why is it important? It’s a sign that investors are adjusting their expectations from home grown tech startups, given the competition from global players such as Amazon and Uber. Besides, as the customer acquisition costs continue to go up, startups and investors are rethinking about the size of addressable market for business models that are imported from abroad.

Tell me more: Softbank, especially under former Softbank president Nikesh Arora, was one of the most active players in Indian startup space a few years ago, and led an investment of $210 million in Ola and $627 million in Snapdeal in 2014.

 

6.25%

What is it? The repo rate, or the key policy rate for banks, which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) held for the second time in a row in its bi-monthly policy reviews.

Why is it important? Amidst popular expectation of a rate cut now that banks are flush with liquidity following nationwide deposits, the RBI left it untouched. It indicates the central bank wants to take its time to assess the impact of demonetisation on macroeconomics. Be it inflation or wages, it is now being said RBI will take a call after April.

Tell me more: RBI reiterated its commitment to bring down headline inflation to 4%, and noted Q4 FY17 it will remain below 5%. It alsorevised its GDP growth forecast from 7.1% to 6.9% in FY17.

 

140

What is it? The cases of rape registered with the Delhi police in January, 2017.

Why is it important? Crime against women continue unabated in the capital, despite concrete measures by the Delhi police, including sensitising the force, help desks at police stations and increased patrolling. While 14% of rape complaints remained unsolved in 2016, it was 30% in January.

Tell me more: There were 238 cases of molestation and 51 eve-teasing cases registered in January.

 

500,000

What is it? The proposed annual number legal immigrants allowed into the US, cutting the present quota by half in the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act).

Why is it important? The latest proposal adds another angle to the immigration debate taking the US by storm after Donald Trump’s election. It seeks to limit entry of foreigners without a skills-based visa by cutting the number of green card or legal permanent residency issued annually.

Tell me more: The bill also seeks to cap the refugee programme to 50,000 a year, coming in the wake of a year (fiscal ended September, 2016) that allowed 84,995 refugees in, the highest under the Obama administration.

 

$ 1 trillion

What is it? Reduction in China’s foreign exchange reserves in the last three years.

Why is it important? At $2.998 trillion, the reserves are the lowest in nearly six years. While nearly $3 trillion is not small by any measure, it comes when China’s economic growth is moderating. Some analysts believe that it could lead China to devalue its currency, if the trend persists.

Tell me more: Chinese government is concerned about the outflow of capital and has tightened rules on forex purchases and cross-border renminbi remittance in the recent past.

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India’s latest GDP Numbers: Five things you must know

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Growth has slowed down: Asia’s third largest economy grew at 7.1% in quarter ended June 2016. This is the slowest in five quarters, and much lower compared to 7.9% recorded in the preceding three months.

Manufacturing picks up, but corporate investment still down: Manufacturing registered 9.1% growth in first quarter of current fiscal, as compared to 7.3% in same quarter last year. So this alone contributed one-fifth of India’s GDP growth.
However, corporate investment dipped by 3% (or by Rs 21,009 crore as measured in 2011-12 prices).
What does this say? Demand might have picked up resulting in higher manufacturing output. But not enough for the companies to see the invest in additional capacity.
When Indian economy was growing at 9% plus for five years in 2000-10, investment demand accounted for nearly half of the growth.

Government spending spurts: Nearly a fifth of GDP growth in latest quarter is due to government spending. This is clearly not sustainable as it would lead to widening fiscal deficit. Higher fiscal deficit will increase cost of borrowing for all others in the economy.

Exports finally showing growth: After many quarters of decline, exports reported a 3% increase. This is a positive as many export oriented industries are manpower-intensive sectors. This will create more jobs.

Mining, hotel, construction industries have slowed down

 

The positives: stable private consumption, growth in exports, pick up in manufacturing output.

The negatives: higher government spending not sustainable, key industries like mining and construction still sluggish, and corporate investment yet to pick up.

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