India’s Energy Policy and the Global Climate Debate: A Closer Look

As the global focus on India’s role in climate change intensifies, it’s apparent that many critics are quick to point fingers at New Delhi’s energy policies without considering the complexities at play. This lopsided debate calls for a more balanced perspective, considering the challenges India faces in its journey towards sustainable energy. The need for an equitable approach is evident.

New Delhi acknowledges the environmental drawbacks of coal, but it’s equally aware that a hasty exit from a carbon-based economy carries immense human costs. The real issue that warrants attention is whether developed nations have made substantial reductions in emissions. So, why impose rapid coal phase-out on India?

Let’s delve deeper into this argument with some illuminating statistics.

India requires power to uplift an estimated 75 million people who have fallen into poverty due to the pandemic, living on less than $2 per day. Power is the lifeline to eradicate poverty, improve nutrition, enhance education, boost healthcare, and increase industrial and agricultural productivity. In India, coal plays a critical role in power generation because viable alternatives are still in the early stages of development.

Consider India’s electricity consumption – it’s strikingly low. The annual per capita electricity consumption in India stands at 972 kilowatt-hours, merely 8% of what Americans and 14% of what Germans consume. India is gradually transitioning to cleaner cooking fuels and embracing bottled cooking gas, which not only reduces indoor air pollution but is also prevalent in many developing countries. Looking ahead to 2040, India’s energy demand is projected to grow significantly, making it the world’s largest growth in energy demand, as certified by the International Energy Agency.

Consequently, India will require a diverse mix of conventional and renewable energy sources, with coal playing a dominant role as it currently powers 75% of the country’s electricity generation. The rest comes from wind and solar power, which are still evolving.

India boasts an estimated 100 billion tonnes of coal reserves, and the state-owned Coal India, the world’s largest miner, produces around 600 million tonnes of coal annually. Coal is not just about power generation; it’s a vital source of employment and economic growth, driving India’s industrialization efforts. Over four million people are associated with the coal sector, and coal also contributes to various non-power sectors like cement, brick, fertilizers, steel, sponge iron, and other industries. More than 800 districts in India have coal dependence. This situation mirrors the experiences of developed nations when they embarked on their paths to prosperity.

But now, these very nations criticize India’s coal policy without considering the complexities. They underestimate the difficulties of transitioning millions of workers into green jobs, a process fraught with challenges. They also ignore that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged developed nations to lead in phasing out coal, not countries like India.

However, developed countries have not taken this step, instead allowing themselves flexibility in transitioning to renewables. Yet, they focus their criticism on India. This is nothing short of hypocrisy.

Take Germany as an example, often lauded as a green champion. It’s expected to witness its highest emissions surge in three decades, primarily due to increased coal use. Germany generates 27% of its electricity from coal, and this figure will rise when it closes its nuclear plants, leading to an additional 60 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually to meet electricity demand.

It’s crucial to recognize that India, as a billion-plus nation and the world’s third-largest emitter, is making determined efforts to decarbonize its power sector. The goal is to develop 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030, with plans to employ technologies like advanced battery storage for enhanced reliability. The installation of solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and nuclear plants is set to reach over 500 gigawatts by 2030, nearly tripling the current capacity and constituting 64% of India’s generation capacity.

New Delhi is also striving to become a global hub for green hydrogen and green ammonia production. However, coal will continue to account for half of India’s electricity generation until 2030, remaining the primary source of electricity. India aims to phase out 2 gigawatts of coal-burning plants by 2030, with plans to shut down 25 gigawatts of older plants.

Moreover, coal contributes significantly to government revenues through various taxes, including royalty, Goods and Services Tax (GST), and GST compensation cess. The central and state governments rely on coal for a substantial portion of their tax revenues. Electricity, largely generated from the coal sector, also contributes to energy tax revenues for governments. Phasing out coal, as proposed at the Conference of Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow, would have severe implications for government tax collections and could negatively impact the economy at various levels.

It is imperative for the West to consider all these factors before casting judgment. India is committed to phasing out coal but, like Western nations, it must do so on its terms, considering its unique challenges and priorities.

Elon Musk’s Vision for X: Transforming It into the Ultimate Financial Hub

Elon Musk has ambitious plans to transform X into the central hub for all things financial in people’s lives. He anticipates that these new features will be unveiled by the close of 2024. Musk shared his vision with X employees during a recent company-wide meeting, expressing his belief that users will be astounded by the platform’s capabilities.

In Musk’s words, “When I say payments, I actually mean someone’s entire financial life. If it involves money, it’ll be on our platform. Money or securities or whatever. So, it’s not just like send $20 to my friend. I’m talking about, like, you won’t need a bank account.”

Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, echoes this sentiment, stating that the company envisions this development as a full-fledged opportunity that could come to fruition in 2024. Musk reiterated his optimism by declaring, “It would blow my mind if we don’t have that rolled out by the end of next year.”

To achieve this transformation, the company is actively working to secure money transmission licenses across the United States. Musk has expressed his hopes of obtaining the remaining licenses that X needs in the coming months.

Musk has previously outlined his intention to mold X into a comprehensive financial center. He even renamed Twitter after his online bank from the dot-com era,, which later became part of PayPal. His plans encompass a wide array of financial services, including high-yield money market accounts, debit cards, checks, and loan services, all with the ultimate goal of enabling users to send money globally in an instant and in real-time.

Musk couldn’t help but reflect on the original vision during the internal meeting. “The X/PayPal product roadmap was written by myself and David Sacks actually in July of 2000,” Musk revealed. “And for some reason PayPal, once it became eBay, not only did they not implement the rest of the list, but they actually rolled back a bunch of key features, which is crazy. So PayPal is actually a less complete product than what we came up with in July of 2000, so 23 years ago.”

The vision of transforming X into a comprehensive financial services hub aligns with Musk’s broader goal of making the platform an “everything app,” similar to super apps like WeChat in China. These super apps offer users a one-stop destination for a range of services, from shopping to transportation, and more.

However, Musk is well aware that achieving this vision will be no easy task. Convincing users of the necessity and advantages of such a platform is just one of the many challenges. Gaining their trust to entrust X with their entire financial lives is another significant hurdle.

US SEC’s Action Halts $130 Mn Fraud Targeting Indian Americans

US market regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it has obtained a temporary restraining order, asset freeze, and other emergency relief to halt an ongoing fraud targeting the Indian-American community that has raised nearly $130 million since April 2021.

The fraud is allegedly being committed by Nanban Ventures LLC; its three founders, Gopala Krishnan, Manivannan Shanmugam, and Sakthivel Palani Gounder; and three other entities that
the founders control, an SEC release said.

The SEC’s complaint, unsealed on Monday in the Eastern District of Texas, alleged that the defendants raised more than $89 million from over 350 investors for investments in purported venture capital funds that the founders managed via Nanban Ventures and more than $39 million from 10 investors that invested directly in the three other entities.

The complaints claimed that the founders overstated the profitability of the investments and paid investors at least $17.8 million in fake profits that were actually Ponzi payments. Further, the defendants misrepresented Krishnan’s expertise and success using his eponymous “GK Strategies” options trading method.

Krishnan claimed in a YouTube video that he achieved returns of “more than a hundred per cent,” and Nanban Ventures claimed in its venture capital funds’ private placement memorandums that Krishnan would manage the funds to generate returns that would “consistently overperform the S&P 500 Index”.

The SEC’s complaint claimed that the actual trading returns using GK Strategies were, with limited exceptions, lower than the returns of the S&P 500 index, lower than the percentage
returns that Krishnan claimed in YouTube videos, and negative on numerous occasions.

“We allege that the defendants engaged in a large-scale affinity fraud that targeted hundreds of investors, largely from the DFW-area Indian American community,” said Gurbir S. Grewal,
Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

“Through allegedly false promises of unrealistic returns and lies about the success of their investing strategies, the defendants raised nearly $130 million from investors. But in classic Ponzi fashion, the complaint alleges, the defendants used investor money to make fake profit distribution payments, while allegedly siphoning off millions in investors’ funds for themselves,”
Grewal added.

SEC urged all investors to confirm the credentials of supposed investment professionals and to view investments that advertise outsized returns skeptically.

In addition, the complaint said that Nanban Ventures and the founders were all investment advisers who violated their fiduciary duties by causing the venture capital funds to invest more than $70 million into companies the Founders controlled.

The founders commingled that money with more than $39 million from at least 10 other investors and then used the commingled funds to, among other things, make Ponzi payments and pay themselves at least $6 million, the SEC statement read.

The SEC’s complaint charged all defendants with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.

It also charged the founders and Nanban Ventures with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 206 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 206(4)-8 thereunder.

The complaint sought permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, and civil penalties from all the defendants, in addition to an order prohibiting the founders from acting as officers or directors of a public company. (IANS)

International Blackmail Scam via Loan Apps Menace Sweeping Across India and Beyond

In an alarming revelation, a nefarious blackmail scheme has emerged, employing instant loan applications to ensnare and disgrace individuals across India, as well as in various Asian, African, and Latin American nations. A heart-wrenching report has exposed the grave consequences of this perilous extortion racket, with at least 60 Indian citizens resorting to suicide after enduring relentless abuse and threats. The BBC’s undercover investigation has shone a light on those profiting from this deadly deception, which has proliferated in India and China.

Astha Sinhaa’s world was abruptly upended when her aunt, in a state of panic, urgently contacted her. “Don’t allow your mother to leave the house,” she implored. Still half-asleep, the 17-year-old was gripped with fear as she discovered her mother, Bhoomi Sinhaa, in the adjacent room, distraught and agitated.

Bhoomi, a vibrant and fearless Mumbai-based property lawyer, had, as a widowed single mother, earned respect for her dedication to her daughter. However, on this fateful day, she was reduced to a state of chaos.

Astha recalls, “She was breaking apart.” Bhoomi urgently began to provide her daughter with instructions on the whereabouts of important documents and contacts, a palpable desperation to exit the premises. Her aunt’s admonition resonated in Astha’s mind: “Don’t let her out of your sight, because she will end her life.”

Little did Astha know the extent of her mother’s torment, who had become a victim of a global scam that had ensnared individuals in at least 14 countries, wielding shame and extortion as its weapons.

The sinister modus operandi of this scam is uncompromising yet straightforward. Numerous apps promise rapid, hassle-free loans. While not all of them operate maliciously, many, once downloaded, surreptitiously harvest users’ contacts, photos, and identification documents, employing this sensitive data as leverage for future extortion.

When borrowers fail to meet repayment deadlines – and sometimes even when they do – these apps transmit user information to a call center. There, young agents in the gig economy, equipped with laptops and smartphones, are trained to relentlessly harass and demean individuals until they comply with demands for repayment.

By the end of 2021, Bhoomi had borrowed roughly 47,000 rupees ($565; £463) from several loan apps, expecting that her work-related expenses would soon be covered. While the funds arrived promptly, a substantial portion was deducted in fees. A week later, her expenses remained unpaid, compelling her to borrow from other apps, creating a spiraling debt that ultimately reached two million rupees ($24,000; £19,655).

Subsequently, the recovery agents commenced their relentless calls, which swiftly devolved into a barrage of insults and abuse directed at Bhoomi. Even after making payments, she was accused of dishonesty. The agents phoned her up to 200 times daily, asserting knowledge of her residence and even sending gruesome images as threats.

As the abuse escalated, Bhoomi’s tormentors threatened to expose her as a thief and a prostitute to all 486 contacts in her phone. When her daughter’s reputation became a target, Bhoomi found herself unable to sleep.

In a desperate attempt to repay her mounting debts, she borrowed from friends, family, and additional apps, eventually totaling 69 in all. Every night, she hoped the morning would never come. However, at 7:00 a.m., her phone would start buzzing relentlessly.

Although Bhoomi eventually managed to repay all the money, one app, in particular, Asan Loan, persisted in its harassment. Overwhelmed and emotionally drained, Bhoomi’s ability to concentrate at work waned, and panic attacks became a daily occurrence.

One day, a colleague showed her a disturbing image on his phone – a lewd, pornographic picture of herself. The photograph had been crudely manipulated, superimposing Bhoomi’s head onto another person’s body. However, it filled her with revulsion and humiliation. The image had been disseminated to every contact in her phone book by Asan Loan, pushing Bhoomi to contemplate suicide.

Disturbingly, this devastating scam has affected numerous lives across the world. However, in India alone, the BBC’s investigation has uncovered that at least 60 individuals have taken their own lives after enduring harassment from loan apps.

These victims, mostly in their 20s and 30s, include a firefighter, an award-winning musician, a young couple leaving behind their three- and five-year-old daughters, and even a grandfather and grandson who were both ensnared in the clutches of loan apps. Shockingly, four of the victims were teenagers.

Regrettably, many of the victims are too ashamed to discuss their ordeal, while the perpetrators, for the most part, remain anonymous and concealed. After a months-long search for an insider, the BBC managed to locate a former debt recovery agent who had worked for call centers associated with multiple loan apps.

This informant, referred to as Rohan (a pseudonym), was deeply troubled by the abuse he witnessed. He recounted customers’ tears and their threats of self-harm, admitting, “It would haunt me all night.” Eventually, Rohan agreed to assist the BBC in exposing the scam.

He successfully secured employment at two separate call centers, Majesty Legal Services and Callflex Corporation, and spent weeks covertly recording their activities. His recordings captured young agents mercilessly harassing clients, issuing threats and profanities. In one incident, a woman resorted to threats of violence. She accused a client of committing incest and, upon their disconnection, callously laughed.

Rohan managed to document over 100 instances of harassment and abuse, thus providing the first tangible evidence of this systemic extortion.

The most egregious instances of abuse occurred at Callflex Corporation, located just outside Delhi. At this call center, agents routinely employed obscene language to degrade and threaten clients. Notably, these agents were not acting independently but rather under the supervision and direction of call center managers, including one named Vishal Chaurasia.

Rohan succeeded in gaining Chaurasia’s trust and, alongside a journalist posing as an investor, arranged a meeting during which they pressured him to elucidate the intricacies of the scam.

Chaurasia revealed that when a customer acquires a loan, the app gains access to their contact list. Callflex Corporation is then contracted to recover the funds, resorting to relentless harassment if a client misses a payment, targeting both the client and their contacts. According to Chaurasia, the agents can say anything, as long as it secures repayment.

“The customer then pays because of the shame,” Chaurasia divulged. “You’ll find at least one person in his contact list who can destroy his life.”

The BBC approached Chaurasia for direct comment, but he declined to provide a statement. Regrettably, Callflex Corporation also failed to respond to the BBC’s outreach efforts.

One of the countless lives torn apart by this scam was that of Kirni Mounika, a 24-year-old civil servant. She was the pride of her family, the only student at her school to secure a government job, and a devoted sister to her three brothers.

Her father, a successful farmer, was ready to support her to do a masters in Australia. The Monday she took her own life, three years ago, she had hopped on her scooter to go to work as usual. “She was all smiles,” her father, Kirni Bhoopani, says. It was only when police reviewed Mounika’s phone and bank statements that they found out she had borrowed from 55 different loan apps. It started with a loan of 10,000 rupees ($120; £100) and spiralled to more than 30 times that. By the time she decided to kill herself, she had paid back more than 300,000 rupees ($3,600; £2,960).

Police reports indicate that Mounika’s ordeal involved incessant calls and vulgar messages from the loan apps, which had escalated to messaging her contacts.

Mounika’s room has now been transformed into a makeshift memorial. Her government ID card hangs near the door, and her mother’s wedding bag remains untouched. What pains her father most is that she never confided in him about her predicament. “We could have easily arranged the money,” he laments, wiping tears from his eyes. His anger is directed toward those responsible for his daughter’s suffering.

As he was accompanying his daughter’s body from the hospital, her phone rang, and he answered to a torrent of obscenities. “They told us she has to pay,” he recalls. “We told them she was dead.” He wondered who these heartless tormentors could be.

Hari, a former employee at a call center tasked with loan recovery for one of the apps Mounika had borrowed from, shares a grim perspective. While he claims not to have personally made abusive calls, he was part of the team responsible for initial, more polite interactions. Hari reveals that managers instructed staff to employ abuse and threats.

Agents routinely sent messages to victims’ contacts, portraying the victims as fraudsters and thieves. Hari emphasizes the importance of maintaining a reputation in front of one’s family, stating, “No one is going to spoil that reputation for the measly sum of 5,000 rupees.” Once a payment was secured, the system signaled “Success!” and they moved on to the next client.

When clients began to threaten self-harm, nobody took these threats seriously until the suicides began. Faced with this grim reality, the staff contacted their boss, Parshuram Takve, to inquire whether they should cease their relentless tactics.

Upon Takve’s appearance at the office, he was notably furious. “He said, ‘Do what you’re told and make recoveries,'” Hari recalls. And so they did.

A few months later, Mounika tragically took her own life. Takve, a ruthless figure, wasn’t the sole mastermind behind this operation. Occasionally, Hari notes, the software interface would inexplicably switch to Chinese.

Takve was married to a Chinese woman named Liang Tian Tian. Together, they established Jiyaliang, a loan recovery business located in Pune, where Hari was employed. In December 2020, Indian authorities arrested Takve and Liang while investigating harassment related to loan apps. However, they were released on bail a few months later.

By April 2022, they faced charges of extortion, intimidation, and abetment of suicide. By the year’s end, they were fugitives from justice.

Takve proved to be a formidable figure, but he did not operate in isolation. At times, the software interface switched to Chinese, suggesting a broader connection. Our investigation led us to a Chinese businessman named Li Xiang, who has little online presence. However, we identified a phone number associated with one of his employees and, posing as investors, arranged a meeting with Li.

During this meeting, Li boasted about his business ventures in India. He disclosed that his companies had been subject to police raids in 2021 in relation to loan apps’ harassment, leading to frozen bank accounts. Li explained that his companies run loan apps in India, Mexico, and Colombia, and he asserted himself as an industry leader in risk control and debt collection services in Southeast Asia. He further revealed plans to expand into Latin America and Africa, employing over 3,000 staff in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India to provide “post-loan services.”

Li went on to detail his company’s debt recovery methods, explaining, “If you don’t repay, we may add you on WhatsApp, and on the third day, we will call and message you on WhatsApp at the same time, and call your contacts. Then, on the fourth day, if your contacts don’t pay, we have specific detailed procedures. We access his call records and capture a lot of his information. Basically, it’s like he’s naked in front of us.”

For Bhoomi Sinha, the relentless harassment, threats, and abuse were bearable, but the shame of being linked to that pornographic image shattered her. She describes the message as stripping her bare in front of the entire world, causing her to lose her self-respect, morality, and dignity in an instant.

This image was shared with lawyers, architects, government officials, elderly relatives, and friends of her parents – individuals who would never view her the same way again. She explains that it tainted her essence, leaving her with emotional scars akin to mending a broken glass with persistent cracks.

Her community of 40 years has ostracized her, and she reveals that she no longer has friends. However, her daughter’s unwavering support became a source of strength. Bhoomi resolved to fight back, filing a police report, changing her number, and instructing friends, family, and colleagues to ignore calls and messages.

Although her ordeal has been harrowing, Bhoomi found solace in her sisters, her boss, and an online community of others abused by loan apps. Above all, her daughter’s unwavering support has been her greatest source of strength.

The BBC presented these allegations to Asan Loan, Liang Tian Tian, and Parshuram Takve, but neither the company nor the couple responded. Li Xiang asserted that his companies adhere to local laws and regulations, denying any involvement in predatory loan apps and emphasizing their compliance with strict standards for loan recovery call centers. Majesty Legal Services denied the use of customers’ contacts for loan recovery and assured that their agents are instructed to avoid abusive or threatening calls, with violations resulting in dismissal.

Key Takeaways from the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings

The week-long annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank concluded in the Moroccan city of Marrakech. Despite being overshadowed by recent Middle East violence and held in a country still recovering from an earthquake, these meetings covered a range of critical topics affecting the global economy. Here are the main points from the meetings:

1.Global Economic Growth: The IMF outlook, approved before the escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict, predicts a slowdown in global economic growth. It anticipates growth to decrease from 3.5% last year to 3% this year and 2.9% next year, marking a 0.1% downgrade from a previous 2024 estimate. Global inflation is also expected to decrease, from 6.9% this year to 5.8% next year. Central bankers indicated their readiness to halt interest rate hikes if circumstances permit, with the hope that inflation can be controlled without causing a severe economic downturn. The impact of the Middle East conflict on the global economy remains uncertain.

2. Debt Challenges: Discussions frequently revolved around the heavy debt burdens carried by advanced economies, including the United States, China, and Italy. Financial markets recently pushed U.S. bond yields higher, raising concerns. Italian central bank governor Ignazio Visco noted that markets appeared to be reassessing the risks associated with holding longer-term debt. JPMorgan’s Joyce Chang emphasized the return of the “bond vigilantes,” marking the end of the Great Moderation, a period of relative economic stability prior to the 2008/09 financial crisis. This shift could affect policies related to climate change, as escalating subsidies may lead to increased public debt. The IMF suggests that a new approach, with carbon pricing at its core, is needed.

3.Debt Deals and Reforms: Beyond advanced economies, several challenges exist, including higher policy rates, a strong U.S. dollar, and geopolitical uncertainties. Turkey is working on a reform plan, focusing on lowering inflation. Kenya aims to prevent debt distress by planning a buyback of a quarter of its $2 billion international bond maturing in June. Zambia reached a debt rework memorandum of understanding with creditors, including China and France. The situation with Sri Lanka’s debt remains less clear, with an agreement reached with the Export-Import Bank of China but talks with other official creditors stalling.

4.Risks to the Global Economy: The IMF’s Global Financial Stability Report highlights the risks posed by high interest rates. It estimates that approximately 5% of banks worldwide are vulnerable to stress if interest rates remain high for an extended period. Moreover, an additional 30% of banks, including some of the world’s largest, would be at risk if the global economy experiences prolonged low growth and high inflation.

Picture: CNBC

5.Challenges to Consensus-Building: Several factors, including the Ukraine war, growing trade protectionism, and tensions between the United States and China, have made consensus-building more challenging. Notably, no final communique was issued at the end of the meetings. Discussions about restructuring the IMF and World Bank to better represent emerging economies like China and Brazil were held. A U.S. proposal to increase IMF lending power while deferring a review of fund shareholdings gained broad support. However, anti-poverty groups remained skeptical about the outcomes, emphasizing the need for new financial commitments to address poverty and climate change.

The annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Marrakech addressed critical global economic issues, including slowing growth, debt challenges, the impact of geopolitical factors, and the need for reforms to address climate change. While these meetings provided insights into these pressing matters, there were concerns about the adequacy of the solutions proposed, particularly in the face of persistent global challenges.

IMF Says Global Economy ‘Limping Along’, Cuts Growth Forecast For China, Euro Zone

The largest Hindu temple in the United States is set to open its doors in New Jersey this Sunday. Located in Robbinsville, the 183-acre BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, named after its founding Hindu spiritual organization, rivals major Hindu temples in India.

Yogi Trivedi, a temple volunteer and a scholar of religion at Columbia University, marveled at the temple’s existence, saying, “I wake up every morning and scratch my eyes thinking, ‘Am I still in central New Jersey?’ It’s like being transported to another world, specifically to India.”

The temple is scheduled for official inauguration on October 8, with public access commencing on October 18. For Indian Americans and Hindu Americans, this represents a significant milestone. Trivedi noted, “This is the American Dream. The sacred geography of India and beyond is here in this one place, and you can experience, witness, and admire it all here in New Jersey. I anticipate, as a scholar of religion, that this will become a popular place of pilgrimage for Hindus from across the world.”

Construction of the temple involved 12,500 volunteers from around the world and has been in progress since 2011. However, it gained significant attention a decade later when a group of immigrant laborers filed a lawsuit against the global organization Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), which operates temples worldwide. The lawsuit alleged “shocking” conditions, including forced labor, long work hours, inhospitable living conditions, and caste discrimination.

The initial complaint stated, “For these long and difficult hours of work, the workers were paid an astonishing $450 per month, and even less when Defendants took illegal deductions. Their hourly pay rate came to approximately $1.20 per hour.”

BAPS, however, made a distinction between employment and religious volunteer service, known as seva. A spokesperson for BAPS, Ronak Patel, explained, “The artisans who helped to build our mandir came to the U.S. as volunteers, not as employees. We took care of the artisans’ needs in the U.S., including travel, lodging, food, medical care, and internet and prepaid phone cards so they could stay in touch with their families in India. BAPS India also supported the artisans’ families in India, so they did not suffer financial hardship as a result of the artisans’ seva in the U.S.”

