Finance & Economy
  • Exports data points to recovery
    • Exports broke their fall in November after 13 months of decline, adding to the flurry of positive economic data.
    • Helped by Christmas buying, exports grew 18.3% to $13.2 billion from a small base last year, further indicating that the economic recovery is beginning to take a strong root.
    • Besides this positive news, Moody's rating also helped. Look at this:
    • Moody’s Investors Services raised its rating outlook on India’s local currency to positive from stable, saying the move was “prompted by increasing evidence that the Indian economy has demonstrated its resilience to the global crisis and is expected to resume a high growth path with its underlying credit metrics relatively intact.”
  • O&M retains top slot in the ad world
    • The Brand Equity Agency Reckoner 2009 has given ad agency Ogilvy & Mather top position as India’s ad agency for the seventh consecutive time. Its chairman, the gifted Piyush Pandey, is India’s most influential advertising personality in the pecking order of creative and media persons. Perhaps it’s only befitting that Ogilvy’s client Vodafone was the country’s most admired marketer in the survey results unveiled by Brand Equity last month.
    • Closing the gap on Ogilvy is JWT as a close No. 2 and Lowe Lintas, Mudra and McCann Erickson following at the 3rd, 4th and 5th positions, respectively.
  • Worried about attrition SBI hires McKinsey
    • SBI is facing attrition at alarming levels. The salaries it pays are reportedly not even matching the comparable levels in Central Government organizations.
    • The bank has directed all its 14 circles to ferret out details on people leaving the organisation and the possible reasons for this. The management is in the process of collating data for the past five years, a senior SBI official, who did not wish to be named, said, adding the information will be passed on to McKinsey.
  • How to reform food subsidy?
    • A spurt in the subsidy bill over and above the budget estimate of Rs 1,02,469 crore could hamper fiscal consolidation and calls for comprehensive subsidy reform. And that cannot simply mean raising the price of foodgrains sold through fair-price shops, not when food price inflation is precariously close to 20%. More open market sale of foodgrains and imports could ease the pressure on prices in the near term. Competition in the physical distribution of foodgrains and fertilisers and direct transfer of the subsidy to the target beneficiaries should be the final goal of reform.
  • Developments on GST implementation
    • Take a look at this graphic which lets us on to some details in this regard.
    • The task force on GST (set up by the 13th Finance Commission) recommended dual rate GST. For the central GST at 5% and the state GST to be at 7%.
  • International commission on disarmament and non-proliferation
    • A report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament has proposed cutting down the world’s nuclear weapons from 23,000 to 2,000 by 2025 and suggested that all nuclear states should have a ‘no first use’ stance.
    • The commission is actually the brainchild of Japan and Australia.
    • This Commission has raised the hackles of India by clubbing it with Pakistan. Policy makers in India are reportedly unhappy with it for trying to bring in the non-proliferation regime through a document on disarmament.
  • What did the Kyoto protocol achieve?
    • Take a look at this analysis from Bjorn Lomborg:
    • Let’s say we index 1990 global emissions at 100. If there were no Kyoto at all, the 2010 level would have been 142.7. With full Kyoto implementation, it would have been 133. In fact, the actual outcome of Kyoto is likely to be a 2010 level of 142.2 — virtually the same as if we had done nothing at all. Given 12 years of continuous talks and praise for Kyoto, this is not much of an accomplishment.
  • What is Climategate?
    • It refers to the release, at the Copenhagen summit, of thousands of disturbing emails and other documents hacked from the computers of a prestigious British climate research centre.
    • What the stolen emails revealed was a group of the world’s most influential climatologists arguing, brainstorming and plotting together to enforce what amounts to a party line on climate change. Data that didn’t support their assumptions about global warming were fudged. Experts who disagreed with their conclusions were denigrated as idiots and garbage. Peer-reviewed journals that dared to publish contrarian articles were threatened with boycotts. Dissent was stifled, facts were suppressed, scrutiny was blocked, and the free flow of information was choked off.
  • Fastest supercomputer to date
    • Blue Waters. It is the name of a petascale supercomputer being designed and built as a joint effort between the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and IBM.
    • Created especially for open scientific research, it is expected to come online in 2011.
    • It will theoretically be capable of achieving 10 petaflops, about 10 times as fast as the fastest supercomputer today. A petaflop is 1 quadrillion floating point operations per second.
Language Lessons
  • teeny: Adjective
    • (used informally) very small
    • eg: Of course, to drink such quantities of these bitter beverages, you would need to add some milk and a little, just a teeny little, bit of sugar to each cup.
  • bough: Noun
    • Any of the larger branches of a tree
  • purloin: Verb
    • Make off with belongings of others
    • eg: Predictably, the text of the more than 3,000 purloined emails have been seized on by sceptics of man-made climate change as ‘proof’ that global warming is nothing more than a hoax cooked up by a bunch of pointy-headed intellectuals.