No, we don’t want MBAs
Also in today’s edition: Grounded until grilled; Economy springs a surprise; Ackman tastes his own medicine; The bot does it for Snap
Good morning! Fed up of playing virtual roulette on dating apps? Head to LinkedIn to try your luck. No, seriously. Business Insider reports that a growing number of people in the US are using the job and networking platform hoping to be hit by Cupid’s bow—never mind that LinkedIn’s community policies prohibit using the site for dating. Some believe the presence of an individual’s employment history and references is a good way to assess whether said person is a stable partner, at the very least. Usual caveats apply though: for instance, it’s not uncommon to be DMed by men with barebones profiles asking if you want to be “mentored”. Be careful out there.
🎧 How love blossoms on LinkedIn. Also in today’s edition: Hundreds of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are grounded after a part of the side of an Alaska Airlines plane opened up midair. Listen to The Signal Daily on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Roshni Nair and Venkat Ananth also contributed to today’s edition.
The Market Signal*
Stocks & Economy: Quarterly earnings will set the tone for the stock markets beginning this week. IT giants TCS and Infosys will kick off the season in India on Thursday. Third-quarter performance expectations are muted. Analysts will be closely watching companies’ assessments as large IT contracts worth about $16 billion will be up for renewal in the next few months.
After a stupendous rally towards the end of 2023, tech stocks in the US have been gripped by a sudden turn in sentiment. Apple led the gloom, falling 5.9% after multiple analysts downgraded the stock. As the earnings season starts, US investors are also waiting for signals from companies about how they view prospects for the year.
Asian stocks were mixed in morning trade, while the GIFT Nifty was indicating a muted start for Indian equities.
Saudi Arabia has reduced prices for oil it ships to Asian buyers by $2 per barrel.
Companies Shun Costly MBAs For Specialists
There is arguably no badge as coveted as an MBA from a prestigious institute. That is because it almost always guarantees a job with a fat paycheck.
That assurance, and hence expectations, is now turning off potential employers. The Economic Times reports that average monthly job openings with MBA as a minimum qualification fell 55% in 2023. Companies are preferring candidates with specialised skills such as chartered accounting, digital marketing and data science.
Too costly: MBAs from top institutes expect a starting salary of ₹25-30 lakh (~$30,000-$36,000), which is also a deterrent for potential employers. There are 230,000 MBAs entering the job market every year and top IIMs struggled to place students even for summer internships in 2023.
Same story abroad: US students are shunning MBA. Domestic applications for Ivy League MBA programmes have been declining since 2017.
MAX Trouble For Airlines
It sure is a scary experience seeing a hole open up on the side of a plane while up in the air. It is even more terrifying when the aircraft has a reputation.
What happened: An Alaska Airline Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane had to make an emergency landing after a side panel blew off midair. The panel was in fact a “plug” for where a door should have been. Although these planes are made with multiple doors, some are “plugged” depending on the seat configuration.
History: The Boeing 737 MAX is a popular but troubled jet. It was globally grounded for more than a year in 2019 after two deadly crashes.
Flying soon: Multiple Indian carriers are awaiting delivery of dozens of these planes.
Nirmala Sitharaman May Get Some Room
Delhi has always led the country in per capita income. It increased that lead in 2022-23 to 158% of the national average. The state’s per capita income rose 14% to ₹4,44,768 ($5,346) in that year compared to ₹3,89,539 ($4,682) in the previous year, the Statistical Handbook-2023, released on Saturday, showed.
GDP surprise: Advanced estimates of national output growth released by the National Statistics Office on Friday put the number for 2023-24 at 7.3%, way ahead of estimates by the Reserve Bank of India, the International Monetary Fund, and many others. Output growth had surprised in the September and December quarters, clocking 7.8% and 7.6%,respectively.
The rise has come from a jump in manufacturing activity, which grew 6.5% in 2023-24 compared to just 1.3% in 2022-23. In contrast, some of the high job creating sectors have seen a drop in growth.
Some economists see a clear economic revival even though the optimism is mixed with caution. “Falling core inflation and rising GDP growth were arguably at the heart of India’s strong macroeconomic performance in 2023,” according to HSBC chief economist, Pranjul Bhandari. Both private and government expenditure is going more into asset creation than consumption, which, if sustained, augurs well for the long term, says NR Bhanumurthy, vice chancellor of Dr BR Ambedkar School of Economics University. He also points to an anomaly: the current account deficit (CAD) declining to 1.1%. Falling CAD for import-dependent India is not consistent with high growth.