Many of the laborers who participated in the temple’s construction arrived in New Jersey from India on religious visas and belonged to the Dalit community, historically marginalized groups in South Asia’s caste system. The lawsuit claimed that temple leadership enforced the caste hierarchy at work.

The lawsuit has been put on hold, with 12 of the original 21 plaintiffs moving to dismiss their claims. BAPS Akshardham spokespeople have assured that the temple will be a place for people of all creeds and castes to gather in community.

The temple’s walls feature carvings of historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, emphasizing inclusivity. Trivedi commented, “When you come to the mandir, you will see people of all genders, all castes, and social backgrounds living, eating, praying, loving, and serving together.”

However, activists argue that the allegations still raise questions about the line between religious service and work exploitation, which particularly affects vulnerable Dalit communities.

Sunita Viswanath, a civil rights activist and co-founder of the civil rights group Hindus for Human Rights, expressed her concerns, saying, “A place of worship, a temple, is such an important space, especially for an immigrant community who’s making a home in a new country. I would want anybody who goes to the temple to really ask themselves, really do some soul searching, about going to a temple where there are such serious allegations of labor and human rights violations.”

The construction of the temple was no small feat, involving the placement of 2 million cubic feet of stone in Robbinsville Township. The temple is a cultural blend, featuring materials sourced from around the world and nods to American history.

The outside of the temple was built with non-traditional Bulgarian limestone to withstand New Jersey’s cold winters. The interior includes stone from various countries, including Greece, Italy, and India. A traditional Indian stepwell contains waters from 300 bodies in India and all 50 U.S. states. Notably, women played key roles in running the project, a rarity in temple construction.

Trivedi sees the temple’s design as representative of the diverse community that will gather there, with inclusivity reflected on the walls. He said, “That kind of inclusivity is not just talked about, it’s actually seen on the walls.”

This landmark Hindu temple in New Jersey, with its rich cultural diversity and complex history, is poised to become a significant focal point for Hindu and Indian American communities across the nation.

How Did Mahatma Gandhi’s Portrait Come On Indian Banknotes

Throughout history, the lens of prominent photographers captured Mahatma Gandhi, but perhaps the most iconic image of him is the one adorning Indian currency notes. As the Father of the Nation, it might seem natural for him to be featured on India’s national currency, but this honor was conferred upon him several decades after India gained independence in 1947. In 1996, Gandhi’s image became a permanent fixture on all denominations of legal banknotes issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the nation’s central bank entrusted with overseeing India’s banking system. As we approach Gandhi’s birth anniversary, we delve into the origins of this portrait, the symbol it replaced, and the suggestions that have emerged for featuring other iconic figures on Indian banknotes.

The Origins of Gandhi’s Image on Indian Currency

The portrait of Gandhi on Indian banknotes is not a caricature; rather, it is a cut-out of a photograph taken in 1946, where he stands alongside British politician Lord Frederick William Pethick-Lawrence. This particular photograph was chosen because it captured Gandhi with a suitable smile, which was then mirrored to create the iconic portrait. Interestingly, the identities of the photographer behind this image and the person who selected it remain shrouded in mystery.

The responsibility of designing Indian rupee notes lies with the RBI’s Department of Currency Management, which must obtain approval for its designs from the central bank and the Union government. According to Section 25 of the RBI Act, 1934, the central government has the authority to approve the “design, form, and material of banknotes” based on recommendations made by the central board.

When Gandhi First Appeared on INR Notes

Gandhi’s first appearance on Indian currency occurred in 1969 when a special series was issued to commemorate his 100th birth anniversary. These notes, bearing the signature of RBI Governor LK Jha, depicted Gandhi against the backdrop of the Sevagram Ashram.

In October 1987, a series of Rs 500 currency notes featuring Gandhi was introduced.

The Banknotes of Independent India

Following India’s declaration of independence on August 15, 1947, the RBI initially continued to issue notes featuring King George VI from the colonial period. However, this situation changed in 1949 when the government of India introduced a new design for the 1-rupee note. In this new design, King George was replaced with a symbol of the Lion Capital of Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath.

The RBI museum website shares insights from that era, noting that there were deliberations about selecting symbols for independent India. Initially, the idea was to replace the King’s portrait with that of Mahatma Gandhi. Design proposals were even prepared for this purpose. However, the consensus eventually shifted towards choosing the Lion Capital at Sarnath in place of Gandhi’s portrait. The new banknote designs largely followed the earlier patterns.

Consequently, in 1950, the first Republic of India banknotes were issued in denominations of Rs 2, 5, 10, and 100, all bearing the Lion Capital watermark. Over the years, higher denomination legal tenders were introduced, with motifs on the back of the notes evolving to reflect various aspects of new India, from wildlife motifs such as tigers and sambar deer to depictions of agricultural activities like farming and tea leaf plucking in the 1970s. The 1980s saw an emphasis on symbols of scientific and technological advancements as well as Indian art forms, with the Aryabhatta satellite, farm mechanization, and the Konark Wheel featuring on various denominations.

Gandhi’s Portrait Becomes a Permanent Feature

By the 1990s, the RBI recognized the need to enhance the security features of currency notes due to advancements in reprographic techniques such as digital printing, scanning, photography, and xerography. It was believed that inanimate objects would be easier to forge compared to a human face. Consequently, Gandhi was chosen as the new face of Indian currency due to his universal appeal. In 1996, the RBI introduced the ‘Mahatma Gandhi Series’ to replace the former Ashoka Pillar banknotes. This series also incorporated several security features, including a windowed security thread, latent image, and intaglio features designed for the visually impaired.

In 2016, the ‘Mahatma Gandhi New Series’ of banknotes was announced by the RBI, retaining Gandhi’s portrait while adding the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan logo and additional security features on the reverse side.

Demands for Inclusion of Others on Banknotes

In recent years, there have been calls to feature figures other than Gandhi on Indian currency notes. In October 2022, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the Prime Minister and the Union government to include the images of Lord Ganesha and goddess Lakshmi on currency notes.

Similarly, in 2014, there were suggestions to include Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and former President APJ Abdul Kalam on currency notes. However, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, addressing the Lok Sabha, revealed that the RBI had rejected these proposals in favor of retaining Gandhi’s portrait. He stated, “The Committee decided that no other personality could better represent the ethos of India than Mahatma Gandhi.”

Furthermore, then RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan emphasized that while India had many great personalities, Gandhi stood out above all others, and other choices could potentially be controversial.

The journey of Mahatma Gandhi’s image on Indian currency is a reflection of India’s evolving identity and the significance attributed to its national icons. While there have been calls to diversify the figures featured on banknotes, Gandhi’s enduring presence continues to symbolize the ethos of India.

The Evolution of the USD to INR Exchange Rate

The United States dollar (USD) stands as one of the world’s most influential currencies, boasting the highest global trade volume. When assessing the strength or weakness of the Indian rupee (INR), the preferred benchmark has consistently been the USD. Remarkably, there was a time when the USD to INR exchange rate was less than 5. However, in 2023, the exchange rate has surged to approximately ₹83 for every 1 US dollar. This article delves into the intriguing history of the USD to INR exchange rate, spanning from pre-independence India to the present day. We’ll explore pivotal economic events that have left an indelible mark on India’s currency landscape.

Here’s the USD to INR history since India’s independence, put concisely for you


Year Exchange Rate [1 USD to 1 INR]
1947 3.30
1949 4.76
1966 7.50
1975 8.39
1980 6.61
1990 17.01
2000 44.31
2005 43.50
2006 46.92
2007 49.32
2008 43.30
2009 48.82
2010 46.02
2011 44.65
2012 53.06
2013 54.78
2014 60.95
2015 66.79
2016 67.63
2017 64.94
2018 70.64
2019 72.15
2020 74.31
2021 75.45
2022 81.62
2023 (as of October 3, 2023) 83.18

Dollar vs. Rupee: A Historical Perspective

The USD to INR exchange rate encapsulates India’s economic journey, with fluctuations mirroring the country’s economic fortunes over the years. By examining the shift from the 1947 rate of 1 US dollar to the Indian rupee, we can gauge the rupee’s strength over time.

Pre-Independence Era – Before 1947

The pre-independence era was characterized by British colonial rule in India, which exerted a profound influence on the nation’s economy, including its currency. Consequently, the value of the rupee was closely tied to economic conditions in Britain. The British Pound, much like other global currencies, had a fixed conversion rate to the USD, with the US dollar itself pegged to gold under the Bretton Woods Agreement.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression sent shockwaves through the global economy, impacting India, a British colony, even more profoundly. Notably, some argue that in 1947, 1 US dollar had a better value compared to later years, possibly due to the British Pound’s higher value relative to the USD. During this period, £1 was equivalent to ₹13.37 Rupees, suggesting that $1 might have been worth ₹4.16 at that time.

Post-Independence – 1947 to 1991

After gaining independence in 1947, India adopted a fixed exchange rate system aimed at stabilizing international trade by managing exchange rate fluctuations through government interventions. While this approach provided stability, it also limited the currency’s ability to respond to changing economic conditions.

The USD to INR exchange rate remained relatively stable, with occasional disruptions caused by wars with Pakistan and China, which strained India’s foreign exchange reserves. Global events like the 1970s oil crisis triggered inflationary pressures, driving up the dollar rate. India’s efforts to balance economic growth, foreign policy, and currency stability played a pivotal role in determining the USD to INR exchange rate during this period.

In response to the Nixon shock in 1971 and the Smithsonian Agreement, both of which had lasting implications for the USD, the Reserve Bank of India and the Indian government implemented various adjustments to the Indian Rupee’s price. By 1975, the INR transitioned from a par value method to a pegged system and eventually to a basket peg.

During Economic Reforms and Liberalisation – 1991 to 2000

The period from 1991 to 2000 marked a turning point in India’s economic history, significantly impacting the USD to INR exchange rate. In 1991, India initiated economic reforms and liberalization measures designed to open its economy to foreign investments and reduce trade barriers. These reforms shifted the country from a fixed exchange rate system to a more flexible one, allowing greater flexibility in exchange rate determination. During this time, 1 USD to INR was approximately 35.

By 2000, the exchange rate had risen, with 1 USD equating to about 45 INR. Factors contributing to this increase included the need to attract foreign capital, address trade imbalances, and global economic events like the late 1990s Asian financial crisis. India’s modernization efforts further shaped the USD to INR exchange rate during this transformative period.

21st Century – 2001 to 2023

In the early 21st century, spanning from 2001 to 2023, the USD to INR exchange rate reflected India’s dynamic economic landscape and global economic conditions. It commenced at approximately 1 USD to 1 INR at 47 in 2001, weakened to around ₹75 in 2020, and further declined to approximately ₹80 in 2023.

While India experienced robust economic growth, attracting foreign investments, the 21st century also witnessed global events with adverse implications for the INR’s value, such as the 2008 financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced additional complexities, influencing exchange rates worldwide, including the INR. During this period, domestic economic factors, foreign investments, and global economic developments have collectively shaped the INR’s exchange rate.

Factors Influencing Exchange Rates

Several factors have a bearing on the USD to INR exchange rate:

  1. Trade Balances:A country’s trade balance, reflecting the difference between exports and imports, can impact its currency’s value. A trade surplus (more exports than imports) can strengthen the currency, while a deficit can weaken it.
  2. Inflation:High inflation rates can erode the purchasing power of a currency, leading to depreciation. Central banks often employ interest rates to control inflation, thereby influencing exchange rates.
  3. Interest Rates:Higher interest rates make a country’s economy more attractive to foreign investors, resulting in increased demand for the currency. This heightened demand strengthens the currency’s value relative to others, causing it to appreciate.
  4. Geopolitical Events:Political stability and international relations can affect investor confidence and currency value.
  5. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):A country’s appeal to foreign investments can impact its currency. Higher rates of FDI can strengthen the currency, while lower rates can weaken it.

From the pre-independence era, marked by British colonial rule, to the post-independence challenges, economic reforms, and the dynamic 21st century, both domestic and international factors have influenced the value of the Indian rupee. The history of the USD to INR exchange rate provides a captivating journey through India’s economic evolution.

US May See Deep Recession, Could Impact India’s Markets, Exports: Economist

The United States could potentially face a significant economic downturn in the near future, and such a scenario would not only impact India’s vital services sector, a key component of the nation’s GDP, but also introduce substantial volatility into both the bond and equity markets, according to a prominent economist.

In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Neelkanth Mishra, the Chief Economist for Axis Bank and part-time chairperson of the Unique Identification Authority of India, expressed his concerns about the United States potentially entering a recession. While initial expectations were that the U.S. would experience a decline in GDP growth, this did not materialize by the end of September, with some believing a “soft landing” was in store.

Mishra offered a counterpoint, highlighting a significant increase in the U.S. fiscal deficit. “Our analysis says, however, that this year, their fiscal deficit has gone up by 4% of their GDP. They had targeted $1 trillion – their fiscal year ends on September 30 – and they ended up with a figure of $2 trillion. If the fiscal deficit is so high, there can’t be a recession,” he explained. However, the challenge lies in maintaining this elevated fiscal deficit to sustain economic growth.

“Even if they manage to keep the fiscal deficit flat next year, which is a problem in itself, the economy will go into a recession. Because of the fiscal deficit being so high, no one is wanting to buy U.S. bonds. Rates are rising because of that, and this is going to lead to a contraction in demand across the world. So, the recession that will happen could be a very deep one,” he cautioned.

Turning his attention to the potential impact on India, Mishra identified four key pathways. Firstly, the services sector, which is already experiencing sluggish growth, could further decelerate, impacting India’s IT services industry and business services exports, which constitute 10% of India’s total exports. This decline could potentially result in a 1% reduction in GDP growth.

The second pathway involves the impact on goods exports, with a drop in demand anticipated. Mishra emphasized that demand for goods is already low in China, Europe, and Japan, and if it also diminishes in the U.S., it could affect India’s goods exports.

The third concern revolves around the risk of product dumping in India. If India remains the sole bastion of demand resilience, manufacturers worldwide may flock to sell their products in India, negatively impacting Indian manufacturers.

Lastly, a U.S. recession could affect the yield on its government bonds, leading to an increase in the cost of capital for other economies. This could particularly affect Indian borrowers, making it harder to secure dollar loans and introducing volatility into financial markets, including bonds and equities.

Addressing how India can prepare for such potential turbulence, Mishra stressed the importance of macroeconomic stability over risk-taking to navigate these uncertain waters. He asserted that macroeconomic stability provides the foundation for sustained long-term growth.

Responding to a question about a recent Morgan Stanley report, which suggested that India’s stock market could rise by 10% with a stable government after 2024 but might fall by 20-60% if stability is not achieved, Mishra challenged this viewpoint. He argued that the central government’s impact on the economy is typically seen over a medium-term horizon, in the range of 3-5 years. State governments, on the other hand, play a more substantial role in short-term economic momentum, influencing foreign and private investments. Mishra highlighted demographic trends in India, such as falling fertility rates and increasing net savings, as indicators of economic strength that are relatively impervious to changes in the central government.

He underlined that this sensationalist forecasting does not align with the economic realities in India. Housing construction, a significant driver of the Indian economy, is unlikely to be significantly affected by changes in the government.

Regarding advice for the middle class in the face of potential economic turbulence, Mishra recommended caution in the coming year or year-and-a-half, as the global economy could experience significant volatility. However, he also expressed optimism about India’s economic trajectory over the next 5-7 years, suggesting that there is no cause for undue concern.

Neelkanth Mishra, a prominent economist, has voiced concerns about the possibility of a deep recession in the United States and its potential impact on India, emphasizing the importance of macroeconomic stability and challenging sensationalist forecasts about the Indian economy. He advised caution in the short term but expressed optimism about India’s longer-term economic prospects.

American Job Market Thrives in September, Exceeding Expectations

In a clear demonstration of ongoing economic strength, American payrolls experienced a significant increase of 336,000 in September, as reported by the Labor Department on Friday. This growth, nearly double what economists had predicted, reaffirmed the robustness of the labor market and the resilience of the economy, which has been grappling with various challenges.

Remarkably, this marked the 33rd consecutive month of job expansion, with September’s surge being the most substantial since January. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate, based on household surveys, remained stable at 3.8 percent, maintaining a level below 4 percent for nearly two years—an achievement not witnessed since the late 1960s.

Samuel Rines, an economist and managing director at Corbu, a financial research firm, commented, “This is an economy on fire,” reflecting the enthusiasm surrounding the economic performance.

Notably, data revisions also brought good news, with hiring figures for July and August being adjusted upwards, revealing an additional 119,000 jobs compared to previous records. These revisions underscored employers’ confidence in the ongoing economic recovery and their belief that there is ample room for further growth.

Andrew Flowers, a labor economist at Appcast, a firm specializing in online recruiting, pointed out that “Fears of an imminent recession have been easing since the spring, allowing businesses to revisit hiring plans they put on hold.”

The release of these figures drew considerable attention from Federal Reserve policymakers, who have been grappling with the challenge of balancing wage and price control through interest rate adjustments. Robust job growth often triggers a sell-off among investors due to concerns over potential rate hikes, which can negatively impact stock and bond prices.

Surprisingly, the market’s response on Friday was generally positive, primarily because the report indicated that the economy was still expanding while wage growth remained moderate, leading many to believe that the Federal Reserve would maintain steady interest rates. Average hourly earnings for workers showed a 0.2 percent increase from the previous month and a 4.2 percent increase from September 2022. While these figures were solid, they fell slightly short of expectations, with the one-year growth rate being the slowest since March 2020.

David Cervantes, founder of Pine Brook Capital Management, an asset management firm, emphasized, “I don’t think the headline jobs number necessarily means an inflationary impulse because average hourly earnings gains are going down,” providing reassurance for those concerned about the inflationary impact of rising wages.

Officials from the Biden administration hailed the report as unequivocally positive, with Jared Bernstein, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, stating, “Simply put, good news is good news, full stop,” highlighting the persistently strong job market under Bidenomics.

The economy’s resilience, more than three years into the recovery from Covid pandemic shutdowns, is evident in various ways. Inflation-adjusted economic growth has accelerated over the summer, even as overall price increases have slowed compared to a year ago. While spending has moderated since its rapid pace in 2021, demand for travel, hospitality, and event tickets remains high, and jobless claims are at their lowest levels since February 2020.

Furthermore, the accumulated savings of Americans during the pandemic have endured longer than expected. In 2019, U.S. households held approximately $980 billion in “checkable deposits,” including checking, savings, and easily cashable money market accounts. In 2023, this figure has surged to over $4 trillion.

However, there are reasons for caution. The suspension of mandatory federal student loan repayments, a pandemic relief measure, is ending this month. The housing market has been affected by a shortage of supply and rising interest rates, resulting in nearly frozen activity and record high home prices.

Consumer sentiment, as measured by the University of Michigan’s index, has improved significantly compared to the previous year but remains well below late 2010s levels. Additionally, it appears that high interest rates will persist for an extended period, posing challenges not only for households but also for businesses in need of fresh financing.

Nevertheless, for the time being, economic activities continue to progress steadily. The MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, which gauges confidence among small business owners, reached its highest level this quarter since the beginning of the pandemic. This score is roughly in line with late 2019 levels, with 66 percent of small businesses reporting that business conditions are healthy, and 72 percent expressing comfort with their cash flow, despite increased labor costs.

Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, observed, “Main Street employers are showing remarkable resiliency in the face of high inflation and a shortage of workers,” adding that small business owners are feeling more optimistic compared to a year ago, with recession fears receding and inflation gradually easing.

Throughout this year, there has been an ongoing struggle between an economy delivering greater-than-expected overall growth and the concerns of many American families still grappling with the impact of two years of significant increases in living costs. The reduction of federal aid and tax credits has led to an increase in poverty, and energy prices have experienced unpredictable fluctuations.

Most leading indicators, which aim to identify and predict significant shifts in the business cycle, still exhibit warning signs. However, some argue that these data may be influenced by the peculiarities of an economy returning to normalcy after the shock of the pandemic.

Michael Kantrowitz, chief investment strategist at Piper Sandler & Company, noted, “The reality of the business cycle is that there are only two times when ‘all’ the data are moving in the same direction: a recovery and a recession,” indicating that mixed and less clear data outside of these extreme phases should not be dismissed.

As markets grapple with uncertainty, many workers are advocating for a larger share of the still-expanding economic pie. While nonsupervisory employees have seen recent wage increases, private sector hourly workers are currently averaging approximately $17 per hour this year, according to payroll processor ADP. Nevertheless, many workers continue to feel that their wages do not adequately meet their needs.

Jonathan Quito, a 27-year-old ramp agent at La Guardia Airport, shared his perspective, stating that despite a $1 per hour raise last year, he finds it insufficient to cover the rising costs of living in New York City, including groceries, public transportation, and rent. He emphasized the importance of worker advocacy and unionization efforts to secure better wages and improved living conditions.

He concluded, “Eventually, you know, I want to be able to start my own family and stuff,” highlighting his aspiration for a more secure financial future.

America’s National Debt Hits Record $33 Trillion

In September, the gross national debt of the United States reached a staggering $33 trillion, a new record following its previous milestone of $32 trillion earlier in the year. This alarming figure is accompanied by a concerning trend: the U.S. is currently spending more on paying interest on its national debt than on its national defense, as reported by the Treasury’s monthly statement.

The fiscal year up to August saw the Treasury disbursing $807.84 billion in interest payments on its debt securities, while the Department of Defense’s budget for military programs amounted to only $695.44 billion during the same period. This juxtaposition becomes even more significant when considering that the United States outspends every other nation on defense.

The recent years have been marked by significant government spending, leading to a deficit, which occurs when government expenditures exceed tax revenues in a fiscal year. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the approval of several substantial bills, including the American Rescue Plan Act, with a price tag of $1.9 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the debt ceiling package signed into law in the summer to prevent a national default could reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. However, the Committee for a Responsible Budget (CRFB), a nonprofit organization specializing in federal budget and fiscal matters, suggests that the actual savings could be closer to $1 trillion, depending on “side deals” outside the agreement.

CRFB President Maya MacGuineas emphasized the necessity of addressing healthcare, Social Security, and the tax code to regain control over the national debt.

The government’s borrowing spree in recent years took place during a period of historically low interest rates. However, as interest rates rise and prices continue to climb, the cost of servicing this debt is set to increase. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, nearly $2 billion is spent daily on interest payments for the national debt.

Furthermore, the government’s substantial debt levels can crowd out other borrowing opportunities in the economy, making it more difficult for corporations to secure loans. As Phillip Braun, a clinical professor of finance at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, explained, “There’s only so much money in the economy, and so with the government borrowing such large amounts, there’s only so much that people are willing to lend overall in the economy, so it pushes out other types of borrowing.” The government had an opportunity to refinance its debt when interest rates were low, but this opportunity was missed, leading to unnecessarily higher borrowing costs.

Who Owns America’s National Debt?

The national debt in the United States is diverse, similar to having various types of personal debt like credit cards, mortgages, and car payments. The U.S. Department of the Treasury manages the national debt, classifying it into two categories: intragovernmental debt and debt held by the public.

Intragovernmental debt, accounting for approximately $6.8 trillion of the national debt, represents obligations between different government agencies. The larger portion of the debt, around $26.2 trillion, is held by the public. This segment includes ownership by foreign governments, banks, private investors, state and local governments, and the Federal Reserve, primarily in the form of Treasury securities, bills, and bonds.

Foreign governments and private investors are among the most significant holders of public debt, possessing roughly $8 trillion. Approximately 50% of this debt is owned by private and public domestic entities, while the Federal Reserve Bank holds approximately 20%. However, there is a silver lining concerning the debt held by the Federal Reserve.

Phillip Braun explained, “The Federal Reserve owns a lot of government debt. The Treasury does pay interest payments to the Federal Reserve, but then the Federal Reserve turns around and gives it back to the Treasury — that alleviates some of the issues.”

A Warning Signal

Rising interest rates are poised to exacerbate the national debt crisis, complicating the government’s ability to respond to economic slowdowns. Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, warned, “As we have seen with recent growth in inflation and interest rates, the cost of debt can mount suddenly and rapidly. With more than $10 trillion of interest costs over the next decade, this compounding fiscal cycle will only continue to do damage to our kids and grandkids.”

