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Reflections from Davos

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

It’s been an exciting week at Davos. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum this year was refreshingly different from previous editions. There is a general sense of optimism.

Although the effects of the recent crisis linger on, businesses and business leaders are acknowledging that we are seeing signs of recovery. In Davos, I had conversations with business leaders, heads of industry bodies, as also members of the academic and media fraternity. Each of these conversations resonated optimism.

(Pictures: World Economic Forum)

I also saw a few themes and points of view being discussed frequently, not only in my own conversations but also in several sessions at Davos. The most popular one was of the relevance of the theme of the annual meeting.

Everyone seemed to agree that the need of the hour is to reshape the world to ensure that every individual has equal access to an acceptable standard of living. The world of extremes in which we live today is not a sustainable one. The ever-increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots is unacceptable. More importantly, it is not conducive for socio-economic progress.

Why the RBI raised interest rates

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

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raised interest rates at its review on Jan 28. The justification usually given for doing so is inflation.

But at its previous review, when inflation had soared, the RBI was passive and left rates unchanged. Now, with wholesale price inflation (WPI) slowing to 6.16 percent, the RBI was quick to raise the repo rate by 25 bps back to its highest level since the 2008 crisis. Why?

Time for a relook at FDI in insurance intermediaries

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

Insurance companies in India have an FDI limit of 26 percent, which may be revised upwards in the coming months. The industry requires funds to grow and the revision can be an enabler, but the process may take some time as it requires legislative approval and there seems to be some opposition to the move.

Since the industry is still in its nascent stage, the insurance regulator also places the same FDI cap on insurance intermediaries such as brokers and web aggregators, severely limiting their ability to raise funds to grow their business.

India’s decade of decay

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(This piece comes from Project Syndicate. The opinions expressed are the author’s own)

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been in office since 2004, recently held what was only the second press conference of his current five-year term, which is rapidly approaching an inglorious end. Betraying his yearning for approval, Singh told the assembled journalists that he hoped that history would judge his tenure more kindly than his political adversaries do.

India Markets Weekahead: It’s time again for an election year ‘rally of hope’

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

Despite a volatile Friday, it was a good week for the markets and saw the Nifty close about 90 points higher at 6,261, with sentiment supported by better-than-expected quarterly results and benign inflation data.

The few earnings that disappointed investors seemed to affect specific stocks without having a bearing on either the sector or the markets.

How much will U.S. recovery help India?

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

After a prolonged slowdown, the U.S. economy is finally showing signs of recovery though much of it comes from investment in inventories and may not be sustained at the present high rate.

The United States is the largest economy with a share of more than 22 percent in the world GDP. Naturally, even small changes in its behaviour have a perceptible impact worldwide. To India, the United States counts for a lot, although possibly less than it does for China.

U.S.-India dispute: A diplomat and a double-standard laid bare

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(The following essay is commentary. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Reuters)

Relations between the United States and India have crashed to their lowest ebb since the last millennium, something many Americans might have missed during the holiday buzz.  A spat over the treatment of a diplomat and her maid threatens the foundations of a key international partnership, and the implications extend far beyond foreign policy. This case could endanger American diplomats, businesspeople and tourists travelling abroad.

The fear of “L”

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(This piece comes from Project Syndicate. The opinions expressed are the author’s own)

For the last few years, economists have been running through the alphabet to describe the shape of the long-awaited recovery — starting with an optimistic V, proceeding to a more downbeat U, and ending up at a despairing W. But now a deeper anxiety is beginning to stalk the profession: the fear of what I call an “L-shaped” recovery.

The return of the ugly American

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(This piece comes from Project Syndicate. The opinions expressed are the author’s own)

Nearly a month after American authorities arrested India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, outside her children’s school and charged her with paying her Indian domestic worker a salary below the minimum wage, bilateral relations remain tense. India’s government has reacted with fury to the mistreatment of an official enjoying diplomatic immunity, and public indignation has been widespread and nearly unanimous. So, has an era of steadily improving ties between the two countries come to an end?

India Markets Weekahead: Driven by hope in an election-led rally

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

The New Year was ushered in with a steep and sudden correction in the broader indexes, with the Nifty closing 1.63 percent lower at 6,211. However, the mid-cap and small-cap indexes outperformed.

Though the holiday mood was evident, it was a politically charged week. The newly installed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi won a confidence motion with the support of the Congress. They subsequently announced power subsidies after granting water sops last week. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed a rare press conference, the third in 10 years, announcing his intent of handing over the baton to a new prime minister.

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