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Latest News Today: 271 Million Lifted From Poverty in India, AI Defeats Poker Champions, Audi & Accenture Get New Heads

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Jul 12, 2019 1:08 PM 5 min read
Editorial

Retail inflation in India likely to have risen for the month of June. Industrial output likely to remain flat in May. 271 million lifted out of poverty in 10 yrs in India, Jharkhand witnessed the most improvement. Divergent views on US economy as Fed affirms intention to ease policy and cut rates. Huawei says it's still barred from US suppliers despite recent Trump-Xi truce. Audi announces management rejig. Accenture names Julie Sweet as its new Chief Executive Officer. A string of start-ups is using technology to bring the internet to India’s non-English-speaking majority. AI has defeated humans in a poker game for the first time.

 

Moving on to the top Business news of the day.

 

 INDIA 

 

Retail inflation in India likely to have risen for the month of June. Industrial output likely to remain flat in May. 271 million lifted out of poverty in 10 yrs in India, Jharkhand witnessed the most improvement. 

 

The What: As per reports, retail inflation in India is likely to have risen to 3.19% for the month of June, on back of rising food prices.  

 
What You Need To Know: Retail inflation has been on a rising streak since February. It had already risen to 3.05% in May from 1.97% in January.
 
A Double Whammy: Meanwhile, the industrial output is likely to remain unchanged at 3.3% in May. 
 
For Some Perspective: The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) has failed to cross 3.5% after rising as much as 8.4% in October 2018. IIP growth rate remained at 3.4% in April, rising from 0.4% in the preceding month. 
 
Progress Makes Perfect: According to the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2019 report released yesterday, India lifted 271 million out of poverty between 2005-06 and 2015-16.
 
It has succeeded in significantly reducing deprivations in many indicators, particularly in “assets, cooking fuel, sanitation and nutrition”.
 
As per the report, Jharkhand has witnessed the most improvement, reducing its multidimensional poverty from 74.9% to 46.5% in the ten years since 2005-06.
 
Road Block Ahead: “India’s battle against the world’s worst bad-loan ratio is being stalled by some unforeseen parties: regulators and federal investigators.” 
 
Here’s an interesting rundown of some instances of government agencies’ tussles with India’s nascent bankruptcy process. 

 

 US 

 

Divergent views on US economy as Fed affirms intention to ease policy and cut rates. Huawei says it's still barred from US suppliers despite recent Trump-Xi truce.
 
Two Roads Diverged In A Monetary Wood...: When US Fed Chairman Jerome Powell testified before Congress yesterday, he affirmed the view that the central bank was looking to ease monetary policy to re-energise the economy. The heads of the New York Fed and the Fed Governor seconded this view.
 
But when the Presidents of the Atlanta and Richmond Feds polled businesses in their districts, the general view was that the economy was still blithe and in no need of a rate cut.
 
This shows the contrasting viewpoints and sentiments prevalent in the US that the Fed has to take into account as the end-of-month policy meeting nears.
 
Not Off The Hook: Huawei said it is yet to see “any tangible change” in US policy towards it despite Trump assuring Xi at the recent G20 summit that he’ll ease up on the Chinese tech giant.
 
Two months ago, accusing Huawei of aiding Chinese spying, Trump had put it on an “entity list” that prohibited US companies from supplying to Huawei. A recent break in the trade war impasse has not benefited Huawei, which is still barred from US suppliers and which approached a Texas court in May to declare Trump’s actions “unconstitutional”.

 

 CORPORATE MOVES 

 

Audi announces management rejig. Accenture names Julie Sweet as its new Chief Executive Officer.
 
Audi India has announced a major management rejig.
 
Musical Chairs: Its current India Head Rahil Ansari will be moving to the global headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany to take over as the Senior Director for Central Sales Controlling (Global). 
 
Balbir Singh Dhillon, currently the Head of Dealer Development in Audi, will take on the role of Indian Head by September 2019. The news comes at a crucial time when the Indian auto industry is witnessing a massive slump in sales.
 
We’ve Got This Planned: Moreover, Audi had reported an 18% decline in sales in 2018 as its largest dealership in Delhi-NCR was shut down. Within this background, Audi is perhaps hoping to regain its ground as the car-maker is set to launch its e-tron SUV, leveraging on India’s push for electric vehicles. 
 
Also This: Accenture has named Julie Sweet as its new Chief Executive Officer. Sweet, who is currently the CEO for North America (Accenture’s largest market) is set to replace interim CEO David Rowland, who stepped in after the death of Pierre Nanterme in January. Rowland will become Executive Chairman.

 

 AI 

 

A string of start-ups is using technology to bring the internet to India’s non-English-speaking majority. AI has defeated humans in a poker game for the first time.
 
Innovating India To The Future: India is a land of almost 20,000 languages and dialects and only about 10% of the population is conversant in English. Factor in these two points and you see why it’s important to diversify the English-centric internet if more Indians are to come online.
 
Enter technology, which can be the ultimate Samaritan when used for the public good. Several start-ups are proving this with their apps that help dissolve linguistic barriers to make internet usage truly inclusive.
 
Some of these ideas:

·       AI bots that can understand local languages used to expand banking services
·       speech recognition tech used to garner citizens’ feedback or opinions
·       digitising commodity pricing in local scripts so that farmers know what the charge for their produce
·       online platforms for cultivators to chat on and share grievances so that the government’s agricultural scientists can help them
·       phonetic keyboards
·       web content readers and translators equipped with local languages
 
Skynet Learns Poker: AI has bested humans in chessgoDota 2 – it has even even taught itself how to play a video game and then defeated its human competitors. But when it came to poker, a game that involves bluffing and recognising bluffing, our bot brethren struggled ... until now. AI designed by Facebook and Carnegie Mellon has decisively defeated five professional players in a championship-style poker game.

 

 OFFBEAT 

 

Japanese asteroid mission Hayabusa2 touches down on Ryugu, collects samples.


 
Another Touch Down: Japanese asteroid mission Hayabusa2 on Thursday made a touch down on asteroid Ryugu and sent back shots of an asteroid’s surface.


 
Previous Victories: In February, the Japanese spacecraft had collected its first sample by swooping close and firing a bullet into the asteroid’s surface, and then gathering it with a horn-shaped collector. 


 
Then, in April it shot a much larger impactor onto Ryugu, creating an artificial crater so it could examine the material raked up from beneath the surface. 


 
On Thursday, Hayabusa2 returned to the asteroid surface, fired a second bullet, and scraped up material from its newly-made crater.


 
More on this fascinating exploration here.


 
Train Like LeBron: There’s a lot knowledge workers can learn from the way top athletes train - their clear objectives and the constant pursuit of improvement. When he entered the NBA, LeBron James wasn’t a strong shooter. He worked for his strength, agility, impeccable history of injury avoidance, and outstanding 54% field goal percentage during his 14th NBA season.


 
In the Groove Yet?: Humans are often stubborn, lazy and stupid. Listen in to an all-star team of behavioral scientists talk about behavior change over the years

 

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