Charitable Giving Trends in the United States

Charitable giving is a deeply ingrained tradition in the United States, reflecting a blend of entrepreneurial spirit, social consciousness, and religious values. The Philanthropy Roundtable reports that over 80% of all donations to charities and nonprofit organizations in the US come from individuals, and Americans outpace their European counterparts in giving by a factor of seven. Canadians, often known for their generosity, lag behind, contributing about half as much.

The philanthropic landscape in the US can be attributed to three unique elements:

1.Entrepreneurial Spirit: The American dream is synonymous with achieving success and giving back. Many individuals and corporations consider it a duty to help those less fortunate once they’ve achieved their goals.

2.Social Consciousness: From national organizations like the ACLU to local food banks and disaster relief funds, Americans have a rich tradition of assisting their neighbors in times of need.

3.Religion: The United States remains one of the most religious countries globally, with regular giving to churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other religious institutions forming an integral part of many Americans’ lives.

Now, let’s delve into the details of charitable giving in the US.

Percentage of American Households Engaging in Charitable Giving

The Philanthropy Roundtable reports that 60% of American households engage in charitable giving, reflecting the nation’s commitment to helping those in need.

Trends in Charitable Giving

Even amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, charitable giving in the US continued to follow an upward trajectory. Charity Navigator, a watchdog for charities and nonprofits, notes that since 1977, Americans have increased their giving every year, with a few exceptions in 1987, 2008, and 2009. In this sense, 2020 simply continued the trend of giving more than the previous year.

Religious Giving

Determining which religious group is the most charitable is a complex task due to the diversity of America’s religious makeup. However, recent studies shed some light:

– Jews and Muslims donate more to public society benefit organizations involved in civil rights and social inequalities compared to their Christian and non-Christian counterparts.

– Among Christian groups, Mormons emerge as the most generous, followed by Evangelicals, Protestants, and American Catholics, particularly in the areas of family, children, and human services and causes.

– Jews stand out for their donations to non-Jewish organizations, showcasing the varied giving habits across different beliefs and traditions.

Average Charitable Contributions

The average annual charity donation for Americans in 2020 stood at $737 according to Giving USA. However, this figure can be misleading due to disparities:

– High net worth families donated an average of $29,269.

– For the general population, the average donation was only $2,514.

– The average online donation amounted to $177.

– Non-profit websites received an average of $1.13 from each visitor.

– Many Americans also contribute in-kind donations, such as goods to organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and local charities, as well as food pantries, which are often not monetarily quantified.

Thus, the average charitable contribution varies significantly based on income, donation method, and recipient.

Charitable Giving by Month

December is the peak month for charitable giving, maintaining its status as the preferred time for generosity in both 2019 and 2020. However, there are interesting nuances:

– In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, charitable giving experienced significant declines in March, April, and May, as reported by Nonprofit Source.

– Charities with recurring monthly giving programs receive an average of $52 each month per donor, showing the effectiveness of this approach.

– Donors who set up recurring monthly donations give 42% more than one-time givers, according to Nonprofit Source.

The Psychology of Asking for $19 a Month

Charities often request donations of $19 a month for two key reasons:

1.Psychology: Studies on consumer behavior suggest that prices ending in numbers like 4, 7, and 9 are perceived as more affordable and appealing. Thus, $19 appears more manageable than $20 to potential donors.

2.IRS Requirements: Charities and nonprofits must provide receipts for annual donations totaling $250 or more. Requesting $19 monthly ensures that the yearly total ($228) falls below this threshold, saving time and costs associated with sending receipts.

Charitable Giving Demographics

Understanding the demographics of charitable donors provides valuable insights:

Age Group: The average age of US donors is 64, predominantly representing the Baby Boomer generation.

Geographical Distribution: Utah stands out as the most charitable state in the US, with over half of the top ten states for total giving located in the South. This correlates with the generosity of Mormons and Evangelical Christians, who are among the country’s most significant donors.

Motivations for Charitable Giving

Research has identified seven key reasons why people give to charities:

1.Happiness: Giving triggers the release of dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical in the brain, leading to increased happiness.

2.Empowerment: Donors feel empowered when they witness their contributions directly benefiting their chosen causes.

3.Personal Connection: Many donors have personal or emotional ties to specific charitable causes.

4.Trustworthiness: Donors prefer charities and nonprofits with a track record of tangible impact.

5.Community: Being part of a larger community and making a difference motivates donors across various sectors, from animal welfare to the arts.

6.Awareness: Charities that effectively capture donors’ attention through advertising, social media, or community events tend to receive more support.

7.Tax Benefits: Tax deductions for charitable donations motivate a significant portion of donors, including those with modest incomes.

Charitable Giving by Income Group

A closer look at charitable giving by income brackets reveals some unexpected trends:

  1. Those earning less than $50,000 annually donate a higher percentage of their income to charity.
  2. Conversely, those with incomes ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 give the least in terms of total charitable donations relative to their gross income.

Charitable Giving Across Generations

Let’s delve into the fascinating world of charitable giving across different age groups, from the tech-savvy Millennials to the seasoned members of the Silent Generation.

Millennials: The Tech-Savvy Donors

Millennials, often associated with digital innovation, contribute an average of $481 to charitable causes annually, with a remarkable 84% engaging in philanthropy. They have a strong penchant for online giving, frequently opting for recurring donations, with over 40% setting up monthly deductions from their credit or debit cards. Furthermore, Millennials are avid users of mobile devices, employing phones, tablets, and laptops to research charities, make donations, and advocate for various causes.

The causes that resonate most with Millennials are children’s charities, health and medical nonprofits, local places of worship, and human rights and international affairs groups.

Generation X: Balancing Giving and Volunteering

Generation X, with an average donation of $732 per individual per year, boasts a 59% participation rate in charitable giving. While their donations may be fewer in number compared to Millennials, Gen Xers are more inclined to initiate fundraising campaigns and actively volunteer for charitable endeavors. Email outreach stands out as the most influential method for engaging this generation in philanthropy.

Gen Xers’ charitable preferences align with local social and human services organizations, animal-related causes, children’s charities, and local places of worship.

Baby Boomers: Generosity Knows No Bounds

Baby Boomers exhibit remarkable generosity, averaging $1,212 in annual donations per person. An impressive 72% of the Baby Boomer generation contributes to charitable causes, representing a significant 43% of all yearly donations. Many of these Boomers, who were once 1960s activists, continue to support causes related to social justice, world peace, and environmental issues.

Their charitable support primarily gravitates toward local social services nonprofits, animal organizations, children’s charities, human rights and international affairs, and local places of worship.

The Silent Generation: Quiet Yet Impactful Giving

The Silent Generation, born between 1927 and 1946, donates an average of $1,367 annually per person, with a remarkable 88% of them participating in charitable giving. Despite comprising only 11% of the US population, they contribute a significant 26% of all charitable donations. Their giving preferences lean toward organizations that reach out via direct mail and causes featured in the news.

Silent Generation donations predominantly support veterans’ causes, local social services, emergency and disaster relief efforts, and local places of worship.

Generational Giving Trends in 2020

In 2020, amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic, only two sub-sectors of nonprofit organizations witnessed notable growth in donations. Local human and social services organizations experienced a 12% surge in giving, while faith-based giving increased by 3%. Conversely, medical researchers and arts and culture subsectors faced declines in donations.

Medical research may have been affected due to the government’s extensive investments in COVID-19 research, potentially overshadowing other medical causes. Additionally, the dominance of COVID-19 news coverage may have diverted donors’ attention away from other health-related issues. Arts, culture, and humanities groups struggled to raise funds due to the limitations imposed by pandemic-related restrictions.

Religious and Church Charitable Giving

Religious giving holds a significant place in the philanthropic landscape, with all four major generational groups contributing to local places of worship.

Most Charitable Giving by Religion

Jewish individuals top the list, contributing an average of $2,526 annually, followed by Protestants at $1,749, Muslims at $1,178, and Catholics at $1,142. Jewish and Muslim donors often direct their contributions to social and human rights organizations, while Christian giving preferences vary by denomination. Nevertheless, 32% of all donations in the US find their way to local places of worship or faith-based nonprofits.

Average Family Contributions to Local Places of Worship

On average, Americans donate $17 weekly to their local places of worship, but surprisingly, 37% of weekly attendees do not contribute at all. Only 5% of congregants are consistent givers. The average weekly church donation per person has experienced a slight decline, dropping nearly 1% since the Great Depression. During the 1930s, Christians contributed 3.3% of their total income to churches, whereas today’s faithful allocate 2.5%.

An intriguing observation is that 75% of non-religious, non-affiliated Americans engage in charitable giving, with many directing their contributions toward faith-based organizations.

Religious Organizations’ Annual Revenue: A Closer Look

Religious organizations are a significant recipient of monetary donations, with approximately one-third of all annual donations flowing in their direction. In 2020, this amounted to a substantial $128.17 billion, as revealed by an extensive survey of IRS tax returns.

Picture: Giving USA

While religious giving has maintained its stability at around the 30% mark for several years, recent trends suggest potential shifts on the horizon. Religious affiliation and regular attendance have been on a decline, with only 36% of American adults claiming to participate in weekly worship.

Volunteer Fundraising Insights: Statistics, Facts, and Trends

We’ve already established that Baby Boomers tend to be the most active volunteers, but there are other intriguing aspects to consider when it comes to volunteering.

The Volunteer Landscape

In the United States, a remarkable 77.34 million adults, equivalent to 30% of the adult population, engaged in volunteering in 2020. These dedicated individuals collectively contributed over 1.6 billion hours of their time, reflecting the spirit of community service.

Volunteer Time Investment

On average, American volunteers devoted 3.5 hours per week to their chosen causes, resulting in an estimated total value of unpaid labor and services amounting to a staggering $255 billion, as reported by Americorps.

Shifting Volunteer Demographics

Notably, there have been discernible shifts in the demographics of volunteers. In 2020, the typical volunteer was more likely to be:

– Married

– Female

– Aged 35-44

– White

– Possessing higher or secondary education

– A parent with children under 18

However, this trend may not persist, given the influence of the pandemic. The pandemic necessitated adjustments, particularly for working mothers who switched to remote work to accommodate their children’s needs when schools closed. This cohort may have chosen to contribute their available “non-lockdown” time to fulfill community needs and simply to escape their homes. Additionally, older generations of volunteers expressed reduced willingness to volunteer due to COVID-19 health concerns.

Volunteer Fundraising Demographics: Generational Giving Patterns

While Baby Boomers traditionally lead in overall volunteering, in 2020, the younger Gen X and older Millennial mothers emerged as the most active volunteers.

Corporate Giving: A Look into Corporate Generosity

Now, let’s explore corporate philanthropy and what businesses contributed in the previous year.

Average Corporate Contributions

Corporate donations to nonprofit organizations amounted to $24.8 billion in 2020, reflecting a 6% decline, according to Giving USA’s report. Corporate giving closely aligns with pre-tax profits, in contrast to individual giving, which exhibits a stronger correlation with stock market performance. Last year, the stock market thrived while many corporations faced profit reductions due to the pandemic’s economic impact.

Leading Corporate Donors in America

In 2020, Pfizer emerged as the most charitable corporation in the United States, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Completing the list of the top five most generous organizations are:

  1. Pfizer
  2. Gilead Sciences
  3. Merck and Company
  4. Walmart
  5. Google

Corporate Contributions to Religious Organizations

Kroger stands out as Double the Donation Organization’s leading corporation in support of churches and other religious institutions. They generously contribute millions in both monetary funds and products to aid hunger relief, homeless support, and various programs managed by local religious entities.

School Fundraising Statistics: Impact of the Pandemic

In 2020, fundraising for K-12 schools experienced a notable 4.6% decline, as reported by Giving USA. Typically, schools generate approximately $5000 per school each year through fundraising activities. The closure of schools due to the pandemic likely contributed to this decrease in fundraising revenues.

Online Giving Trends: A Digital Perspective on Philanthropy

Online charitable giving experienced substantial growth in 2020, which can largely be attributed to the pandemic’s influence.

Online Charitable Giving Growth

In 2020, every sector witnessed a minimum of a 15% increase in charitable giving compared to previous years, with the overall charitable giving growth rate surging by 20%.

Insights into Giving Tuesday

The popularity of Giving Tuesday has continued to rise since its inception in 2012, with $380 million raised in the most recent year.

Origins of Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday was initiated in 2012 by the United Nations Foundation in New York City. It falls on the first Tuesday following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Online Crowdfunding Insights

Online crowdfunding has become an essential tool for nonprofits, with notable campaigns achieving substantial success.

Notable Crowdfunding Campaigns

Two nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns that achieved significant success were conducted by Save the Children and the American Red Cross, raising $20 million and $4.7 million, respectively.

Key Factors Influencing Crowdfunding Success

Success in crowdfunding campaigns largely depends on several factors, including:

– Extensive sharing on social media, with success rates increasing with the number of social media contacts. For instance, having 10 friends share increases success by 9%, while 100 friends lead to a 20% boost.

– Comprehensive campaign descriptions ranging from 300 to 500 words.

– Regular updates to engage and inform supporters; campaigns with updates every 5 days garner three times more donations.

– The inclusion of videos in campaign appeals, resulting in a 150% increase in donations compared to campaigns without video content.

Global Nonprofit Landscape

The world boasts 1.54 million nonprofits registered with the IRS, as documented by the National Center for Charitable Statistics. This expansive array of organizations offers numerous causes to support.

In Conclusion

Even in a year characterized by unprecedented uncertainty and upheaval like 2020, the spirit of giving has endured and, remarkably, flourished. Americans continued to give, and their generosity seemed to grow even amidst adversity, social unrest, and political divisions.

This enduring generosity reflects a remarkable facet of American society.

New York Is Rebounding for the Rich. Nearly Everyone Else Is Struggling

As New York City approaches a gradual recovery from the economic setbacks caused by the pandemic, Manhattan, the city’s financial hub, has reached a sobering milestone. It now boasts the most substantial income inequality of any large county in the United States.

In a city already renowned for its stark contrasts between opulent living and severe poverty, this widening income gap is particularly striking. According to 2022 census data, recently released this month and analyzed by demographic data firm Social Explorer, the top 20 percent of Manhattan residents had an average household income of $545,549. This is over 53 times the average income of the bottom 20 percent, who earned an average of $10,259.

Andrew Beveridge, President of Social Explorer, commented on this staggering inequality, noting, “It’s amazingly unequal.” He likened it to disparities seen in many developing countries. This income gap is the widest in the United States since 2006, when such data was first reported. Notably, the Bronx and Brooklyn also rank among the top 10 counties in the nation concerning income inequality.

This latest data reinforces the uneven nature of New York City’s recovery from the pandemic. While wages have risen across the city, the benefits have primarily accrued to the affluent. Jobs have returned, but many of these are low-paying positions. While unemployment has decreased, it remains significantly higher among Black and Hispanic residents. This dichotomy underscores a growing divide: the city is rebounding, but many of its residents are not.

James Parrott, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policy at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, stated, “We’re still much worse off than we were in 2019.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that nearly 20 percent of public housing residents in New York City earn less than $10,000.

Middle-income New Yorkers are also feeling the pinch. Roger Gunning, a 50-year-old sanitation worker and resident of public housing in the South Bronx, shared his struggles, saying, “I make $22 an hour, and I still can’t survive on my own in New York.” He noted that some of his co-workers are forced to live in temporary shelters.

Dr. Parrott explained that middle-income New Yorkers have been hit hard by stagnant wage growth in service jobs and the slow recovery of key industries, particularly retail, which experienced a more severe contraction in New York compared to most other parts of the country.

When adjusting for inflation, the median household income in New York City dropped to less than $75,000 between 2019 and 2022, marking nearly a 7 percent decrease. This decline is four times the national rate and represents the most significant income drop among major U.S. cities. For comparison, San Antonio experienced just over a 5 percent drop, with median household income falling below $59,000. Phoenix, on the other hand, saw a significant improvement with an almost 8 percent increase in median household income, reaching nearly $76,000.

Chino Zeno, a 21-year-old construction worker earning $23 per hour installing solar panels, expressed his frustration with the impact of inflation on his finances. To cover rising costs of food and gas and help with expenses at his family’s apartment in East New York, Brooklyn, he also works as a freelance photographer. Despite a recent pay increase, which followed his transition from a part-time warehouse job earning $16 per hour in 2021, he still finds it necessary to hold down a second job.

Zeno summed up the challenge many New Yorkers face, stating, “One hundred is the new $20 bill. It’s hard for people right now.”

The already affluent have benefited the most from rising wages, according to labor data analyzed by the Center for New York City Affairs. Low-paid workers, like restaurant servers and child care professionals, who made an average of $40,000 last year, saw their salary increase by just $186 every year from 2019 to 2022, when adjusted for inflation. But highly paid earners, who made an average of $217,000 in fields like technology and finance, received an average pay bump of $5,100 in each of those years, or 27 times more, in extra income, than low-wage earners.

Picture: NYT

A recent analysis of labor data by the Center for New York City Affairs reveals a stark contrast in wage growth between the already well-off and low-paid workers. While highly paid earners in fields such as technology and finance, who averaged $217,000 annually, enjoyed an average pay increase of $5,100 each year from 2019 to 2022, their low-wage counterparts, including restaurant servers and child care professionals with an average income of $40,000, saw a meager salary rise of just $186 annually when adjusted for inflation.

The city has made significant strides. In August, the labor force participation rate was at a record high, and the unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, down from a pandemic peak of over 21 percent in May 2020. But New York has yet to fully recoup the jobs lost since the pandemic, while much of the nation already has, in part because the virus struck the city sooner and businesses, including those tied to hospitality and tourism, remained closed longer, Dr. Parrott said. Other popular entry-level jobs like couriers and home health aides have seen their wages lose ground to inflation.

Despite notable progress in New York City, including a record-high labor force participation rate and a decreased unemployment rate of 5.3 percent in August, down from its pandemic peak of over 21 percent in May 2020, the city has not completely recovered the jobs lost during the pandemic. This lag in recovery is attributed in part to the city being hit by the virus earlier than other areas and the extended closures of businesses tied to the hospitality and tourism sectors. Additionally, wages for popular entry-level jobs like couriers and home health aides have failed to keep pace with inflation.

Charles Lutvak, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, credited the job growth to initiatives like the expansion of youth employment and apprenticeship programs. “But we have more work to do, and we won’t stop until every New Yorker has access to a quality, family-sustaining job,” he said in a statement.

Charles Lutvak, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, attributed the city’s job growth to various initiatives, including the expansion of youth employment and apprenticeship programs. He emphasized their commitment to continue working toward ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to quality, family-sustaining employment opportunities.

Wage growth has been stunted for many New Yorkers in part because the minimum wage, set at $15 an hour, has not increased since 2019, Dr. Parrott said. Among the 10 largest American cities, five have raised their minimum pay in that period by an average of 25 percent, and four of them have higher minimum wages than New York City.

Wage growth in New York City has been hampered, in part, by the stagnant minimum wage, which has remained at $15 per hour since 2019, according to Dr. Parrott. In contrast, five of the ten largest American cities have increased their minimum wages by an average of 25 percent during the same period, with four of them now surpassing New York City’s minimum wage.

Many labor groups are pushing for a $21-an-hour minimum wage, which itself could fall short of the cost of living, because the city does not scale pay to inflation, said Gregory Morris, the chief executive of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, an association of work force development groups. Next year, New York State will raise the minimum to $16 an hour in the greater New York City area and $15 statewide. In 2027, the minimum wage will be pegged to inflation.

Several labor organizations are advocating for a $21-per-hour minimum wage, although this amount may still not adequately cover the cost of living, as the city does not adjust wages for inflation, according to Gregory Morris, CEO of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, a consortium of workforce development organizations. In the upcoming year, New York State plans to increase the minimum wage to $16 per hour in the greater New York City area and $15 statewide, with provisions to peg it to inflation in 2027.

“This is a working people’s city, as the mayor points out, but I think the question now is, which working people?” Morris asked.

Gregory Morris posed a crucial question, noting that New York City has long been characterized as a city of working people. However, he raised concerns about which segments of the working population are truly benefitting from the city’s economic growth.

For Khadijah Bethea, 42, a single mother raising three children on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, finding work is not the problem. It’s the hours.

Khadijah Bethea, a 42-year-old single mother raising three children in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, doesn’t struggle to find work; rather, her challenge lies in the demanding hours associated with her employment.

After losing her job as a security guard at a bank in 2020, she started working as a server for catering events around the city — up to 70 hours a week, seven days a week.

Following her job loss as a bank security guard in 2020, Khadijah Bethea transitioned to working as a server at various catering events across the city. Her new role required her to put in long hours, often up to 70 hours per week, working every day.

At over $25 an hour, the jobs were worthwhile, but all-consuming, she said. “I caught a bad anxiety attack one day. You worry about not spending enough time with your children, so I said, ‘I need to find something else to do.’”

While the pay for her server role exceeded $25 per hour, Khadijah found the job to be all-consuming and stressful. She experienced a severe anxiety attack, leading her to reflect on the importance of spending time with her children and prompting her to seek alternative employment.

Ms. Bethea enrolled earlier this year in a 14-week career training program run by Henry Street Settlement and Stacks + Joules, two nonprofit organizations. The free program helps lower-income job seekers find work in heating and ventilation system management for large buildings.

Earlier this year, Khadijah Bethea enrolled in a 14-week career training program offered by two nonprofit organizations, Henry Street Settlement and Stacks + Joules. This program, which is free of charge, assists individuals with lower incomes in securing employment related to heating and ventilation system management for large buildings.

She graduated in May and is now enrolled in another training program that pays $20 an hour — less than she made waiting tables — but has the opportunity for career growth and the possibility of working remotely some days. For now, she still works about four catering gigs a week.

Khadijah successfully completed the program in May and has since joined another training program that offers a wage of $20 per hour. Although this is less than what she earned as a server, the position presents opportunities for career advancement and the potential to work remotely on certain days. Currently, she continues to work approximately four catering jobs each week.

A significant dilemma for job seekers is that taking the time to learn new skills can be costly, especially in an expensive city like New York, said Anisee Alves-Willis, a program director for YouthBuild, a six-month employment program through St. Nicks Alliance, a nonprofit community services group.

One significant challenge faced by job seekers is the expense associated with acquiring new skills, particularly in a costly city like New York. Anisee Alves-Willis, a program director for YouthBuild, a six-month employment program offered by the nonprofit community services group St. Nicks Alliance, highlighted this dilemma.

The time commitment is a luxury many low- and middle-income workers can’t afford, even when stipends are included.

Even when stipends are provided, the time commitment required for skill development can be a luxury that many low- and middle-income workers cannot afford.

Angelita Mendez, 35, a beautician who moved to Washington Heights in Manhattan from the Dominican Republic in 2021, began taking free English lessons last year with a nonprofit service provider.

Angelita Mendez, a 35-year-old beautician who relocated from the Dominican Republic to Washington Heights in Manhattan in 2021, initiated free English lessons with a nonprofit service provider in the previous year.

She only made it about halfway through the course before bills started to pile up — the $1,600 a month rent she splits with her mother, the $1,100 a month she pays to lease a booth in a salon and the rising cost of groceries for her two children. She makes about $600 a week, or around $31,000 a year.

Angelita Mendez was unable to complete the English course as financial pressures began mounting. She shares a monthly rent of $1,600 with her mother, incurs a monthly expense of $1,100 for leasing a booth in a salon, and faces increasing grocery costs for her two children. Her weekly income amounts to roughly $600, equivalent to an annual income of around $31,000.

“I don’t have the time to do it, honestly,” she said in Spanish, but hopes to one day return to the class, become proficient in English and use her skills to study cosmetology.

Expressing her circumstances in Spanish, Angelita Mendez revealed that she currently lacks the time to continue her English lessons. Nevertheless, she aspires to return to the course at some point, attain proficiency in English, and leverage her language skills to pursue studies in cosmetology.

Where would her newfound skills take her?

Probably New Jersey, she said — where it’s cheaper.

Angelita Mendez anticipates that her newly acquired skills could lead her to opportunities in New Jersey, where the cost of living is more affordable.

