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Weekly Digest (Economics, Finance and Banking) 24 May - 30 May 2016

Hello Everyone, 

Hell everyone, thats what comes up seeing the cartoon, not risible at all, it is the reality of our times pan-global.<ctrl + alt + del> it. 




That’s the problem, as long as the Left tries to compete with capitalism on its own turf it will always lose. The point is to exit the game rather than compete with it. Leave the board and there are no pieces to move around, smash, enslave, corrupt… time to forget the Voice, and Exit the Game. Of course on a Global Chessboard or a Realm of GO where does one go? That’s the BIG Question of our time… maybe it’s not a place, as much as it is a retroactive change in the Players and the Game itself… a reconditioning of the very symbolic field of play on a global level, a mutation, a slow substitution of the board itself and its subtraction and replacement by an alternative strategy…we need space to think… that’s what is meant by Exit… a “space of thought and reason, as well as strategy” to think outside the box of localism and globalism… to create something new… a real alternative that isn’t bound to the repetitions of the past failures…”… and, of course that means building consensus and collective help systems outside current failures.. we act atomistic when we are singularities and plural… we seem bound to the subordinated and outmoded, habitual traditionalisms of the Left and unable to move forward, and like those on Salvage who seek to bewail our fate in melancholy estate we seem to be in a slump a bleak funk… we’ve got to fail better, try better… crawl out of our shit holes and help each other… Yet, it cannot be reformism… it cannot be resurrected Progressivism of any form… it must be something creative, something new for our moment… Maybe, we need a “space of heterogeneity” and subversion, a site of transgression outside the Law, outside the homogenized thought-worlds we’ve been habitually repeating for so long.

Public Finance Public Accountability Collective (PFPAC) Weekly Digest (24 May - 30 May 2016)

Banking in Distress

Another peak scaled. It's a new for NPAs as PSBs record 5.4 lakh crore in FY16. Technically speaking, it is a provision coverage ratio (PCR) that has plateaued. PCR is capacity to withhold stress, and compared with FY15, it has been on the table land, or in other words, provisions made by the PSBs have stood constant over loans gone sour. Where is the pundit heading BRICS Bank claiming NPAs to turn productive? Kamath interviewed on May 10 at ET. 

Panel is up to scrutinise growing NPAs in power PSUs. The PSUs under the lens are REC and PFC. The Panel is comprised of 2 independent directors of the companies and a senior official of the Power Ministry. The question is political versus administrative acumen. WHAT wins? 


+ The quagmire of banking NPAs. An in-depth look at Indian Merchants' Chamber and Free Press Journal held Forum with the likes of SS Mundra, Dy Governor, RBI, in the Panel. An absolutely must read

SBI's conservative loan watch list. It has taken on board only 5% of the power sector into the watch list. 

Multilateral Development Banks

A lesson in late realisation, as IMF admits to the detriment of austerity. Yes, IMF, the IMF turns on neoliberalism. 

+ Wait... you mean that the IMF becoming, gasp, Marxist? Did last summer's dramatic interaction with Greece and its brief but memorable former Marxist finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, leave such a prominent mark on the IMF's collective subconsiousness, that it is now overly rejecting the tenets on which the IMF was originally founded? Neoliberalism Oversold? BTW, here is the IMF doing the unthinkable, and waving to Marx:
The evidence of the economic damage from inequality suggests that policymakers should be more open to redistribution than they are. 
+ World's largest lender in climate-related investment decides to shake hands with the rising Asian monster. EIB and AIIB to strengthen ties on climate change.  

Policy

Another number game policy advocated by the Cabinet. This time, it is the capital goods sector policy thought though till 2025 with tripling the production of capital goods to 7.5 lakh crore, creating an employment of 21 million resulting in making India a net exporter of capital goods. The realisation of the policy bats for devising a long-term, stable and rationalised tax and duty structure, including the GST, which is still shuttled between the two houses of the Parliament. 

+ The Centre by its very definition is never humble. But, what of modesty of the ruling dispensation? Why does it always have to beat the drums around a spectacle that whiffs? Žižek, the Slovenian social theorist always refers to a fascist as someone who applauds himself sending in a frenzy of mass hysteria as an accompaniment. Modi is no stranger to such beatific assessments as is amply proved by his 2-year completion, overkill of the hyperbole

+ But, there is always the eulogy by Surjeet Bhalla, who claims Modi's as possibly the best three years for Indian economy since independence. Would this guy ever admit to eating crow? Pun aside, his Step 1 and 2 followed by accompanying narrative makes him a force to reckon with, and hardly to be emotionally resisted against. 

Currency

New currency market code, or tuitions in morality? The cause for codification was intense, leading banks in the world involved in price-fixing scandal manipulating benchmark rates at the expense of clients. The takeaways appear to be off-the shelf book on new age crap, but for implementing systems automatically transmitting secure trade data that can't be altered or deleted. But, where are the legal and regulatory obligations? 

+ What hurts currency traders? Computers, from swaps, options to spot markets. Its the March of the Machines

Indian rupee continue its free fall. Its the uncertainty over US FED lifting interest rates couples with China's Yuan devaluation dampening markets doing the rounds as probable external factors. Somehow, of late everything is externalised!!

Taxation

India Inc. wants assurances of Indian firms to be spared the double taxation. ASSOCHAM (Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India) in its talks with the CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) has suggested changes in the proposed FTC (Foreign Tax Credit) via carry forward provision to prevent foreign taxes from getting in excess of Indian taxes. 

