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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.

 

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News in Numbers, May 13, 2016: Maggi yet to regain lost glory, five-year plans to end…

Rs 259 crore

What is it? Nestle India’s net profit in the three months ended March 2016, down 19.6% from Rs 320 crore in the same period a year ago.

Why is it important? The firm has attributed the slide to the ban of its popular snack Maggi noodles last month for nearly six months, pointing to the fact that it is yet to recover the lost market share last year. The snack, which accounted for nearly a third of its total sales in 2014, commanded an 80.2% of market share in instant noodles segment in the first quarter of 2015, which is now at 50%.

Tell me more: The company’s net sales declined by 8.4% to Rs 2,296 crore in the first quarter of 2016. Popular yoga guru Baba Ramdev has said that Patanjali noodles would overtake Maggi as the top noodles brand and that their production of ‘atta’ (wheat) noodles would be increased from the current 100 tonnes to 300-500 tonnes, without specifying a time frame.

 

Rs 13 lakh crore

What is it? The estimated stressed assets, a fifth of total bank loans, in the Indian banking system, according to a director at India Ratings and Research, Fitch’s Indian affiliate.

Why is it important? If true, then this indicates that the situation is worse than acknowledged by the bankers – at the end of December, the total stressed assets was over Rs 8 lakh crore. This is likely to hurt the banks’ profitability even further and restrict credit growth, which could affect economic growth – again leading to defaults and slowdown in production.

Tell me more: This would make it difficult for banks, especially the public sector ones, to raise capital, putting additional burden on government finances. The central bank has directed the banks to clean up their balance sheets by March 2017. Stressed assets include bad loans, restructured assets and written-off assets.

 

4

What is it? The number of Indian cities among the top 10 most polluted in the world, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

Why is it important? Though this number has come down from six to four and also, Delhi has been pushed to the 11th spot from the top, smaller cities such as Gwalior (second), Allahabad (third) and Raipur (seventh) have recorded higher air pollution levels. Some measures taken in the recent times such as not allowing pre-2000 trucks into the city have helped reduce pollution levels in Delhi. This calls for a concerted national plan to reduce pollution levels across cities.

Tell me more: According to a research, 5.5 million die prematurely due to the effects of air pollution globally and India accounts for a fourth of such deaths.

 

15

What is it? The number of years for which India’s vision documents would be reportedly prepared, replacing the current 5-year plans.

Why is it important? This would have a bearing on the way policies are framed and implemented, hopefully leading to a long-term focus on issues. According to unnamed officials, the 15-year vision documents would also deal with internal security, defence and external security – in addition to social and economic issues, which the five-year plans largely focus on.

Tell me more: The new plans include a seven-year National Development Agenda, which would outline the schemes, strategies and programmes to achieve the 15-year-vision. The seven-year agenda would be reviewed every three years to ensure it is aligned with financial resources. The current 12th year plan ends by March 2017 and the 15-year vision plans would be implemented from 2017-18.

 

34%

What is it? The stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corp that Nissan Motor Company has agreed to buy for $2.2 billion.

Why is it important? This makes Nissan the scandal-hit company’s single-largest shareholder with Mitsubishi group companies’ stake coming down to 22.4% from 34% earlier. This deal assuages Mitsubishi’s viability concerns, which augurs better for the 7,777 companies and 410,000 people it deals with (estimates by Teikoku Databank, a corporate credit research firm).

Tell me more: A few days ago, Mitsubishi admitted to having tampered with the fuel economy data of cars sold in Japan for the last 25 years, including some sold to Nissan.

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News in numbers, Apr 20, 2016: Maggi noodles’ comeback, cash still preferred payment mode…

51%

What is it? The market share Maggi noodles has in the Rs 2,000-crore noodles market, according to Nestle India quoting Nielsen.

Why is it important? The popular snack, which was relaunched in November after a five-month ban, is yet to gain the commanding position it had before the ban – an 80.2% market share in the January-March quarter of 2015. The ban came after the food regulator found excess lead in its sample packets, which caused its net profit to shrink by over half to Rs 532 crore in the calendar year of 2015.

Tell me more: With two variants in the market, Nestle India would soon relaunch two more: atta and oats noodles. Before the ban, the market of instant noodles was estimated to be Rs 3,800 crore.

 

10%

What is it? The percentage of stake Housing Development Finance Corp. (HDFC) has agreed to sell in its insurance unit, HDFC Standard Life, to the public.

Why is it important? This will make the company the first life insurer in India to go for an initial public offering (IPO) and could set a precedent for other insurers.

Tell me more: The divestment plan is likely to roll out in the second half of 2015. HDFC Standard Life, a joint venture between HDFC and UK-based financial services provider Standard Life, recently saw the latter increasing its stake in the company by 9% to 35% for Rs 1,705 crore. This valued the company at Rs 18,951.4 crore.

 

6.7

What is it? The number of card transactions per person per year in India.

Why is it important? This is among the lowest in the world, reflecting the fact that cash is still the most preferred mode of payment in the country. The number compares poorly with other major economies: Australia (249.3), Canada (247.9), Korea (260.8), United Kingdom (201.7), Brazil (54.8) and China (14.4).