The analysis of labor data in New York City reveals significant disparities in wage growth, with higher-income earners experiencing substantial pay increases while low-wage workers struggle to keep up with inflation. Although the city has made progress in terms of employment rates, the recovery of lost jobs from the pandemic remains a challenge, particularly for certain industries. Calls for a higher minimum wage and concerns about the affordability of skill development programs highlight the difficulties faced by many low- and middle-income workers in the city. Despite these challenges, individuals like Khadijah Bethea and Angelita Mendez are taking steps to improve their career prospects and financial stability, emphasizing the importance of accessible training programs and affordable living conditions in the city.

Mortgage Borrowing Costs Surge, Hitting 23-Year High

In another setback for aspiring homebuyers grappling with an increasingly unaffordable housing market, home loan borrowing costs have once again surged this week, propelling the average long-term U.S. mortgage rate to its highest point in nearly 23 years.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan has risen to 7.31%, up from 7.19% just last week. For comparison, a year ago, this rate averaged 6.70%.

For those looking at 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, which are favored by homeowners seeking to refinance, the news isn’t any better. The average rate for these mortgages has climbed to 6.72% from 6.54% last week, and a year ago, it was at 5.96%.

Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, Sam Khater, commented on this trend, saying, “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has hit the highest level since the year 2000. However, unlike the turn of the millennium, house prices today are rising alongside mortgage rates, primarily due to low inventory. These headwinds are causing both buyers and sellers to hold out for better circumstances.”

Picture: BNN Breaking

These rising rates are adding significant financial pressure on borrowers, increasing their monthly costs and further limiting their ability to afford homes in a market that’s already unattainable for many Americans. Additionally, these elevated rates are discouraging homeowners who locked in historically low rates two years ago from selling. To put things in perspective, the average rate on a 30-year mortgage has now more than doubled since two years ago when it stood at just 3.01%.

The combination of soaring rates and limited home inventory is exacerbating the affordability crisis, keeping home prices at near all-time highs. This is occurring even as sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. have dropped by 21% during the first eight months of this year compared to the same period in 2022.

This marks the third consecutive week of rising mortgage rates. The weekly average rate on a 30-year mortgage has been above 7% since mid-August and has now reached levels not seen since mid-December 2000, when it averaged 7.42%.

The surge in mortgage rates is closely tied to the increase in the 10-year Treasury yield, which serves as a reference point for lenders when determining loan pricing. Over the past few weeks, the yield on the 10-year Treasury has risen significantly, driven by concerns that the Federal Reserve will maintain higher short-term interest rates for an extended period to combat inflation.

The Federal Reserve has already elevated its main interest rate to levels not seen since 2001 in an effort to tame surging inflation. In addition, it recently indicated that any future rate cuts may be less substantial than previously anticipated.

The prospect of higher interest rates in the long term has led to Treasury yields reaching levels not seen in more than a decade. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, for example, was at 4.61% during midday trading on Wednesday. In contrast, it stood at around 3.50% in May and was a mere 0.50% during the early stages of the pandemic.

It’s important to note that while mortgage rates don’t directly mirror the Federal Reserve’s rate increases, they are strongly influenced by the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Factors such as investor expectations regarding future inflation, global demand for U.S. Treasuries, and the Federal Reserve’s actions on interest rates all play a role in determining rates for home loans.

India’s ‘Massive Expansion’ Set To Be A Key Driver Of Global Economic Growth

India’s impressive economic performance, coupled with strong growth projections for select Southeast Asian nations, is poised to serve as a significant catalyst for global economic expansion, according to insights from S&P Global.

During the annual energy APPEC conference, Rajiv Biswas, S&P Global’s Chief Economist for the Asia-Pacific region, underscored the pivotal role of the Asia-Pacific in driving global economic growth, both in the short term and the foreseeable future. He emphasized that over the next decade, the Asia-Pacific is expected to outpace other regions in terms of economic growth.

“When we look over the next decade, we do expect Asia-Pacific to be the fastest growing region of the world economy,” Biswas remarked. He specifically highlighted several bright spots in the region, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Biswas articulated, “A massive expansion is underway in the Indian economy, and there is also a very favorable outlook in Southeast Asia — where we anticipate robust growth, particularly in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, which are poised to be among the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets in the coming decade.”

Vietnam, for instance, recorded a second-quarter GDP growth rate of 4.14%, outpacing the 3.28% growth rate observed in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, expanded by 5.17% year-on-year in the June quarter. In contrast, the Philippine economy grew at a rate of 4.3%, slightly below Reuters’ expectations of a 6% increase.

India, on the other hand, experienced robust economic growth, with a remarkable 7.8% expansion in the June quarter, marking its fastest pace of growth in a year. Biswas expressed optimism about India’s economic momentum, affirming S&P Global’s forecast that India will surpass Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2030. The projection envisions India’s GDP climbing from $3.5 trillion in 2022 to a substantial $7.3 trillion by 2030.

In the broader context of the Asia-Pacific region, S&P Global anticipates growth to strengthen from 3.3% in the previous year to 4.2% in the current year, according to their projections. Biswas further elucidated, “Over the next decade, we expect that about 55% of the total increase in the world’s GDP will come from the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Implications for the U.S. and China:

Despite the impressive growth trajectory of the Asia-Pacific region, Rajiv Biswas emphasized that the United States will continue to play a pivotal role in driving global economic growth, contributing to approximately 15% of the world’s growth over the next decade.

Picture: CNBC

Likewise, China, despite experiencing a somewhat weaker recovery than anticipated and a slowdown in growth momentum, will remain a significant contributor to global economic expansion. China is expected to account for approximately one-third of the total increase in global GDP over the same period.

Biswas acknowledged that China has faced challenges, as a slew of economic data has fallen short of expectations. This has led to concerns about the sustainability of its growth trajectory.

In the broader global context, S&P Global’s outlook indicates that the global economy is poised for modest growth, with a projected growth rate of 2.5% for both the current year and the following year.

The Asia-Pacific region, led by India and select Southeast Asian economies, is expected to serve as a critical driver of global economic growth in the coming decade. While the United States and China will continue to play essential roles in this global economic landscape, the dynamism and growth potential of the Asia-Pacific region make it a focal point for economic opportunities and investment in the years ahead. S&P Global’s projections highlight the importance of monitoring these evolving economic dynamics for businesses and policymakers worldwide.

India’s consumer market set to become the world’s third largest by 2027, behind the U.S. and China

India’s consumer market is on track to become the world’s third-largest by 2027, driven by a rising number of middle to high-income households, according to a report from BMI. Currently ranking fifth globally, Fitch Solutions predicts that a substantial 29% increase in real household spending will propel India up two positions in the global consumer market hierarchy.

In fact, the report anticipates that India’s per capita household spending growth will outpace that of other developing Asian economies like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, with a year-on-year increase of 7.8%. This robust growth is expected to significantly widen the gap between total household spending in the ASEAN region and India.

BMI’s estimates suggest that India’s household spending will surpass the $3 trillion mark, driven by a compounded annual growth rate of 14.6% in disposable income until 2027. By this time, approximately 25.8% of Indian households are projected to reach an annual disposable income of $10,000 or more. BMI noted that a significant portion of these households will be concentrated in major economic centers like New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, with wealthier households primarily located in urban areas, providing an attractive target market for retailers.

India’s substantial youth demographic is another key driver behind the anticipated surge in consumer spending. Approximately 33% of the country’s population falls within the age bracket of 20 to 33 years old. BMI expects this demographic to contribute significantly to the consumer electronics sector, with communication spending projected to grow at an average annual rate of 11.1% to reach $76.2 billion by 2027. This growth is attributed to a technology-savvy urban middle class with increasing disposable income, which encourages expenditure on aspirational products like consumer electronics.

Additionally, India’s ongoing urbanization process is expected to further bolster consumer spending. As more people move to urban areas, companies find it easier to access consumers and establish physical retail stores to cater to their needs. Major global brands like Apple and Samsung have already capitalized on this trend. Apple, for instance, opened two retail stores in Delhi and Mumbai in April, while Samsung announced plans to establish 15 premium experience stores across India by the end of the year, targeting major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.

Furthermore, BMI pointed out that global investors, including the Blackstone Group and APG Asset Management, have shown increased interest in India’s shopping mall business, recognizing the growth potential in consumer spending. They have injected additional investments into the country’s shopping mall sector to capitalize on the anticipated expansion in consumer spending.

India’s consumer market is poised for significant growth, with the country expected to climb to the third position in the global consumer market rankings by 2027. This ascent is attributed to the expected increase in real household spending, which will outpace other developing Asian economies, as well as the influence of India’s large youth population and ongoing urbanization. As global investors and major retailers continue to recognize this potential, India’s consumer market is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for business and investment.

Chinese Exporters Use Currency Swaps To Hedge Against Falling Yuan

Chinese exporters have adopted a sophisticated currency swap strategy to avoid converting their dollar earnings into yuan due to concerns about potential losses in the weakening local currency, as revealed by official data and discussions with industry insiders.

China’s state-owned banks are involved in some of these swap transactions, allowing exporters to convert their dollar earnings into yuan through contractual agreements, indicating a level of comfort from the country’s currency regulator. This practice persists even as authorities attempt to alleviate the mounting pressure on the yuan in the spot markets.

Ding, a Shanghai-based businessman dealing in electronics and toys, is among those exporters who are holding onto their dollar earnings, hesitating to convert them into yuan. The recent depreciation of the yuan, which has hit nine-month lows, has raised concerns among exporters like Ding. He expressed this apprehension, saying, “The key concern is that the price of the dollar keeps going up.”

The yuan has experienced a depreciation of over 5% against the U.S. dollar so far this year, with a 2% drop recorded in just the past month. This decline is exacerbated by foreign capital fleeing from China’s weakening economy.

Picture: South China Morning Post

These swaps enable exporters to deposit their dollars with banks and receive yuan in return, but with a contractual agreement that will eventually reverse the transaction, returning their dollars. However, despite the impact of these swaps on the supply of dollars in the spot yuan markets, analysts believe that Chinese monetary authorities cannot compel exporters to convert their dollars.

In July alone, Chinese companies engaged in a record $31.5 billion worth of dollar-yuan swaps with commercial banks in the onshore forwards market. This year, the total figure stands at $157 billion, according to data from China’s currency regulator.

Initially, Ding had plans to convert his dollar holdings when the yuan weakened beyond 7 yuan per dollar, a threshold the local currency had breached only three times since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. However, his decision shifted as expectations grew regarding the Federal Reserve’s intent to maintain higher U.S. interest rates for an extended period and the continued weakness of the yuan, which is seeing its yields decline as China adopts a more lenient monetary policy to support its struggling economy.

“The growing monetary policy divergence is the key reason behind the trend,” explained Gary Ng, Senior Economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis. “As it is unlikely to see any fundamental change in the short run, the gravity of yield differentials will drag the yuan and prompt exporters to bet on the dollar.”

The increasing gap between rising U.S. yields and Chinese rates has reversed rates in the currency forwards market. This means that exporters have no incentive to lock in a forward rate to sell their dollars, with the one-year yuan being quoted at 7.02 per dollar, compared to a spot rate of 7.29.

Traders have noted that the State Administration of Foreign Exchange allows sell-buy dollar-yuan swaps as long as companies use their own funds. When exporters swap higher-yielding dollars for the cheaper yuan, even for a short period of three months, they acquire the local currency for business needs and also earn an annualized 3.5% on the swap deal.

Becky Liu, Head of China Macro Strategy at Standard Chartered Bank, elaborated, “By trading FX swaps, exporters can postpone their settlements while meeting their yuan demand.”

An alternative option, albeit less lucrative, is for exporters to deposit their dollars at 2.8% interest and use these deposits as collateral for yuan loans, resulting in net gains of approximately 2%.

Despite Chinese lenders reducing their dollar deposit rates twice this year to discourage hoarding and encourage exporters to convert dollars into yuan, more exporters are turning to swaps. Even China Merchants Bank, which is partially state-owned, promotes the use of swaps. The bank stated, “If companies want to retain their dollar deposits, they can sign up for foreign exchange swap products to increase the returns on dollar deposits.”

Meanwhile, China’s central bank has intensified its efforts to support the yuan by consistently setting stronger-than-expected yuan mid-point benchmarks over several months. It has also urged domestic banks to reduce their overseas investments.

In contrast, exporters’ swaps provide state banks with a reservoir of dollars to utilize in their yuan operations. This includes engaging in swaps to acquire dollars from the onshore forwards market and selling them in the spot market to curb rapid declines in the yuan’s value.

Hindenburg 2.0 Accuses Adani Group Of Manipulating Finances

At a time when the Supreme Court is hearing the Adani Group-Hindenburg case, the business conglomerate was on Thursday hit by fresh allegations that it used family associates to secretly invest hundreds of millions of dollars through “opaque” Mauritius-based investment funds to fuel the spectacular rise in group stocks.

 Citing a review of files from tax havens and internal Adani Group emails, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said two individual investors with “longtime business ties” to the Adani family used such offshore structures to buy and sell Adani shares between 2013 and 2018 — a period during which the ports-to-energy conglomerate saw meteoric rise to become India’s largest and most powerful businesses.

OCCRP is a non-profit global network of investigative journalists funded by Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros.

Picture : Eligibility

 OCCRP said Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli from the UAE and Chang Chung-Ling from Taiwan spent years trading Adani group stock worth hundreds of millions of dollars through two Mauritius-based funds that were overseen by a Dubai-based company run by a known employee of Vinod Adani.

 Market regulator SEBI had been handed evidence in early 2014 of alleged suspicious stock market activity by the Adani Group, OCCRP said citing a letter.

U K Sinha, who was then heading SEBI, is now a director and chairperson of an Adani-owned news channel.

The fresh broadside, which comes months after US short-selling firm Hindenburg Research published an explosive report in January that accused Adani Group of running the “largest con in corporate history”, sent all 10 listed Adani stocks down.

 Shares of nine out of 10 Adani group companies closed in the red on Thursday, taking a combined hit of Rs 35,708 crore in market valuation after the OCCRP report. More here

 On the OCCRP allegations, the Group on Thursday termed them as “recycled allegations” and called them “yet another concerted bid by (George) Soros-funded interests supported by a section of the foreign media to revive the meritless Hindenburg report”.

 Opposition parties, which stalled proceedings in Parliament for nearly one full session when the Hindenburg allegations first came out, were quick to latch on to the OCCRP to attack the government and Adani Group.

Maintaining that India’s reputation is at stake ahead of the G20 Summit, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asked why PM Modi was silent on the allegations and demanded a probe by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC).

Will BRICS Create A New Balance In The Global Order?

If BRICS can truly identify issues of larger common interest and move forward on the basis of consensus, it can become the new leader of the post-Western world order where the NDB will be the primary competitor of the World Bank and IMF.

The collapse of the Soviet Union brought about a dramatic social and economic restructuring that had numerous long-lasting impacts on both the global economy and the population. At that time, the nations that held the titles of “Great Power” and “Super Power” used different tricks to establish their own Shadow Governance over the undeveloped, least-developed, and developing nations. Radical institutionalism supported this neo-colonialism as well. Some international organizations have, by their policies and actions, used developing countries as pawns in imperialist geopolitics, where the sovereignty of weak governments was in jeopardy and their freedom of statehood was constrained.

Picture : China Daily

The BRICS ((Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) – which is having its 15th summit August 22-24 in Johannesburg – has emerged in this context with the goal of establishing a new global balance through leadership in a world torn apart by geopolitical conflict, inequality, and insecurity. The grouping’s primary and secondary goals are to create a sustainable and alternative financial lending system, with the potential to coalesce into a platform that echoes the concerns of the Global South. In the distant future, it might take on the role of promoting and regulating a more balanced world order.

Particularly impressive are the bloc’s integrated fiscal policies and strategies in the fields of trade and investment. The New Development Bank (NDB), which was established with an initial capital of $100 billion, heralds the financial potential of the BRICS. In 2021, the group contributed 31.5 per cent of the global GDP, amounting to $26.03 trillion, surpassing that of the G7 (30.7per cent). The bloc is expected to contribute more than 50% of the world’s GDP by 2030, and the bloc’s intended expansion will likely accelerate this trend.

The use of unilateral economic coercive measures like boycotts, embargos, and sanctions as well as the global economic depression brought on by the COVID pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have increased the relevance of the BRICS, particularly for emerging economies. It is quite likely that the New Development Bank (NDB) will weaken the monopolistic dominance of the World Bank and the IMF as it finances infrastructure projects, regional connectivity initiatives, and sustainable development programs in member countries.

Economic decentralisation strategy

The bank’s smartest innovation, in my opinion, is the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), whose main function is to protect member countries from global liquidity stress and to provide liquidity support during challenging economic times.

Apart from the financial safety net, it is important to examine the member nations’ interconnected populations, vast territories, rapidly expanding economies, and capacity for strategic autonomy when evaluating the geopolitical possibilities of the BRICS. Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s top diplomat to the bloc, said more than 40 countries have expressed their interest in joining BRICS, including all the major Global South nations. If the new members are accepted, the total population of the BRICS countries—which currently stands at 3.42 billion, or 42 per cent of the world’s population—will increase to over 3.95 billion, or over 50 per cent of the world’s population.

The economic decentralization strategy to create a multipolar world has given BRICS salience and popularity. The alliance is understood to respect the economic independence of the member countries, as stated in the leaders’ initial statement and action plan. Additionally, the NDB will release at least 30 per cent of loans in the member states’ own currencies as opposed to US dollars, which will play a crucial role in safeguarding the countries’ reserves.

The BRICS members have access to the biggest market thanks to China, a crucial partner of this bloc. For instance, as consumer goods exporting countries, Russia and Brazil would sell their products to China, a consumer goods importing nation. A new BRICS-centered market system will emerge from this commercial interaction, and the adoption of its own currency will lessen the influence of the dollar in the global financial system.

In addition to their economic activity, the BRICS countries are working together on coordinated projects in the areas of climate change, defense, education, energy, and health security. Currently, BRICS countries are emphasizing the clean energy transition. The International Energy Agency reports that China and India are aggressively investing in solar and wind energy. As a result, they are able to simultaneously safeguard their international climate pledges while also reducing their reliance on imports and energy costs.

A new leader of post-Western world?

The collective aim is to create a more just and equitable global order, according to BRICS leaders. It is obvious that if member nations view one another as allies, they have a bright possibility of sharing expertise and mutual assistance in a variety of disciplines, including defense, education, health, and climate.

However, BRICS is facing certain challenges along the way, which could prove to be significant roadblocks to their success. Western scholars believe that the diverse financial and governance systems of the group’s members, historical geopolitical rivalry, and India’s perceived West-centric policies may create an unfavorable atmosphere for the alliance’s future cohesion and growth.

If BRICS can truly identify issues of larger common interest and move forward on the basis of consensus, it can become the new leader of the post-Western world order where the NDB will be the primary competitor of the World Bank and IMF. As a result, a balanced, autonomous, and libertarian global order can truly emerge.

Read more at: (The author is a strategic affairs analyst in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Views are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])

China Slides Into Deflation as Consumer and Factory Prices Drop

China entered a period of deflation in July, intensifying the pressure on policymakers to enhance both monetary and fiscal support. This imperative arises despite indications that the decline in prices may be transitory, potentially limiting the effectiveness of any stimulus measures.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the consumer price index experienced a 0.3% decrease last month compared to the previous year, marking its first descent since February 2021. The forecast by economists surveyed by Bloomberg had anticipated a 0.4% drop in prices. In parallel, producer prices continued to decline for the tenth consecutive month, contracting by 4.4% in July year-on-year, slightly worse than anticipated. This is the initial occurrence since November 2020 in which both consumer and producer prices have experienced contractions.

The National Bureau of Statistics attributed the decrease in consumer prices to a high base of comparison with the previous year, emphasizing that this contraction is expected to be temporary, and consumer demand improved during July. Dong Lijuan, the chief statistician at the NBS, stated, “With the impact of a high base from last year gradually fading, the CPI is likely to rebound gradually.” However, these comments are noteworthy as Chinese authorities have recently discouraged economists from discussing deflation to bolster positive narratives about the economy.

China, which initially experienced an upsurge in consumer and business demand following the lifting of pandemic restrictions, is now grappling with an unusual period of declining prices. Factors such as a prolonged downturn in the property market, diminished export demand, and subdued consumer spending are impeding the nation’s economic recovery. Robin Xing, the chief China economist at Morgan Stanley, commented, “China is in deflation for sure… The question is how long. It’s up to the policymakers — will they react with coordinated fiscal and monetary easing.”

Picture : Reuters

In response to the weak inflation data, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index and the onshore benchmark CSI 300 Index experienced slight declines. Investors are anticipating that the People’s Bank of China may increase monetary stimulus, including interest rate cuts. However, the central bank faces several constraints, including a weaker yuan and elevated levels of debt in the economy. Fiscal support has been relatively restrained due to financial pressures confronting local governments.

To overcome these challenges, Xing emphasized the necessity of accelerating government spending, increasing government debt, and implementing coordinated monetary and fiscal easing measures. However, concerns persist about the effectiveness of releasing money into the banking system, as some companies appear hesitant to expand production amid softening profit expectations.

Chinese regulators have attempted to downplay deflation risks, instructing analysts and companies not to publicly discuss the matter. PBOC officials have asserted that China will steer clear of deflation in the second half of the year, with consumer price growth anticipated to approach 1% by year-end.

The decline in prices also implies a rise in real financing costs within the economy, a factor that some economists argue should intensify the urgency for the PBOC to take action to prevent further weakening of growth momentum. Bruce Pang, head of research and chief economist for greater China at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., indicated that addressing reserve requirements (RRR) might be more necessary than reducing interest rates in the short term, as various structural monetary policy tools and policy bank financing tools remain available.

The core inflation measure, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, saw an increase to 0.8% from 0.4%, indicating underlying albeit subdued demand in the economy. Within the consumer inflation data, prices for household goods, food, and transportation experienced contractions, while prices for service spending, such as recreation and education, climbed.

“We expect CPI will be negative only for the short term, like for one to two months,” said Ding Shuang, chief economist for Greater China and North Asia at Standard Chartered Plc. “Food and energy prices are more likely to go up instead of going down in the second half of the year. That means the drag on CPI seen in the first half from food and fuel will like ease.”

While PPI has likely bottomed out, “it will be rather hard to emerge from deflation in the rest of the year,” he said.

More Americans Say They Can Never Retire

A developing portion of working Americans don’t figure they will at any point resign, ongoing studies recommend. Retirement is a respected life stage and a close widespread assumption in working America. However, an agreeable retirement requires reserve funds, and numerous laborers dread they need something more.

In a July survey directed mutually by Axios and Ipsos, 29% of laborers under 55 addressed a retirement question with, “I don’t figure I will at any point resign.”

Inquired as to why not, 3/4 of the never-resign bunch said they couldn’t bear to quit working. A more modest offer said they would have rather not.

“Instructions to make the dollars and pennies of retirement work is a steady difficult exercise for the individuals who are resigned and Americans wanting to arrive at that achievement one day,” said Clifford Youthful,president of Ipsos Public Affairs.

Another overview, from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), found that 33% of laborers presently hope to resign at 70 or later, or never.

A third report, from the Transamerica Community for Retirement Studies, discovered that 40% of Age X specialists, and almost 50% of boomers, hope to resign after 70, or not by any stretch.

Picture : NYSSCA

Retirement fears appear to be rising. In the EBRI study, the portion of laborers wanting to defer retirement rose to 33 percent in 2023 from 29 percent in 2022 and 26 percent in 2021.

The late spring of 2023 could appear to be an odd second for Americans to feel shy of retirement reserves. Almost 3/4 of all 401(k) cash sits in stocks, and the financial exchange is blasting, albeit this week has been rough.

Yet, the full story of American retirement arranging is more convoluted.

One main explanation laborers are stressing over retirement is expansion, which flooded in 2021 and 2022 after numerous long periods of somewhat level costs.

Another component is reduced retirement investment funds. The normal 401(k) lost around 20% of its worth in 2022, as per speculation house information.

The two stocks and bonds plunged in 2022. That shouldn’t occur: At the point when stocks fall, bonds typically rise, as well as the other way around. Last year was a strange exception, set off by the expansion emergency and the remedial mission of government loan fee climbs.

The country’s retirement accounts are recuperating, however they are not completely mended. The typical IRA held $109,000 in the main quarter of this current year, down from $127,000 simultaneously last year, as per Devotion Speculations.

More than two-fifths of children of post war America in the 55-64 age bunch have no retirement reserve funds, Evaluation information show. Many work for little organizations that don’t offer retirement reserve funds, or work independently, or miss the mark on pay to take care of cash.

