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from Expert Zone:

The BMW 1 Series is coming to India

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

When BMW sold Rover in 2000, the British car brand was working on Project R30. There were rumours that BMW would use badge engineering to introduce the R30 as its 1 Series but that wasn’t to be.

The R30 may have been an inspiration but the BMW 1 Series was designed from the ground up. When American Chris Chapman worked on the 1 Series, he was led by Chris Bangle - a designer known for his peculiar styling - which explains the eccentricities of its design.

The surface treatment was accentuated by conclave and convex flows but the 1-Series remained true to typical BMW proportions with its short front overhang and a long bonnet. Complex construction methods were used to achieve perfect weight distribution, to the extent of making the front suspension out of an alloy while the rear units are of steel.

The decision to go with run-flat tyres was crucial as it helped in locating the battery where the spare wheel would’ve been stored under the floor. I have a thing against run-flats but that’s because of driving conditions in India. The BMW 1-Series was praised for its sublime handling and taut chassis.

from Expert Zone:

Focus should be inflation, not just stemming rupee’s fall

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Indian stocks have been battered over the past few sessions. The market condition is not unexpected, thanks to over-action by policymakers and over-reaction by stock investors.

The apparent anxiety on the part of the government was that even if the fall of the rupee was inevitable, left entirely to the market, speculative activity would push the economy into a crisis. Presumably, the rupee at 60 to the dollar was the benchmark for intervention.

from Global Investing:

Russia — the one-eyed emerging market among the blind

It's difficult to find many investors who are enthusiastic about Russia these days. Yet it may be one of the few emerging markets  that is relatively safe from the effects of "sudden stops" in foreign investment flows.

Russia's few fans always point to its cheap valuations --and these days Russian shares, on a price-book basis, are trading an astonishing 52 percent below their own 10-year history, Deutsche Bank data shows.  Deutsche is sticking to its underweight recommendation on Russia but notes that Russia has:

from Breakingviews:

Indonesia imitates India’s costly growth obsession

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By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Indonesia is failing to learn from India’s economic misery. That makes it a candidate for a disorderly decline in the currency, runaway inflation and financial instability.

from MacroScope:

India is in a cloud of economic optimism but its industrial data are in a permanent fog

Optimism the Indian economy will soon recover, despite no sign that it is anywhere near doing so, has increasingly led forecasters to overestimate industrial production growth.

Incessant official revisions to the data, after initial forecasts are proved wrong, also mean investors and companies don't have a clear and timely view.

from Breakingviews:

Indian banks teeter on asset-quality abyss

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By Andy Mukherjee

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

India’s banks are staring into an abyss. Loans are souring rapidly as the economy stalls. Meanwhile, rising bond yields are making it harder for lenders to absorb credit losses from current earnings.

from John Lloyd:

The coming clash of civilizations over gay rights

Supporters of gay rights have been protesting in Western cities this past week, picketing in front of Russian embassies and consulates. They’re protesting the passing of a law in the Russian parliament that bans "homosexual propaganda" directed at under 18-year olds -- which if interpreted strictly, bans all public demonstrations and much public and private discussion on the issue.

Not so long ago how a country’s administration handled its ‘homosexual problem’ would be thought of as its business. Many still think that way. But most Western democracies don’t. They haven’t just adopted legislation that enjoins equality of treatment for all, irrespective of sexuality. They have taken seriously, for the most part, the claims made by gay organizations for many years: that discrimination against gay men and women is an affront to civil liberties, and that when some states pursue discriminatory policies, those who do not should make their disapproval clear. Gay rights are now part of the world’s clash of cultures.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Despite rising India-Pakistan tensions, little planning for the next big crisis

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In the very early days after the Sept 11 attacks on the United States, some in India, for the briefest of moments, believed Washington might be coming around to its point of view: that the problem and source of “cross-border terrorism” lay in Pakistan. Instead, an aggrieved India was forced to look on as Washington turned to its old ally Pakistan to help it fight the war in Afghanistan.

It was in that sour mood that New Delhi reacted with increasing anger to Pakistan’s support for Islamist militants targeting India in Kashmir and beyond. In October 2001, nearly 40 people were killed in a suicide attack on the legislative assembly of Jammu and Kashmir state in its summer capital Srinagar. When militants attacked the Indian parliament in Delhi on December 13, 2001 - an attack blamed on the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed - India mobilised for war.  Soon close to a million men were deployed on either side of the border in a tense standoff that was not resolved until the following summer, and only then after intense U.S.-led international diplomacy.

from India Insight:

India’s energy price reforms face hurdles

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

India has raised gas prices and also made it easier for power companies to pass on the rising costs of imported coal to customers - two policy steps aimed at boosting fuel supplies and helping to minimize the country's chronic power shortages.

However, the reforms are unlikely to be a quick fix for India's blackouts. It may take at least two years for the gas price rise to boost fuel supplies as investments in output and import facilities bear fruit, but even then the key to the plan may lie with distribution companies.

from Breakingviews:

India’s rupee rescue is more prayer than plan

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By Andy Mukherjee

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

India’s plan to rescue the rupee is sinking.

On Aug. 6, three weeks after the central bank began engineering an increase in short-term money market rates to attract speculators, the Indian currency slid to a new record low against the U.S. dollar. This happened as rising overnight rates led to higher long-term borrowing costs, threatening to cause a fresh spate of bad loans.

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