Green Shoots & More

Good morning! Today’s edition surprisingly has a lot of cheer for these times of coronavirus, and dare we say it, a lot of green. Instead of unwrapping all of it right here, we will let you get to it.

MAIN STORIES

Green shoots visible for the Indian economy

Speaking at FICCI frames 2020, Niti Ayog chairman Amitabh Kant sounded cautiously optimistic. While acknowledging gradual revival of the Indian economy, he however had his T&Cs in place. As wisely pointed out by him, there will be a handful of industries like artificial intelligence, data, genomics and mobility which will really take off in light of this pandemic and the new behaviors it puts in place. Mr. Kant urged India to take a step forward in the industries of the future rather than hanker after sunset industries with enough established competition.

Clarifying atma nirbhar: Looks like all the whatsapp jokes and the memes around atma nirbhar got to Mr. Kant. He used the platform to mention how Prime Minister Modi’s strategy announced some time back was not to gift wrap the old-school idea of protectionism and isolation. The idea is to create world-class products, penetrate domestic markets and then use that as a base towards global domination. Sounds straight out of the playbook of Reliance Industries.

Government goes on record about the green shoots: In the latest macro economic report one quote summed up the optimism – “Early green shorts of economic revival have emerged in May and June with real activity indicators like electricity and fuel consumption, inter and intra state movement of goods, retail financial transactions witnessing pick up”. Life may just be crawling back to as we knew it.

Real estate may see limited hit

The Magic Bricks Prop Index Q2 2020 released yesterday, had some vital numbers for the real estate industry. The immediate hit in April on the property prices in the Top 8 cities was quite palpable at 2-9% but over the full quarter, the price decline was pretty range-bound at 1-5%. Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru which had a growth spurt hit the ground much harder while Delhi and Mumbai had a more cushioned fall.       

Icing on the cake: In much better and unexpected news, the report suggested that consumer sentiment and demand is picking up for real estate. The pseudo factor used to come to this conclusion was the number of buyer searches on Magic Brick, which are “set to surpass the pre-covid levels”. While some of it may have to do with random browsing while on innumerable calls with work from home, we will clutch at whatever straws of hope we get.

More good news for the sector: India moved up a few notches on the JLL and La Salle’s Global Real Estate Transparency Index (GRETI) report, settling in at number 34. The report suggests that new regulations like RERA, GST, IBC and especially the national REIT framework have played their part in improving what was earlier a much more unorganised sector.

Bank of France surprised at the country’s recovery pace

The Governor of the Bank of France admitted that the French economy had been rebounding as well as anticipated, adding as a side note that it may even be “a-little-faster-than-anticipated”. The numbers seem to suggest he has enough reason for the humble brag.

The number story: The composite PMI or the Purchasing Manager Index of France rose to 51.7 in June. Any number above 50 is considered to have broken the shackles of recession and embraced economic growth. By end-June, Central Bank of France also expects the country to be operating merely 12% below it’s normal activity, as compared to a 32% reduction earlier due to forced business closures.

Not just France: This boost in sentiment is one of the good things that seems to have spread as quickly as the… nope, we won’t say it, but you get the hint. In it’s latest report ambitiously titled Bold Moves in Tough Times, Accenture reports that two-thirds of the 478 C-level executives interviewed believed that Europe would see a rapid V-shaped curve or a steady U-shaped one. In fact it goes on to suggest that this could well be a water-shed moment when Europe covers up some of the chasm that seems to have opened up as compared to the US, and in a way even China in the last decade or so. Only time can tell how the balance of economic power shifts in the next decade.

IN SNIPPETS

FM asks state owned firms to loosen purse strings: Nirmala Sitharaman directed state-owned firms to reach 50% of their annual budget of capex spending by September, of which only 12% had been exhausted in the first two months of the financial year. Perks of being a state-owned firm is you get to spend during a recession.

Tech giants ask for time and clarifications into first quarterly payment of digital tax: From April 1st, digital companies are liable to pay 2% tax on revenue generated through Indian citizens, including advertising, even if billed overseas.A US-based lobby representing companies like Google and Amazon has asked for the finance ministry to defer the move.

US to ask foreign students with online only classes to move back: In another furore creating development, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau has notified that foreign students with online only classes either need to move to a college with a hybrid offline-online model or go back home. The US has more than a million foreign students, with the second biggest contingent of about 200,000 being from India.

The new star of US pharmaceuticals: Move over Modena, it’s time for Novavax to shine. With a $1.6 Billion funding from the U.S. government the stock surged by 28% on one day, a small number in it’s 1800% increase that the stock price has seen in 2020.

Deutsche bank pays the price: The bank agreed to pay $150 million in penalties for “suspicious transactions” and ignoring the “red flags” in relation to Jeffrey Epstein.

MARKET PULSE

The update sure is green all around today. The markets were also up despite mixed global cues and possibly factoring in the governments’ report showcasing the glimmer of hope in the economy. Most market players seem to be turning a blind eye to FY21 earnings, choosing to focus more on FY22.

WILD CARD

Check out this photo shared by Astronaut Bob Behnken as he got a space view to the US Independence day fireworks. Isn’t it marvellous to think what a tiny speck we are on this big blue planet of ours.

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