Economics

The Dow Jones Industrial Average continued with its record run today, after surpassing the 20,000 milestone yesterday. The S&P and Nasdaq also hit record levels immediately after opening, before easing off their highs.

India oil consumption growth will be the fastest among all major economies by 2035, BP Statistical Review of World Energy said. India, Asia’s second-biggest energy consumer since 2008, had in 2015 overtaken Japan as the world’s third-largest oil consuming country behind US and China.

According to BNP Paribas SA, the fed will increase interest rates every quarter in 2018. Given the fiscally expansive policies proposed by Donald Trump, the new president’s agenda may help to lift wages in 2018, hoisting labor costs, the bank said in a Jan. 25 report.

According to figures released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics, the UK economy grew 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, the same rate as in the second and third quarters and better than the 0.5 percent figure economists had estimated. It also makes Britain the fastest-growing among the world’s seven most developed economies. The fourth quarter figures were driven by service businesses, with strong contributions from retail sales and travel – consumer-based industries that capitalised on public confidence. Manufacturing bounced back from a weak third quarter.

China’s latest population development plan, released by the State Council late Wednesday, projects that about a quarter of China’s population will be 60 or older by 2030. That’s up from 13.3 percent of the population in the country’s latest census in 2010. A shrinking labor force would further erode China’s competitive edge in manufacturing and would also be a drag on consumption. The total population is now expected to peak around 2030 and begin to decline after that.

Compiled by Nicole Almeida

Data Analytics

AI Crushes Poker Professionals and Why it Matters

A machine named Libratus, developed at Carnegie Mellon University, has been consistently beating 4 of the world’s best poker players. In a 20-day tournament to showcase the ability of the machine, Libratus has amassed a profit of over $700k and is very much in the lead with only a week left to play. Although the human players have been allowed to share notes, they have found the computer to be increasingly difficult to outmaneuver.

This is a huge breakthrough for AI since unlike chess or go, poker deals with imperfect information and includes bluffing and semi-bluffing, traditionally considered to fall within a ‘human’ domain. The researchers hope that given its success in this complicated environment, AI enabled technology would become a successful tool in international negotiations and conflict management in the future.

Demonetisation Analytics

The GoI has begun the exercise of engaging private agencies to compare demonetization-period data with I-T returns to zone in on tax defaulters. The department has identified that INR 2 lac+ was deposited in 60 lac bank accounts amounting to over INR 7.34cr. This data will be matched against information from I-T returns, TDS and Third Party Reporting to construct a profile of each individual taxpayer. The techniques utilized involve cutting edge analytics, clustering and large volume data management.

Viacom’s March towards being a Data-driven Company

Viacom is one of the world’s premier media companies, owning both Nickelodeon and MTV. In the course of its operations, Viacom collects a vast amount of data and has an intricate understanding of what its audiences watch and when they watch it. This helps the company to optimise its show schedule and so forth. However, the system itself faces issues of bandwidth, with excess bandwidth going to waste at times that few people are consuming the media company’s products, particularly during sleeping or working hours. To correct this, Viacom has built a platform (based on Apache Spark) which will integrate real time analytics and optimise the provision of bandwidth to ensure quality of content at all times. Interestingly, Viacom will also monitor environmental factors that are beyond its control such as Wi-Fi connectivity at a client’s home and look to mine insights that could further optimise its content delivery.

Compiled by Shivam Kaushik

Public Policy

Domestic

India mulls reviving colonial era gold mines with $2 billion reserves

The Government of India is planning to revive a cluster of colonial era gold mines, shut for 15 years, but with an estimated $2.1 billion worth of deposits left to look for ways to cut its trade deficit. India is the second largest importer of gold in the world, behind China, with an estimated $30bn of gold being annually imported from overseas.

Govt plans expansive budget despite growth, revenue worries

Arun Jaitley is looking at how to fund giveaways to taxpayers and higher public investment to help nurse Indian economy back to health after demonetisation

The FinMin is set to borrow more than what was originally planned and raises concern whether the govt is taking too many fiscal risks. A fiscal advisory panel has suggested that to stretch the fiscal deficit just slightly over 3% to free up funds for railway and infrastructure projects.

This has drawn a warning from the rating agency S&P who mentioned that delayed fiscal consolidation could hurt India’s chances of an upgrade due to its high and rising levels.

The FinMin and his team have forecasted a recovery in the nominal GDP to be around 12% in 2017-18, assuming that the oil prices stay in the $55-60/barrel bracket and the GST being implemented in July. The IMF has shaved almost a percentage point off India’s forecast of real economic growth, to 6.6%, in the current fiscal year to March. link

Opinions: Moving towards a secure digital economy

Digital transactions are changing the way India transacts, trades and is taxed. The project endeavours to breach the Urban-Rural divide. But a wider adoption of digital payments will invariably change the dimensions of risks, crime and security as well. “Digital pickpockets” or cybercriminals may dominate the days ahead as they target digital and online transactions. Since their domain of work is a low risk environment (due to lack of forensic and human capabilities and attribution challenges) and an expansive reach of technology that will make even “petty pickings” attractive. And although cybercrime will affect us all, it will harm the poor disproportionately. It could ravage the small savings of many, deprive them of their meager means and, most importantly, result in erosion of trust in the financial ecosystem currently being built. It is, therefore, important that the government pay heed to small fraud. link

International

Trump orders building of Mexico border wall, targets US ‘sanctuary’ cities

POTUS Donald Trump orders crack down on US cities that shield illegal immigrants, proceeding quickly on sweeping and divisive plans to boost national security.

Trump signed two executive orders for building a 2000-mile wall along the US-Mexico border. This could change US’ fundamental stand on immigrants and test the US-Mexico relations. Trump has signaled at creating additional space near the southern border to make it easier and cheaper for the authorities to detain and deport the immigrants. He is set to meet the Mexican Prime Minister in the coming week.

Compiled by Manas Gokhale

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