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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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Realty starved of pvt equity

5%

What is it? The rate of growth of core sectors in March, 2017, which contribute 37.9% to the Index of Industrial Production.

Why is it important? This is faster growth than seen in February, at 1% year-on-year. Output of steel, coal, and natural gas prices spurred the increase.

Tell me more: However, the growth was slower than last year’s March, when the eight core sectors together grew at 9.3%.

 

10,000

What is it? The number of local hires by Infosys in the US over the next two years.

Why is it important? This is part of its plans to work around the visa restrictions the US is levying after the new administration came into power. North America (includes Canada) accounts for over 60% of Infosys’ revenues. It joins Wipro in having announced plans for local hires in the US.

Tell me more: Infosys will also set up four technology and innovation hubs in the US. The first hub will be operational from 2021.

 

Rs 3,326 crore

What is it? The private equity investment in residential realty projects in the first quarter of 2017

Why is it important? It is a 42% decline from the previous quarter of Oct-Dec, 2016, at Rs 5,725 crore. PE investors stayed away as sales were slow and new launches were far and in between. Sales had slowed down as buyers waited for the imminent launch of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2017. The act also calls for stricter measures against builders who do not complete projects or divert buyer’s money to other projects. Cushman & Wakefield who published the PE numbers, says builders were also seeking less funds to focus on completing existing projects.

Tell me more: Lower security of new investments in builders who were over-leveraged also made PE investors stay away.

 

Rs 235 crore

What is it? Cost of South Asia satellite to be launched on Friday.

Why is it important? Indian Space Research Organisation’s communication satellite is billed as India’s gift to neighbours, including Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan. It would help in access to education, healthcare and disaster relief infrastructure.

Tell me more: The 2230 kg satellite will be launched by ISRO’s GSLV Mk-3 from Sriharikota on May 5th.

 

20

What is it? The number of robots being deployed by Credit Suisse within the bank.

Why is it important? Robots, usually associated with with large factories, are making inroads into services sector, raising fears about job losses among some sections, even as banks look to automation to maintain growth and profits. These robots will help Credit Suisse employees with regulations and compliance queries, much like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa (except that Siri and Alexa are generalist).

Tell me more: It’s not clear if these robots are hardware or only software. “Non-industrial robot revenues are likely to grow 10-fold within [next five years], and with the development of AI, Big Data Analytics and the Internet of Things we will start to perceive robots not only in hardware, but also in software terms,” an article published in Credit Suisse site last year said.

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News in Numbers, Mar 13, 2017: Overruns ⚠

287

What is it? Number of infrastructure projects worth Rs 150 crore and above which saw a cost overrun of Rs 1.66 lakh-crore, out of a total 1,186 projects.

Why is it important? Over 24% of December, 2016’s high-value infrastructure projects suffered from cost overruns. Delays and cost overruns in infrastructure projects are often a source of budget crises for state and Union governments. They also erode the benefits initially expected from such projects. The projects with cost overrun will now be 11.39% costlier than originally estimated at Rs 14.6 lakh-crore.

Tell me more: Around 326 projects got delayed for various reasons, including land acquisition, funds constraints.

 

4:1

What is it? The tally of state election wins of BJP vs Congress.

Why is it important? After decisive victories in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, BJP since Sunday has staked claims to two other states —Manipur and Goa — which had no clear victors. The party rallied regional parties to support it and gathered the required numbers to form governments in these two states.

Tell me more: In Manipur, BJP presented a list of 32 MLAs (BJP won just 21), a lead of two, and in Goa, it has shown support of eight more MLAs besides the 13 seats it won.

 

15%

What is it? The share of social bots of active Twitter accounts.

Why is it important? While Twitter comes under regular fire for being happy hunting grounds for trolls, research estimates at least 48 million accounts on the social network platform are bots. These automatic programmes/robots interacting with others on Twitter can have malicious applications too. It beats Twitter’s own estimates of 8.5% bot accounts.

Tell me more: Two US universities who conducted the research say 15% is a conservative estimate of Twitter’s total 319 million active monthly users. These can fake support for political/terrorist propaganda and even help in terrorist recruitment.

 

350

What is it? The number of archeological remains unearthed by researchers in Madhya Pradesh

Why is it important? They are claimed be 50,000 years old, and could potentially offer clues about the ancient history of human beings and other members of animal kingdom. In 2009, pieces of 42,000 year old ostrich eggs were discovered in the same site.

Tell me more: A team of researchers have been working on the excavation since the second week of February in Narmada valley at Mehtakhedi village of Khargone district.

 

57%

What is it? The percentage of respondents of a survey who thought service charge was levied by the government.

Why is it important? It’s in fact levied by commercial establishments, and earlier this  year the government said that customers can opt not to pay for service charges in hotels and restaurants. Responses to other questions asked in the survey also indicated a lack of awareness about charges in bill, and underlined the low standards of consumer rights in India.

Tell me more: The survey was a part of a research paper, ‘Critique of service charges in hotels and restaurants’, by students of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore.

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