Weekly Current Affairs

Welcome to the Endeavor Editors’ Weekly Current Affairs Choicest Blog series. Get a weekly roundup – of news from business, economy, markets, policy, and more. A quick capsule format news summary and update to keep you abreast with all the latest current affairs.

1) International News and Global Economy

Europe joins fight against inflation, raising rates for the first time in 11 years

As consumer prices across Europe soar at the fastest rate in generations, officials in Frankfurt on Thursday took a powerful step to control rapid inflation amid mounting concerns over an economic slowdown. In the first move of its kind in over a decade, the European Central Bank raised its three interest rates half a percentage point, an increase that was twice as large as forecast and that follows similar measures taken by the Federal Reserve and dozens of other central banks around the world this year. Amid fears over Europe’s energy supply from Russia, and with the economic outlook worsening, the central bank said it chose to “front-load” its rate increases. In one swoop, the bank ended an eight-year era of negative interest rates – a policy dating to 2014, when the concern was too-low inflation and banks needed to be encouraged to lend more generously.

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The European Central Bank raises key interest rates for the first time in 11 years | DW News

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EU sanctions tweak to unblock Russian oil deals with third countries

Russian state-owned companies Rosneft and Gazprom will be able to ship oil to third countries under an adjustment of European Union sanctions agreed by member states this week aimed at limiting the risks to global energy security. Major trading houses such as Vitol, Glencore, and Trafigura as well as oil majors such as Shell and Total have stopped trading Russian oil for third parties, citing EU sanctions, including restrictions on insurance. “With a view to avoiding any potential negative consequences for food and energy security around the world, the EU decided to extend the exemption from the prohibition to engage in transactions with certain state-owned entities as regards transactions for agricultural products and the transport of oil to third countries,” the EU said in a statement on Thursday.

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Europe stares at a recession as its Russia policy does not yield a result

Russia supplied Europe with 40% of its natural gas last year. Germany was the continent’s largest importer in 2020 and according to analysts sanctions on Russia are eventually hurting Europe. Industry leaders have warned that a shortfall in gas, which may yet lead to rationing, could trigger a recession. Certain Central European states and Italy could face crunch time in the coming months. “With energy and food costs soaring, unions had demanded pay rises in line with inflation – currently 9.1% but expected to rise to 11% later in the year, according to the Bank of England – putting them on a collision course with ministers who have said pay restraint is necessary to curb rising prices. Unions warned many staff would quit rather than accept a real-term pay cut, exacerbating recruitment and retention problems in key areas such as teaching, nursing, and social care – and adding to waiting times for NHS operations and ambulance call-outs.”

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The likelihood of a recession in Europe — and the U.S. — is quite high, Deutsche Bank CEO says

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Russian missiles attack Ukraine’s OdeSsa port hours after grain deal, claims MP

One day after Moscow and Kyiv penned a deal to resume grain exports blocked by the war, Ukraine on 23 July said that Russian missiles had struck the Odessa port. The Odessa port is a key Black Sea terminal. The claim was made by Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko accused Russia fired four Russian missiles at the southern port, two of which were intercepted by the Ukrainian forces. Apart from this, the Ukrainian MP claimed that the Ukrainian airforce was engaging Russian planes over the city in southern Ukraine. Earlier on 22 July, Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to allow millions of tonnes of much-needed wheat and maize to be shipped from Ukraine over the Black Sea, reported the Euro News.

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Ukraine reports Russian strikes on Odesa: What it means for the grain deal | DW News

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Dinesh Gunawardena was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

Dinesh Gunawardena, a veteran politician and a close ally of the Rajapaksa family, was appointed as Sri Lanka’s 15th prime minister. Apart from Prime Minister Gunawardena, there are 17 other ministers in the Cabinet. Prime minister Gunawardena has been given an additional portfolio of Public Administration Home Affairs, Provincial Councils, and Local Government. A stalwart of Sri Lankan politics, Gunawardena, 73, earlier served as the foreign minister and education minister. He was appointed as Home Minister in April by then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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Sri Lanka appoints Dinesh Gunawardena as new PM | Know all about new PM

