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Rice cooks up a storm
Also in today’s edition: Celsius takes a dip; It’s an influencer’s world; XBox’s mega showcase; Cotton leaves India spinning
Good morning! Ah, the intrigue is over. For the first time, the IPL will follow the West in having two separate broadcasters for TV and streaming. While DisneyStar defended its TV rights for a massive ₹23,575 crore ($3.1 billion), you'll have to install Voot to watch your beloved franchise play, because Viacom18-Bodhi Tree bagged those rights for ₹20,500 crore ($2.6 billion). The BCCI is walking away with a cool ₹44,075 crore (~$5.8 billion). And if you thought it's over, there's more to come tomorrow.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: It was a Black Monday in Dalal Street as fears of aggressive interest rate hikes by the US Fed spooked investors. It didn't help that the US consumer price index surged to a 41-year high of 8.6%. All eyes are on Fed whose policy meeting begins Tuesday. Persistent FII selling, negative sentiments across global market, a weaker rupee and fresh Covid-19 wave in China dampened sentiments. Wall Street entered bear-market territory after the S&P 500 dived 3.9%.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty was down 0.03% at 7.30 am India time. The Nikkei 225 was down 2.02%. The Hang Seng index sagged.
Celsius Suffers Third Degree Burns
Celsius is off the cliff. Its CEL token is trading at 18 cents after it paused transactions citing “extreme market conditions”.
Darling turned dud: As one of the world’s biggest crypto lenders, Celsius’ valuation was estimated to reach $7 billion-$10.5 billion. But controversies aplenty—a fraudulent former CFO, action by US state regulators, and a $22 million loss due to a bizarre unforced error—decreased its assets sixfold. Today, its users are staring at wipeouts as Celsius freezes their assets to stabilise liquidity; clause 13 of its terms forgoes legal obligation to repay them if Celsius folds.
Plummet: Crypto watchers claim Celsius investor Tether—the world’s largest stablecoin—is next. Bitcoin plunged below $25,000, its lowest level since December 2020. Ethereum is trading below $1,300. In all, the top 20 coins slid by double-digit percentages, bringing the global crypto market cap to below $1 trillion at one point. Binance has paused Bitcoin withdrawals.
Amazon Shops For Social Influence
Amazon’s going all out for clout. The e-commerce major treated TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram influencers to a luxurious getaway in Mexico.
Why?: Because they are members of the Amazon Influencer Program (AIP). AIP members set up storefronts, host shoppable livestreams on Amazon Live, and push Amazon products to followers. Influencers get commissions for products sold.
But: Influencers are struggling to find audiences on Amazon Live. Amazon also doesn’t do giveaways: influencers must purchase products before recommending favourites. In short, they aren’t pleased about having to buy from Amazon in order to get paid by Amazon.
Aside: Influencers paid to tweet against Meesho are in violation of ASCI guidelines, which require disclosures about “material connections” between advertisers and influencers.
Is Rice The Next Sitting Duck?
Pattern: The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) latest price index shows a spike in global rice prices for the fifth consecutive month–up 3.5% since April. Not long ago, we saw an uptick in meat, sugar, oil and wheat prices. The fuel for this? Of course, it's the Russia-Ukraine flare-up, which has been pushing costs of feed, fertilisers and energy through the roof.
In May, India—the world’s second-largest rice exporter, and the second-largest producer of wheat—banned wheat exports citing intense heatwaves and rising domestic inflation. The retail price of wheat in the country had touched ₹30 per kilogram by then—a 13% year-on-year increase. Ukraine and Indonesia too slapped similar bans around the time.
The most obvious substitute for wheat is rice. According to Reuters, traders have already started buying more Indian rice in the last two weeks. Over and above all this, much of the world heavily depends on rice everyday. Think south Asia and southeast Asia.
