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Global investors cautioned of a 'K-shaped' economic recovery much before they realised

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With global equity markets rising and global economic growth steeping falling – forming two forks of a ‘K’ – recently, consensus seems to be building of a ‘K-shaped’ recovery.As the coronavirus crisis unfolded, economists and market participants have been debating about the shape of the global economy. The options that had largely been considered included a U, V, W recovery. Now, with global equity markets rising and global economic growth steeping falling – forming two forks of a ‘K’ – recently, consensus seems to be building of a ‘K-shaped’ recovery.

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RIL shares cross $200 billion market cap

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 Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd has become India's first company to cross the $200 billion market cap after its shares surged nearly 157% since mid-March. The rise in market value of the oil-to-telecom conglomerate is driven by its retail and telecom operations.

The stock was currently trading at a record high of 2233 on the BSE, up 3.55% from its previous close. On Wednesday, the market value of the stock stood at $201 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

Apple Inc is the world's most-valued company with a market value of $2 trillion followed by Saudi Aramco at $1.91 trillion, Inc $1.58 trillion, Microsoft Corp 1.53 trillion, and Alphabet Inc $1.04 trillion.

In terms of global oil & gas companies, RIL ranks second, after Saudi Aramco.The stock has gained 48.7% so far this year following the sale of its stake in Jio and retail arm.

On Tuesday, California-based private equity fund Silver Lake picked up a 1.75% stake in Reliance Retail Ventures for 7,500 crore, valuing the company at 4.21 trillion, or $57 billion. Mint reported that the retail arm is set to draw additional investments worth $5 billion from KKR and Co., Mubadala Investment Co. and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

"Over the last 2-3 months, there has been news flow about RIL being in talks with various strategic partners (global retailers, e-commerce companies), and even in JPL’s case, the entry of strategic partners was a key positive, in our view. Hence, while any stake sale in RRL is positive news, we believe the markets would be more likely to bid up strategic investors than they would bid up PE investments", said JP Morgan in a note to its investors.

Stimulus option on table as govt monitors revival

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  • Centre is paying extra attention to ensure that its planned capital expenditure is executed without any hurdles
  • Modi administration has already raised its borrowings for the current year by 53% to 12 trillion to deal with the humanitarian and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis

A second round of stimulus measures for the economy is on the table, and the central government is closely monitoring how different industries are recovering so that it can support them when needed, a senior government official said.

The Centre is also paying extra attention to ensure that its planned capital expenditure is executed without any hurdles.

The government wants to time any further easing of its purse strings to deliver the maximum impact. It fears that delivering another round of stimulus measures before the coronavirus pandemic has peaked in India won’t provide optimal results.

“We are keeping all options open and are watching the situation closely," the official said on condition of anonymity.

“(We will) keep supporting sections of the industry as and when there is a need," said the official, pointing to the evolving situation. “After all, the pandemic is not yet over. We do not have a vaccine yet," said the official.

By This Measure, China’s Yuan Is Best-Placed Since 2012 Rally

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China’s yuan is flashing the strongest technical signal since 2012 for gains against the U.S. dollar.

The onshore currency’s 50-day moving average has fallen below its 200-day mean, completing the so-called golden cross pattern that some analysts interpret as a sign that a rally will continue. While such crossovers happen frequently, this is the first time in eight years that both moving averages are trending down, a phenomenon some market watchers say signals a true golden cross.

Looking for Carry Trade? Yuan Ranks Among the Best: China Today

The dollar is heading for a fifth month of losses. Meanwhile, China’s success in restarting the economy after the pandemic, the widening of its current-account surplus, its relative yields over dollar assets and foreign inflows are all supportive of further gains for the yuan.

In addition to the golden cross pattern, the currency has broken through a trend line that’s limited its gains since March 2019. The line has now become a support for the Chinese currency -- potentially limiting any losses.

Fiona Lim, a senior currency analyst at Malayan Banking Berhad in Singapore, predicts a stronger yuan and suggests investors look to the trend in the 100-day mean, now that the 50-day and 200-day averages have already completed a cross.