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China deploys tanks to prevent people from withdrawing money from crisis-hit banks; a grim reminder of the Tiananmen Square incident

In a grim reminder of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, armored tanks were seen deployed on the streets of China amidst large-scale protests by people demanding the release of their savings frozen by banks. The country’s Henan province has been for the past several weeks witnessing clashes between police and depositors with the latter saying they have been prevented from withdrawing their savings from banks since April this year. After a protest in Henan’s capital, Zhengzhou turned violent, authorities say they will start releasing money in batches to depositors who have had their funds frozen by several rural banks, with the first due on July 15. Only a handful of depositors have received the payments, posing a serious question of whether banks have anything to spare.

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Protests in China: What’s behind the bank scandals | DW News

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India, Egypt, and others seek fairer WTO trading system amid food woes

India and Egypt, along with around 90 other countries have pushed to establish a fairer trading system at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and enhance domestic production amid the severe food and nutrition challenges being experienced by many net food-importing developing countries and least developed countries. At a meeting of the Committee on Agriculture at the WTO on Thursday, India said that a permanent solution for food security is a long overdue mandate and insisted on a solution that the General Council can approve without waiting for the next ministerial conference of the multilateral trade body.

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WHO declares the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency

The World Health Organization has activated its highest alert level for the growing monkeypox outbreak, declaring the virus a public health emergency of international concern. The rare designation means the WHO now views the outbreak as a significant enough threat to global health that a coordinated international response is needed to prevent the virus from spreading further and potentially escalating into a pandemic. Although the declaration does not impose requirements on national governments, it serves as an urgent call for action. The U.N. agency declined last month to declare a global emergency in response to monkeypox. But infections have increased substantially over the past several weeks, pushing WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to issue the highest alert.

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2) India

India’s population likely to shrink by 41 crores by 2100: Report

India’s population is estimated to shrink by 41 crores in the next 78 years, said a Stanford study. As per Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data, India’s current population of India is 1.52 billion. According to the report, India’s population density is likely to decrease to 335 persons per km sq by 2100 and it is projected that the fall may be higher than what is projected for the entire world. Presently, 476 people live in every sq. kilometer in India on average. Not only India but countries like China and the US are also expected to witness a similar trend. The report claims China’s population may shrink by an astounding 93.2 crore to just 49.4 crores in the year 2100.

For details visit here.

Explainer: Delhi’s new excise policy and why LG is seeking CBI probe

Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena on Friday recommended a CBI probe into the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 over alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses. The LG has found “substantive indications” of “financial quid pro quo” at the “top political level” wherein the excise minister “took and got executed major decisions in violation of the statutory provisions” and notified the Excise Policy that had “huge financial implications”. On November 17, 2021, the Delhi government exited the liquor business, shutting down its 600 vends to pave way for swanky and privately owned shops. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led the Delhi government then reintroduced a new liquor regime to ‘clean up malpractices’ and improve the experiences of individuals while buying liquor. Lt Governor Saxena’s move follows a report submitted by Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar on the matter. The report accuses Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia of providing undue benefits to liquor vend licensees instead of “commission” and the money being used in the recently held Punjab election.

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3) Economy

FICCI survey: India’s FY23 growth forecast cut to 7%, RBI to stay hawkish

The Indian economy is expected to expand 7% in fiscal 2022/23, slower than a previous estimate of 7.4% and the central bank’s 7.2% projection, according to a survey by India’s leading industry body. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FICCI) quarterly survey, released on Thursday, said the war in Ukraine is likely to keep inflation high and dent consumer demand. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was expected to stay hawkish to tackle elevated inflation, the survey of top independent economists, showed. “CPI is anticipated to remain above the RBI’s tolerance band till the third quarter of FY2022-23 and may come within the tolerance level only after the fourth quarter,” the FICCI said in a press statement. Morgan Stanley also lowered its forecast for India’s fiscal 2022/23 growth to 7.2% from 7.6% earlier this week, citing weakening global trade.