The middle retirement bank account in that age range has a surplus of $71,168, as per a NerdWallet examination.

Normal insight proposes that is not anywhere close to enough. Laborers accept they will require about $1.8 million for an agreeable retirement, as indicated by another Charles Schwab review.

As anyone might expect, numerous Americans don’t figure they will have adequate cash to live serenely in retirement. In the 2023 EBRI review, 36% of respondents said they don’t trust monetary security after retirement.

That data of interest, as well, is crawling up. A year prior, 27% of laborers needed retirement certainty.

Transamerica research observed that main 17% of Age X laborers are “extremely certain” of an agreeable retirement. The most seasoned individuals in that associate are approaching age 60.

New Research Paints Richer Picture Of Physician Earnings

University of Chicago researchers, led by health economist Joshua Gottlieb, PhD, have embarked on a project to better understand the earnings of physicians in the top 1 percent of income earners. Although physicians are among the most common high-income occupation, accurately measuring their earnings has proven challenging.

The researchers sought to address this issue by creating a comprehensive dataset that links administrative data on physicians to tax records from 2005 to 2017. This dataset allows them to measure physician earnings and explore the impact of healthcare policies on their incomes, labor supply, and talent distribution.

“Combining the administrative registry of U.S. physicians with tax data, Medicare billing records, and survey responses, we find that physicians’ annual earnings average $350,000 and comprise 8.6 percent of national healthcare spending,” the authors wrote in their working paper.

In their working paper titled “Who Values Human Capitalists’ Human Capital? The Earnings and Labor Supply of U.S. Physicians,” the team presents key findings derived from the new dataset:

  1. On average, a physician’s annual earnings amount to $350,000, representing 8.6 percent of the nation’s healthcare spending. In 2017, the average physician earned $243,400 in wages and $350,000 in total individual income. The median total individual income was $265,000 per year. Notably, more than 25 percent of physicians earned over $425,000, and the top 1 percent earned more than $1.7 million.
  2. Physician earnings vary significantly across different specialties. Primary care physicians have the lowest average income at $201,200, while procedural specialists and surgeons are the highest earners, making on average 2.3 times more than primary care physicians.
  3. Age plays a role in the variation of physician earnings, accounting for 14 percent of the difference. Physicians typically earn around $60,000 on average during their late 20s while still in training. This increases to an average of more than $185,000 in their early 30s and approximately $425,000 at age 50.
  4. Gender disparities persist among physicians, with female physicians earning 30 percent less than their male counterparts. This pay gap has significant long-term implications, potentially resulting in $900,000 to $2.5 million less in career earnings for women, depending on their medical specialty.
  5. The geographic location significantly impacts physicians’ income, with 70 percent of the income disparity across areas being attributed to local market factors rather than the individual characteristics of the physicians.
  6. Physicians in parts of the Great Plains enjoy the highest incomes, contrary to the broader economy, where high incomes are typically concentrated on the coasts.

The researchers then delved into the effects of government policies on physician earnings, using income tax, Medicare billing, and specialty choice data. They focused on two types of insurance policy changes: changes in coverage and changes in payment rates.


Their analysis revealed that short-term reimbursement changes led to 25 percent of marginal Medicare reimbursement dollars flowing into physician earnings. For permanent changes in demand resulting from the public insurance expansions under the Affordable Care Act, the authors observed a 6 percent pass-through of public spending to physician incomes.

Furthermore, the study found that higher earnings in a particular medical specialty attract physicians with higher test scores while displacing those with lower scores and less choice. For instance, a 5 percent increase in primary care earnings, while keeping the number of available slots and earnings of other specialties constant, led to a 4.8 percent increase in the probability of top-five medical school graduates entering primary care.

“The upshot is that government payment rules play a key role in valuing and allocating one of society’s most expensive assets: physicians’ human capital,” the researchers conclude. “Taken together, the results here suggest that policies subsidizing surgery will increase surgeons’ incomes and allocate more top talent to surgical specialties, improving surgery for a generation. Subsidizing primary care will instead increase these physicians’ incomes and

The University of Chicago’s research provides valuable insights into physician earnings and the factors influencing them. By linking administrative data with tax records, the researchers have shed light on the complexities of physician income determination and the impact of healthcare policies on this essential group of high-income earners. Understanding these dynamics can aid in formulating policies to better support healthcare professionals and optimize talent allocation within the medical field.

Indian Companies Can Now Apply For Overseas Listing: Finance Minister

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today that Indian companies can now go in for direct listing on foreign exchanges as well as on the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) bourse in Ahmedabad.

The approval, which came after three years of announcement as part of the Covid relief package, will enable domestic companies to access foreign funds by listing their shares on various exchanges overseas.

A proposal regarding this was first floated as part of the liquidity package announced during the pandemic in May 2020.

Picture : Rise of Indian Americans 2

“A direct listing of securities by domestic companies will now be permissible in foreign jurisdictions. I’m also pleased to announce that the government has taken a decision to enable direct listing of listed and unlisted companies on the IFSC exchange. So, this is a major step forward. This will facilitate access to global capital and better valuation,” Ms Sitharmanan said.

The minister was speaking at an event to launch AMC Repo Clearing and a corporate debt market development fund to help deepen the corporate bond market.

Further, she called for a regulatory impact assessment so that regulated entities in particular and the markets in general can better understand the fallout of their decisions.

She also asked financial market regulators to focus on the quality, proportionality and the effectiveness of their decisions so that companies find further ease in doing their business.

Urging large municipal bodies to tap the debt market for their funding needs, Sitharaman said the government has been and will continue to incentivise cities to improve their credit ratings so that they get better pricing for their bonds.

Foreigners, Nris Travelling To India Can Use UPI For Payments

RBI enables UPI access for foreign nationals and NRIs in India to promote cashless payments, with provisions for G-20 travelers and NRI mobile numbers linked to NRE/NRO accounts.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced that foreign nationals and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) visiting India can access digital transactions by using Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Union Minister for State for Finance, Dr Bhagwat Kisanrao Karad, made the announcement, aiming to promote cashless payments and enhance the ease of financial transactions. The announcement came in the form of a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on July 31.

Picture : YouTube

To enable the growth of India’s digital payment ecosystem and enhance the experience of travelers and NRIs during their stay in the country, a circular dated February 10, 2023, issued by the Reserve Bank of India enabled foreign nationals and NRIs to use UPI.

In addition to this, RBI has also implemented the provision to grant UPI access to travelers from G-20 countries at select international airports, including Bengaluru, Mumbai, and New Delhi, specifically for merchant payments.

Furthermore, the RBI has also made provisions to provide UPI access to NRIs who have international mobile numbers linked to their NRE (Non-Residential External) and NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) accounts.

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has further informed that the UPI facility for foreign nationals and NRIs is currently available for travellers from ten countries. These countries include Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Oman, Qatar, USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the United Kingdom.

The UPI transaction numbers have soared from 3746.3 million users in 2018 to 7403.9 million in 2022.

How India’s Economy Will Overtake U.S. Economy?

Angus Maddison, the esteemed economic historian, estimated that India held the position of the world’s largest economy for an astonishing period of one and a half millennia. However, by 1820, China surpassed India, and the two countries continued to dominate the global economy until 1870 when the Industrial Revolution in the West and European colonization began to take effect. Consequently, Britain emerged as the leading economic power, but by 1900, the United States took over this mantle. Nevertheless, with the growing discussion about Asia’s rise, there is speculation that the world economy might be returning to its historical norm.

The potential for such a shift cannot be underestimated. China, with an economy already at 70% of the U.S. and a growth rate more than double that of the latter, is poised to become the world’s largest economy between 2035 and 2040. Yet, the focus now shifts to whether India’s economy will also surpass that of the U.S. and when this might occur.

Several factors work in favor of India. To begin with, its GDP per capita is currently less than 20% of China’s and merely 5% of the U.S.’s. However, this productivity gap presents significant opportunities for India to catch up. By accumulating capital and imparting skills to its workforce, the country can achieve substantial productivity increases simply by deploying existing superior technologies.

Picture : India CSR

India’s young and sizable population provides a dual advantage. Firstly, a larger workforce translates into potentially higher output per capita. Secondly, as the young tend to save for old age, this leads to higher savings and consequently increased investment. These factors not only contribute directly to output but also facilitate the adoption of advanced technology. Additionally, a younger population injects more energy and dynamism into the nation, fostering innovation.

To fully leverage its young population, India must focus on raising its labor participation rate, particularly among women. Currently, less than one-quarter of women aged 15 and above are part of India’s workforce, whereas in China and the U.S., three-fifths of women participate. Improving education at all levels will play a crucial role in achieving this objective.

Population size is another advantage for India, which likely surpassed China to become the world’s most populous country. This population advantage leads to economies of scale in the provision of public goods. For instance, India’s digital payments infrastructure built on the Aadhaar biometric identity system and the UPI platform benefits from a larger user base, reducing the per-capita cost of building the infrastructure. The same principle applies to other sectors like transportation, electricity, and water supply.

The larger population also aids in creating supply chains, allowing for agglomeration and cost efficiencies. With increasing risks in China, multinational corporations are adopting the “China+1” strategy, seeking an alternative, less risky, and cost-effective location for investments. India stands out as a strong contender for this strategy due to its substantial single market size, enabling smoother movement of components without customs barriers. Moreover, the large internal labor market enhances the potential for a better match between required skills and available workforce.

To realize its potential, India needs to reduce trade protectionism, which remains relatively high. Sustaining growth rates of at least 8% to overtake the U.S. economy requires embracing globalization. Lowering tariffs, engaging in more free trade agreements with major economies and trade blocs, and reducing the use of anti-dumping measures are crucial steps.

Additionally, India must address certain areas of concern. Swift privatization of public sector enterprises, particularly banks with a history of low or negative returns, is essential. Tax reform is another priority, as businesses, especially small- and medium-sized ones, have voiced complaints about overzealous tax authorities and a complex system.

Ultimately, India should hark back to the spirit of its economic reforms in 1991, which emphasized liberalization, privatization, and globalization, and have already contributed to accelerated growth. If India aims to regain its position among the world’s top two economies in the next 50 years, it must deepen and broaden the reforms initiated three decades ago.

Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Invests In America’s New Pro Cricket League

Anand Rajaraman left India to study abroad at Stanford University three decades before he invested in a T20 professional league in the hopes of finally igniting cricket in the United States. He wondered if he was leaving behind his beloved sport permanently.

Rajaraman, who was born in Chennai and grew up with many of his older brothers and sisters, fell in love with cricket after India, the underdog team, won the World Cup in 1983, a historic victory that changed cricket forever.

However, progression in innovation, with famous cricket site Cricinfo being one of the main well known sports locales on the web, guaranteed this maturing tech wizard had his fix in landscape where the well known English bat and ball game was scarcely noticeable.

Just at the right time, too, as a new generation of flamboyant cricket players, led by the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, began to make a mark for India, a rising powerhouse.

In an interview, Rajaraman, co-owner of the groundbreaking San Francisco Unicorns in Major League Cricket, told me, “People from previous generations who moved from India to the U.S. or wherever couldn’t follow the sport anymore because there was no internet.”

“Yet, I moved when the web was simply starting and that permitted me to follow the game and stay in contact with it despite the fact that I wasn’t in India.

“We additionally had interestingly the capacity to utilize satellite dishes to observe live broadcast of games in the U.S.”

Rajaraman played cricket with a tennis ball socially during his school years, frequently prompting confounded looks from those strolling by considering what was happening.

In those days Rajaraman would never have forecasted that a very long time down the track he would be a main piece of a juvenile cricket association in his took on country, tricking top players from stalwart cricket countries with solid compensation.

“I never envisioned that the chance would emerge despite the fact that I’ve forever been a gigantic fan,” he said.

After school, Rajaraman put his focus on Silicon Valley and left on an exceptionally fruitful profession as a business person. Alongside Venky Harinarayan, co-proprietor of the Unicorns, he was an establishing accomplice of early online business organization Junglee, which was procured by AmazonAMZN – 0.9% in 1998 for $250 million.

They additionally later established Kosmix, which was gained by WalmartWMT 0.0%, and were early financial backers in Facebook.

Indeed, even in the midst of a feverish vocation, Rajaraman’s energy for cricket never faltered and he was perceptibly mixed in 2008 by the coming of the Indian Chief Association – the breathtaking expert T20 association which has progressively turned into a juggernaut throughout recent years.

“It was the start of cricket moving from a game that was being played between public groups and turning into an establishment model,” he said. ” That alongside the T20 design which required a five-day sport and bundled it into a three-hour design.

“Both these developments I believed were the right things expected to carry cricket into the U.S, which is an establishment sports country.”

After useful examples, most quite in 2004 when an eight-group T20 proficient association called Ace Cricket collapsed after only one season, improvement for MLC began toward the end of last decade.

Rajaraman was inevitably approached early about owning a franchise due to his background and natural enthusiasm for cricket. Naturally, he was captivated by the extravagant plans. Obviously, as a quick financial speculator, he needed to assess the proposition completely.

He stated, “Clearly I wanted to evaluate it not only as a passionate cricket fan but also as a business opportunity because I invest in start-ups for a living.”

“The large scale factors are extremely, positive. We have the largest sports market in the world and the second most popular sport in the world. In the United States, there are sufficient cricket devotees who stay up late to watch games.

“So that shows the potential in the event that you can make a nearby establishment association, where games are being played at early evening for the neighborhood crowd. That potential is enormous,” he continued.

Rajaraman was persuaded, and he and Harinarayan began constructing a franchise from the ground up.

The six establishments – San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Texas and Washington – are in key business sectors with a solid number of ostracizes from South Asia.

Having lived in the Sound Region city of Palo Alto for north of thirty years, Rajaraman was the conspicuous contender to assume control over the San Francisco establishment.

The Golden State Warriors, the NBA’s most powerful team and the seventh most profitable sports franchise in the world, are now part of the Bay Area’s sports scene, and the pressure to establish an identity has begun with a name.

“We needed to pick a name for the group that mirrors the district, in addition to a dull name that is normal for a games group,” he said about the decision for the San Francisco establishment to be called Unicorns.

“San Francisco Inlet Region is about innovation and Silicon Valley, that is individuals’ opinion on San Francisco.

“In Silicon Valley, an organization that is massively fruitful is known as a unicorn. That term has grown over time, now referring to extremely successful athletes as unicorns.

The unmistakable name, notwithstanding, was at first welcomed with some suspicion.

“Many individuals, incorporating individuals engaged with the association, saw it to be an extremely dangerous name since it isn’t utilized for sports groups,” Rajaraman said.

“Yet, Silicon Valley is tied in with facing challenge and succeeding. It’s not necessary to focus on doing the anticipated move.”

The Unicorns’ playing unit and logo will be orange, light blue and naval force blue tones addressing the Brilliant Entryway Scaffold, San Francisco Sound and the Pacific Sea.

The new group drove by previous Australia captain Aaron Finch, be that as it may, will not be playing at home in the debut season beginning on July 13 with all games in the 18-day competition to be played in Dallas and Morrisville, North Carolina.

An arena in St Nick Clara is in progress and set to have global cricket in spite of the fact that won’t be prepared for the following year’s T20 World Cup in the U.S. furthermore, Caribbean. ” It won’t be an immense arena, I’m thinking around 10,000 (swarm limit),” Rajaraman said.

“Something like the little grounds in New Zealand, where you have a couple of stands however really lush banks for families. That is the energy we are going for with an American feel to it.”

“We needed to pick a name for the group that mirrors the district, in addition to a dull name that is normal for a games group,” he said about the decision for the San Francisco establishment to be called Unicorns.

“San Francisco Inlet Region is about innovation and Silicon Valley, that is individuals’ opinion on San Francisco.

“In Silicon Valley, an organization that is massively fruitful is known as a unicorn. That term has grown over time, now referring to extremely successful athletes as unicorns.

The unmistakable name, notwithstanding, was at first welcomed with some suspicion.

“Many individuals, incorporating individuals engaged with the association, saw it to be an extremely dangerous name since it isn’t utilized for sports groups,” Rajaraman said.

“Yet, Silicon Valley is tied in with facing challenge and succeeding. It’s not necessary to focus on doing the anticipated move.”

The Unicorns’ playing unit and logo will be orange, light blue and naval force blue tones addressing the Brilliant Entryway Scaffold, San Francisco Sound and the Pacific Sea.

The new group drove by previous Australia captain Aaron Finch, be that as it may, will not be playing at home in the debut season beginning on July 13 with all games in the 18-day competition to be played in Dallas and Morrisville, North Carolina.

An arena in St Nick Clara is in progress and set to have global cricket in spite of the fact that won’t be prepared for the following year’s T20 World Cup in the U.S. furthermore, Caribbean. ” It won’t be an immense arena, I’m thinking around 10,000 (swarm limit),” Rajaraman said.

“Something like the little grounds in New Zealand, where you have a couple of stands however really lush banks for families. That is the energy we are going for with an American feel to it.”

In the volatile American cricket scene, after years of disappointment and false dawns, anticipation is growing for a tournament that is expected to spread throughout the United States and beyond.

“For what reason we’re ready to get top players into the MLC is because of the great compensation cap, which is vital,” Rajaraman said. ” In the next five to ten years, I believe MLC has a chance of becoming one of the top three cricket tournaments in the world.

“Being a part of it is very exciting. I had no assumption this would occur, all my vocation has been about innovation.

“It’s amazing to combine the things I love, and we’re really looking forward to creating a long-term, successful franchise with devoted Bay Area fans,”

Biden’s Plan Cuts Student Loan Payments for Millions to $0

The Biden administration calls it a “student loan safety net.” Opponents call it a backdoor attempt to make college free. And it could be the next battleground in the legal fight over student loan relief.

Starting this summer, millions of Americans with student loans will be able to enroll in a new repayment plan that offers some of the most lenient terms ever. Interest won’t pile up as long as borrowers make regular payments. Millions of people will have monthly payments reduced to $0. And in as little as 10 years, any remaining debt will be canceled.

It’s known as the SAVE Plan, and although it was announced last year, it has mostly been overshadowed by President Joe Biden’s proposal for mass student loan cancellation. But now, after the Supreme Court struck down Biden’s forgiveness plan, the repayment option is taking center stage.

Since the ruling Biden has proposed an alternate approach to cancel debt and also shifted attention to the lesser-known initiative, calling it “the most affordable repayment plan ever.” The typical borrower who enrolls in the plan will save $1,000 a month, he said.

Republicans have fought against the plan, saying it oversteps the president’s authority. Sen. Bill Cassidy, the ranking Republican on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, called it “deeply unfair” to the 87% of Americans who don’t have student loans.

The Congressional Budget Office previously estimated over the next decade the plan would cost $230 billion, which would be even higher now that the forgiveness plan has been struck down. Estimates from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania put the cost at up to $361 billion.

Emboldened by the Supreme Court’s decision on cancellation, some opponents say it’s a matter of time before the repayment plan also faces a legal challenge.

Here’s what to know about the SAVE Plan:

What is an income-driven repayment plan?

The U.S. Education Department offers several plans for repaying federal student loans. Under the standard plan, borrowers are charged a fixed monthly amount that ensures all their debt will be repaid after 10 years. But if borrowers have difficulty paying that amount, they can enroll in one of four plans that offer lower monthly payments based on income and family size. Those are known as income-driven repayment plans.

Income-driven options have been offered for years and generally cap monthly payments at 10% of a borrower’s discretionary income. If a borrower’s earnings are low enough, their bill is reduced to $0. And after 20 or 25 years, any remaining debt gets erased.

How is Biden’s plan different?

As part of his debt relief plan announced last year, Biden said his Education Department would create a new income-driven repayment plan that lowers payments even further. It became known as the SAVE Plan, and it’s generally intended to replace existing income-driven plans.

Borrowers will be able to apply later this summer, but some of the changes will be phased in over time.

Right away, more people will be eligible for $0 payments. The new plan won’t require borrowers to make payments if they earn less than 225% of the federal poverty line — $32,800 a year for a single person. The cutoff for current plans, by contrast, is 150% of the poverty line, or $22,000 a year for a single person.

Another immediate change aims to prevent interest from snowballing.

As long as borrowers make their monthly payments, their overall balance won’t increase. Once they cover their adjusted monthly payment — even if it’s $0 — any remaining interest will be waived.

Other major changes will take effect in July 2024.

Most notably, payments on undergraduate loans will be capped at 5% of discretionary income, down from 10% now. Those with graduate and undergraduate loans will pay between 5% and 10%, depending on their original loan balance. For millions of Americans, monthly payments could be reduced by half.

Next July will also bring a quicker road to loan forgiveness. Starting then, borrowers with initial balances of $12,000 or less will get the remainder of their loans canceled after 10 years of payments. For each $1,000 borrowed beyond that, the cancellation will come after an additional year of payments.

For example, a borrower with an original balance of $14,000 would get all remaining debt cleared after 12 years. Payments made before 2024 will count toward forgiveness.

How do I apply?

The Education Department says it will notify borrowers when the new application process launches this summer. Those enrolled in an existing plan known as REPAYE will automatically be moved into the SAVE plan. Borrowers will also be able to sign up by contacting their loan servicers directly.

It will be available to all borrowers in the Direct Loan Program who are in good standing on their loans.

What about borrowers who missed out on earlier programs?

The administration announced last year it would make fixes to correct mistakes in tracking payments that qualify toward forgiveness under income-driven repayment plans. As a result, the education department said Friday, it will wipe out $39 billion in debt held by more than 800,000 borrowers

Officials said eligible borrowers will be informed starting Friday that they qualify for forgiveness without further action on their part.

“For far too long, borrowers fell through the cracks of a broken system that failed to keep accurate track of their progress towards forgiveness,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.

What are the pros and cons?

Supporters say Biden’s plan will simplify repayment options and offer relief to millions of borrowers. The Biden administration has argued that ballooning student debt puts college out of reach for too many Americans and holds borrowers back financially.

Opponents call it an unfair perk for those who don’t need it, saying it passes a heavy cost onto taxpayers who already repaid student loans or didn’t go to college. Some worry that it will give colleges incentive to raise tuition prices higher since they know many students will get their loans canceled later.

Voices across the political spectrum have said it amounts to a form of free college. Biden campaigned on a promise to make community college free, but it failed to gain support from Congress. Critics say the new plan is an attempt to do something similar without Congress’ approval.

Is it legal?

That depends on who you ask, but the question hasn’t been taken up by a federal court.

Instead of creating a new payment plan from scratch, the Biden administration proposed changes to an existing plan. It cemented those changes by going through a negotiated rulemaking process that allows the Education Department to develop federal regulations without Congress.

It’s a process that’s commonly used by administrations from both political parties. But critics question whether the new plan goes further than the law allows.

More than 60 Republicans lawmakers urged Cardona to withdraw the plan in February, calling it “reckless, fiscally irresponsible, and blatantly illegal.”

Supporters argue that the Obama administration similarly used its authority to create a repayment plan that was more generous than any others at the time.

The Biden administration formally finalized the rule this month. Conservatives believe it’s vulnerable to a legal challenge, and some say it’s just a matter of finding a plaintiff with the legal right — or standing — to sue.

Time for the US to Hold China Accountable for Sovereign Debt

Every nation ought to settle its sovereign debt. We are informed that default is not an option. Yet, has anybody told China? The People’s Republic of China owes the United States approximately $850 billion in interest. However, American bondholders hold China’s sovereign debt, which is currently in default.

This fact has been ignored by subsequent administrations in the United States, allowing normal trade and business with China to continue. Policymakers ought to reconsider this appalling failure of justice now that the relationship with China has soured and the People’s Republic of China has emerged as the greatest adversarial threat to Western and American security.

It’s time for some history. Prior to 1949, the Republic of China (ROC) issued a large quantity of long-term sovereign gold-denominated bonds to private investors and governments for the construction of infrastructure and financing of governmental activities. These bonds were secured by Chinese tax revenues. Set forth plainly, the China we realize today could never have been conceivable missing these bond contributions.

The ROC defaulted on its sovereign debt in 1938, during the conflict it was having with Japan. The ROC government fled to Taiwan after the communists won their military victory. In the end, the People’s Republic of China gained international recognition as China’s new government. The “successor government” doctrine holds that the current Chinese government, led by the Chinese Communist Party, is responsible for repaying the defaulted bonds in accordance with established international law.

These gold-denominated bonds are held by a small group of private Americans. The American Bondholders Foundation (ABF), a group led by citizens, is the trustee with power of attorney for around 20,000 bondholders whose bonds are worth well over $1 trillion.