All Squared Up
High profile US investor Bill Ackman sowed the wind. Now he is reaping the whirlwind. Neri Oxman, who was a tenured professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ackman’s wife, reportedly lifted from other people’s works without citing them in her 2010 doctoral dissertation, a Business Insider investigation found.
Billionaire Ackman, who runs hedge fund Pershing Square, recently led a vituperative campaign against Harvard’s first black president Claudine Gay, initially charging her with allowing anti-semitic protests on campus and then with plagiarism. Gay eventually resigned. Now similar charges are haunting his wife. Both of them were also caught in a controversy in 2019 when he was seen pressuring MIT to conceal artist-architect Oxman’s lab having received funding from Jeffrey Epstein, the now-deceased sex trafficker.
Ackman vowed to retaliate with plagiarism scrutiny of MIT faculty, including president Sally Kornbluth.
Bot Scripts A Snap Turnaround
A year ago, Snapchat, once a youth favourite for its special-effects features and disappearing messages, was slumping from the onslaught of rivals such as Instagram.
Its fortune seems to have reversed after it introduced My AI, a GPT-4-powered generative AI tool. Paying users for Snapchat+ increased by two million since September 2023 to seven million. Advertisers were already flocking back anyway.
Training with permission: Perhaps stung by The New York Times’ lawsuit against it and Microsoft for reportedly using the publishers’ content without permission, OpenAI is now in talks ẉith several publishers to license their material.
Keeping watch: Meanwhile, top-level revamp continues at OpenAI with Microsoft executive Dee Templeton joining its board as non-voting observer.
The big show: CES 2024 begins in Las Vegas on Tuesday and is expected to be dominated by AI. Poster boy Sam Altman will not show up though.
To the bourses: Indian payments company MobiKwik filed its draft prospectus for an $84.2 million initial public offering (IPO), a third of the $255 million it proposed to raise in a 2021 attempt.
Add to cart: China’s Ant Group is reportedly close to acquiring Dutch payments company MultiSafepay in a $200 million deal, per Reuters. The deal will allow Ant to go deeper into Western markets.
Scrutiny: India’s competition commission is probing the Indian businesses of global logistics majors such as DHL, FedEx, Aramex and UPS for “alleged collusion on discounts and tariffs,” according to Reuters. In the US, the Justice Department is closing on an antitrust case against Apple that looks into the iPhone maker’s walled garden.
Green signal: Gujarat International FinTec (GIFT) City greenlit a proposal by Premji Invest to set up a family investment fund (FIF) to invest capital overseas. Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures is also among those keen to set up an FIF at GIFT City.
Recalled: Hyderabad-based drug major Dr Reddy's Laboratories is recalling 8,280 bottles of Tacrolimus capsules from the United States market over a packaging error. The recalled bottles had a “presence of foreign tablets/capsules.”
THE DAILY DIGIT
The likely rise in the cost of shipping because of the disruption in the Red Sea, according to economic think-tank GTRI. The crisis is also expected to increase insurance premiums by 20%. (Business Standard)
Ctrl + Alt + Move on: Looking for a job but finding no luck? Take a cue from Haimantika Mitra, a 24-year-old self-taught coder from Siliguri who wanted to work with Microsoft so bad, she applied for various positions in the company over 30 times. The rejections didn’t deter her. Mitra first worked her way through the Microsoft online community during Covid, interacting with engineers and other professionals. She eventually bagged a role but guess what—she quit after a year and ended up taking the position she wanted in a different company. Whattay twist.
Weed it out: While a lot of what Elon Musk does, even buying a social media company for $44 billion and wrecking it, is often passed off as the eccentricities of a billionaire entrepreneur, this transgression may not pass easily. Leaders at his companies are worried about his drug use. Musk, The Wall Street Journal reports, is known to smoke marijuana, snort coke, pop ecstasy, and use LSD and ketamine. Executives worry that he may be putting his companies in danger. He perhaps thinks it keeps him functioning at a high level.
Keeping Up With The Kancellation: The mobile game that helped Kim Kardashian become hella rich isno more. ‘Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’, developed by Glu Mobile (which was eventually acquired by Electronics Arts), is shutting down after nearly 10 years because Kim now wants to “focus that energy into other passions”. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood once made about $700,000 a day just from app purchases, generated $160 million in revenue, and was reportedly downloaded at least 145 million times. Truly the end of an era.