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Truss, Xi to hog the weekend
Also in today’s edition: Sugarcane is northbound; Netflix and Microsoft cross gaming paths; Uber’s all in on ads
Good morning! Last evening, The Signal reached a small milestone in its journey: 50,000 subscribers. It took us a while to get there, but here we are. On behalf of our team, a big thank you to you, the reader, for being part of this journey and making us an integral part of your morning routine. We’re not done yet; in fact, we’re just getting started. Speaking of getting started, here’s today’s edition.
The Market Signal*
Stocks, bonds… British PM Liz Truss’ resignation injected some verve into the UK’s bond market, whose jitters were the primary reason for instability in markets worldwide in the past six weeks. Buoyant corporate earnings kept Indian equities on an even keel although the rupee’s fall is weighing on investors’ minds. While it will make imports more expensive, exporters will make windfall gains.
Early Asia: The SGX Nifty declined -0.12% lower than its previous close at 7.30 am India time. The Hang Seng Index (-0.37%) and Nikkei 225 (-0.29%) were also swimming in the red.
Britain May Yet Get Its First Indian-origin PM
British Prime Minister Liz Truss has resigned, making her predecessor Boris Johnson’s 34 months in power look like an era compared to her blink-of-an-eye 44 days in office. Truss’ will be the shortest stint by any British PM in history. The Daily Star’s lettuce popped the bubbly.
New leader: Conservative Party members of parliament (MP) will choose another leader next week. Rishi Sunak, who had won the MPs’ vote last time 137 to Truss’ 113 but lost out in the party members’ poll, is again the frontrunner. Some want Johnson back.
Not easy: Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has called for a general election. Yet, even Starmer knows that anyone occupying 10 Downing Street will be wearing a crown of thorns. Britain’s economic woes are not only deep-rooted but also worsened by the war in Ukraine.
Sugarcane Cultivation Sweetens The Deal In North India
What should never have been grown in the water-scarce states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra is slowly being uprooted.
While north Indian states witnessed a 42% surge in sugarcane output in the last decade, production slumped 32.4% in the south. Tamil Nadu (TN) leads the pack with a 66% decline.
What's happening?: State governments in the north are encouraging farmers to cultivate sugarcane. A hike in State Advisory Price for sugarcane that’s higher than the Centre's Fair and Remunerative Price also helped. The south, including TN, works on a revenue-sharing model.
Blessing in disguise: UP and Bihar are water-rich states thanks to large snow-fed rivers such as the Ganges and Kosi originating in the Himalayas. Contrast that with Maharashtra which subsidises the water-guzzling crop in semi-arid regions quenched by inefficient irrigation projects.
No Party For Private Sector
The decreasing influence of private enterprise in the larger scheme of things in China is starkly visible at the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) 20th Party Congress. It comes at a time when the CPC is deeply entrenching itself in private companies.
Thin representation: Financial Times reported that the number of private sector delegates dwindled to 18 this year from 34 in 2012. Only three are from the top 500 companies by revenue and just one from the digital industry.
The number of party committees, meanwhile, has increased by 10% to 1.6 million in the past 10 years.
Throughout his decade in power and now at the time of cementing it for a third term, President Xi has consistently messaged that his goal was to make the CPC paramount in China. The next five years will see consolidation of party power and near domination of every aspect of China.
By postponing the publication of GDP numbers, it has already indicated that nothing should distract from the congress, even if it concerns the economy. China has repeatedly stated that it will continue to open up and continue to engage with other countries openly and on an equal footing. It will be, however, distinctly different from when Deng Xiaoping began opening up in the 1980s. The state then sought the support and cooperation of officials, businesspeople and intellectuals. In Xi’s China, they will likely be merely carrying out orders. That won’t deter investors though.
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Netflix And Microsoft Swap Places
Kinda. As Protocol first reported in August, Netflix is building the blocks for cloud gaming infrastructure. Now it’s official: the company’s expanding beyond mobile and building something that won’t resemble Google’s failed Stadia, which had the tech chops but whose use case made little sense. Realising those cloud gaming ambitions won’t be easy for Netflix though.
Then there’s Microsoft, an early mover in cloud-everything that wants a chunk of the mobile pie. Unsurprising, considering Activision Blizzard King makes more money from mobile than consoles and PCs combined. To that end, Microsoft is developing an Xbox mobile store that’ll compete with the App Store and Google Play. This segues neatly into its plans to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to mobile, and chief Satya Nadella’s ultimate goal of making interoperability a stepping stone to its cloud.
🎧 Will Netflix become the next big thing at cloud gaming? Find out on The Signal Daily, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Uber’s Value Ad Proposition
The world’s most famous ride-hailing company is digging its heels into digital advertising. Uber has a $1 billion target for ad bookings by 2024 and wants to go beyond ads on Uber Eats to ads within the ride-hailing app—specifically, while people book or complete a trip—atop cars, and behind seats.
Hmm: Mark Grether, who heads Uber’s ad efforts, says in-cab commercials would work because customers are “uniquely attentive” during rides. But most of us are either on phones, chatting, or willing to gaze anywhere but at an ad-displaying tablet. Not to mention that promos surfacing when you book a cab or end a trip would be a nuisance at best.
Boost: Tata Consumer Products recorded a 36% rise in year-on-year growth and <29% rise in profits, led by revenue jumps from Starbucks, Sampann, and Tata’s salt portfolio.
New low: The Japanese yen, whose value has fallen 23% this year, dropped to 150 against the US dollar–its lowest level since 1990.
New drop: Reliance-owned Jio Platforms has officially launched the JioBook, a ₹15,799 ($190) laptop that ships with a sim card and runs on JioOS.
Exit: Amin Zoufounon, Meta’s VP of corporate development who played a critical role in the acquisitions of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus, has left the company.
Yikes: Hyundai is investigating child labour violations in its American supply chain in Alabama, US.
Pay up: India's Competition Commission of India (CCI) has fined Google ₹1337.6 crore for pre-installing its own suite of apps on Android phones, deeming it an "anti-competitive" practice.
THE DAILY DIGIT
The combined valuation of Apple and Saudi Aramco—worth $2.3 trillion and $2.1 trillion respectively—which Elon Musk believes Tesla can exceed. (Markets Insider)
A star is reborn: Hollywood actor Anna May Wong was one of the first artists to work in technicolor. Today, she's making history once again. Wong is the first Asian American movie star to be immortalised in the US currency and one of few women with her own coin series, alongside poet-activist Maya Angelou and Sally Ride—the first American woman in space. Now that’s great company.
Under the hammer: When McDonald’s released its limited edition Happy Meal for adults, it wanted to elicit the feeling of simpler times. Turns out it can also collect a high price on bidding sites. Some bidders are hoping customers are willing to pay top dollar for these pieces, even as high as $300,000. Ah, the power of nostalgia.
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