“A decisive break below could see USD/CNH trade lower towards 6.85 levels,” she wrote.

The onshore yuan was trading little changed at 6.9409 on Thursday, holding its gains since May at 3.4%. Its offshore counterpart was at 6.9372.

Look for China’s Yuan to Trade Around 7 a Dollar in 2H, UBS Says

While technicals point to further strengthening, the yuan remains vulnerable to an escalation in U.S.-China tensions. With a discussion imminent on the so-called phase one trade deal between the two nations, the next several days could be a testing time for the currency.

Speaking of EM: Chinese Yuan and Phase One Trade Risks (Podcast)

The yuan capped its last golden cross between the 50-day and 200-day averages in October 2012 when Federal Reserve stimulus stoked capital flows into China. The pattern was followed by an extended advance until January 2014, when a 5.9% rally ended.

Since then, the shorter average fell below the longer average four times -- in 2014, 2017, 2019 and earlier this year. But all of them had a rising 200-day mean, making them weaker signals.

There were also four crossovers between the 100-day and 200-day averages since 2012, but there hasn’t been one with both of them trending down.

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Forex - Dollar Weakens as Politicians Squabble and Inflation Rises

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 The dollar weakened in early European trade Thursday, amid fading hopes for additional economic stimulus while inflation figures surprised to the upside.

At 3 AM ET (0700 GMT), the Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, was down 0.3% at 93.157. USD/JPY was down 0.2% at 106.72, GBP/USD rose 0.3% to 1.3066 and EUR/USD was up 0.4% at 1.1826.

Weighing on the greenback has been the inability of the U.S. lawmakers to come to any sort of consensus regarding the country’s latest Covid-19 stimulus package, a deal that many feel is necessary to keep the economic recovery on track.

U.S. President Donald Trump accused Democrats on Wednesday of not wanting to negotiate over the package, with Republican and Democratic negotiators trading barbs and blame as negotiations ended without a result for the fifth day.

 On Tuesday, Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin stated that the economy could take another downturn if U.S. policymakers fail to provide more financial aid. 

He was backed up Wednesday by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren, who said he "strongly" supported taking additional fiscal action to help businesses and households survive the crisis. But, added more spending should be combined with more robust efforts to contain the virus.

U.S. deaths caused by Covid-19 topped 166,000 as of Aug. 13, with confirmed cases rising by more than 4% in the past week, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Adding to the problems facing the dollar were the latest inflation figures, with strong numbers from both the consumer and producer sides.

"The 0.6% month-on-month increase in July core CPI was jaw dropping," Jefferies (NYSE:JEF) said in a note. "It was the largest sequential jump since January 1991. While this momentum in pricing is unlikely to be sustained, the strength was broad-based and cannot be ignored."

With the Federal Reserve already committed to keeping its benchmark rates at these very lows for some time, the pressure is building on U.S. real yields.

“Much discussed in financial markets this summer is the drop in U.S. real yields as the Fed keeps rates low, while U.S. inflation expectations are on the rise,” said Chris Turner at ING, in a research note to clients.

“Expect this macro-policy theme to play a major role in FX market pricing ahead of a possible Fed adoption of an average inflation target in September. This theme is a broad dollar negative.”

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Five challenges that will determine success of NEP 2020

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India took a giant leap forward by launching the New Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) on July 29, three decades after the last major revision to the policy in 1986. The NEP 2020 advocates three key thematic developments: One, a move from content-driven pedagogy that inspired rote learning to conceptual testing; two, a 360-degree assessment covering educational, mental, and physical well-being of the students, and; three, an experiential approach through vocational skills, mathematical and computational thinking, and new-age skills such as coding and data science.

The motivation is to make Indian learners truly future-ready, and global citizens. The Government of India seems intent in rolling out the vision in terms of curriculum revision, teacher-training, and equipping schools for ICT-enabled and assessment-driven evaluation over the next few years. This is critical for India to truly reap the demographic dividend through re-skilling, vocational training, and job creation.

