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Hawks, Doves or Owls, Another Facebook Default et al.

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Nov 3, 2018 1:43 PM 3 min read

Good evening reader,


Most of us were delighted when the World Bank released their new “Ease of Doing Business” rankings.


India jumped an impressive 23 spots hitting the 77th position this year repeating a stellar performance from last year, when we jumped 30 places.


First things first. A significant step-up in 6 of 10 World Bank indicators (including a gigantic 129 positions for improvements in 'dealing with Construction permits'); AND moving closer to international best practices on 7 of 10 - is no mean feat!


However, owing to our healthy (some say bad) habit of spotting chinks wherever we can find, it is always interesting to follow how a foreign media outlet covers the same story.


Better to expose oneself to a new and different (if not always objective) point of view, rather than no external perspective at all.


That is why we recommend this story from The Economist, which talks of how a dedicated "government unit" in India gamed the World Bank scoring methodology to move up the ranks. "[Almost] as if it were an end in itself."


Good way to remind us still that the glass is half empty. Yup, what a party pooper!


Unless you're terribly affected by the above, let's move on now to today's Top 6 Business Stories through our End Of Day Wrap Up:




Indian Oil Corp profits drop by 12% in Q2, refining margins lower.

A depreciating Rupee led to a INR2,600cr FX loss for the IOC, which reported a INR3,247cr net profit for Q2 (vs. INR3,696cr in Q2 over the prior year). Refining margin dropped from $10.21 to $6.79 per bbl.


Reduction in profit despite higher sales (up 48%) also due to a one-off pension contribution spiking employee costs.


India's largest steel maker SAIL demonstrates strong quarter with both profits and sales up.

SAIL Q2 profits up at INR554cr vs. INR539cr in prior year. Sales also up 23% to INR16,832cr during the quarter.


Improving environment, good demand from railways cited as principal drivers for the company. EBITDA for Q2 spiked by 156% indicating a much improved operational performance. 


Commerce Ministry preparing long-term road map to promote India as major export hub for automobiles.

Ministry of Commerce in talks with with Indian Auto industry body to prepare a road map for promoting India as a major export hub for automobiles and spare parts, with a focus on Africa and Latin America.


With the implementation of Bharat Stage VI emission norms by 2020, Indian manufactured vehicles would be at par with standards in the developed world, and hence make the country a viable global manufacturing and export hub for automobiles.




Exxon Mobil and Chevron each report their highest ever Q3 numbers in 4y.

Exxon's earnings up 57% to $6.24bn as oil giant benefits from higher prices for drilling and better refining margins.


Chevron's profits double to $4bn and its production in the red hot Permian basin in West Texas and New Mexico spikes by 80%.


US Fed likely to increase rates soon in light of solid jobs data. US trade deficit with China hit an all-time high.

Addition of 250,000 jobs in October, a 3.1% rise in average hourly earnings, and a low unemployment rate of 3.7% (lowest level in 49 years) demonstrate the continued expansion of US labour market. Analysts expect benefits to trickle down towards higher inflation thereby pushing the Fed to likely pick up interest rates aggressively in the future.


US trade deficit with China hit an all-time high of $40.24bn despite tariffs on imports. Analysts expect international demand for US exports to subdue going forward. Imports however appear to be well supported in the medium term on the back of an upbeat domestic demand.  


Hackers allegedly gain access of 120m Facebook accounts.

A BBC report states the hack is part of an attempt to sell private messages, which has reportedly already affected 81,000 accounts.  


Facebook denies its security has been breached and that the data has probably been obtained via malicious browser extensions.


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