When the Earth isn’t enough 🌏


What is it? The number of H-1B visa applications filed by employers between October 2016 and June 2017.

Why is it important? The number of applications has not declined despite US President Donald Trump pledging to crackdown on misuse of H-1B visas, a temporary work permit. At this rate, the full year applications will exceed that of 2016 number of 399,349. However, approvals for current fiscal is sharply lower at 59% as compared to 87% in 2016. This could be because large number of petitions in current year are still pending decisions.

Tell me more: 74% of applications are filed for candidates born in India.



What is it? Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in July, a composite indicator of India’s manufacturing activity based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company.

Why is it important? This is the lowest since February 2009, the days of the global financial crisis. It slipped below the 50-point mark separating expansion from contraction for the first time this year. Uncertainty and information gaps around goods and services tax that was introduced on July 1st seems to have negatively impacted purchasing decisions.

Tell me more: New orders fell for the first time in the year-to-date and at the fastest pace since early 2009.



What is it? The number of months in which this year’s Earth Overshoot Day has arrived (August 2) this year, according to environmental groups WWF and Global Footprint Network.

Why is it important? Earth Overshoot Day is the date in which the annual demand of humanity on nature exceeds what the planet can regenerate over the year and it is the earliest so far. In other words, humanity is using up planetary resources such as soil, water and air at a faster pace than ever and will live on “credit” for the rest of the year; currently, we are using the resources of 1.7 Earths.

Tell me more: We would be able to return to living within the means of one Earth before 2050 if we moved the Earth Overshoot Day back by 4.5 days every year. Some of the ways in which individuals can help stop and later, reverse the trend is by burning less fuel, cut back on food waste and eating less meat.



What is it? The percentage increase in car sales for Maruti Suzuki, which has more than 50% market share, in July this year.

Why is it important? Car sales has picked up after introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) from July 1st, after contracting by 11% in June. Other car makers, except Hyundai Motor, reported double-digit increase in sales growth.

Tell me more: Shipping of cars from factory gate to dealers is counted as a sale, so the increase could be because of manufacturers pushing the stock to dealers than end-customer demand.



What is it? The increase in the net worth of Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, in one year.

Why is it important? With a total net worth of $35.2 billion, he has raced ahead of Hong Kong-based Li Ka-Shing to become the second richest Asian after Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma. Globally, Ambani went up to the 19th position, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. This has been possible partly due to investors rallying behind Reliance Jio that has disrupted the telecom space in the last few months.

Tell me more: A report by Oxfam, which works to eliminate poverty, said India’s 57 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom 70% of the population, pointing to rising income and wealth inequality in the Asia’s third largest economy.

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News in Numbers, Oct 28, 2016: Powerful yet weakening…


What is it? The decline in global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles between 1970 and 2012, according to a report by the WWF and the Zoological Society of London.

Why is it important? If the trend continues, global wildlife population could see a potential decline could reach two-thirds by 2020. And, the top threats to species are linked to human activities, which include habitat loss, degradation and overexploitation of wildlife. Biodiversity is the foundation of healthy forests, rivers and oceans and with a decline in wildlife, this is likely to result in ecosystems collapsing – this includes clean water, air, food and climate services.

Tell me more: In India, about 41% of mammals, 46% of reptiles, 57% of amphibians, 7% of birds and 70% of freshwater fish are threatened with extinction while four of the 386 species of mammals analysed are already extinct.



What is it? The number of individuals and entities in India charged by the US Justice Department for their alleged involvement in a scam where at least five Indian call centres based in Ahmedabad are suspected to be involved.

Why is it important? In this massive scam, which has been in operation since 2013, 15,000 people have been cheated of more than $250 million. Callers from India posed as Internal Revenue Service and Department of Homeland Security officials and asked victims in the US to pay up to clear up tax dues or debt and threatened them with imprisonment, arrest, deportation or fines if they failed to do so. Their co-conspirators would then collect the funds from the victims, launder and transfer them to India.

Tell me more: The three-year-investigation by the US authorities is reportedly the largest law enforcement action ever against a telephone scam. US would be seeking extradition of those based in India.


$3.1 billion

What is it? The total value of private equity exits in the quarter ended September, up 29% from a year-ago period, according to a report.

Why is it important? Indicates the attractiveness of India as an investment destination. However, in the last quarter, deal value of private equity and venture capital investments declined by 45% to $8.2 billion on a year-on-year basis while deal volume fell by 24% to 287 transactions. Private equity firms preferred to exit through public market sales and strategic sales.

Tell me more: Sectors including telecom, information technology and healthcare witnessed an increase in strategic sales that drove the increase in number of PE exits in the quarter, according to the report by consulting firm Bain and Co.



What is it? The stake held by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SPG) in Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata group of companies.

Why is it important? The Tata family trusts are reportedly reaching out to sovereign wealth funds and other long-term investors to buy out the stake held by the SPG in the Tata group’s holding company if it became available for purchase. This is the result of a fallout between the Tatas and Cyrus Mistry (son of Pallonji Mistry, chairman of SPG) when the latter was ousted at a board meeting of Tata Sons on Monday. The spat turned uglier after Mistry listed a number of allegations against the group, which hinted at possible breach of corporate governance norms. The Tata group has hit back at Mistry saying his allegations are malicious and his claims unsubstantiated.