In the eventuality that countries place restrictions on rice exports, a supply crisis coupled with food insecurity is probably on the horizon. Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey stated that India is not planning to place any curbs on rice. This comes as a huge relief, no doubt. But remember, India’s ban on wheat exports was a bombshell.
Microsoft Plays The Long Game
Microsoft just gave its gaming subscription puzzle a filip. The company will drop 50 new titles for the XBox Game Pass within a year, including some from its recent (and expensive) acquisitions. Competitor Sony also launched a revamped PlayStation Plus in the US.
Cue Netflix: No, we aren't talking Squid Game, whose second season Netflix teased on Sunday. The platform announced a lineup of games; while some are licensed from its shows, it will bring indie titles such as the award-winning Raji: An Ancient Epic to mobile. (Fun fact: Raji is developed by Pune-based Nodding Head Games). Netflix aims to launch 50 new titles by year-end.
Westbound: After a recent $1 billion capital infusion, Nexon, the Japanese company behind Dungeon and Fighter, is eyeing an expansion to global markets. One early sign was its $400 million investment in indie studio AGBO.
🎧 Microsoft has announced a dozen new titles for Xbox Game Pass. Streaming giant Netflix will offer 50 games by the end of 2022. Who's game?
Textile Industry Hangs By A Thread
It's not a good time to upgrade your wardrobe essentials. Inflation, crop failures, and high demand have spiked cotton prices by 106%, marking an 11-year high. It didn't help that prices for dyes went up as well.
Aftermath: India’s market share in US cotton sheet imports fell by 10% in the last financial year. China and Pakistan have gained 5% of the market share. Tamil Nadu's Tirupur is staring at uncertain times, and so are dairy farmers who rely on cotton seed cattlefeed. Gujarat’s denim manufacturers are experimenting with blends to cut down on costs.
All that glitters: All the goodwill that vegan leather earned is faff. Turns out the Higg Index, a tool introduced by the biggest fashion brands to measure product sustainability, is plain wrong.
🎧 Vegan leather, in all probability, is simply plastic. The faulty Higg Index is to be blamed. Find out why.
Setback: In a blow to Amazon, NCLAT upheld CCI’s suspension of the Amazon-Future Group deal and the ₹202 crore penalty liable to Future Coupons.
Kadak: Chaayos has raised $45 million as part of a funding round led by Alpha Wave Capital, taking the company’s valuation to $250 million. EV battery swapping network Battery Smart raised $25 million in a round led by Tiger Global.
iPhone Plus: Apple’s revenue from services such as Arcade and Music is expected to jump by 36% to $8.2 billion by 2025, as per a JPMorgan report.
Just don't: India’s information and broadcasting ministry has advised print, electronic and digital media to stop carrying advertisements of online betting and gambling platforms.
Joe Schmoe: Spotify has formed a Safety Advisory Council to assess harmful content after it received backlash for The Joe Rogan Experience.
Fresh line up: Actor and chief creative officer of The Honest Co Jessica Alba is among the six new members Yahoo is adding to its board of directors.
Slackers beware: The country that celebrates ‘Respect for the Aged Day’ is now tiring of the hatarakanai ojisan– the old geezer who slacks off at work. In a survey, 49.2% of young Japanese employees complained about hatarakanai ojisans staring into space, taking back-to-back breaks, and idle-chatting. Talk about intergenerational friction.
Payback: Google is shelling $118 million to settle a class action lawsuit that accused it of underpaying women. The accord for the plaintiffs covers about 15,500 women at Google in 236 different job titles. An independent expert will also analyse Google’s hiring practices, and an independent economist will review the company’s pay equity studies.
Gold canvas: China’s most prodigious artist is getting his day in the sun. The works of Zhang Daqian—once overshadowed by contemporaries Pablo Picasso and (later) Andy Warhol—are selling for millions and outpacing Van Gogh and Banksy. Reason? Chinese buyers. The country once commanded just 1% of the global art market twenty years ago; it’s now the world’s second-biggest art market.
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