Facebook’s “Big Mistake”


What is it? The number of US products that China has levied additional tariffs on, though it has not announced the effective start date yet.

Why is it important? China took less than 11 hours to hit back at the United States, which proposed 25% tariffs on about 1,300 Chinese products, whose imports to the US are in the region of $50 billion. This has heightened fears of a global trade war, and rattled investors and fueled market fears.

Tell me more: Washington has targeted products that benefit from China’s industrial policy, while Beijing’s list picks out signature US exports such as soybeans, frozen beef, cotton and other agricultural products grown in states that voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 elections.


87 million

What is it? The number of Facebook users whose personal information might have been improperly shared by the social media giant with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Why is it important? The new number was disclosed by Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer in a blog post yesterday, and is an increase over the 50 million number that has been cited in news reports so far. Of this, 70 million were Americans and 0.6 million were Indians. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg will testify before a US Parliamentary panel on April 11.

Tell me more: As of December 2017, Facebook had 1.4 billion daily active users, a number that increased 14% in 2017.



What is it? The number of startups reportedly funded under the Startup India initiative, of the 6,981 startups recognised by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) as on February 6, 2018.

Why is it important? A Parliamentary committee report has expressed grave concerns about the gap between the number of startups recognised by the DIPP and those that have received funding and tax exemptions. Only 82 entities have been certified for claiming tax exemptions under the Income Tax Act, 1961. With such progress, it seems like a steep climb for the DIPP to achieve its target of facilitating and supporting 1,000 startups by March 2019.

Tell me more: According to a recent poll by community-based social networking platform LocalCircles, 80% of respondents said they have not benefited from the government’s Startup India plan.



What is it? The share of American Depository Receipts (ADRs) in ICICI Bank’s shares.

Why is it important? The bank and its top management are at the risk of facing a class action lawsuit in the United States by holders of the lenders’ ADRs, according to a note by brokerage firm Jefferies. ICICI Bank’s chief Chanda Kochhar is facing the heat for her alleged involvement in the financial dealings between the bank, Videocon Group and her husband Deepak Kochhar’s firms.

Tell me more: The bank has refused to hire external agencies to conduct an independent investigation into the nepotism allegations against Kochhar.


19 minutes

What is it? The number of minutes in a passage of play in which English football club Liverpool slammed three goals past Manchester City in the first leg of their quarter-final match in the Champions League.

Why is it important? The burst helped Liverpool win 3-0 and put them in the driver’s seat for the return leg in Manchester in a week’s time. All season long, teams have struggled to match up to Manchester City in the English Premier League, with the result that the club holds a 16 point lead with seven games left, and is poised to break the 100-point mark.

Tell me more: City’s only loss in the EPL this year at the hands of Liverpool in January, in the same ground where they lost yesterday.


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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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Cleaning Up Political Funding or not?

Government is floating interest-free bonds that can be encashed by political parties, in an effort to make transparent the hose of political funding. The move, although, is laudable, but this government has been called out in the past for accepting money from unknown sources. What remains to be seen is, will it walk the talk in the general elections coming up next year.



What is it? The number of days for which electoral bonds, the terms for which were announced by the government on Tuesday, will be open for purchase in January, April, July and October. It will be a 30-day window in the year of general elections.

Why is it important? These bonds, which are interest-free banking instruments such as promissory notes, can be encashed by political parties at select branches of the State Bank of India. The government’s stated objective of introducing these bonds is to make political funding transparent, but they have been critiqued for doing the exact opposite by enabling anonymous donations. According to a report by Association for Democratic Reforms, 30.7% of total income of all Indian political parties for 2015-16 came from unknown sources.

Tell me more: Only those political parties that received at least 1% of votes polled in the last general election or assembly election will be eligible to receive donations through electoral bonds. The bonds would be valid for 15 days, though they will not carry the donor’s name. However, donors would have to comply with the bank’s KYC (know your customer) norms.



What is it? The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a measure of manufacturing activity, in December, an increase from 52.6 in November.

Why is it important? A value above 50 in the index indicates expansion, a value below 50 contraction. The December 2017 index reading shows the country’s factory activity expanded at the fastest pace in five years, driven by an increase in output and new orders, which saw their sharpest increases since December 2012 and October 2016, respectively. The December reading is also slightly higher than the average of 54 recorded since the start of the survey in March 2005. Job creation rose at the fastest pace since August 2012.

Tell me more: Firms increased prices at the quickest pace in 10 months in line with rising input costs, which suggests that inflation could be higher than the central bank’s medium-term target of 4%.



What is it? The number of milk samples that will be taken at random across India with immediate effect, according to directions issued by Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, to chief secretaries and food commissioners of all states and union territories.

Why is it important? This drive is to detect adulteration in milk, particularly that of edible oil, sucrose and detergents. States have been asked to install equipment at the village level to detect milk adulteration, for which the Centre has allocated Rs 100 crore. Last year, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India said that samples of unbranded milk taken as part of a national survey revealed that a fifth of them were adulterated.

Tell me more: In May 2017, the government had said that a new scanner had been developed that can detect adulteration in milk in 40 seconds. The scanner was said to cost Rs 10,000 and have a per test cost of 5-10 paise.


$268 billion

What is it? Apple’s cash reserves (cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities), as of September 2017.

Why is it important? An analyst report released by Citi this week said there was, now, a 40% chance of Apple buying Netflix, the American entertainment company. The news trigger for the report was the Donald Trump administration announcing sharp cuts in corporate tax rates and untaxed profits of American companies that are stored abroad and repatriated. Most of Apple’s cash reserves are parked overseas, and the report reckons the lower tax rates could entice the company to bring some of it back into the US and use it for impactful acquisitions.

Tell me more: While Apple has cracked online music, it has struggled to crack TV and films, and Netflix can help it do that. Netflix’s subscribers have grown from 23 million in 2011 to 109 million in 2017, and it had a market capitalisation of $87 billion.


130 million pounds

What is it? The amount that English club Liverpool are reportedly seeking from Spanish club Barcelona to sell their prized midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

Why is it important? With the January transfer window opening in European club football, the movement around Coutinho is once again a big story. Liverpool rejected three bids from Barcelona over the summer of 2017, the third worth up to 119 million pounds, saying the Brazilian wasn’t for sale. But since then, Liverpool’s stand has softened. Last weekend, Nike, Barcelona’s kit sponsor, posted online a club shirt with Coutinho’s name on the back, before pulling it down, adding fuel to the transfer fire.

Tell me more: A transfer value of 130 million pounds would be the second-highest ever. The highest-ever is Coutinho’s fellow Brazilian Neymar’s move for 222 million Euros from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017.


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