The objective is noble, and the policy is timely. However, the success and pace of implementation will depend on how successfully the government can scale five key challenges.

Curriculum And Content

The NEP calls for curriculum and pedagogical changes. The boards which conduct examinations will need to re-think how they assess students and what the learning content rubric should be. School textbooks will need realignment too. Given that 87 percent of K12 learners in India are in the schools with annual tuition fee of less than Rs 12,000, these changes will need to be easily cascaded across tiers of schools.

Teacher Availability

Over 250M-plus students are estimated to enrol in K12 schools in India by 2030. At a teacher-student ratio of 1:35, India would need an estimated 7M-plus teachers to address this burgeoning student population who will need to have graduated through the defined B.Ed programme for 12th pass, graduates and post-graduates for four, two and one year respectively.

Teacher Skilling

Teaching is one of the low-paid professions in India with an average teacher earning around Rs 200,000 per year. Given these constraints, experiential learning, and concept-oriented teaching, versus the currently prevalent printed content-oriented teaching will be tough.

A comprehensive National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education has also been announced in the NEP in addition to Teacher Eligibility Tests (TETs) to create a talented and curated pool of educators who can impart quality education to the students. However, the current pool of educators needs to be orientated towards these teaching techniques.

Until the structural constraint in teacher remuneration is not corrected in the education ecosystem, the NEP implementation in spirit and form will stay challenged. Rollout of such a curriculum could produce unintended academic results for underprivileged learners who will now not have books or other supplementary aids to fall back on.

Technology At Scale

Digital infrastructure of similar scale will be needed using digital classrooms, remote expertise-driven teaching models, AR/VR tools to bridge gaps in physical teaching and laboratory infrastructure, uniform assessments across schools even in remote villages, career counselling and teacher training aids.

Evaluation Infrastructure

Under the NEP, examinations are being advised to transform towards a culture of assessment with continuous tracking of learning outcomes, a focus on higher order and foundational skills, and AI-based software progress tracking to enable students to make optimal career choices. Continuous assessment requires schools and teachers to innovate on evaluation approaches and assignments that are thought-provoking and require students to apply themselves.

Compared to theory-based-examinations that have unilateral questions and answers that are easier to administer and score, holistic assessments would require educational boards and institutions to invest significantly in creating these assessments and practice assignments. Of the 1.5M-plus schools in India, 75 percent are run by the government at a very low to no annual fee structure. Of the remaining 400,000 private schools, about 80 percent schools fall in the category of ‘Budget Private Schools’ charging Rs 500-1,000 per month, leaving a mere 15,000 (less than one percent of total schools) that can support the necessary infrastructure required for conceptualising and conducting such assessments.

The NEP 2020 drafting committee has undertaken a comprehensive process that considers state/UT governments, global best practices, expert opinions, field experiences, and stakeholder feedback. In the more affluent echelons, privately-owned Edtech is already taking a large part of the education spend away from the formal education systems.

The vision is aspirational. The implementation roadmap and rigour will determine whether this truly fosters education-for-all and job creation.

A chunk of bad loans may not be eligible for one-time restructuring: Report

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Bad loans worth Rs 5.7 lakh crore may not be eligible under the one-time restructuring scheme permitted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

These repayments, classified as special mention accounts (SMAs), were already overdue by more than 30 days on March 1, the deadline set by the central bank, 

Of the total standard loans, which stood at Rs 94.9 lakh crore at the end of March, 6.03 percent are loans with repayments delayed by 31-90 days, the report added.

This one-time recast will apply to loans overdue for over 30 days (SMA-1 accounts), where the repayment is delayed by 31-60 days, and SMA-2, where the repayment is late by 61-90 days.

The RBI had on August 6 said banks can conduct a one-time restructuring of loans, a move intended to provide borrowers relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is good that there are specific entry norms to the recast scheme this time. However, we have already been setting aside provisions for stressed loans. Despite provisions, we cannot recast without classifying them as bad, leading to more provisions and capital erosion," the CEO of a state-run lender told Mint.

The RBI had in March instructed banks to set aside 10 percent provisions against SMA-2 loans under moratorium in two tranches.