A British settlement agreement on the same Chinese bonds was reached in 1987 as a result of Margaret Thatcher, the then-prime minister of the United Kingdom,’s tough negotiation stance regarding the return of Hong Kong to China. Thatcher stated that China needed to honor the Chinese sovereign debt held by British subjects that had defaulted in order to gain access to the capital markets in the United Kingdom. China agreed when presented with that stark choice.

Sadly, the United States did not adopt such a sensible stance. Despite publicly rejecting its sovereign debt obligations to American bondholders, China continues to have access to U.S. capital markets today.

It doesn’t matter how old these bonds are, just in case anyone is curious. The fact that this is a sovereign obligation is what matters. In 2015, Great Britain made payments on bonds issued in the 18th century, and the German government made its final payment for World War I reparations in 2010.

The Biden administration and the Congress of the United States have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to uphold the internationally recognized principle that governments must pay their debts. The United States must view the repayment of China’s sovereign debt as essential to its interests in national security, just as the United Kingdom did in 1987. The United States government ought to take one, both, or neither of the two actions that are currently being discussed by members of Congress.

The first would be to acquire the Chinese bonds held by the ABF and use them to offset (partially or completely) China’s ownership of more than $850 billion in U.S. Treasury securities, thereby lowering the amount of daily interest paid to China by up to $95 million. The national debt would be reduced, and the United States’ financial situation would improve globally.

The second is pass regulation that expects China to keep worldwide standards and rules of money, exchange and business. This would include adhering to the rules governing capital markets and exchanges’ transparency, ending its practices of exclusionary settlement, discriminatory payments, selective default, and rejecting the doctrine of settled international law that the successor government has adopted. All U.S. dollar-denominated bond markets and exchanges would be closed to China and its state-controlled entities if those obligations are not met.

Again, this is just common sense, and the Chinese government would do exactly this if the situation were reversed. Throughout the course of recent many years, there has been repetitive bipartisan help in Congress for bondholders to address China’s default with a few legislative goals. Notwithstanding this, progressive U.S. organizations have been quiet on this issue, deciding to put the issue off indefinitely, expecting that China would ultimately change and embrace Western standards and values.

This inaction must end immediately.

This issue can finally be addressed by both Congress and the Biden administration due to the deterioration of relations with China and the consensus among both parties regarding the threat posed by China. Not only is it right and just for bondholders to get a settlement for this defaulted debt, but if done correctly, it could also be a huge win for the taxpayers of the United States.

Is Rupee Going to be Internationalized?

An Inter-Departmental Group (IDG), constituted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has suggested that India must continue exploring alternatives to both the USD and the Euro to defend itself against economic sanctions. The group has recommended a host of measures to increase the acceptance of Indian rupee (INR) outside the country’s borders.

The group has recommended a host of measures to increase the acceptance of Indian rupee (INR) outside the country’s borders.

Among the short-term recommendations, the group has asked the bank to encourage opening of INR accounts for non-residents both in India and outside India as well as integrating Indian payment systems with other countries for cross-border transactions.

“An account in the currency of a resident country in the non-residents’ own jurisdiction allows them to leverage their existing financial relationships and provides them the flexibility to move funds and execute financial transactions in their time zone,” the working group chaired by Radha Shyam Ratho said in the report.

Additional recommendations include allowing banking services in INR outside India through off-shore branches of Indian banks and achieve higher level of trade linkages with other countries so that INR becomes preferred as a “vehicle currency” by other economies.

“The higher usage of INR in invoicing and settlement of international trade, as well as in capital account transactions, will give INR a progressively international presence,” the group emphasized adding that the internationalization will reduce the cost of doing business and reduce need for holding foreign exchange reserves.

Impending Recession Fears, Contradicting Federal Reserve’s Projections

Roger Altman, a market veteran, claims that the United States is headed for a recession that is even more severe than what Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has predicted.

In a meeting with CNBC on Wednesday, the Evercore organizer and senior executive highlighted remarks from the main national broker, who said a downturn wasn’t the most probable likelihood for the US economy.

However, Altman believes that a downturn is the most likely outcome by the end of the year, and that is in contrast to the plethora of economic indicators that point to the contrary.

First, the yield on the 2-year Treasury has surpassed the 10-year yield by more than a full percentage point last week, marking the steepest inversion of the 2-10 Treasury yield curve in over 40 years. When inverted, the yield curve is a well-known indicator of a forthcoming recession.

As the Federal Reserve has aggressively increased interest rates to combat inflation, experts have been warning of increased recession risks for the past year. Due to the fact that the full tightening effect of rate hikes takes months to fully manifest in the economy, rates are currently at their highest range since 2007. This level has the potential to easily overtighten the economy and plunge it into recession.

As long as inflationary pressures continue to be a concern, Fed officials have also hinted that interest rates could rise this year. Markets are at present estimating in a 87% opportunity the Fed will climb rates another 25 premise focuses at its next strategy meeting, a move that would lift the fed supports rate to scope of 5.25-5.50%.

“Monetary policy was raised at the highest rate in 40 or more years. What’s more, once more, taking a gander at history, it would be too early for them to have their full impact now. a half year, different story,” Altman said.

Biden Announces New Plans for Student Loan Forgiveness Under the Higher Education Act

President Biden on Friday reported new activities to offer understudy loan borrowers some pardoning, once again introducing his absolution plan grounded in the Advanced education Act (HEA).

For years, prominent Democrats and advocates for student loans have advocated for using the HEA to alleviate student debt. Proponents of the HEA argue that it grants the education secretary the authority to “compromise, waive, or release” student loans. Before this route can take effect, there will be a period of public comment and notice.

In remarks delivered at the White House on Friday afternoon, he stated, “We need to find a new way, and we’re moving as quickly as we can.”

The organization had tied the understudy obligation alleviation plan — struck somewhere around the High Court — to the public crisis laid out during the Coronavirus general wellbeing emergency, refering to the Advanced education Help Open doors for Understudies (Legends) Act. In the majority opinion that the court issued on Friday morning, Chief Justice John Roberts stated that the HEROES Act does not grant the authority.

Biden said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has taken steps to start the rulemaking process, but he didn’t say who would qualify or how much debt relief borrowers would get under his new plan to use the HEA.

Friday marked the beginning of the “negotiated rulemaking” procedure, with the department sending out a notice. The main formal review with regards to this issue will happen July 18 to get input from partners. Although the administration stated that it would make every effort to move “as quickly as possible,” the procedure may proceed smoothly until the end of 2023.

“This understudy obligation help isn’t being carried out consequently. This is a disaster. Debt Collective’s press secretary, Braxton Brewington, stated in response to the announcement, “This will be a bureaucratic nightmare.”

In addition, the president said that the administration will start an “on-ramp” repayment program for borrowers who might miss payments when payments start again this fall. The Education Department will not refer borrowers who miss payments to collection agencies or credit bureaus for a year, so there would be no risk of default or harm to credit ratings.

“In the event that you can take care of your month to month bills you ought to, however in the event that you can’t, assuming you miss installments, this entrance briefly eliminates the danger of default or having your credit hurt,” Biden said.

Understudy obligation installments have been stopped since the pandemic, yet in an arrangement with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to get an obligation roof understanding, Biden permanently set up the resumption of reimbursements starting in October. At the beginning of September, interest will begin to accrue once more.

More than 40 million borrowers were prevented from receiving loan forgiveness as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday, which marked a significant setback for one of the president’s most important campaign promises. Biden’s options for keeping that promise are limited by the decision.

If an individual’s income was less than $125,000, the program, which was announced in August, would have canceled up to $20,000 in loans for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for other borrowers.

Not long after the High Court struck down the president’s understudy loan pardoning plan, the White House said it was ready and that Biden had another activity to carry out.

The White House has been avoiding discussing its “Plan B” for months as student debt relief has been held up in court, prompting this announcement.

Student Loan Forgiveness Program Deemed Not Legal By Conservative SOTUS Justices

The Biden administration’s student loan debt handout program cannot proceed, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday, June 3oth, 2023.

The court decided, with a vote of 6-3, that the secretary of education cannot cancel more than $430 billion in student loan debt under federal law.

“The Secretary’s arrangement dropped generally $430 billion of government understudy loan adjusts, totally deleting the obligations of 20 million borrowers and bringing down the middle sum owed by the other 23 million from $29,400 to $13,600,” Boss Equity John Roberts composed for the larger part. ” Six States sued, contending that the Legends Act doesn’t approve the advance dropping arrangement. We concur.”

President Biden firmly couldn’t help contradicting the court’s choice and will make a declaration Friday at 3:30 p.m. enumerating new activities to safeguard understudy loan borrowers, the White House said.

In a statement, Biden stated, “I will stop at nothing to find other ways to deliver relief to hard-working middle-class families.”

According to a source at the White House, Biden intends to blame Republicans for failing to provide student loan borrowers with the relief he promised.

Biden’s understudy loan drive, which had been waiting forthcoming case, involved the central government giving up to $10,000 in the red help — and up to $20,000 for Pell Award beneficiaries — for individuals who make under $125,000 every year. It was anticipated that the program would cost the government more than $400 billion.

Biden made the phenomenal push for obligation cancelation in August 2022, and his organization acknowledged about 16 million applications before conservatives protested and the program was required to be postponed.

Republicans argued that Biden did not have the authority to forgive student loans on his own. Gauges from the Legislative Financial plan Office said Biden’s arrangement would cost citizens generally $400 billion. Conservatives were offended at the aggregate, contending the absolution would be out of line to the people who either paid their direction through school, reimbursed their credits or never went to school in any case.

Two distinct legal challenges were presented to the justices. The court ruled that two private borrowers who wanted to challenge the loan forgiveness plan lacked standing to sue in one case, Department of Education v. Brown.

Biden v. Nebraska, in which six states sued to challenge the loan forgiveness program, is the second and more significant case. Because the program would open a state-established nonprofit government corporation called MOHELA, which would face an estimated $44 million in annual fees, the court determined that Missouri at least had standing to sue.

The HEROES Act, according to Biden’s administration, gave the secretary of education authority to “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the student financial assistance programs… as the secretary deems necessary in connection with a war or other military national emergency.” The law was used to enact the plan.

That argument was rejected by the majority of the court. The position to ‘change’ rules and guidelines permits the Secretary to make unassuming changes and increases to existing guidelines,” Roberts expressed, “not change them.”

Roberts proceeded to say the Branch of Training’s “changes” to the law “made a novel and in a general sense different credit pardoning program” than what Congress expected in the Legends Act. This program successfully conceded advance absolution “to virtually every borrower in the country,” Roberts said.

The chief justice wrote, “The Secretary’s comprehensive debt cancelation plan cannot fairly be called a waiver because it not only nullifies existing provisions, but also significantly augments and expands them.” It can’t be just a change because it’s “effectively the introduction of a whole new regime.” It also can’t be a combination of the two because when the Secretary wants to add to existing law, the fact that he’s “waived” some provisions doesn’t give him a free pass to avoid the limitations of the power to “modify.”

“That language cannot authorize the kind of extensive rewriting of the statute that has been done here, regardless of how broad the meaning of “waive or modify” may be.”

The three liberal justices on the court disagreed. 43 million Americans will no longer be eligible for loan forgiveness as a result of the majority’s decision, which overrules the collective judgment of the Legislative and Executive branches. “With respect, I respectfully disapprove of that decision,” wrote Justice Elena Kagan.

In the event of a ruling in the administration’s favor, Biden’s Education Department had already begun investigating alternate methods for providing handouts.

Conservatives disclosed their own arrangement to address understudy loans and high school costs in June, presenting a progression of five bills. The arrangement from Senate conservatives upholds programs pointed toward ensuring understudies grasp the genuine expense of school and furthermore stop credits for programs that don’t bring about compensations that are sufficiently high to legitimize those advances.

“This would forestall a portion of the most horrendously terrible instances of understudies being taken advantage of for benefit. It would drive schools to cut down cost and to vie for understudies. What an idea,” said Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville, said of the bill. ” Additionally, it would prevent students from becoming entangled in debt they will never be able to repay.”

USIBC Plans 2023 India Ideas Summit In Washington

The summit will explore the U.S.-India economic partnership across sectors.
The United States India Business Council (USIBC) announced that its 2023 India Ideas Summit will be held on June 12-13, 2023 on the sidelines of its 48th Annual General Meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington D.C.
In a statement, USIBC shared the summit themed ‘Trust, Resilience, and Growth’ – will focus on how these three organizing principles underpin the U.S.-India economic partnership across sectors. “As the Summit is the flagship event of USIBC, and the premier convention of government, industry, and thought leaders in the U.S.-India Corridor, USIBC’s annual India Ideas Summit has become an institution,”it said.
This year’s summit carries an additional significance as it will take place about ten days in advance of PM Modi’s state visit to the US scheduled to begin from June 22, 2023, in an effort to strengthen bilateral relations.
Every year, the bilateral trade council hosts conversations that explore important technological developments, chart an agenda for the trade relationship, and highlight how India-US commercial ties serve shared strategic and economic interests.\
Formed in 1975 at the request of the U.S. and Indian governments, the U.S.-India Business Council is the premier business advocacy organization in the U.S.-India corridor, composed of more than 200 top-tier U.S. and Indian companies advancing U.S.-India commercial ties. The Council aims to create an inclusive bilateral trade environment between India and the United States by serving as the voice of industry, linking governments to businesses, and supporting long-term commercial partnerships that will nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship, create jobs, and successfully contribute to the global economy.

 ‘Mild Recession’ In 2023 Predicted

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan has stated that he’s expecting a “mild recession” in 2023, sounding a more positive note about the state of the economy than many in the financial world have been broadcasting amid 40-year-high inflation, as per media reports here.

Doom speak about the possibility of a recession has been coming out of the financial sector since the summer when JP Morgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon said he saw a “hurricane” gathering on the economic horizon as the Federal Reserve began a program of quantitative tightening, sending equity markets into a freefall.

Contractions in gross domestic product (GDP) in both the first and second quarters of 2022 added weight to the warning, leading many Americans to believe that a recession had already begun. But economists cautioned that a strong job market and healthy levels of consumption were pushing in the opposite direction of a general downturn in the economy.

“Hurricane season is now closed,” Moynihan quipped on CNN Tuesday morning, referring to the actual Atlantic hurricane season but also not shying away from comparisons to Dimon’s remarks from earlier in the year.

“At the end of the day, the consumer has held in well,” he said. “The consumer has stayed reasonably strong because they’re employed.”

Recessions are designated retroactively by the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a think tank in Cambridge, Mass.

To make its recession calls, the committee looks at factors that include nonfarm payroll employment, personal consumption, wholesale and retail sales, industrial production and personal income.

While all these measurements play a role, the committee says that “there is no fixed rule about what measures contribute information to the process or how they are weighted in our decisions.”

While public sentiment about the economy can have a real effect on overall economic performance, economists say that it’s important to distinguish sentiment from underlying realities.

“Part of the disconnect for the general public or even a lot of economic journalists [is], a recession might be defined broadly as, you know, when some economic things are bad. Inflation is really bad now, for example. But economists tend to look more at questions of production, employment, real incomes. And on those measures, we’re not seeing the declines we would normally see in a recession yet,” Jeremy Horpedahl, an economist at the University of Central Arkansas, said in an interview.

India A Bright Spot On Otherwise Dark Horizon: IMF Chief

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday said that India deserves to be called a bright spot “on this otherwise dark horizon because it has been a fast-growing economy, even during these difficult times, but most importantly, this growth is underpinned by structural reforms”.

She was speaking on the fourth day of the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings at the IMF headquarters here.

“Most importantly, this growth is underpinned by structural reforms,” Georgieva told reporters after the meeting.

She was replying to a question on her expectations from India just days before it takes over the presidency of G20. She also praised India’s digitization process.

Earlier even Paolo Mauro, Deputy Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department at the IMF, had praised India’s direct benefit transfer scheme.

“From India, there is a lot to learn. There is a lot to learn from some other examples around the world. We have examples from pretty much every continent and every level of income. If I look at the case of India, it is actually quite impressive,” he told reporters. (IANS)

The International Monetary Fund has once again downgraded its forecast for the global economy with a sharp warning: “The worst is yet to come, and for many people 2023 will feel like a recession.” The agency said Tuesday that it expects global growth to slump to 2.7% next year. That compares with projected growth of 3.2% this year. 

The prospects for the global economy as outlined by the IMF are the third weakest since 2001, behind only the 2008 financial crisis and the worst phase of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a new CNN poll, just 22% of Americans rate economic conditions in the country as good, with 78% calling conditions somewhat poor or very poor. President Biden told CNN on Tuesday that the prospect of a “slight recession” is possible but that he doesn’t anticipate it — even as experts are sounding the alarm about the future of the American and global economies.

Strong Dollar, Rising Interest Rates Loom Over World Bank And IMF Meetings

A strong dollar and rising U.S. interest rates are looming over this week’s International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings in Washington, D.C. where the Federal Reserve is likely to come under some criticism over how its policies are impacting the rest of the world.  Treasury and Federal Reserve officials say they’re sticking to their guns in their battle against inflation despite a chorus of international voices cautioning against the risk of a global recession.

“If monetary tightening in the advanced economies continues over the coming year … a global recession is more likely,” the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development wrote in a sharply worded report released last week. “It will almost unavoidably harm potential growth rate in the developing economies.”

Senior Treasury officials said Monday they were sensitive to “potential spillovers” and “issues that develop around the world” but that “the U.S. economy remains quite resilient, even in the face of some significant global headwinds.”

A Treasury official said that during meetings this week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen would speak with “key counterparts” to discuss how to take on global economic challenges.  

“This involves taking strong actions at home to deal with our priorities but also communicating about those policies, working with the IMF and our allies to monitor spillovers,” the official said.

These spillovers are the losses that many smaller and midsize economies are increasingly expected to endure due to higher U.S. interest rates, which are designed to stop domestic inflation by slowing demand.  

But the hikes also attract investors into the U.S. from abroad, looking to take advantage of higher returns. This strengthens the dollar relative to other currencies, which has the knock-on effect of diminishing export revenues in countries that don’t use the dollar and is all bad news for developing economies.

Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard echoed the Treasury’s sentiments, saying in a Monday speech that “monetary policy will be restrictive for some time to ensure that inflation moves back to target” while nodding to “elevated global economic and financial uncertainty.”

“The Federal Reserve takes into account the spillovers of higher interest rates, a stronger dollar and weaker demand from foreign economies,” she said.

Such remarks provide little comfort for lower-income countries hoping for debt relief in the run-up to what could be a prolonged period of economic stagnation brought on by the pandemic and the decade of near-zero interest rates that preceded it.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released a paper Tuesday warning that 54 developing economies, accounting for more than half of the world’s poorest people, need debt relief now to avert a major crisis.

“The debt crisis is intensifying,” the UNDP paper found. “Debt is trading in distressed territory for more than one third of developing economies issuing dollar debt in international markets, with 19 countries paying more than 1,000 basis points over US Treasury bonds. Similarly, of all developing economies with a sovereign credit rating, 26 — close to one third — are now rated either ‘substantial risk, extremely speculative or default.’ ”

The largest geographical subgroup of the 54 countries noted by the U.N. is sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for nearly half.

A representative for African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina, who is attending the World Bank and IMF meetings, told The Hill that securing assets for African economies from advanced economies like the U.S. is a top priority.

A key concern for the bank is “the re-allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights from willing advanced economies to Africa to leverage the resources to provide greater financing to African economies,” the representative said in an email, referring to a type of foreign exchange reserve asset used by development banks.

But U.S. Treasury officials said they weren’t expecting any major breakthroughs on funding for Africa or emerging markets despite some progress on the cases of a few individual countries.

“We have been making some incremental progress on Chad and Zambia, as you know, and we will certainly be calling for rapid progress on those two cases, but I’m not anticipating that we’ll get there in the next few days,” a Treasury official said.

Complicating efforts to fund developing countries is competition from China, which is now by far the largest bilateral creditor in the world. China now services more debt to foreign countries than the combined financing of the U.S., France and the 20 other countries that make up the “Paris Club” of traditional lenders.

“China’s enormous scale as a lender means its participation is essential,” Brent Neiman, counselor to the Treasury secretary, said in September at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Estimates of the total stock of outstanding Chinese official loans range widely from roughly $500 billion to $1 trillion, concentrated in low- and middle-income countries.”

“A recent study estimates that as many as 44 countries now owe debt equivalent to more than 10 percent of their GDP to Chinese lenders after factoring in both on- and off-balance sheet liabilities,” he said.

Despite competition from China, a report released by the Group of 20 over the summer found that development banks could be lending hundreds of billions of dollars more than they currently are during a perilous time for the global economy, helping to keep people out of poverty.

“The expected potential scale of the increase is substantial, likely to be several hundreds of billions of dollars over the medium term,” the report found.

The price for that additional lending would be an increased risk tolerance. The report argues that increased levels of risk could be acceptable but says that banks’ use of credit rating agencies gets in the way.

The authors of the report recognize “the great importance for the business models of [development banks] of maintaining superior financial strength as reflected in AAA ratings, and, to that end, make use of an enhanced dialogue with [credit ratings agencies] and clear public statements of shareholder support.”

“Moreover, specific numeric leveraging targets should be removed from [development bank] statutes and integrated into capital adequacy frameworks,” the report said.

Other voices in the global economy have also taken issue with continued interest rate hikes and monetary tightening policies from the Federal Reserve — notably OPEC, which last week announced a production cut in global crude oil of 2 million barrels per day.

The move is expected to drive up energy prices ahead of U.S. midterm elections and add further upward pressure on inflation.

“With this severity that you see, you run a big risk that you lose growth,” Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, said last week. “Growth is coming down and there is a potential with more aggressive rate hikes that this growth will come even lower.”

Ben Bernanke Awarded Nobel Prize In Economics

On October 10th, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2022 to Ben Bernanke for his groundbreaking research on banks and financial crises. Bernanke shares the prize with Douglas Diamond of the University of Chicago and Philip Dybvig of Washington University in St. Louis.

“This year’s laureates in the Economic Sciences, Ben Bernanke, Douglas Diamond and Philip Dybvig, have significantly improved our understanding of the role of banks in the economy, particularly during financial crises. An important finding in their research is why avoiding bank collapses is vital,” a statement issued by the Awards Committee stated. 

Modern banking research clarifies why we have banks, how to make them less vulnerable in crises and how bank collapses exacerbate financial crises. The foundations of this research were laid by Ben Bernanke, Douglas Diamond and Philip Dybvig in the early 1980s. Their analyses have been of great practical importance in regulating financial markets and dealing with financial crises.

For the economy to function, savings must be channelled to investments. However, there is a conflict here: savers want instant access to their money in case of unexpected outlays, while businesses and homeowners need to know they will not be forced to repay their loans prematurely. In their theory, Diamond and Dybvig show how banks offer an optimal solution to this problem. By acting as intermediaries that accept deposits from many savers, banks can allow depositors to access their money when they wish, while also offering long-term loans to borrowers.

However, their analysis also showed how the combination of these two activities makes banks vulnerable to rumours about their imminent collapse. If a large number of savers simultaneously run to the bank to withdraw their money, the rumour may become a self-fulfilling prophecy – a bank run occurs and the bank collapses. These dangerous dynamics can be prevented through the government providing deposit insurance and acting as a lender of last resort to banks.

Diamond demonstrated how banks perform another societally important function. As intermediaries between many savers and borrowers, banks are better suited to assessing borrowers’ creditworthiness and ensuring that loans are used for good investments.

Ben Bernanke analysed the Great Depression of the 1930s, the worst economic crisis in modern history. Among other things, he showed how bank runs were a decisive factor in the crisis becoming so deep and prolonged. When the banks collapsed, valuable information about borrowers was lost and could not be recreated quickly. Society’s ability to channel savings to Educationproductive investments was thus severely diminished.

“The laureates’ insights have improved our ability to avoid both serious crises and expensive bailouts,” says Tore Ellingsen, Chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences.

Repel The Recession With These 5 Tips

It doesn’t hurt your bottom line to take a step back and self-evaluate. Learn how you’ll be able to repel the recession with these 5 tips.

While the professional pundits debate when or if an economic recession is imminent, it may be a good idea to ensure you’re prepared, nonetheless. It doesn’t hurt your bottom line to take a step back and self-evaluate. Learn how you’ll be able to repel the recession with these 5 tips.

