JP Morgan, travel agent
Also in today’s edition: Insider story; Monkeypox see, monkeypox do; Metaverse jobs bite the dust; Economies brace for contraction
Good morning! Taylor Swift wouldn't be proud of topping this list. The singer is in the line of fire for being a perpetual emissions offender. According to sustainability marketing firm Yard, Swift's private jet flew 170 times since January. Her team defended the backlash by saying she “loaned out regularly to other individuals.” Other serial offenders include Steven Spielberg, Kim Kardashian, Oprah Winfrey, Kylie Jenner, and Drake. Swift's fans are divided.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: Domestic equities ended on a high note, aided by metal and IT shares. The RBI's upcoming monetary policy meeting, where it's expected to hike the repo rate, could impact markets. The earnings season continues for Indian companies. ITC, UPL, Britannia Industries, InterGlobe Aviation, and Nykaa, among others, will reveal their Q1 numbers.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty rose 0.23% at 7.30 am India time. Nikkei 225 (0.33%) followed suit. The Hang Seng Index slumped 0.69%.
JP Morgan Wants To Be A Travel Agent
Global financier JP Morgan Chase is going all out to build a massive travel agency. It wants to offer customers everything from itinerary planning to ticketing and booking services.
Why? JP Morgan already possesses a travel component. Its credit cards, such as the Sapphire Reserve, allow customers to collect travel rewards and redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards booking website. Of late, the website has been abuzz with activity, with customers spending big on travel. Naturally, the financier wants to leverage this and turn customers into loyal Chase fans.
Elbow grease: The investment bank has been laying the groundwork for a travel business for more than a year. In February 2022, it acquired US-based luxury travel company Frosch. In 2021, it purchased a restaurant discovery platform called The Infatuation and a Pune-based travel loyalty solutions firm known as Tavisca. Recently, JP Morgan also partnered with Airport Dimensions to set up airport lounges in multiple locations.
🎧 Global financier JP Morgan Chase is aspiring to become a travel agency.
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What is the incentive really? The former Goldman Sachs banker Brijesh Goel, who has been booked for insider trading, reportedly made just $85,000 from the tips he allegedly passed on.
That’s awfully low compared to what his remuneration cheque could have been. Bloomberg reported that an executive such as Goel could potentially clear more than $1 million a year. Yet, he took the career-threatening risk of insider trading. To be sure, Goel has denied the charge.
Another banker, Sean Stewart of Perella Weinberg Partners, himself made no money but went to prison for leaking sensitive information to his dad. It’s a mystery whether it is the charisma of whales (think Gordon Gecko in Wall Street), the thrill of illicit risk-taking, or free money that makes pros step on to the slippery slope.
Monkeypox Goes Global
It has happened: monkeypox cases are slowly taking centre stage in India. So far, an eight-year-old kid has shown symptoms of the viral disease in Andhra Pradesh. A monkeypox patient died in Kerala on Saturday. Small mercies: India’s first monkeypox patient from the state has recovered.
Elsewhere: After San Francisco, New York City declared the monkeypox outbreak a state emergency this weekend. Officials claim as many as 150,000 citizens could be at risk of infection. There’s a shortage of monkeypox vaccines in the US. Spain has registered two monkeypox deaths, the first such confirmed deaths in Europe.
The World Health Organisation has deemed monkeypox a global public health emergency. It’s been reported in 75 countries, with 4,483 cases in the last week, and places the fatality rate between 3% to 6%. It has crept up just when a worn out world was getting back on its feet.
Experts suggest that monkeypox may have been circulating in India for years, given how India's first two monkeypox cases were of the A.2 strain, different from the strains detected in the Europe outbreak. Back home, Serum Institute of India (SII) is actively looking to develop a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine while mulling over importing the vaccine from a Danish pharma company.
Experts, including an epidemiologist, are sounding alarm bells to classify it as a pandemic.
🎧 Monkeypox is turning out to become a global concern.
Metaverse Hiring Frenzy Gets A Reality Check
The metaverse job bump is fading away. Jobs related to the virtual world are disappearing as Big Tech prepares for an economic downturn and resultant impact on their core businesses.
Reality check: Meta reported its first-ever quarterly sales decline, while Google and others slowed down hiring and investments across their businesses.
Meta—which rebranded in October 2021 and made the metaverse mainstream—has more problems to contend with: job postings with “metaverse” in their title declining 81% in the June-ending quarter, according to workplace researcher Revelio Labs. VR and AR jobs at Alphabet have also dwindled.
🚀: India, however, seems to be the anomaly by going big on so-called Web3 and the metaverse despite the crypto freefall. Why? Developers.
Major Economies Turn Shrinking Violets
China’s economic contractions are sparking fresh concerns over a global recession. Both manufacturing and non-manufacturing activity fell due to fresh Covid outbreaks, a housing crisis, and mounting pressure on banks. Economists forecast that China’s growth may reach just 4% this year.
Jaws of debt: An ongoing mortgage boycott by property buyers forced Beijing to consider a repayment moratorium, in turn pushing banks to raise record debt. Chinese lenders sold nearly 30% more government bonds this year to cover credit losses and brace for more bad loans.
Elsewhere: The UK economy—contending with its highest inflation in 40 years—will also contract in late 2022 and early 2023, to the extent that it will experience the slowest growth of all major economies (alongside Russia). Ongoing contractions in the US economy, coupled with the strain on Chinese banks, are causing dominoes to fall in emerging markets too.
Globetrotting: IPL team owners are aiming to tie down players to 12-month contracts to play across franchises, per The Daily Telegraph.
Fresh moolah: Indian private equity firm Lighthouse is looking to raise a $400 million fund for fast-growing consumer brands.
Off air: Indonesia blocked Yahoo, PayPal, and gaming companies such as Steam for their failure to comply with the country’s licensing rules.
Double whammy: US President Joe Biden tested positive for Covid again, just days after recovering from it. Such “rebound” cases have been observed in patients who used Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid.
Greenlight: The Zee-Sony merger has been approved by the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange.
WFA: Swiggy will join a list of companies that allow most of their staff to work from anywhere.
Fresh face: India’s Savitri Jindal is Asia’s richest woman, going past Yang Huiyan in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Payback with ☕: Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons first spied on its customers and is now offering a free cup of coffee and free baked goods as part of a settlement. The app had tracked the customer’s location data without permission for over a year.
Banking on love: Thailand’s sagging tourism industry is looking at its gay-romance TV dramas for a fillip. How? These 'boy love' shows command a large fan following. Thailand is in turn cashing in by hosting events in Japan. It's working. Japan's companies offer online location tours, while Thai language teachers offer courses on the language.
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