"September quarter results are unlikely to see a jump in bad loans, except for SMA-2 loan accounts. However, the gradual rise in non-performing loans will begin from the December quarter," a banker told the paper.

Gratuity eligibility criteria may be relaxed; here’s how to calculate the balance

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Gratuity Eligibility: The Central government is considering relaxing the minimum eligibility condition for gratuity payments to employees. It is planning to lower the threshold from five years of continuous employment to between one and three years amid growing demand to make the gratuity eligibility criteria shorter.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour, in a recently tabled report, had recommended that the existing period of five years of continuous service for gratuity payment to employees should be reduced to one year.

Under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, an employee who has worked in a company for over five years is eligible for gratuity by his/her employer.

The Act states that all employees, who are involved in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments, in which 10 or more persons are employed, are required to be paid gratuity by their employers. 

Gratuity is paid mainly at a time of retirement, but in certain conditions it can be paid even before retirement.

There is no set percentage for the amount of gratuity that an employee is supposed to receive. The amount payable depends upon the last drawn salary and years of service of the employee. 

Gratuity is defined as a benefit plan and is one of the major after-job perks received from an employer. 

Here are three ways to calculate one's gratuity balance:

- An employee can visit the Income Tax Department's website ( website). Click on 'Tax Tools' option and search Gratuity from the available options. The given calculator will compute the amount of gratuity payable with respect to the input values such as assessment year, type of employer, gratuity received, exempted gratuity and taxable gratuity.

- A employee can check with his/her employer or with the human resource department in the organisation with regards to the gratuity balance or amount.    

- The formula for calculating gratuity is 15 x (last drawn salary) x (tenure of working)/26 (days). For instance, employee X's last drawn salary is Rs 50,000 per month and has worked with ABC Ltd for about 30 years. So, his gratuity will be calculated as: (15 x 50,000 x 30)/26= Rs 9,37,500. In this formula, the time period of more than six months is considered as one year.

Dollar’s Decline Not as Stunning After Adjusting For Inflation

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The dollar’s stunning decline last month, the most in a decade, suddenly looks a lot less consequential once you take into consideration the inflation-adjusted value of the greenback.

That’s the view of veteran strategist Marshall Gittler, who suggested investors should adjust for price levels, use a wider basket of trading peers than the closely-followed U.S. Dollar Index and remember how much the currency had previously risen, in order to put its move in proper context. While the gauge of the dollar fell 4.2% in July, the U.S. Fed Trade-Weighted Real Broad Dollar Index only weakened by 0.9%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Back in April, the recent peak, the dollar’s real value was the highest it’s been in nearly 18 years,” Gittler, head of investment research at BDSwiss Group, said in a note Friday, published by Nasdaq. “That was the extraordinary move, not the recent decline.”

The Federal Reserve index’s 3.6% drop since April is “far from being a catastrophe that needs explaining” and is in line with its historical long-term trading pattern, he said. By comparison, the Dollar Index is down 7.1% from its April peak.

Gittler joins other strategists, including those at JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) & Co., pushing back on the intensifying debate over the future of the dollar, including threats of a structural decline voiced by analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc 

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Pound US Dollar (GBP/USD) Exchange Rate Flat as UK Employment Tumbles

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Largest Fall in Employment Since 2009 leaves Pound Sterling US Dollar (GBP/USD) Exchange Rate Muted

The Pound Sterling US Dollar (GBP/USD) exchange rate remained flat on Tuesday morning. This left the pairing trading at around $1.3095 following the latest employment data.

The Pound struggled to make gains after this morning’s data showed the number of people in employment fell by 220,000 in Q2.he Office for National Statistics (ONS) noted this was the largest fall in employment since 2009. The coronavirus crisis took a huge toll on the labour market despite support from the government’s furlough scheme.

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.9%, although this largely reflected huge numbers of Brits giving up looking for work.

Separate data also showed that the number of staff on company payrolls fell by -730,000 since March. This suggests there will be a larger increase in the country’s unemployment rate.

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