Leisure is in a rut
Also in today’s edition: BYD zooms into India; Google (kinda) turns fact-checker; Bangladesh stumbles; Will Ethereum edge past Bitcoin?
Good morning! Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg probably brought it on himself when he released his Horizon Worlds avatar. The dead-eyed depiction made millions want to unsee what they (unfortunately) couldn’t unsee. According to Fast Company, as a consolation prize, someone decided to create a filter featuring the dreaded avatar. Zuck has now been immortalised, but not in the way he'd have liked.
🎧 Climate change is coming for milk. Dairy giants in India are may have a problem on their hands. The Signal Daily is available on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
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The Market Signal*
Stocks: Domestic benchmark indices slumped on Thursday owing to the expiry of monthly derivative contracts. PSU banks and realty stocks advanced. US Fed Chair Jerome Powell's speech on Friday also weighed heavily on investors' minds. Hedge funds have taken a massive €39 billion bet against Italy, expecting its economy to tank as elections near and gas prices zoom.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty inched upwards (0.55%) at 7.30 am India time. The Hang Seng Index (0.96%) and Nikkei 225 (0.92%) advanced ahead.
Chinese EV Giant Sets Sights On India
BYD, the world’s largest EV company, is set to enter the Indian market with the launch of its electric SUV Atto3. The development comes a month after another Chinese automaker, Great Wall Motors, exited India due to tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.
Gameplan: BYD—which recently overtook Elon Musk’s Tesla in global EV sales—will assemble vehicles in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. While BYD’s initial target is to sell 10,000 vehicles, it is looking to seize 10-15% of the passenger EV market by 2030.
Long run: Atto3 is expected to be showcased at the Delhi Auto Expo next year. The model will compete with Hyundai’s Kona, MG Motor's ZS, and Tata’s upcoming Curvv.
P.S.: British luxury carmaker McLaren is also arriving at Indian shores.
Big G Rolls Out Misinformation Fix
Google, along with researchers from Cambridge University, is testing a unique way of “pre-bunking” lies to teach users how to identify misinformation. This tactic may actually work.
How?: By showing 90-second cartoons and pop culture-influenced ads to grab user attention and help them identify propaganda and conspiracy theories.
Use case: Google’s Jigsaw, as also YouTube, will introduce the feature in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to help people spot misinformation about refugees. Pre-bunking may also find a place in future US election cycles. For now though, it’ll be deployed to address the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
In other news: For the first time ever, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter are scrubbing their platforms clean of US propaganda against China, Iran, and Russia.
🎧 In a first, YouTube is taking on fake information. The Signal Daily is available on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
The Jollies Wallow In Doom And Gloom
China was once Hollywood's biggest playground. Now, it has fewer fans gunning for it.
Concert tickets were once sold for at least $100 a pop, but musicians are keeping China out of their live performance itineraries (a problem Justin Bieber won't face). Macau's casinos, run by OG American giants, are staring at depleted revenues. For the American entertainment industry, this means foregoing billions of dollars in revenue.
Back home: Disappointing box office returns are hammering the shares of multiplexes. Sachin Tendulkar-backed gaming company Smaaash, which was looking to invest ₹450 crore in 30 new stores earlier this year, is scouting for a buyer. So far, 15 companies have shown interest.
China's rigid Covid-zero policy has steamrolled the entertainment industry. Ticket sales for Hollywood blockbusters for the year aren't encouraging—earnings are the lowest in a decade.
This is also due to the relatively underwhelming slate of releases throughout 2022. The scenario could play out until next year, leaving theatre owners in flux. This explains why the world's second biggest theatre chain, Cineworld, is mulling a bankruptcy filing. A few casino operators are holding on to hope.
Geopolitical fissures between the US and China also have a trickle-down effect on entertainment. To top it all, Chinese youth are grappling with unemployment. Entertainment was once considered recession-proof. But going to the movies is no more tempting option in this economy.
Bangladesh Joins SL, Pakistan In Economic Slide
The dominoes are falling around India. After Sri Lanka in the south and Pakistan in the west, India’s eastern neighbour Bangladesh is in trouble as an economic slowdown threatens to spiral out of control. All three are at the IMF’s doorstep for aid.
The pinch: Bangladesh has been an Asian success story built primarily on garment exports, which helped sustain investment in education, health, and livelihood creation. Its per capita income is more than India’s and Pakistan’s and the number of poor halved in 25 years to 2016. Garments comprise 80% of its exports, which have been hit by rising cotton prices and power shortages due to fuel costs.
Unlike Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Bangladesh was slated to be classified as a developing country come 2026. That could come unstuck.
ETH Fans Await The Great Flippening
Will Ethereum surpass Bitcoin by market cap? Fans are hoping for a hypothetical “flippening” after The Merge—the upgrade that’ll move the Ethereum blockchain from a proof-of-work (POW) to a proof-of-stake (POS) protocol. The Ethereum Foundation announced Wednesday that The Merge will conclude between September 10-20.
Hoopla: Ethereum has risen 50% against Bitcoin (61% by some accounts) since June. It’s also outperforming its competitor in the number of transactions and active addresses. Analysts believe that the less cost-intensive, energy-efficient POS will contract supply (thereby increasing value) and make Ethereum more attractive to investors.
Caution: Ethereum’s surge against Bitcoin is speculation-driven, which reflects in recent volatile trading activity. The crypto futures market is also betting on a weakened position after The Merge—in the short term, anyway. To sum up, significant gains won’t be visible for months or years.
Neu horizons: The Tata Group will reportedly offer stockbroking services on Neu, putting the super app in direct competition with Zerodha and Tata-backed Upstox.
Bagged: TVS Motors acquired a 48% stake in former F1 ace Narain Karthikeyan's two-wheeler startup, DriveX.
Alert: The Indian health ministry has issued an advisory for the ‘tomato flu’ outbreak, which has affected over 100 children in the country thus far.
Changing course: Amazon is shuttering telehealth service Amazon Care, a month after acquiring healthcare startup One Medical for ~$4 billion. And in a first, Peloton will sell equipment and apparel on Amazon to boost distribution.
Hoarding? In a move that signals shortage, Reliance Retail will purchase 40,000 tonnes of wheat from the Haryana State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation.
Milestone: Apple’s iPhone commanded 46% of the Chinese premium smartphone market in Q2 2022, marking the first time in years that an American vendor has edged out local brands.
Shine on you crazy $$$: Pink Floyd's catalogue has a few bidders. Among them is private equity firm Blackstone. The band's body of work is valued at half a billion dollars. Not too long ago, Bob Dylan and The Beatles too sold their song catalogues. It's not like Pink Floyd needed any boost in the digital era, but some extra cash never hurt anybody.
Called out: Tiktokers are frustrated by shrinkflation, and it’s showing. Frustrated consumers are taking to TikTok to make a noise against companies for either reducing packet sizes or sneakily increasing prices. So far, McDonald’s, Domino’s, and PepsiCo have borne the brunt of the backlash.
For a better world: In today's crossover episode, scientists have figured out a way to recycle wind turbine blades. In a bid to save the climate, the turbine blades need to be replaced often. There's now talk to replace fibreglass with composite resin, which can later be modified into gummy bears. We'd give this a pass. Any takers?
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