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4) Markets, Banking, and Finance

Credit Suisse eyes more cost cuts, SonntagsZeitung reports

Credit Suisse is considering how it could cut costs further after a dismal performance by the embattled bank in the past quarter, SonntagsZeitung reported, citing senior sources. “The numbers are catastrophic,” an unnamed senior banker told the newspaper, adding that staff morale is very low. The bank warned in June that it would post a loss for the quarter, its third in a row. The lender said then that it was aiming to accelerate cost-saving measures introduced as part of its reorganization last November.

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Credit Suisse: what next for the crisis-hit bank? | FT Film

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Bad loan ratio of banks likely to fall to 5-5.5% by March 2024, says S&P Global

S&P Global Ratings said non-performing loans of banks are expected to decline to 5-5.5 percent of the total advances by March 2024. As per the latest Financial Stability Report published by the RBI, the gross non-performing assets (GNPA) declined to a six-year low of 5.9 percent in March 2022. With an economic pick-up, residual stress for these segments should start abating, it said, adding that NPL recoveries are likely to also gain momentum. It also said India’s economic growth prospects should remain strong over the medium term, with GDP expanding 6.5-7 percent annually in fiscal years 2024-2026. Improving profitability should augment capital formation. Capitalization has increased in the past few years due to banks’ capital-raising and the government’s capital infusions into public-sector banks, it noted. Capital ratios are comparable to those of international peers for India’s large private-sector banks, though they are lower for public-sector banks, S&P Global added.

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Fintechs should operate under the licenses granted: RBI Governor Das

Financial technology and digital lending firms must operate under the licenses given to them, the Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Friday. The governor stated that the central bank could not allow the building up of risk on the economy due to unlicensed operations of fintech. Das also said that the much-awaited digital lending norms will be out in a few weeks. The central bank has been highlighting the risks posed to the financial system due to fintech and big tech firms. In its recently released Financial Stability Report (FSR) the RBI had called for the need to shield the financial system from the fintech industry’s potential to cause instability. RBI governor Das also said while banks are facing challenges from new entities the banking regulator is mulling how best to regulate them.

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5) Business

Grasim? plans ??2k?cr bet? on? B2B? e-com ?in building? materials

Aditya Birla Group’s flagship company Grasim Industries Ltd said its board had approved a plan to enter the B2B e-commerce platform for the building materials segment with an investment of around ?2,000 crores over the next five years. This investment “adds a new high-growth engine with clear adjacencies within Grasim’s standalone businesses as also that of its subsidiaries and associate companies”, the statement said. “The foray into B2B e-commerce is yet another strategic portfolio choice as it crystallizes our intent to invest in the new-age, high-growth digital space. The building materials segment presents a huge scalable business opportunity, with a proven path to profitability. With this foray, Grasim would be able to leverage the large B2B ecosystem within the Aditya Birla Group,” said Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Aditya Birla Group.

For details visit here.

Grasim forays into B2B E-Commerce Space for building materials | ET Now

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Akasa Air to start flights from August 7

Akasa Air on Friday said it will launch commercial flight operations on August 7 by operating its first service on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route using the Boe-ing 737 Max aircraft. In a statement, the carrier said it has opened ticket sales on the 28 weekly flights it will be operating on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route from August 7. Sales have also begun for the 28 weekly flights it will operate on the Bangalore-Kochi route from August 13. The carrier will launch commercial operations with two 737 Max aircraft. Boeing has delivered one Max plane and the second one’s delivery is scheduled to take place later this month. Akasa Air has positioned itself as a low-cost airline, and in the launch phase is competing at low fares. Mark D. Martin MRAeS, founder and CEO, MartinConsulting, said: “It would be suicidal to trigger a price war when the competitor is more than 100 times bigger.”

For details visit here.