Tell me more: Another data point that highlights this is: usage of debit cards at ATMs account for 88% of volume and around 94% of the total value of debit card transactions while the corresponding figures for point of sale terminals are 12% and 6% respectively.

 

33 crore

What is it? The number of people affected by drought in 10 states in India, according to the Indian government.

Why is it important? The country is staring at one of the worst water crises in the recent past, with over a quarter of India’s population facing water shortage and agricultural distress. The government said it would launch large-scale water conservation and storage measures under MGNREGA, the rural employment scheme. The weather department’s forecast of an above normal rainfall this year is likely to bring some respite.

Tell me more: Uttar Pradesh is the worst-affected state accounting for nearly a third of the drought-affected people. The Indian government has disbursed Rs 19,551 crore this month under the rural employment guarantee scheme, which is half of the government’s annual budgetary allocation.

 

7,500

What is it? The number of small cases relating to service tax and customs – involving amounts less than Rs 15 lakh – that are being withdrawn by tax authorities from tribunals and High Courts.

Why is it important? This is likely to reduce the burden of pending cases on tribunals and courts. This move is also aimed at making the tax regime non-adversarial and to focus on cases based on merit alone and not on meeting collection targets.

Tell me more: Last December, the Finance Ministry had increased the threshold limit for filing appeals before the Customs Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunal and High Courts to Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh respectively.

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News in numbers, Dec 15, 2015: November inflation numbers, iPhone sales estimates…

 

5.41%

 

What is it? Increase in consumer price index (or growth retail inflation) in November.

 

Why is it important? This is the highest in 14 months. The increase is mainly due rise in food prices, especially that of pulses, which rose 46.1% in November on a year-on-year basis. High inflation rates suggest the effects of deficient monsoon in two consecutive years have begun to show on the rural economy. This also shows the challenge the Reserve Bank of India in containing retail inflation under 6% in January 2016.

 

Tell me more: Overall wholesale prices fell by 1.99% in November, the 13th consecutive monthly fall and the highest since January. Wholesale food prices increased 5.20% in November compared to 2.44% rise in October.

 

130

 

What is it? India’s rank among 188 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014 according to the Human Development Report 2015 released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The HDI looks at three factors – longevity, education and income.

 

Why is it important? It has shown a slight improvement from last year – up by one spot. India’s HDI has marginally gone up from 0.604 in 2013 to 0.609 in 2014. This puts India in the “medium human development” category where its HDI is lower than the average HDI of countries (0.630) in this section. India’s poor ranking in the human development index is mainly due to high inequality and low education levels. The index is widely followed, even it’s considered to be a “somewhat crude measure” of human development.

 

Tell me more: India ranks the lowest among BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Norway, Australia and Switzerland rank the top three in the HDI, falling under the “Very High Human Development” category along with 46 other countries.

 

6%

 

What is it? Estimated drop in iPhone unit sales in 2015-16, according to Morgan Stanley.

 

Why is it important? If the estimates turn out to be right, it could well be that the sales of the most successful tech product in the recent years has peaked. Apple earns most of its revenue from iPhones and in the three months ending September this year, iPhone sales accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s revenue.

 

Tell me more: Other analysts such as JP Morgan Chase & Co, Drexel Hamilton and Credit Suisse have similar predictions for Apple. For instance, JP Morgan Chase has lowered its Iphone sales’ prediction for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 – it says sales of iPhone units are likely to come down to 75-77 million, down from an earlier prediction of 75-80 million units.

 

€25.3 million (around Rs.186.7 crore)

 

What is it? The amount Mahindra and Mahindra and affiliate Tech Mahindra would pay to purchase 76.06% stake in Italian car designer Pininfarina SpA, through a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

 

Why is it important? Shows Indian companies’ drive to expand their design capabilities – and their global footprint. Pininfarina has designed cars for Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and Cadillac. Mahindra group had acquired controlling stakes in South Korea-based Ssangyong in 2011 and PSA Peugeot Citroen’s motorcycle unit this year. As for Pininfarina, it has been unprofitable for the last decade and struggling with high debt levels.

 

Tell me more: The SPV would make an open offer to public shareholders of Pininfarina for the balance 23.94% stake. Mahindra and Tech Mahindra would fund the acquisition in the ratio of 40% and 60% respectively.

 

10%

What is it? The data point that Maggi noodles removed from its masala noodles package. Prior to the ban, the package cited this number as percentage of recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein that a 70g packet of Maggi noodles had.

Why is it important? Could be seen as an indicator that food regulators are getting increasingly strict about labelling. Or it could be just that Nestle India, which makes Maggi noodles, is trying to be more cautious after the ban. Maggi noodles was banned for a few weeks due to higher than permissible lead content. It’s woes are far from over as the Supreme Court recently issued a notice to the company after the food regulator appealed against the lifting of ban on Maggi Noodles.

Tell me more: The pack now also doesn’t have the following: “Maggi masala noodles is a source of protein and calcium: essential nutrients for you at all stages of life”. And, this has been replaced with “Consume along with fruit and milk”.

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