WFH Stress & More

Worried about climate change? Watch this wonderful first Instagram move by legendary 94-year-old Brit David Attenborough. We were moved with his gentle mannerisms and old-world charm as he proved there is really no age to keep learning. As for today, while waiting to see what MPC has in store for us let’s get to what’s happened in the world of business in the last one week.

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Research validates WFH stress

How many of you have been loving and thriving in our currently trending 3-letter acronym WFH? Not too many if the current research is anything to go by. Microsoft and Linkedin (ironically owned by Microsoft) came out with two survey reports that point to underlying problems with WFH.

What does the Microsoft report tell?  From their latest Work Trend Index conducted among 6000 professionals across 8 countries, it’s come to light that India is the second largest country with 41% feeling the heat of blurring boundaries between work and personal life. Not just that, Indians saw their work hours expand by an hour making it the longest workday. So you were really not hallucinating when you thought your work never ended. With our crumbling infrastructure we may not understand but 61% respondents felt that the commute made them more productive. In some ways, it was their me time where they could exist in a bubble between work and home and made them 12-15% more productive. Which has now led Microsoft Teams to come up with their virtual commute feature!

Does Linkedin report have anything new to add? The Linkedin Worker Confidence Index added to some aspects on the same line. As per that, 37% respondents felt isolated, 41% thought WFH was slowing their career progression and 36% felt it pulling them down on the work-life balance front. However, a crucial aspect that the report covered was the toll of added full-time child care on working mothers leading to 44% of them working outside business hours. 47% women admitted to more stress and anxiety. If it is any consolation, you are not alone in the conflicted feelings about WFH. This boat is pretty full.

PLI scheme sees first few beneficiaries

Recently, in a bid to push it’s Atmanirbhar agenda the government came up with PLI or Production Linked Incentive scheme. Under PLI, the government will give 4-6% incentive to heavy electronic manufacturers on incremental sales of good manufactured in India for a five year period.

Aaand the winners are: The government has now approved 16 mobile phone and component manufacturers to set shop in India and avail of these incentives. This includes domestic manufacturers like Micromax as well as foreign manufacturers like Samsung apart from contract manufacturers for Apple. The scheme is expected to generate Rs. 10.5 trillion in revenue over its’ 5 years with 60% of it from exports.

In other manufacturing news: India’s manufacturing indicator might finally be hinting at a growth stride. The IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchase Managers’ Index rose to 56.8 in September 2020, up from 52 in August. This is the highest reading in 8 years! Before you get out those crackers that you have been saving up for Diwali or IPL finals, remember that a lot of the input material purchase was at an increase due to the backlog of the last few months. It is only in the next few readings that we can get a proper gauge of India’s manufacturing pick-up.

How golden was China’s golden week holiday?

For the last one week or so, China’s 8-day golden week holiday that strikes every year in mid-autumn was being hailed as the litmus test to witness the country’s economic recovery. Now, as the reports come in, the picture really depends on whose lens are you looking from.

Rosy picture view: As you can expect, the Chinese state media is going all out to promote the country bouncing back to normal. Sample this, “In Wuhan, the heroic city once hard hit by coronavirus but has restored its vigor, visitors ambled by the Yellow Crane Tower”. Most of their numbers focused on tourism including 618 million domestic tourist visits, 50% YoY increase in hotel bookings as well as 16% increase in air ticket and scenic spot bookings on Alibaba and Figgy. Spoiler alert: Domestic travel could be a beneficiary of the restricted outbound travel.

On the other hand: Some other publications like South China Morning Post sought to tamp down on the propaganda claiming everything was now hunky dory. They brought out figures like a 31% lower tourism revenue in the first four days of the holiday and a 12% drop in average spending per tourist. However, the undeniable fact remains that among G-20 nations China is probably highest on the recovery curve but there is still some distance to cover before consumer spending and confidence come back in full swing.

IN SNIPPETS

Third cog in the wheel: Just when it seemed like Kishore Biyani had washed his hands off the messy debt situation he had taken Future Retail to by palming it off on Reliance Retail, looks like he failed to read a T&C *. Amazon is out with knives to lay claim to the call option built into their contract when they acquired a stake in Future Retail. Essentially, a call option allowed Amazon to acquire all or part of the promoter holding between Year 3 and Year 10. Now with the changed shareholding the call option goes for a toss and Amazon goes to court.

Hurdle for of Sputnik V approval: India has rejected Dr. Reddy’s proposal for a large scale testing of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V citing inadequate data. Instead, the pharma company will have to commence it at a smaller scale before enhancing their testing coverage. So yeah, Sputnik V is not making an entry as quickly as it did in Russia.

Perpetual bonds not for retail investors: After the textbook instance of mis-selling where Yes Bank perpetual bonds were sold almost like stable FDs, SEBI has swung into action. Now, only QIB or Qualified Institutional Buyers would be able to invest into these bonds with a minimum lot size of Rs. 1 Crore.

John McAfee’s tax evasion catches up: John McAfee, yup the same man who made his last name synonymous with anti-virus was arrested in Spain on charges of tax evasion. As per reports, he did not pay taxes for the last four years, hiding his assets in other names or other assets like crypto currency. Ironically, in a tweet last year he had proudly claimed to not have paid taxes for the last eight years calling the system illegal! Even more ironically, just about two weeks back the company filed for IPO.

Brexit update: Ever bargained in a flea market and pretended to walk away as a negotiation strategy? UK is trying that out now with their Brexit talks with a deadline of 15th October for the deal to be finalized or else they walk. EU nations on the other hand, aren’t impressed with the stance. The dilly-dallying on this one may just continue.

MARKET PULSE

Are you one of those people often found whispering in concern that the market will see a correction because there are no fundamentals to support the surge? Well, you may just need to eat your words. Yesterday Sensex closed at over 40,000 mark for the first time since Feb 25 while Nifty hovered around 11,800. Markets (atleast) were relieved when Trump was released from Walter Reed and anticipation for another stimulus package in the US remains rife. If that happens, expect more liquidity swirling around world markets.

WILD CARD

This week, Twitter showed it’s nice side. A video of an old couple running a dhaba in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar went viral, after they expressed their inability to sell the food they cooked. Why? Hello? Coronavirus! A lot of blue-ticked influencers jumped on the bandwagon telling Delhites to go and support them and other small neighbourhood vendors. Magical snaking queues really happened for Baba ka Dhaba and may it spread to other small businesses which have started the struggle to get back to their feet.

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