IMF says cloudy weather ahead
Also in today’s edition: Salesmen miffed with Jiomart, Alibaba faces heat from short video apps, PlayStation building Game Pass’ rival
Good morning! Here are 4 Things You Need To Know RN About BuzzFeed’s Stock Market Debut. It will trade as BZFD and merge with the blank cheque company, 890 5th Avenue Partners. Two, BuzzFeed Inc. is going public because it raised only $16 million instead of an expected $250 million. Three, its investors aren’t the only unhappy ones; per a report in The New York Times, 61 employees are protesting over measly 1% appraisals and salaries that can’t buy even cubbyholes in major US cities. Four, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti will dine at Priyanka Chopra’s NYC restaurant, Sona, after ringing the NASDAQ bell.
Btw, our podcast has been going strong for over two months now. Tune in on your daily jog, drive to the office, or even as you WFH-ers have breakfast in bed. We promise it’ll be music to your ears.
The Market Signal
Stocks: Major indices closed the week in the red amid uncertainty unleashed by the new Covid-19 variant. The uncertainty is likely to continue in the coming week as the IMF is set to slash global growth forecasts.
JioMart Brings Trouble In A Handcart
The salesmen responsible for stocks in neighbourhood kirana stores are refusing to distribute your everyday essentials, no thanks to JioMart.
The 400,000-strong All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation (AICPDF) — which represents traditional distributors of consumer goods giants such as Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Reckitt Benckiser, and others — is demanding level playing field with Reliance-owned JioMart.
Soap opera: Kirana stores are switching to the JioMart Partner app for deeply-discounted products, one-day deliveries, free samples, and credit. That hits traditional distributors, a large number of them family-owned, hard. Their collective sales have tanked to as much as 25%, and it is only the beginning. The proliferation of JioMart across India will result in more losses and unemployment for a once-indispensable network that ensured you have enough handwash to see through multiple nationwide lockdowns.
Taking stock: The AICPDF wants consumer goods companies to give distributors the same price advantage as JioMart. Else, they will start a non-cooperation movement.
Gen Z Bending The Shopping Trend In China
Blending entertainment with instant purchasing, live commerce platforms have captured the TikTok market in China, making a dent into Alibaba’s online shopping business.
New wave: Two fastest-growing video-sharing apps, Kuaishou and Douyin, are chipping away at Alibaba’s pioneering business model amid antitrust allegations against the giant. The value of China’s live-commerce market is expected to double this year to $313 billion.
Beyond the brand: Chinese Gen Z and millennials are digital-first and one of the most discerning, informed, and brand-agnostic groups in today’s luxury market. They are more inclined to create a style statement rather than purchasing big labels as status symbol. Innovation and personalisation (including cultural pride and awareness) are important for these younger consumers. And that’s why Alibaba has its work cut out while Kuaishou and Douyin thrive.
IMF May Cut Growth Forecasts
The new virus variant Omicron could imperil global economic revival, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the lending institution was likely to downgrade growth forecasts.
Quick spread: While the Delta variant continues to spread in parts of Europe and the US, Omicron has reportedly reached at least 35 countries.
Puzzling: The scientist who first spotted Omicron is surprised at the speed at which it has evolved and spread. Sikhulile Moyo, director for the Botswana Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory and a research fellow at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said, “We are still trying to understand how so many mutations arose for Omicron in a short space of time. If you look at the previous lineages, if you look at Alpha, if you look at Beta, you can see that the mutations accumulated over time.”
Just when governments were hoping that the worst was over and economies could get back to business, the new variant of Covid-19 may force lockdowns and snuff out green shoots. More delay in rebuilding broken supply chains could push prices further up. US Fed chairman Jerome Powell has hinted that the Fed was becoming warier of inflation. That means rate hikes could be closer than earlier expected. The Fed taper and rate hikes would reduce liquidity, making carefree investors more circumspect when approaching target companies. Investors are already becoming risk-averse.
Farmers >> PepsiCo
PepsiCo lost its patent rights of a potato variety that was grown exclusively in India for its popular Lay’s chips.
Who benefits? It is a big win for the farmers of Gujarat, who were sued by the company in 2019 for growing the FC5 potato variety. The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority revoked the plant variety protection certificate given to PepsiCo for the FC5 variant.
Action taken: This came after a petition filed by farm activist Kavitha Kuruganti stated that the patent was granted based on insufficient information by the company and was against public interest.
Spotify Presses Pause On The Giggles
A dozen comedians, including Tiffany Haddish, Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Hart and John Mulaney, aren’t happy with Spotify.
Old wine, new bottle: Currently, comic artistes are paid for performing routines. Now, they want to be compensated for their writing. A global rights administration company, Spoken Giants has backed the artists. But, instead of hugging it out, Spotify yanked their work from the platform.
Dispute over royalty payments with Spotify isn’t new. In 2014, Taylor Swift split with Spotify over, no prizes for guessing, royalties. But, Swift and Spotify got back together in 2017. Heh.
What Else Made The Signal?
Acquisition: Edtech company upGrad is set to buy Talentedge, entrepreneur Ronnie-Screwvala-owned higher education startup.
Calling it a day: Jack Dorsey quit and Parag Agrawal became CEO. The new boss came with plans. As he began moving the pieces around, two key executives stepped down.
OMG, it’s back: From December 7, the UK will implement mandatory pre-arrival Covid-19 tests for international travellers in an attempt to tackle the new variant.
iSpy: Apple iPhones belonging to at least nine US State Department officials were hacked using Israeli firm NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.
Game on: Sony’s PlayStation division is reportedly launching membership service Spartacus to compete with Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass.
Money heist: Hackers stole various cryptocurrencies worth $196 million from crypto exchange BitMart.
Pay more: Carmakers, including luxury automakers, will hike prices from January 2022 as input costs rise.
From reel to real: In 2016, a grandmother accidentally invited high-schooler Jamal Hilton for Thanksgiving dinner. He took up the offer. The story became viral and the two made it into a holiday ritual. Now, Netflix is turning this story into a feature film.
Puppy love: Here’s a dog video to beat your Monday blues. Football Club Zenit Saint Petersburg won hearts as players marched onto the field carrying puppies in their arms — all up for adoption. Watch it here.
Caste matters: Harvard University has now introduced measures to protect students subjected to caste discrimination. In doing so, it joins the ranks of UC Davis, Colby College, and Brandeis University, among others.
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