Weekend Bites: FM's wish, 15 yrs since Lehman fell, Taper Tantrum, Apple

In which we munch over the week's platter of news and views

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Suveen Sinha New Delhi
We are heading into a busy election season, with some states going to the polls this year and the big one, Lok Sabha, slated for the summer of 2024. What does Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman think the election agenda would be?
 
Will it be the economy, prices, inflation? “I wish all this was the agenda. We will be able to stand up and answer.” Even inflation? “Yes, why not? Compare yourself with Turkiye and Germany.”
 
But isn’t that an economist’s argument, and not the street’s? “I will give you the street argument as well. Within a month, tomato prices came down. Now you will turn it around and say farmers are throwing the tomatoes away. Those are also issues and I would like to attend to them as well.”
 
This should give you an idea about the kind of interview my colleagues, Shrimi, Ruchika, and Asit conducted with the finance minister. If you haven’t read the interview already, I can think of few better things you could munch on for a Saturday breakfast. Here is a generous serving of The Big Interview.
 
To whet your appetite, let me offer you some titbits.
 
On going back to the old licence raj, finance minister said: “We are not going back to the licence raj.”
 
On choosing strategic sectors under the production-linked incentive scheme: “All 14 sectors are sunrise sectors… which can have a big bearing on jobs.”
 
On managing the subsidy burden: “We value the farmers and it is important for India to be food self-sufficient.”
 
On meeting the fiscal deficit target: “Look at our record (it speaks for itself).”
 
On internationalisation of the rupee: “Countries which no longer have the comfort of a reserve currency like the dollar are happy to deal in the rupee.”
 
On the Adani-Hindenburg saga: “Regulators in India are doing the job. There is no hide and seek.”
 
That’s quite enough for appetisers.
 
In other news…
 
Britain is to pump $621 million into Tata Steel to decarbonise its Welsh site, in a deal aimed at securing the future of the country's steel industry but which puts as many as 3,000 jobs at risk.
 
India's exports declined by 6.86 per cent in August, and imports by 5.23 per cent.
 
Alphabet, Google’s holding company, is sitting on $118 billion of cash, Berkshire Hathaway has $147 billion. A look at Indian companies shows a surge in the amount of cash they generated in 2022-23. 
 
India’s retail inflation rate fell below the 7 per cent mark in August and industrial production accelerated to a five-month high in July, providing relief to the government on the macroeconomic front ahead of the festival season. However, retail inflation was above the upper level of the RBI’s tolerance range for a second consecutive month. 
 
With the Nifty50 surging past the 20,000 mark, the IPO river is in spate.
 
Looking back, looking ahead
 
We did it twice this week. The first was to mark 15 years since Lehman fell. The collapse of the US investment bank changed the world forever. Or, did it?
 
The second was when we looked at 10 years since the taper tantrum, penned by Sajjid Z Chinoy, Chief India Economist at JP Morgan.
 
Tech that: Word from the world of technology and startups
 
Byju’s has decided to sell Epic and Great Learning to generate cash to be able to repay a $1.2 billion loan.
 
Watch it: From The Morning Show
 
Is this the end of the road for diesel vehicles?
 
As you traverse that path, you will also come across whether Nvidia can help India overcome the AI gap, whether Torrent is a better fit for Cipla or DRL, and what is new in the Apple iPhone 15 and Watch. Start your journey here.
 
What is Suveen obsessing over?
 
Speaking of Apple’s launches, there is more to its event on September 12 than meets the eye.
 
To be fair, there is a lot that does meet the eye. Alongside the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, Apple announced the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max at its “Wonderlust” event. The Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2, identical to the last generation in design, have significant changes under the hood.
 
Now, we come to what does not meet the eye. One of the bigger changes was in the charger: Like the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, the Pro models get USB Type-C connector.
 
Apple has used its proprietary Lightning connector in iPhones since 2012. The transition follows the European Union’s announcement last year mandating USB-C as the standard for all electronic devices, in a bid to cut down on environmental waste and to save consumers from buying different chargers for different devices. India has announced USB-C as the standard charging port for electronic products, setting March 2025 for the rule to kick in.
 
Has your patience run out? Are you thinking that this is not really hidden stuff? And you are right. But, you have considered how regulations are changing businesses? Especially so when it comes to Big Tech?
 
This is Suveen signing off. Please send tips, comments, news, or views about anything from women in charge to phone chargers to suveen.sinha@bsmail.in.
 
(Suveen Sinha is Chief Content Editor at Business Standard)

First Published: Sep 16 2023 | 07:30 AM IST

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