Prashant Jain quits HDFC AMC after a 19-year stint

After a 19-year-stint with the HDFC Mutual Fund, star fund manager Prashant Jain has decided to quit the mutual fund house. The AMC stated that Jain has tendered his resignation. HDFC AMC has decided to appoint Chirag Setalvad as Head – Equities and Shobhit Mehrotra as Head-Fixed income. Chirag Setalvad has been part of the Investment Team since the inception of the Company. He has been managing some of HDFC’s equity schemes for a long time. Mehrotra has been with the Company for over 18 years and is presently managing many Fixed Income schemes.

For details visit here.

6) Technology

Gaming Industry calls for government action over Google’s arbitrary policies: Report

At the July 21 meeting called by a Parliamentary panel, the skill-based gaming industry called for the government’s intervention to curb the ‘arbitrary’ policies of tech giant Google. The gaming industry reportedly alleged that Google prohibits Indian skill games from listing on its platform while allowing a free hand to foreign gaming apps. The meeting was convened by BJP MP Jayant Sinha-led Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and was attended by top executives of homegrown tech startups such as Zomato, MakeMyTrip, and OYO. The panel is examining the ‘anti-competitive behavior’ of big tech giants. According to IANS, the gaming industry told the panel that Google does not allow Indian online skill-based games, but the tech major promotes its own platform Play Pass, and other Chinese and western games.

For details visit here.

7) Politics

Droupadi Murmu wins presidential polls by an overwhelming margin

NDA’s Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu won the presidential elections on Thursday, beating Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha. Murmu, 64, won by a thumping margin, garnering over 64 percent valid votes. She will succeed Ram Nath Kovind to become the country’s 15th president. Murmu will be the first person from a tribal background to take the office. Murmu is likely to take oath on July 25 with incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind’s tenure ending on July 24. Born on June 20, 1958, in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, she catapulted into the national spotlight after being picked as the ruling NDA’s presidential nominee in the July 18 polls. It is from Rairangpur that she took her first step up the BJP ladder. She was a councilor in the local Notified Area Council in 1997 and rose to be a minister in Odisha’s BJD-BJP coalition government from 2000 to 2004. In 2015, she was appointed governor of Jharkhand and stayed in the post till 2021.

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Lok Sabha passes Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022 amid Opposition protest seeking a debate on price rise

Amid protests by Opposition members seeking a debate on price rise, Lok Sabha on Friday passed the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022, which seeks to extend the application of domestic laws to research stations set up by India in the Antarctic region. This was the first bill passed this session. Replying to the brief debate on the bill, Singh said the Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 and India became a signatory in 1983. “The main objective of the treaty was that Antarctica is not used for a military activity or there is no other misuse, to ensure the demilitarisation of the area. The other objective was to prevent nations from indulging in mining activity or any other illegal activity,” the minister said.

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BJP president JP Nadda makes key organizational changes ahead of the state, Lok Sabha Polls

BJP president JP Nadda made some key appointments to the post of party general secretary, the organization in a few states on Thursday – Rajesh GV for Karnataka, Ajay Jamwal for MP, and Chhattisgarh, Manthri Srinivasulu for Punjab, and Satish Dhond as joint general secretary for West Bengal. Besides, BJP’s national joint general secretary, organization, Shiv Prakash has been asked to shift base to Mumbai from Bhopal, as Maharashtra is crucial for the party in the run-up to the 2024 general elections. Prakash is in-charge of six states – MP, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Andhra, and Telangana.

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8) Sports

Neeraj Chopra becomes 2nd Indian to win a World Athletics Championships Medal with Silver in Oregon

India’s Neeraj Chopra won the silver medal in the men’s javelin throw final at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon with the best throw of 88.13m, which he registered with his fourth attempt. Grenada’s Anderson Peters won the gold medal with a best throw of 90.54m. Peters threw 90.21m in his first attempt and then bettered it in his second at 90.46m. He then registered his best throw in his sixth attempt, to successfully defend his world title. The 21-year-old Indian had recorded a season’s and personal best of 82.54m while winning a silver at the National Inter-State Championships last month. Chopra had won Indian athletics’ maiden gold in the Tokyo Olympics last year. He is only the second Indian to have won individual gold in the Olympics, after shooter Abhinav Bindra, who clinched the yellow metal in the 2008 Beijing Games.

