Omicron holds court
Also in today’s edition: Musk is at it again; Xi to fix digital economy; EVs get a jump-start; Undies draw in VC money
Good morning! Are you Team Crocin or Team Dolo 650? Well, it wouldn't matter. Dolo 650 is winning India’s paracetamol wars. It has clocked sales worth ₹567 crore since March 2020, according to The Print. Makers Micro Labs will continue to rake in the moolah as Covid-infected patients and vaccine recipients fight chills and aches.
Inflation in the United States reached a 40-year high in December 2021, and policymakers are now concerned that it might lead to another "great inflation" phase like the one that occurred in the 1970s. Catch the episode on The Signal Daily, and find out what are the consequences.
The Market Signal
Stocks: Indices ended the last week marginally lower as bulls took a breather. The direction in the coming week is likely to be set by corporate earnings. Meanwhile, an Economic Times report said the proportion of women equity investors has jumped from to 24% from 16% two years ago.
What’ll Musk do without Twitter?
Elon Musk aka the Dogefather is back doing what he does best: moving markets. This time, a move by Tesla to accept his beloved cryptocurrency — the Dogecoin — for brand merchandise, has fired up the coin. Sounds familiar?
Not just that, Musk is poking his head in other company’s affairs. Tesla threatened to stop business with law firm Cooley if it didn't fire an attorney involved in an SEC probe of Musk.
Outside of the US: Tesla sold a record 70,847 China-made cars in December.
India drama on Twitter: Opposition parties-ruled Maharashtra, West Bengal, Punjab and Telangana reached out to Musk on Twitter, inviting Tesla to set up a factory after the BJP government at the Centre called him out for pressuring it on social media.
Tracking The Third Wave
Elsewhere: UK may let vaccinated Indian travellers to the country without the mandated Covid-19 tests. Malta protests against Covid-19 measures. Austria will penalise its unvaccinated citizens. Portugal's election campaign for January 30 will proceed without large rallies. Pharmacy chains in the US are temporarily bringing down the shutters amid an Omicron surge among employees.
(With the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in India and beyond, Tracking The Third Wave will be a regular feature in The Signal. The section will feature a curation of everything you need to keep up with the third wave, besides its impact on business, the economy, and beyond.)
How Deep Is The Crisis?
China is scrambling to contain the fallout of the real estate market crisis. While experts are predicting an end to the property boom, the government is trying to avoid a hard landing of the economy. Health-conscious: President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, is steamrolling to straighten the digital economy. Xi wants China’s digital economy to be “big but not strong, and fast but not superior”.
The fight against Covid-19 has disrupted supply chains, putting multinationals that use China as their factory in a quandary as they are unable to meet demand.
The depth of the crisis is yet unfathomable. Beijing has gone all out to reduce the overall debt burden but despite the efforts, it’s debt to GDP ratio stood at over 263%. Corporate debt adds up to $27 trillion, twice that of the US. At over $8 trillion, local governments loans account for more than half of GDP.
President Xi is preparing to begin an unprecedented third term in office later this year. He has moved away from letting private enterprises operate freely to the state taking more control of the levers of the economy. That has restricted the profitability of several emerging sectors, some such as edtech explicitly being banned from making profits.
If wary multinationals were to move manufacturing away from China to reduce uncertainty, it would not only impact China but the global economy as a whole.
The EV and battery industries are getting a lot of carrots and some sticks. The incentives, however, are largely tilted towards pushing personal transport (and consequently, clogged cities) rather than eco-friendly mass transit and open roads.
Charging infra: The central government has allowed public sector units to offer their land for private parties to set up charging stations. It has also allowed individuals to recharge private vehicles using home electricity connections.
Ride-hailing and delivery services in Delhi will have to immediately begin converting their two-wheeler and four-wheeler fleet to electric as per a new policy.
Battery power: Meanwhile, a ₹18,100 crore incentive scheme for battery makers has attracted 10 bids, including from heavyweights Reliance New Energy Solar, Hyundai Global Motors, Ola Electric, Mahindra & Mahindra and Larsen & Toubro.
Innerwear Is Out In Bloom
It’s a new dawn for underwear and lingerie brands as the industry attracted $457 million in funding–the highest in five years. The brands that attracted plum venture capital $$$ are Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS, Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty, Parade, Knix Wear, and NEIWAI.
Under the over: What started as a backlash against Victoria’s Secret (so much so that there’s even a podcast on it) has culminated into a demand—led by Gen Zs and younger millennials—for comfortable, sustainable, and inclusive innerwear. While Victoria’s Secret is busy reinventing itself, investors are spotting opportunities in a market now catering to people of all shapes, sizes, and even genders.
The time is ripe: The pandemic-fuelled demand for comfortable innerwear supplements the spurt in online shopping. Add to this high customer loyalty in this segment, and you have a recipe for VC interest.
No entry: Pharma bro Martin Shkreli has been blacklisted from the pharma industry forever for raising the price of Daraprim overnight by 5,000%.
Request declined: GlaxoSmithKline has turned down a £50 billion offer from Unilever to buy its consumer healthcare unit.
Upwards: India's exports in December 2021 were worth $37.29 billion, up more than 38% from that of December 2020. Imports rose by the same margin too to $59.48 billion.
First time: Here’s another buzzword: ETF. Simplify Asset Management has filed an application with the SEC for an ETF focused on Web 3.
Riding slow: Two-wheeler sales have hit a 10-year low. They have now fallen for three consecutive years.
Not just a line: Chester FC’s home ground Deva Stadium is stuck in a dispute as the boundary between England and Wales runs through the stadium. The ticket office is in England but the pitch is in Wales. Their different Covid-19 rules have compelled the club to stop play.
Beef to milk: The pandemic works in strange ways, sometimes sparing lives to let people make a living. Ranchers in Barinas, an agricultural state of Venezuela, who reared cattle for meat are milking them instead. Economic downturn has hit demand for beef which has compelled them to start producing milk that they can sell in dollars.
Finding Koala: Deep in Australia’s bush, some scientists are on a mission to find a hidden koala enclave. The cuddly marsupial and must-do tourist prop is now hard to find after bushfires killed thousands of them in 2019. Hellish temperatures are making it hard for animals to survive globally.
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