Live Your Life Within Your Means

Many of you may already live your everyday lives with this money-management strategy and if you do, then you’re ahead of the curve. But let’s be honest, we all know people who do not live within their means. Saying ‘no’ when deciding on an unneeded purchase is a skill that sometimes needs to be learned.

It’s important to carefully weigh all decisions about money, especially if a recession is looming. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking the recession may not last long. The more conscious you are about spending habits, the more you can avoid going into debt with credit cards and loans. It’s better to save now and put off making big purchases, then to build up your debt and struggle to get out from under it later in life. Speaking of saving…

Look For Ways to Save

It’s always a good idea to audit your own finances. Most people are aware of their paycheck, but they are often fuzzy about the money that leaves their account. Re-evaluate your monthly subscriptions. Do you need every single streaming service? How often do you make coffee runs to your local café? It might be time to brew a cup from home.

Divide your monthly expenses into wants and needs. Make sure you’re not overpaying for those wants. Cut down on the trips to the restaurants. If you had any planned vacations or renovations, it might be in your best interest to postpone. Perhaps we learned all those money-saving tricks during the 2020 quarantine for a reason. It might be time to revisit those lessons.

Have an Emergency Fund

You may call it a rainy-day fund. If so, the skies are getting cloudy. If you haven’t already put money aside in a secured FDIC account for emergencies, it may be time to start. In the event of a lost job or your forced to take a pay cut, you want the flexibility to cover expenses while you engage in a plan of action. This fund is designed for necessary expenses. Be diligent with how you use the money. Again, you don’t know how long a potential recession could last.

Obtain Additional Income

A smart tactic — and one that’s been popularized in recent years — is finding other streams of revenue outside of your job. We live in a gig economy and the skills you’ve honed at your current employer may prove valuable in a consulting capacity. You could replace any lost income from a job loss or salary reduction by uncovering potential freelancing opportunities in your specialty. It doesn’t hurt to add more skills to your resume. The more you know how to do, the more attractive you become to your current or future employer.

Anticipate the Worst

No one expects to lose their job, but don’t be unprepared if it happens. It would be appropriate for you to consider your options in the event of the unthinkable. Update your resume. Update your LinkedIn profile. All those professional relationships you developed, both online and in-person, could become leads to new positions. Prepare for the worst, expect the best.


Two gold nuggets worth $350,000 found in Australia

Two gold nuggets worth around $350,000 (£190,000; US$250,000) have been discovered by a pair of diggers in southern Australia. Brent Shannon and Ethan West found the nuggets near goldmining town Tarnagulla in Victoria state.

Their lucky find was shown on TV show Aussie Gold Hunters, which aired on Thursday. The men dug up the ground and used metal detectors to detect gold in the area.

“These are definitely one of the most significant finds,” Ethan West said, according to CNN. “To have two large chunks in one day is quite amazing.”

They found the nuggets, which have a combined weight of 3.5kg (7.7lb), in a number of hours with the help of Mr West’s father, according to the Discovery Channel which airs the program.

The show, which is also broadcast in the UK, follows teams of gold prospectors who dig in goldfields in remote parts of Australia.

“I reckoned we were in for a chance,” Mr Shannon told Australian TV show Sunrise. “It was in a bit of virgin ground, which means it’s untouched and hasn’t been mined.”

West said that during four years of mining for gold, he is picked up “probably thousands” of pieces. The Discovery Channel also said collectors could pay up to 30% more for the nuggets than their estimated value.

In 2019 an Australian man unearthed a 1.4kg (49oz) gold nugget worth an estimated A$100,000 (£54,000; $69,000) using a metal detector.

Gold mining in Australia began in the 1850s, and remains a significant industry in the country.

The town of Tarnagulla itself was founded during the Victoria Gold Rush and became very wealthy for a period of time when keen prospectors moved there to make their fortune, according to a local website.

Oil Prices Likely To Tumble By Year End, Even If Economies Avoid A Recession

Goldman Sachs reckons crude oil prices are going to $140 in the coming months. JPMorgan said they could even surge to $380 in a worst-case scenario. UBS reckons they’ll hit $130 in September.

But Citi is bucking the trend. The investment bank’s strategists predict oil will fall sharply by the end of the year, from prices of around $100 a barrel on Friday.

Francesco Martoccia, the bank’s head of European commodities strategy, warned in note to clients Tuesday that oil prices could even slump to $65 a barrel by December, if a nasty recession hits.

The same day, oil prices tumbled, with US benchmark WTI crude dropping below $100, as investors worried that central banks’ interest-rate hikes would trigger sharp slowdowns in economic growth. “The timing was exquisite,” Martoccia told Insider this week.

Yet Martoccia and his colleagues expect oil to drop even if there’s no drastic slowdown. Their so-called base case is that the price of global benchmark Brent crude tumbles to $85 a barrel by the end of the year — that’s around 18% lower than Friday’s price of $104.

At the heart of Citi’s contrarian view is its expectation that Russia will keep exporting and producing crude, even as the US and its allies batter the country with sanctions.

Many analysts expect Russian energy exports to fall sharply by the end of the year as the European Union gradually bans purchases from the country. The G7 is also exploring how to cap Russian oil prices — which could cause exports to drop further.

The logic is simple. Unable to sell its oil, Russia will shut down production. Buyers will then be competing for the remaining global supplies, driving up oil prices.

But Citi takes a different view. Its strategists believe India and China will ramp up purchases, keeping Russian oil pumping and alleviating the pressure on the market. “We actually don’t see a supply crunch in the making,” Martoccia said.

Crude oil exports to European countries in the OECD will drop from 2.5 million barrels a day in the first quarter of the year to 970,000 in the fourth, Citi predicts.

Yet it thinks China will step up its imports from 1.4 million to 2.3 million barrels a day, and India from 110,000 to 950,000 a day. Other developing economies will lift their purchases slightly, meaning Russia will be exporting more crude by the end of the year than at the start.

“I’m skeptical that the governments wouldn’t listen to their own energy needs, because we have seen already protests and riots around the world because of the increase in food prices and energy prices,” Martoccia said.

The other key ingredient in oil prices is demand. Citi thinks the world’s appetite for oil is going to slow over the coming months as the global economy cools.

Martoccia said Europe in particular is likely to cut back on its energy consumption. Many economists expect the eurozone to fall into a recession as a result of soaring inflation driven by rocketing natural gas prices. Germany has already started to dim its streetlights to save energy.

“When you look at the gas demand, for instance, from the industrial complex in Italy, or even the orders of one of the biggest industrial facilities, it’s going down,” he said. “And eventually you have to see spillover effects elsewhere.”

Oil-price prediction is a difficult game. Many analysts say the opposite to Citi, arguing Russian production will fall, and a Chinese economic recovery and the return of global tourism will boost demand.

Citi is hedging its bets. It thinks there’s a 30% chance oil jumps back up to around $120 by the end of the year. “This year, it’s very difficult to have a high conviction,” Martoccia said.

Canada To Provide Work Permits For Some International Graduates

Canada is offering work permit extension to international students who no longer have it or are set to have it expired between September 20, 2021 and December 31, 2022. According to Sean Fraser, Canada’s minister of immigration, these students will be granted an additional 18-month open work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP).

Sean Fraser, Canada’s minister of immigration, said the students would be granted an additional 18-month open work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP).

More graduates will be able to settle in Canada due to this special provision, which he said indicates economic growth potential. An extension of post-graduate employment permits for some international graduates has been announced by Canada.

Students from abroad whose visas have expired or will expire between September 20, 2021, and December 31, 2022 are eligible for the new extension. The second open work permit for these students will be valid for 18 months.

As Canada’s economy continues to recover, “there remain hundreds of thousands of jobs waiting to be filled,” Canada’s immigration minister Sean Fraser tweeted. “Hard-working international graduates make enormous contributions to their communities and our economy.”

“We’re now extending post-graduate work permits to international graduates whose permits expired or will expire between September 20th, 2021 and December 31, 2022.”

Fewer Homes, High Prices, Rising Interest Rates Impede Home Buyers Across USA

Shortly after moving to South Florida for a new job with the U.S. military, Shannon Kaufman and his wife, Wendy, signed up for a whole other mission: buying a home.

For months, they scoured listings, strategizing late into the night on which homes to target and working out how much they could afford, even if it meant using some of their retirement savings.

After visiting 200 listings and making offers on 15 homes that ultimately didn’t pan out, the Kaufmans finally found a home that fits at least some of their needs. They’ll be renting it, however.

“We found a place that’s smaller than we want, but it’ll work until we have something built or until the market cools off,” said Shannon Kaufman, 47.

America’s housing market has grown increasingly frenzied, and prices are out of reach for many buyers, especially first-timers. This spring, traditionally the busiest season for home sales, is more likely to deliver frustration and disappointment for aspiring homebuyers than it is homeownership.

The number of homes for sale nationally remains near record lows, fueling fierce competition among buyers vying for fewer homes. From Los Angeles to Raleigh, North Carolina, when a house does hit the market, it typically sells within days.

Bidding wars are common, often driving the sale price well above what the owner was asking. And would-be buyers planning to finance their purchase with a home loan are often losing out to investors and others able to buy a home with cash.

A quarter of all homes sold in February were purchased with cash, up from 22% a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. Real estate investors accounted for 19% of transactions in February, up from 17% a year ago.

Nichol Khan, a project manager, and her husband Ed moved to Mesa, Arizona, from Phoenix two years ago to shorten their commute to work. Home prices in the Phoenix area have jumped 20% from a year ago to $500,000, according to “The prices just keep going up and up,” Khan said.

The couple has lost out on more than a dozen homes they bid on. Some of the homes ended up selling for less in cash than the couple had offered. “We don’t have $500,000 in cash,” said Khan, 42. “We just could not be competitive with that.”

Fewer homes on the market and high prices have been the hallmark of the housing market for the past 10 years or so. Now, rising mortgage rates further complicate the homebuying equation. Higher rates could limit the pool of buyers and cool the rate of home price growth — good news for buyers. But higher rates also weaken their buying power.

Interest rates for loan has climbed to around 4.7%. A year ago, average rates hovered just above 3%, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. The increase follows a sharp move up in 10-year Treasury yields, reflecting expectations of higher interest rates overall as the Federal Reserve moves to hike short-term rates in order to combat surging inflation.

Would-be buyers who applied for a home loan in February faced a median monthly mortgage payment of $1,653, including principal and interest, an increase of 8.3% from a year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“It’s hard to believe, but I do think it’s going to be tougher this year, in some respects, than it was in previous years,” said Danielle Hale,’s chief economist. “So far, at least, we have seen the number of homes for sale continue to decline and prices continue to rise. Those two factors combined suggest that the competitive market is going to keep buyers on their toes.”

Buyers should set their sights on homes that are listed well within what they can afford, experts say.

“You should be looking 15%-20% below their limit; that gives them room for appraisal gaps, it gives them room for negotiating,” said Tracy Hutton, a broker with Century 21 in Indianapolis.

Being well prepared sometimes isn’t enough when a homeowner prefers to accept an all-cash offer, rather than sell to a buyer with financing.

Wendy Kaufman in South Florida couldn’t even get into an open house for a property on the market after she revealed the couple had a mortgage backed by the Veterans Administration.

“When they saw I had a VA preapproval they said, ‘Sorry we don’t want to work with you.’” she said.

Sometimes, buyers don’t have a chance to make an offer before a home is snapped up, sight unseen. In the Miami area, so-called “blind offers” have become common as a way to get around other buyers, said Rafael Corrales, a Redfin agent.

One reason is the ultra-low level of homes for sale, which for the greater Miami metropolitan area, was down 55% in February from a year ago, according to

While every market is unique, there is one common hurdle across the U.S.: affordability. The median U.S. home price jumped 15% in February from a year earlier to $357,300, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The San Jose, California, metro area had 40% fewer homes for sale in February than a year ago, according to Buyers there have to navigate some of the most expensive home prices in the nation. The median home listing price climbed 13.3% to about $1.36 million in February from a year earlier.

The market trends are a bit more welcoming for buyers in the Midwest, including the Indianapolis metropolitan area, where the number of homes for sale was down about 23% from a year ago. The median home price there stood at $287,000 in February, up 8.5% from a year earlier.

In Raleigh, home listings were down a whopping 55% in February from a year earlier. Competition for fewer homes helped push the median home price to $430,000, a 9% increase from February 2021.

Those trends made for a more competitive market for first-time buyers like Lisa Piercey and her husband, Alex Berardo. First-time buyers made up 29% of all homes sold nationally last month. That share has averaged 31% annually over the past 10 years.

The couple began looking in December for homes at $350,000 or below. They offered $5,000 over the asking price on two properties but lost out to rival bidders.

“That was all we could afford,” said Lisa Piercey, a 32-year old project manager. “It’s really defeating, really disappointing.”

In the end, the couple bought a townhome in a new construction community, though they see it as a stepping stone to a more spacious house with a big yard.

“Its big enough that we can still start our family and then move when the market hopefully dies down in a couple of years,” she said.

Money, EconomyIndia’s Rupee Continues To Fall Due To Inflationary Pressures

Inflationary concerns over elevated commodity prices are expected to maintain pressure on the Indian rupee during the upcoming week.

Accordingly, high crude oil as well as other raw material prices are expected to unleash a domestic inflationary wave.This trend, said senior analysts, will dent growth prospects along with leading to an eventual rise in interest rates.However, fiscal end dollar selling by software majors will arrest any sharp downfall in rupee value against the USD. Consequently, the Spot USDINR is expected to settle in the range of 76 to 76.50 for the next week.

“Crude and rising US yields kept the rupee weak amid Ukraine war concerns,” said Sajal Gupta Head Fx & Rates Edelweiss. “Rising inflation is a concern across the globe and does not see a immediate solutiona which shall keep the currency weaker.”

Last week, the rupee depreciated by half a per cent amidst a strong US dollar, higher crude oil and weaker risk sentiments. The rupee closed at 76.20 to a greenback after swinging between 75.80 and 76.50 to a USD. “Biggest driver remains crude oil prices and sentiment towards equity markets,” said Devarsh Vakil, Deputy Head of Retail Research, HDFC Securities.

“We expect RBI to keep utilising its large forex reserves to keep the INR stable at around current levels. The bias for USDINR remains skewed to the upside following continued geopolitical worries and broad-based selling by foreign institutions.” The RBI is known to enter the markets via intermediaries to either sell or buy US dollars to keep the rupee in a stable orbit.

Gaurang Somaiya, Forex & Bullion Analyst, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, said: “Next week, on the domestic front, market participants will continue to monitor how crude prices will be moving and at the same time, FIIs participation will be important to watch. “Fiscal deficit and trade balance number will also be released next week and will be influencing the rupee.”

A New Monetary World Order As Russia Reels Under Sanctions

As US President Joe Biden unveiled new sanctions on Friday against Russia, he made it clear that the totality of the sanctions and export controls is “crushing the Russian economy”.

“The ruble has lost more than half its value. They tell me it takes about 200 rubles to equal 1 dollar these days. The Moscow stock exchange has been closed fully for two weeks because they know the moment it opens, it will probably collapse,” Biden said.

Credit rating agencies have downgraded Russia to ‘junk’ status.

The list of businesses and international corporations leaving Russia is growing by the day, Biden said while listing the stark consequences for Russia and its economy that have unfolded since the Ukraine war.

“We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine. Direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must strive to prevent,” Biden said on not sending troops to Ukraine.

“And we’re going to continue to squeeze (Vladimir) Putin. The G7 will seek to deny Russia the ability to borrow from leading multinational institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Putin is an aggressor… And Putin must pay the price,” Biden said.

Zoltan Pozsar of Credit Suisse said in a report, “We are witnessing the birth of Bretton Woods III – a new world (monetary) order centred around commodity-based currencies in the East that will likely weaken the Eurodollar system and also contribute to inflationary forces in the West.”

“A crisis is unfolding. A crisis of commodities. Commodities are collateral, and collateral is money, and this crisis is about the rising allure of outside money over inside money. Bretton Woods II was built on inside money, and its foundations crumbled a week ago when the G7 seized Russia’s FX reserves,” Credit Suisse said.

Pozsar said it is a perfect storm but that’s precisely what happens when the West sanctions the single-largest commodity producer of the world, which sells virtually everything.

“What we are seeing at the 50-year anniversary of the 1973 OPEC supply shock is something similar but substantially worse — the 2022 Russia supply shock, which isn’t driven by the supplier but the consumer.

“The aggressor in the geopolitical arena is being punished by sanctions, and sanctions-driven commodity price moves threaten financial stability in the West. The commodities market is much more financialised and leveraged today than it was during the 1973 OPEC supply crisis, and today’s Russian supply crisis is much bigger, much more broad-based, and much more correlated. It’s scarier,” Pozsar said.

There are Russian commodities that are collapsing in price and there are non-Russian commodities that are rallying — this rally is due to the 2022 Russia supply shock.

“It’s a buyers’ strike. Not a seller’s strike, to make things all the more absurd… Russian commodities today are like subprime CDOs were in 2008. Conversely, non-Russian commodities are like what US Treasury securities were back in 2008. One collapsing in price, and the other surging in price, with margin calls on both regardless of which side you are on,” he added.

The ban on technology exports to Russia, in response to the war in Ukraine, could backfire on global manufacturers of computer processors and semiconductors, as many crucial components for their production are made exclusively in Russia, an industry expert warned.

“The ban on finished products for Russia will result in a retaliatory ban on the supply of production components and will cause an acute shortage of microprocessors for the whole world. By comparison, the end-of-2021 supply disruption situation will appear relatively light,” Oleg Izumrudov, head of the Consortium of Russian Developers of Data Storage Systems (RosSHD), said, RT reported.

Following the sanctions, Russia may default on sovereign bonds for the first time since the Bolshevik revolution in 1917.

A leading ratings agency has warned that Russia is soon likely to default on its debts, as it downgraded the country’s bonds further into ‘junk’ territory, BBC reported.

Fitch Ratings slashed its assessment of Russia to almost the bottom of its scale, just days after downgrading it from investment status.

If Russia does fail to make payments on its debt, it raises the possibility of the first major default on the country’s sovereign bonds since the wake of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, BBC reported.

It is the latest blow to the country’s creditworthiness in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. This week, Moscow said its bond payments may be affected by sanctions.

“The further ratcheting up of sanctions, and proposals that could limit trade in energy, increase the probability of a policy response by Russia that includes at least selective non-payment of its sovereign debt obligations,” Fitch said, BBC reported.

Removing Russian oil from the market would make energy prices skyrocket to over $300 per barrel of oil, Russia’s Deputy PM Aleksandr Novak said, adding that Russia is not dependent on the West and can “reroute” its supplies elsewhere.

The European officials are “once again seeking to put all the blame for their own recent energy policy shortfalls on Russia”, Novak told journalists, adding that “Russia has nothing to do with the current price hike on market volatility”, RT reported.

There are grave implications for food prices also. Energy and commodity prices-including wheat and other grains-have surged due to the war in Ukraine, adding to inflationary pressures from supply chain disruptions and the rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic, the IMF said.

Price shocks will have an impact worldwide, especially on poor households for whom food and fuel are a higher proportion of expenses.

Should the conflict escalate, the economic damage would be all the more devastating. The sanctions on Russia will also have a substantial impact on the global economy and financial markets, with significant spillovers to other countries, the IMF said.

In many countries, the crisis is creating an adverse shock for both inflation and activity, amid already elevated price pressures.

Added to that is the tensions around nuclear plants. Ukrainian intelligence has information that the Russian aggressors are preparing a terrorist attack on the “exclusion zone” in Chornobyl and plan to blame Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence officials said, “According to information available, Vladimir Putin has ordered the preparation of a terrorist attack on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.”

The Russia-controlled Chornobyl nuclear power plant plans to create a man-made catastrophe, for which the occupiers will try to shift responsibility on Ukraine, Ukrayinska Pravda reported.

To make matters worse, Russia has accused US of backing biological laboratories on the territory of Ukraine, experiments were carried out with samples of coronavirus from bats, said the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major General Igor Konashenkov.

“In the biolaboratories created and funded in Ukraine, as the documents show, experiments were carried out with samples of bat coronavirus,” he said, RT reported.

Konashenkov said the department would soon publish another package of documents on secret military biological activities of the United States on the territory of Ukraine and present the results of their examination.

Social Security: Offices will reopen after 2 years this month

Social Security Administration offices have remained closed since March of 2020, and now, two years later, they will finally be reopening this month.

The agency is currently facing major backlog issues, similar to the IRS, due to the pandemic and staffing issues. Many are hoping that reopening the physical offices will resolve many of these issues. Despite the offices closing, the SSA did not stop functioning.

Is it possible I won’t get Social Security benefits?

In person appointments have been available for people in critical situations in need of assistance. If someone found themselves with no food or shelter, they could make an appointment to get help immediately.

Social Security’s backlogs and reopening of offices

Most of the work done by the Social Security Administration for the last two years has been by phone, email, or mail.

Bump in benefits may get them taxed

This means administrative issues have come about. Only 51% of calls were answered in 2021, according to Forbes and The Sun. After an investigation was completed by the Office of the Inspector General, it was found policies were not in place.

Social Security: Only claim if you know these answers

This was because there were not strong policies surround the tracking and returning original documents, which they themselves require. Documents being mishandled included passports, driver’s licenses, and birth certificates. The hope is that Congress gives funding to not only reopen the offices, but provide better service to the public.

India To Launch Its Own Digital Currency In 2022-2023

India’s central bank will launch a digital version of the rupee in the next financial year, the country’s finance minister said on Tuesday.

“Introduction of a central bank digital currency will give a boost, a big boost to the digital economy,” Nirmala Sitharaman said as she delivered the country’s annual budget. “Digital currency will also lead to a more efficient and cheaper currency management system.”

The Reserve Bank of India will introduce the digital rupee in the 2022-2023 financial year which begins on Apr. 1.

Sitharaman gave no details about how the digital rupee would work or what it would look like, but said it would be introduced “using blockchain and other technologies.”

Blockchain refers to the technology that was originally created alongside bitcoin, but the definition has since evolved as its applications have moved beyond cryptocurrencies.

India would be one of the world’s largest economies to introduce a so-called central bank digital currency (CBDC) if it sticks to its plans.

China has been working on a digital version of its yuan since 2014 and is furthest ahead when it comes to launching CBDCs globally.

Over the past two years, the People’s Bank of China has been carrying out trials in the form of lotteries, where digital yuan is handed out to citizens in certain cities for them to spend. More recently, the central bank has looked to expand the use of the digital yuan. China has not launched its digital currency nationwide yet and has no timeline to do so, however.

Elsewhere, Japan is looking into its own CBDC, and the U.S. Federal Reserve last month released a study into a digital dollar, but did not take a firm position on whether it would issue one.

While India is pushing forward with a digital rupee, it has tried to take a tougher stance on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and is currently working on regulation for the sector.

On Tuesday, Sitharaman said income from the transfer of virtual digital assets should be taxed at rate of 30%.

India Slips To 101st Spot In Global Hunger Index 2021

India slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries and is behind neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2020, India was ranked 94th out of 107 countries.

The report, prepared jointly by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe, termed the level of hunger in India “alarming”. India’s GHI score has also decelerated — from 38.8 in 2000 to the range of 28.8 – 27.5 between 2012 and 2021.

The GHI score is calculated on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (the share of children under the age of five who low weight for their height); child stunting (children under the age of five who have low height for their age) and child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).

The share of wasting among children in India rose from 17.1% between 1998-2002 to 17.3% between 2016-2020, according to the report. “People have been severely hit by COVID-19 and by pandemic related restrictions in India, the country with highest child wasting rate worldwide,” the report said.

However, India has shown improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food, the report said.

A total of only 15 countries — Papua New Guinea (102), Afghanistan (103), Nigeria (103), Congo (105), Mozambique (106), Sierra Leone (106), Timor-Leste (108), Haiti (109), Liberia (110), Madagascar (111), Democratic Republic of Congo (112), Chad (113), Central African Republic (114), Yemen (115) and Somalia (116) — fared worse than India this year.

A total of 18 countries, including China, Kuwait and Brazil, shared the top rank with GHI score of less than five, the GHI website that tracks hunger and malnutrition across countries reported last week.

