Good morning, folks! Approaching the mid of the week with some news to cheer. PM Modi announced that for the first time India’s mortality rate fell below 2%, to drop to 1.99%. We continue to hold on to thin strands of optimism.
Tale of two demands
Research firm IDC released numbers in it’s Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker revealing some interesting numbers for India. The PC market sales saw two ironies at play – one, muted retail demand with the coronavirus crisis and two, zooming enterprise demand thanks to the new style of working aka WFH.
What’s happening here? The overall PC market, including desktops, notebooks and workstations saw a massive decline of 37.3%. This was despite the fact that enterprise business saw new demand thanks to a lot of companies moving employees to notebooks for the first time. So, while desktop PCs registered a 46.4% decline, notebooks grew by 17.6% not taking into account the super normal 1.1 million Lenovo laptop units order by Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu or ELCOT. HP remained the market leader with 32.8% share while Lenovo edged out Dell for the second spot.
What does the future look like? Funnily enough, the quarter gone by could have been one of easy pickings for this segment. While consumer segment was cold to it, especially with just a 45 day window of purchase, enterprise probably saw all it’s pent up demand fulfilled. One possible demand engine is appeasing to the e-learning demand in the consumer segment.
By law, equal treatment to sons and daughters
What did they do now? In terms of Hindu succession laws, tradition has ensured that inheritance is passed only through the male lineage. However, in 2005 this law was amended to give equal rights to daughters as coparcener or someone with a right to equal share of inheritance. This law was being interpreted differently often using the date as a watershed mark, especially in case the father had passed away before 2005, to continue disallowing women from their right. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court emphatically pronounced that the law holds true for the lifetime and retrospectively as well.
Why is this important? The laws of a country are a good reflection of the mindset of the populace. Having equal right to parental property is not just a sign or respect and belonging, but is bound to make an impact on the path of financial independence also for women.
Sputnik has a new meaning in Russia
Looks like the memo of having a vaccine ready by Indian Independence day got delivered to the wrong team. Yesterday Russia unleashed a variety of emotions all across the world on the favourite topic of corona virus. There was excitement, curiosity, doubt, fear and wariness all mixed in a cocktail as potent as vodka, when they announced registration of vaccine Sputnik V.
Skin in the game: The vaccine has been developed by Gamaleya research institute in coordination with the country’s defence ministry. Putin showed his skin in the game by declaring through a video conference that one of his daughters had been inoculated and experienced a slight fever after the second shot. Oddly enough, the chief of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund which is financing this effort also said that large scale Phase 3 trials would begin on Wednesday. He also said that this new launch is already a hit with a billion doses pre-ordered by 20 countries with commercial production due to start next month.
Not everyone is impressed: Well known American expert and director of the US National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed “serious doubts” that the vaccine is ready for widespread use. He maintained that there is a chasm between making a vaccine and proving it to be safe and effective. Science magazine noted that the vaccine had been tested on a mere 76 people. Alexey Chumakov, a Russian researcher brave enough to speak out, went as far as to say that the vaccine could have a 20% chance of making things worse. The drama around corona virus vaccine doesn’t seem to have an ending in sight any time soon.
Money laundering through Chinese entities: Central Board of Direct Taxes or CBDT, on Tuesday, raided the office of a Chinese entity to discover collusion between Chinese and Indian nationals for a mere Rs. 1000 Crore scam. The scam involved the usual elements of money laundering, hawala transactions, multiple bank accounts and shell companies.
Possible hint of recovery? In some timely data released by the government, it can be seen that India’s industrial output contracted by 16.6% in June 2020 YoY. The reason for taking the number well is that it’s all relative since April registered a contraction of massive 55.5% and May saw it go down to -33.9%.
Airbnb is a 2-way street in India: While India may be an important market for Airbnb, a report by Oxford Economics shows that Airbnb contributed to $320 million or about Rs. 2200 Crores to the Indian GDP through guest spending and supported close to 50,000 jobs. Between 2015 and 2019, Airbnb guest spending in India leaped by 83.4% annually and contribution to GDP grew 10 fold!
More vacancies opening up in the land of dreams: The demand for American citizenship may continue unabated but looks like some natural supply side expansion might be creeping in. In the first 6 months of 2020, a record number of 5,800 US expats (as compared to 2072 in all of 2019) gave up their American citizenship. Two reasons proffered are Donald Trump and income tax filing.
Wild swings of Soft Bank: From record loss to profit, Soft Bank has taken it’s investors on quite a roller coaster ride. With it’s poster children Slack and Uber picking up the slack, Soft Bank Vision fund swung from $18 billion loss last year to a gain of $2.8 billion for the quarter.
The main indices yet again were found in the green on the back of positive global cues and encouraging coronavirus metrics released by the government. Axis Bank led the pack with investors cheering on it’s successful raise of Rs. 10,000 Crores.
European markets on the other hand seemed pretty euphoric with a three-week high, on the back of auto and travel stocks. Dare we sniff optimism in the air?
Gold finally registered a reverse trend with some traders booking profit and possibility of an additional US stimulus increasing risk appetite, leading to a drop in prices.
If this trend continues, Twitter could soon become the new Paul the Octopus. As news came in that Patanjali is in the race to pick up title sponsorship for IPL 2020, some sarcastic Tweeters had come up with the idea when Vivo pulled out. If things go well for Baba Ramdev, the joke could well be on them.