Tell me more: Meanwhile, a committee has been constituted to look for the next chairman and reportedly, the shortlisted candidates are N Chandrasekaran (CEO of Tata Consultancy Services), Ralf Speth (chief of Jaguar Land Rover) and Noel Tata (chairman of Trent Ltd who is also a member of the founding family and Mistry’s brother-in-law).



What is it? The approximate number of employees Twitter will layoff, representing about 9% of its staff strength.

Why is it important? The social networking firm had laid off a similar number of employees (up to 336) last year, which was about 8.2% of its workforce. This is part of its efforts to cut costs (and post profits in 2017) even as its recent attempts at selling the company failed. The firm expects to book $10-20 million in workforce restructuring charges. Having struggled to keep pace with the likes of Facebook and Snapchat, Twitter also announced it would shut down Vine video app, which it acquired for $30 million in 2012.

Tell me more: Twitter’s revenue rose 8.2% to $616 million while its user base increased by 3% to 317 million average monthly users during its fiscal 2016 third quarter ended September 30.


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News in numbers, Oct 7, 2015: Proposed hike in Delhi MLA salary, deposit vs lending rate cuts

7,500 km

What it is: The length of highways at risk of remaining incomplete or being abandoned due to losses, according to ratings firm Crisil. It pertains to build-operate-transfer (BOT) highway projects awarded to private developers between 2009-10 and 2011-12.  

Why is it important: This highlights the issues that plague the sector: land acquisition issues, weak financial health of the sponsors, aggressive bidding and lower toll revenue growth. Infrastructure woes would only make it more difficult as India tries revive its economy. This also puts an additional stress on banks that have significant exposure to the road sector. Remember, banks are already struggling with rising bad loans.

Tell me more: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has awarded 210 BOT projects covering 20,000 km, of which 38 projects covering nearly a fourth of the total length have been terminated. Only 80 projects spanning over 6,050 km are currently operational. Between April 1 and July 31 this year, the NHAI has awarded BOT projects spanning 873 km and EPC (engineering, procurement construction) projects covering 627 km.



What it is: The number of times the salaries of Delhi legislators is to go up, according to an independent committee set up by the Delhi Assembly Speaker. In absolute terms it would increase from Rs 82,000 to Rs 3.2 lakh a month.

Why is it important: If the committee’s recommendations are accepted by Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, the state’s MLAs could be counted among the richest in India. Assam’s legislators get paid the highest – Rs 60,000 basic salary a month. It would be interesting to see what Kejriwal does given the party calls itself the “common person’s” party and the moral high ground it takes on various issues.  

Tell me more: The recommendations include: an increase in constituency allowance from Rs 18,000 per month to Rs 50,000, communication allowance from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000, conveyance allowance from Rs 6,000 to Rs 30,000, daily allowance of Rs 1,000-2,000 a day when the assembly is in session, a Rs 70,000 allowance for office assistants and a one-time furnishing office allowance of Rs 1 lakh.


Rs 450 crore

What it is: The amount Infibeam wants to raise to expand its business through an IPO.

Why is it important: The first e-commerce firm to be cleared by the market regulator for public listing in India. Some experts and investors have asked if there is an e-commerce bubble in India? Skyrocketing valuations, the ease with which e-commerce companies have been able to raise money, absence of a proper business model, high cash burn rates and no profitability are worrying. This would be a good test to gauge the broader investor appetite for this sector.

Tell me more: Infibeam, which runs infibeam.com and BuildaBazaar.com, wants to set up a cloud data unit and 75 logistics centres. Unlike its peers such as Flipkart or Snapdeal, Infibeam has not gone on the typical private equity investment route.



What it is: The number of new species discovered by scientists from various organisations in the Eastern Himalayas between 2009 and 2014, according to conservation group WWF.

Why is it important: The volume and variety of species discovered (133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one each of reptile, bird and mammal) highlight the fact that this region is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. The region includes Bhutan, north-east India, Nepal, the far north of Myanmar and southern parts of Tibet.

Tell me more: Some of the striking discoveries include a sneezing monkey during rains because it has an upturned nose and a blue ‘dwarf’ walking snakehead fish, which can survive on land for up to four days breathing atmospheric air. However, due to development and inadequate measures towards the protection of environment, only 25% of the “original habitats remain intact” and hundreds of species living in the region fall under the category of globally-threatened species.


130 bps versus 50 bps

What it is: Deposit rate cuts versus lending rate cuts. The average cut in one -year deposit rates by banks since January 2015 compared to the cut in lending rates, according to India Ratings. This is when the central bank has cut policy rates by a cumulative 125 basis points (bps).

Why is it important: Shows banks give importance to self-interest. Banks can make more money when it reduces deposit rates – and pay less to depositors – without proportionally cutting the lending rates.

Tell me more: India Ratings says from a 10-year study of the policy cycle and the banks, it appears that in most cases when policy rates are reduced, deposit rates have come down quicker than lending rates and the quantum of the former has also been higher.



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