Using a sledgehammer to swat a fly. Thats how the India-Mauritius Tax Protocols have been amended. Fly off as "Mauritius Route" isn't guaranteed. It's been a case of treaty shopping when a mere window shopping exercise would have been sufficient to prevent going overboard. 

No carrot, no Stick - Thats how apt it is to describe Indian tax amnesty schemes. The trinity of mounting tax litigation, dismal prosecution, and failed tax amnesty schemes are dress rehearsing for another theatrics in the wake of Finance Bill 2016, whereby Income Declaration Scheme would remain open for a mere 4 months drawing comparisons with foreign black money compliance window. Thats two years down, and three more to go. Please avoid giving a follow on to these guys.  

Corporate Scan

India Inc, accelerate the sale of assets to stay afloat in these tumultuous times. Foreign companies bringing in investments could help consolidate their businesses in Indian Markets. But, why is SBI even suggesting this? With Rs. 5 trillion owed to the banks by top 10 corporates, SBI is of the opinion that selling assets would have a positive impact on banks' balance sheets. What a laggard? 

Tatas not to bid goodbye. Tata steel mulling not selling in Port Talbot after a boost in sales. 

Infrastructure

ONGC planning to come to rescue GSPC's Krishna Godavari Gas Block by buying into majority stakes preventing it from becoming an NPA. Delayed production is attributed to a technology mess, and ain't this a common echo nowadays? 

+ Steel is supposed to withstand stress. But, the same cannot be said of the sector. And, if it's India, then the economy of steel makes its tensile strength all the more malleable. India was among the top 10 steel importers in 2015. With infrastructure stressed upon, steel industry could just be reviving. 

Modi is tired of waitingNo point in endless waits. Scrap projects delayed by states delaying clearances, or showing thin keenness to carry them forward. Thats competitive federalism BTW.   

Activism

Globe trotting Anonymous + ghost squad hackers bring 30 central banks offline in additional to striking heart of western imperialist empire. From a press release, intention is cheerful for the voiceless, 

The banks have been getting away with murder, fraud, conspiracy, war profiteering, money laundering for terrorists and drug cartels, have put millions of people out on the street without food or shelter and have successfully bought all our governments to help keep us silenced. We represent the voice of the voiceless. We are uniting to make a stand. The central banks which were attacked in recent days were attacked to remind people that the biggest threat we face to an open and free society is the banks. The bankers are the problem and #OpIcarus is the solution.


+ Tawang Valley demands justice. 2 killed and many injured in police firing. The issue started with the local community protesting the construction of 780 MW Nyamjang Chhu power project in the Tawang valley. The project is a threat to the wintering habitat of the Black-necked crane, an endangered bird considered sacred by the Buddhist Monpa community. The bird is considered an embodiment of the 6th Dalai Lama who was from Tawang and wrote about the bird in his poetry. The community of Tawang Valley had written several times to the local administration and the State Government Agencies but were given no response. 

Trupti Shah: A Tribute. Also here, and here.  

Audit

PAC takes up CAG Report on AgustaWestland. Demand driven by BJP on the newly-constituted PAC. 

+ A different CAG this time, it is Citizens for Accountable Governance. Prashant Kishore-led outfit that helped Modi win 2014 under tax scanner. 

Macroeconomy

High-Frequency Trading (HFT) is trading at the frontiers of particle physics, an intense robotic electronic battle on stock exchanges across the world with ammunition of pennies fired through super-charged computers with a singular aim of wiping out the opposition. It is a geeky space exploiting quirks in human behaviour, and the way out is to submit it to severe limitations, courtesy the policy makers. But, do they really have the tactical takeoff advantage? Its a fight against the future. It is not man versus machine, but man against the mean algorithm. Sebi decides to take the fight to the future by announcing a to be released blueprint of stringent norms choking misusing algorithmic trades and co-location facilities. Good Luck, for Gordon Gekko is recycled through quantitative programmers and poses an imminent threat. 


+ Dark Times Upon Us...Every once in a while a clarion call is sounded by the UN, but then why does it have to be in cataclysmic times foreseen by the UN. Well, the two must go hand in hand now that the anthropocene is already upon us. If the UN manages to cull its doomsday prediction with economic growth levels, countries will have no option but to take notice, and India should not be an exception to the rule. India is predicted to lose a whopping $49 billion in GDP if the food prices double as a result of volatile food prices due to rising population. Let's hope these astromancy reverberations don't fall on deaf (y)/ears. 

+ Is India the Last BRICs Hung in the Wall? I have to seek apologies for my bias against the BRICS for long, but I somehow seem justified by the crumbling Wall, at least, the NDB side to it. So, apologies with conditionalities*****. This ain't about the bank, but about India's fertile grounds for investment, the many promises made by Modi, and the many more promises broken, the talks of rebooting the economic system when opportunities have faded, and a likelihood of reemerging into fragility. India is surely loosely hanging onto the Wall.

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Capital tends to liberate itself from dependence on the human contribution. That’s why essentially alltechnology is substitutive (imitative). The fraction of the global population capable of making any contribution of non-near-zero value today is no greater than 20% (Damned lies statistics!!). Politics fills the gap with bureaucratic bloat and other make-work, welfare, a variety of protectionisms, macroeconomic junky-stimulus … and the gulf it needs to fill yawns open further every year. Sunny-side up (old-style) liberalism promotes 'The Process' (which is great). If it seriously expects to maintain the narrative that there is a continuous historical trend in which (dysgenically deteriorating) human populations will always find a useful place, it is deeply in denial. Massive swathes of the core industrial infrastructure are already close to laborless. The proletariat was a phase. Socialists have nothing correct and interesting to say on this (like most) issues; they have …