For details visit here.

9) Opinion

Explained: Why China’s crumbling real estate sector has the world on edge

China’s homebuyers are running out of patience as the country’s real estate crisis threatens to spiral out of control. Hundreds of thousands of homebuyers have begun a “mortgage boycott”, refusing to pay their mortgage for unfinished or stalled housing projects. A collapsing property market in China has triggered alarm bells across the world. It is still the manufacturing hub of the world and if its economy falters, countries around the globe would suffer from slower and more expensive exports. Contract electronics and semiconductor manufacturing, where China is a global leader, had already stalled various sectors such as auto, consumer electronics, and more due to Covid-induced supply bottlenecks. This would only go up further in an economic crisis.

For details visit here.

Learn from a top Pak economist how serious its crisis is, & why populist policies are so perilous

As the world watches the Sri Lankan economic crisis, The Print Editor-In-Chief Shekhar Gupta looks at a series of observations made by Pakistani-American economist Atif Mian on Pakistan’s economic situation & why he says Pakistan is suffering from Dutch disease on steroids?

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Will Akasa’s entry fuel a price war in the skies? | India Development Debate

Can the Rakesh-Jhunjhunwala-backed airline reinvigorate the Indian aviation market? Can the new entrants satisfy the unmet demand? We deep-dive on the India Development Debate with Jitendra Bhargava, Former Air India Executive Director, and Dhiraj Mathur, Aviation Expert, Independent Director & Ex-Partner PwC and Retired IAS.

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Are Indian Crypto Startups headed towards a Dead End?

In a circular dated April 6, 2018, the Reserve Bank of India banned all regulated banks from holding or facilitating crypto transactions, leaving the crypto startups out in the cold. In another recent development, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the pan-India digital industry lobby, also dissolved the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BACC). Although crypto players are planning to form a new industry body, the recent turn of events has put Indian crypto operators in a quandary. Speaking about the overall impact, Vikram Subburaj, cofounder and CEO of the Giottus crypto exchange, said, “The most impactful thing in the recent past is the government’s decision to disallow offsetting the losses in one crypto against the gains from another. This has impacted trading more than anything else.” The previous crypto winter during 2018-19 saw dozens of Indian crypto startups shutting down their operations. Among these were ZebPay India (which restarted its business later), Koinex, Coinome, ThroughBit, Coinsecure, Coindelta, Cryptokart, and more.

For details visit here.

As Droupadi Murmu rises, a look at her office. Does the President matter?

As India gets its next President as NDA’s pick Droupadi, The Print Editor-In-Chief Shekhar Gupta looks at the history of the diverse Presidents of India and the times when Presidents have mattered.

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Are we stuck between Hyperinflation and a Recession?

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10) Weekly special

Zepto’s quick commerce bet

Zepto is making phenomenal progress in the quick commerce space in India. In this episode of Daily Dispatch, powered by HSBC, Aadit Palicha, Co-founder and CEO, of Zepto, talks about the company’s journey in the quick commerce space and discusses future roadmaps.

Watch video here.

11) Did you know?

What happens to investors’ money when a cryptocurrency exchange goes bankrupt

Abhijit Shukla, CEO, and Director, Tarality said, “With no laws governing crypto-assets, there is a zero guarantee that investors would be able to recoup their funds if an exchange were to freeze an account – or, worse yet, completely collapse. In a bankruptcy scenario, the crypto and funds held in their accounts may not be considered their own property, often pooling different customers’ crypto and funds together in the same storage wallet or account.” MyFundBazaar CEO highlighted that in the event of a bankruptcy, crypto customers with custodial-held assets are typically last in line to receive payment – those who have their cryptocurrencies locked away in self-custodial wallets won’t be affected since they own the private keys.

For details visit here.

With that, we come to an end of our Weekly Current Affairs July 2022 -Week 4. We hope you have liked it. Write your feedback in the comments below and let us know if there is anything else you would like us to cover.

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