According to the report, the share of wasting among children in India rose from 17.1 per cent between 1998-2002 to 17.3 per cent between 2016-2020, “People have been severely hit by COVID-19 and by pandemic related restrictions in India, the country with highest child wasting rate worldwide,” the report said.

Neighboring countries like Nepal (76), Bangladesh (76), Myanmar (71) and Pakistan (92), which are still ahead of India at feeding its citizens, are also in the ‘alarming’ hunger category.

However, India has shown improvement in indicators like the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food, the report said.

Stating that the fight against hunger is dangerously off track, the report said based on the current GHI projections, the world as a whole — and 47 countries in particular — will fail to achieve even a low level of hunger by 2030.

“Although GHI scores show that global hunger has been on the decline since 2000, progress is slowing. While the GHI score for the world fell 4.7 points, from 25.1 to 20.4, between 2006 and 2012, it has fallen just 2.5 points since 2012. After decades of decline, the global prevalence of undernourishment — one of the four indicators used to calculate GHI scores — is increasing. This shift may be a harbinger of reversals in other measures of hunger,” the report said.

Food security is under assault on multiple fronts, the report said, adding that worsening conflict, weather extremes associated with global climate change, and the economic and health challenges associated with Covid-19 are all driving hunger.

“Inequality — between regions, countries, districts, and communities — is pervasive and, (if) left unchecked, will keep the world from achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) mandate to “leave no one behind,” it said.

India’s wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation remained in double-digits for the sixth consecutive month in September, though at 10.66% it was lower than 11.39% in August.

Food inflation contracted 4.69% in September compared with a 1.29% fall a month ago, while that of manufactured products rose to 11.41% from 11.39% in August.

The sharp contraction in food prices was mainly due to easing vegetable prices though price of pulses continued to spike at 9.42%. Retail inflation in September also slowed to a five-month low of 4.4% due to moderating food prices.

Fuel’s a concern

The inflation in the fuel and power basket was 24.91% in September, against 26.09% in the previous month. The rise in crude petroleum and natural gas prices was 43.92% in September over 40.03% in the previous month.

Fuel is likely to keep pinching in the days ahead. After two days of lull, petrol and diesel prices were again hiked by 35 paise per litre on Thursday, sending retail pump prices to their highest ever level across the country.  This is the 13th time that petrol price has been hiked in two weeks while diesel rates have gone up 16 times in three weeks.

‘Pandora Papers’ Indicts At Least 380 Indians

A massive investigation from more than 600 journalists across the globe sheds new light into the shadowy world of offshore banking and the high-powered elites who use the system to their benefit.

The exposé, dubbed the “Pandora Papers,” shows how the world’s wealthy hide their money and assets from authorities, their creditors and the public by using a network of lawyers and financial institutions that promise secrecy. It’s built on a trove of 11.9 million records leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which in turn shared them with partner media outlets such as The Washington Post and The Guardian for help conducting the large-scale investigation.

“These are secretive, confidential documents from offshore tax havens and offshore specialists who work to help rich, powerful and sometimes criminal individuals create shell companies or trusts in a way that often helps either obscure assets or in some cases even help avoid paying taxes,” senior ICIJ reporter Will Fitzgibbon told NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered. Pandora Papers, the most voluminous leak of offshore financial records ever, reveal how individuals and businesses set up complex multi-layered trust structures for estate planning, in jurisdictions that are loosely regulated for tax purposes, but characterized by air-tight secrecy laws.

King Abdullah II, who rules Jordan, spent more than $100 million on lavish properties in the U.S. and Europe while his country fell deeper into political turmoil, The Washington Post reported. A woman suspected of being in a years-long relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin became the owner of a pricey Monaco apartment days after reportedly giving birth to his child, the paper also found.

Those are two of more than 300 current or former politicians who appear in the Pandora Papers, the journalists said. Among them are 14 sitting country leaders, including President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to reports, there are at least 380 persons of Indian nationality in the Pandora Papers. Of these, The Indian Express has so far verified and corroborated documents related to about 60 prominent individuals and companies. These will be revealed in the coming days.

In February 2020, following a dispute with three Chinese state-controlled banks, Anil Ambani told a London court that his net worth was zero. Records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal that the chairman of Reliance ADA Group and his representatives own at least 18 offshore companies. Set up between 2007 and 2010, seven of these companies have borrowed and invested at least $1.3 billion.

A financial advisor and his company were barred by SEBI from trading in the stock market for a year and fined for insider trading in Biocon Ltd shares. What the marker regulator did not know is that the same advisor is the ‘Protector’ of a trust set up by a company owned by Biocon Executive Chairperson’s husband.  Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar, along with members of his family, figures in the Pandora Papers as Beneficial Owners of an offshore entity in the British Virgin Islands which was liquidated in 2016. Sachin, with wife Anjali Tendulkar and father-in-law Anand Mehta are named as BOs and Directors of a BVI-based company.

Captain Satish Sharma, Congress leader, friend of the Gandhi family, and a former Union Minister who passed away in February this year, had offshore entities and properties abroad, the Pandora Papers show. At least 10 members of Sharma’s family including his wife Sterre, children and grandchildren are among the beneficiaries of a trust, the Jan Zegers Trust — a declaration Sharma never made to the Election Commission while filing poll nomination papers.

A month before fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi fled India in January 2018, his sister Purvi Modi set up a firm in the British Virgin Islands to act as a corporate protector of a trust formed through the Trident Trust Company, Singapore. Records investigated by The Indian Express show that the firm, Brookton Management Ltd, was set up in December 2017 to act as the corporate protector of The Deposit Trust. These documents of the new firm and the trust set up by Purvi are part of the Pandora Papers.

Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff was the prime beneficiary of a trust set up in New Zealand by his mother-in-law, records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal. He also made “substantial contributions” to this trust, which had a Swiss bank account and owned an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands, records show. According to the memorandum concerning the trust, Shroff’s son Jai Shroff (Tiger Shroff) and daughter Krishna Shroff were the beneficiaries, besides Claudia Dutt, the mother of Shroff’s wife Ayesha

Senate Republicans Block Bill, Possibly Shutting Down US Economy

The US Senate voted 48-50 to begin the debate on the measure the House already passed, which wasn’t enough to overcome a Republican filibuster, requiring 60 votes

Senate Republicans blocked a House-passed bill to suspend the debt limit and avert a government shutdown from advancing in the Senate on Monday, September 27, 2021. The move comes after Republicans had insisted that Democrats act alone to address the debt limit and leaves Congress without a clear plan to keep the government open with the threat of a potential shutdown looming by the end of the week.

Government funding is set to expire on September 30, and the stopgap bill the House approved last week would extend funding and keep the government open through December 3. In addition, the measure includes a debt limit suspension through December 16, 2022. The clock is ticking to address the debt limit and Congress may only have until mid-October to act before the federal government can no longer pay its bills.

The Senate voted on a procedural motion to advance the legislation, which needed 60 votes to succeed. Since Democrats control only 50 seats in the chamber, they would have needed 10 Senate Republicans to vote in favor.

The Senate voted 48-50 to begin debate on the measure the House already passed, which wasn’t enough to overcome a Republican filibuster. The bill would have extended government funding to Dec. 3 and suspended the debt limit until Dec. 16, 2022. The measure also would have provided $28.6 billion for disaster assistance and $6.3 billion for Afghan refugees.

But 60 votes were needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. Republicans have insisted that Democrats deal with the debt limit on their own to avoid supporting the broader taxing and spending priorities of Democrats. But Democrats argue both parties should support raising the debt limit, as happened three times during the Trump administration, because a default could spark a worldwide economic crisis.

“It’s an unhinged position to take,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “There is no scenario in God’s green earth where it should be worth risking millions of jobs, trillions in household wealth, people’s Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits and another recession just to score short-term, meaningless political points.”

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Democrats should separate the government funding extension from the debt limit – and then raise the debt limit themselves.

“Democrats want to use this temporary pandemic as a Trojan horse for permanent socialism,” McConnell said. “Republicans aren’t rooting for a shutdown or debt limit breach.”

Democrats must now find another way to keep the government operating and the country borrowing. Without a funding extension, the federal government will shut down Friday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen projected the country will reach its limit on borrowing in mid-October.

Democrats do have options to raise the debt limit on their own to prevent the US from defaulting on its debts, but they argue that the vote should be a bipartisan shared responsibility.

Schumer criticized Republicans ahead of the vote, saying, “After today there will be no doubt about which party in this chamber is working to solve the problems that face our country, and which party is accelerating us towards unnecessary, avoidable disaster.”

House starts debate on bipartisan infrastructure bill

The House began an hour of debate Monday on an infrastructure bill, but isn’t expected to vote until Thursday as lawmakers haggle over the rest of President Joe Biden’s agenda. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes $550 billion in new funding, has already been approved by a bipartisan majority in the Senate.

A group of nine moderate Democrats negotiated for a vote by Monday in exchange for their support for a $3.5 trillion framework for Biden’s social welfare priorities. The deadline slipped to what moderates said would be “no later than Thursday,” when federal highway legislation expires.

A Comparative Study of India’s Inflation during UPA Vs NDA Government (Dr. ManMohan Singh Government Vs. of Modi Government)

Dr. ManMohan Singh became Prime Minister on 22 May 2004, and he remained in office until 26 May 2014. After that Narendra Modi government has been continuously in power. This article dwells into how both governments faired on controlling inflation in India. We first took the CPI (Consumer Price Index) published by Government of India as a measure of inflation. However, this index represents just a fraction (includes only the goods that consumers consumed) of the total economic activity and ignores the substitution effect that arises from price changes. To have a comprehensive measure of inflation for the economy as a whole and incorporating the substitution effect on net inflation we calculated GDP Deflator where inflation is measured by (GDP at Current prices / GDP at constant prices) -1 and converted into percentage. Finally, we tried to verify the accuracy/consistency of inflation data published by Government of India with the international monetary theory which predicts long run inflation differentials between two countries. For this we used US dollar as the base currency and compared depreciation of rupee as the differential inflation.

This differential inflation between two countries talks about inflation of traded goods and investible assets including stocks and bonds. It also indicates how international investors perceive the overall health of the Indian economy i.e. if they see low inflation of a period as the strength of the economy or the weakness of the economy.  Remember during recession, inflation is low and during deflation inflation is negative, and both the situations are undesirable. The third situation is that of stagflation when real GDP stagnates or declines like we have since Indian Lockdown on account of Covid, while nominal GDP and stock market booms.

Taking historical data from the Economic Survey of India and trading economics for the recent months, we found that during the era of UPA Government (from May 22, 2004m to May 26 2014) headed by Dr. ManMohan Singh, inflation for the entire ten years was 8.48% per annum as per CPI measure, while as per GDP deflator it was 6.81% and as per US inflation differential it was 2.84% and since US inflation has been around 2%, this tells Indian inflation has been around 5% (2.84+2) for traded goods and investible assets. These figures look consistent.

However, Modi government has completed only 7 years, hence it would be fair to compare the inflation figures for the first 7 years of UPA government. During that period (May 2004 Until May 2011), as per CPI measure the annual average inflation rate had been 7.57%, as per GDP Deflator it had been 6.81% and as per US inflation differential it had been negative 0.17%. Rupee actually became stronger vs. US dollar. On 28th May, 2004, the exchange rate was $1 = 45.29 rupees and on May 26, 2011 this rate was $1= 44.75. These exchange rate figures were not much different from average values of the month. This means international investors saw Indian domestic inflation as a mark of strength and demanded more rupee for investments in India because trade deficit and total current account deficit was still there. Huge foreign investments in India (surplus on capital account) made rupee stronger and boosted foreign exchange reserves.

Compared to this, we now see the inflation scenario during NDA (Modi Government) era. As per CPI measure, inflation has remained lower at 5.11% while it was 7.57% under UPA. We then we compare the GDP deflator figures, which we find from our calculation to be equal to 3.19%. The main reason for this low inflation for the entire seven years was the period of demonetization as during the demonetization period, the inflation rate was very low, just 1% during 2016 and 2.8% during 2017. Since this inflation rate was slightly lower than US inflation rate of 2% for the entire two years, rupee became slightly stronger. The principles of economics are working. But after March 2018, the weakness of lower inflation became visible to international investors and rupee sharply depreciated.

On March 31st, 2018, the exchange rate was $1 = 65.01 and within one year it depreciated to 69.30 (a depreciation by 6.6%) giving international inflation figure of 8.6% (6.6+2% US inflation) for the year 2018-19. For the overall seven-year period until May 26, 2021, relative international inflation rate of India has been 3.14% seen by depreciation of rupee measure. This is sharply worse when compared with the relative international inflation figure of (-0.17%) of UPA government for their first seven years. This means that foreigners are either seeing low inflation of India as a weakness of the Indian economy or they are simply not believing the Indian inflation data, otherwise rupee would not have depreciated against dollar. According to International Investors, inflation in India for traded goods and investments should be 3.14%+2% = 5.14% while for Dr. ManMohan Singh’s first seven years period, this figure was just 1.83% (-0.17+2%).

To conclude, we can say that Dr.Manmohan Singh has performed far better in tacking inflation and having a better economic performance when compared to Narender Modi Government. The inflation number achieved by Modi government has been because of negative growth of entire GDP by 9.2% since pandemic, otherwise the performance of Modi Government would have been visibly more worse. People have become so poor that they don’t have enough purchasing power to buy goods. Manufacturing, trade, transport, communication and social-person services all have been in decline. Modi government has failed tremendrously in tacking Inflation when compared with UPA government domestically.

Internationally also, Dr. Manmohan Singh Government had performed much better when compared to the Modi Government in attracting economic investments. Even though the Modi Government has altered the domestic calculation index for GDP and Inflation to show a better picture, international figures are completely reliable as they can not be manipulated by the domestic governments since exchange rates are traded daily. India has seen better economic performance and perception during the Manmohan Singh Government in almost all aspects when compared to the Modi Government.



Asia Will Represent Half Of The World’s Consumer Spending By 2032

Despite COVID-19, the global consumer class—those who are middle class or rich—is rising fast. In an earlier post, we showed that we are experiencing a truly secular shift in the size of this global consumer class. COVID-19 is a transitory setback of one or two years in this long-term shift. Since 2000, the global consumer class grew by more than 4 percent each year, reaching a new milestone of 4 billion people—for the first time—in 2020 or 2021. At the beginning of this century, the middle class was mostly a Western phenomenon. Consumer companies were selling their goods in OECD countries, especially the USA and Europe. Today, the consumer class is global and increasingly Asian. Spending by the Asian middle class exceeds that in Europe and North America combined.

We define the global consumer class as anyone living in a household spending at least $11 per day per person, of which the global middle class ($11-$110 per day) represents the lion’s share with 3.75 billion people. It is very important to define the global consumer class correctly and allow for comparability across countries and over time. Incorrect definitions could cost companies billions, as Nestle experienced painfully in Africa. The company based its decision to expand on announcements of a rapid rise of Africa’s middle class. While Africa’s middle class has indeed been rising rapidly, the threshold of $3 per day in consumer spending was too low to gain traction with products that are enjoyed by American or European consumers.

Cornel Krummenacher, then chief executive for Nestle’s equatorial Africa region, noted that we thought this would be the next Asia, but we have realized the middle class here in the region is extremely small.” Even today, Africa’s consumer class is only 283 million people strong according to projections by World Data Lab, growing at 4.1 percent per year. However, there is an untapped potential in Africa below the middle-class threshold. If companies want to benefit from Africa’s growth in this decade, a focus closer to the bottom of the pyramid would yield more success.

Under current projections, Asia will represent half of the world’s consumer spending by 2032. By contrast, Asia’s consumer class is advancing strongly. Since 2016, half of the global consumer class has been Asian. Today, out of the 4 billion global middle-class consumers, 2.2 billion live in Asia. However, while Asia has more than half of the world’s consumers, they only represent approximately 41 percent of consumer spending ($26 trillion out of $63 trillion in 2011 purchasing power parity, see Table 1). Under current projections, Asia will represent half of the world’s consumer spending by 2032.

Table 1. Asia’s consumer class power

  Asia Rest of the world TOTAL Asia’s share
Consumer class (billion) 2.2 1.8 4.0 55%
Spending of the consumer class (trillion $) 26 37 63 41%

Source: World Data Lab’s MarketPro; 2021 projections.

Today, there are 13 Asian economies in the top 30. The composition of these top 30 countries will not change until 2030. However, there are big shifts within the top 30: Only 7 countries are expected to keep their position; 14 countries will lose position while 9 countries gain positions (see Figure 1). To assess which countries will move up in the consumer class tally, we used our unique modeling capacity to project the change of the consumer class between 2020 and 2030.

Figure 1. The top 30 consumer markets of this decade
Daily spending of more than $11 (2011 PPP)

Everyone is familiar with consumer class growth in China and India. In Europe and North America, the numbers in the consumer class will stagnate and growth will come about only because households will become richer.But there are other countries, too, growing under the radar, which are forecast to have very large increases, in the tens of millions, in the numbers in the consumer class in 2030.

Here is an overview of the five top movers:

  1. Bangladesh (+17 positions), from place 28 to 11; future consumer class: 85 million (+50 million)
    Global share of consumer class: 0.8 percent (2020), 1.6 percent (2030).
    Bangladesh’s consumer class is projected to more than double by 2030: Today, 35 million people in Bangladesh spend more than $11 a day. By 2030, it will be 85 million!
  2. Pakistan (+8 positions), from place 15 to 7; future consumer class: 121 million (+56 million)
    Global share of consumer class: 6 percent (2020), 2.3 percent (2030).
    Pakistan will add 56 million new consumers by 2030, for a total of 121 million. This means that in 2030, for the first time, every other Pakistani will be able to spend more than $11 per day.
  3. Vietnam (+7 positions), from place 26 to 19; future consumer class: 56 million (+21 million)
    Global share of consumer class: 9 percent (2020), 1.1 percent (2030).
    Vietnam’s consumer class will grow from 35 million to 56 million within this decade, which is a success story particularly of the middle-aged generation: Consumers between 45 and 65 years of age will contribute nearly 25 percent of Vietnam’s spending, as opposed to 20 percent today.
  4. Philippines (+6 positions), from place 20 to 14; future consumer class: 79 million (+38 million)
    Global share of consumer class: 1 percent (2020), 1.5 percent (2030)
    . The Filipino consumer class is projected to grow steadily, from 41 million today to 79 million in 2030. By then, more than two-thirds of the Filipino population will spend more than $11 per day.
  5. Indonesia (+2 positions), from place 6 to 4; future consumer class: 199 million (+76 million)
    Global share of consumer class: 2 percent (2020), 3.8 percent (2030).
    While Indonesia is only moving up two places, it is experiencing a large gain of consumer class growth. Starting from an already large base of 123 million, Indonesia will have almost 200 million consumers in 2030, making it the fourth-largest consumer market in the world.

The big message of this analysis is that the consumer class is spreading across the world, and that many emerging markets will have large consumer markets where supply-chain-scale economies, digital platforms, and local preferences will need to be better understood and developed.

Is U.S. Losing The Race To Decide The Future Of Money?

In cities across China, the country’s central bank has begun rolling out the e-renminbi—an all-digital version of its paper currency that can be accessed and accepted by merchants and consumers without an internet connection, credit or even a bank account. Already having conducted more than $5 billion in e-renminbi transactions, China has opened its digital currency up to foreigners. Next year, when Beijing hosts the Winter Olympic Games, authorities are expecting to let the world test drive its technological achievement.

The U.S., by contrast, is having trouble even concluding its multi-year exploration into the possibility of an e-dollar. In fact, an upcoming Federal Reserve paper on a potential U.S. digital currency won’t take a position on whether the central bank of the United States will, or even should, create one. Instead, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in recent testimony to Congress, this paper will “begin a major public consultation on central bank digital currencies…” (Once planned for July, the paper’s release has since been moved to September.)

Once the world leader in digital payments and technological innovation, the U.S. is being outpaced by its top global adversary as well as much of the industrialized and the developing world. The Bahamas recently announced the integration of its digital Sand Dollar into a stock exchange, while Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa are moving forward with the world’s first cross-border central bank digital currency exchange program led by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which is known as the central bank of central banks.

Such developments have been somewhat outshined by El Salvador’s recent decision to make bitcoin a legally accepted currency, which few expect to make significant impact in the payment space. But outside of the cryptocurrency space, nations around the globe are making significant strides in the development of the digital future of money — supported by governments and backed by powerful central banks. Leadership in this space will have implications for more than just payments: geopolitical ambitions, economic growth, financial inclusion and the very nature of money could all be dictated by who leads the charge and how.

“I don’t think the U.S. is aware there is a race”

Digital currencies are the next wave in the “evolution of the nature of money in the digital economy,” Hyun Song Shin, economic adviser and co-leader of the Monetary and Economic Department at the Bank for International Settlements, tells TIME. As more of our world migrates from physical brick-and-mortar to wireless and cloud-based, the way we pay for things is changing as well. A central bank digital currency would operate just like cash, but instead of having to carry it in a physical wallet or put it into a bank account, it would be stored and accessed digitally. Not only could U.S.-backed digital currency facilitate easier, modern banking, it could prove vital in protecting American international influence.

Late to the party, the U.S. is “stepping up its research and public engagement” on digital currencies, the Federal Reserve says, including forming working groups on cryptocurrency and other kinds of digital money, and experimenting with technology that would be central to producing a digital dollar. The Fed’s regional Boston branch is overseeing these efforts with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on what’s known as Project Hamilton. But the path towards a digital U.S. dollar has met many challenges, skeptics and outright opponents. All while China, and other countries, push forward.

Lagging behind the world

Just how far behind is the U.S. in the development of a central bank-issued digital currency (CBDC)? According to global accounting firm PwC’s inaugural CBDC global index, which tracks various CBDCs’ project status from research to development and production, the U.S. ranks 18th in the world. America’s potential efforts trail countries like Sweden, South Korea and China but also countries like the Bahamas, Ecuador, Eastern Caribbean and Turkey. China, with its government’s hyperfocus on maintaining control and overseeing data, has been working to develop a CBDC for almost a decade.

And the U.S. is probably not close to catching up. Analysts like Harvard economics professor Kenneth Rogoff, who study monetary policy and digital currencies, estimate that the U.S. could be at least a decade away from issuing a digital dollar backed by the Fed. In that time, Rogoff argued in an op-ed earlier this year, the modernization of China’s financial markets and reduction or removal of its currency controls “could deal the dollar’s status a painful blow.”

China has already largely moved away from coin and paper currency; Chinese consumers have racked up more than $41 trillion in mobile transactions, according to a recent research paper from the Brookings Institution, with the lion’s share (92%) going through digital payment processors WeChat Pay and Alipay.

“The reason you could say the U.S. is behind in the digital currency race is I don’t think the U.S. is aware there is a race,” Yaya Fanusie, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, and a former CIA analyst, tells TIME in an interview. “A lot of policymakers are looking at it and concerned…but even with that I just don’t think there’s this sense of urgency because the risk from China is not an immediate threat.” Not only is the U.S. running significantly behind in the development of a CBDC, we are trailing the rest of the world in digital payments broadly.

Kenya, for example, has almost fully digitized its economy through its digital currency and payment system MPESA, making transactions free and almost instantaneous. India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) allows users to transfer money instantly between bank accounts with no cost. Brazil’s PIX facilitates the transfer of money between people and companies in up to 10 seconds. All of these programs work through and are overseen by the countries’ central banks rather than commercial banks or other private companies.

What’s holding the U.S. back?

Critics argue CBDCs are simply a solution in search of a problem and potentially harmful. Many see support from the banking sector as vital to the success of a digital U.S. dollar, however commercial banks in the U.S. have taken a largely adversarial stance. “The proposed benefits of CBDCs to international competitiveness and financial inclusion are theoretical, difficult to measure and may be elusive,” the American Bankers Association said in a statement at a recent congressional hearing on digital currencies. “While the negative consequences for monetary policy, financial stability, financial intermediation, the payments system, and the customers and communities that banks serve could be severe.”

The Bank Policy Institute, which lobbies on behalf of the country’s largest banks, went so far as to argue that neither the Fed nor the U.S. Treasury even has the constitutional authority to issue a digital currency. Commercial banks dominate the U.S. financial system to such a degree that unraveling them would be ostensibly impossible, experts say, they also would be a powerful adversary. Former Goldman Sachs managing director Nomi Prins notes banks have clearly seen the writing on the wall.

“Banks are centralized middlemen with respect to financial transactions,” Prins, author of Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged The World, tells TIME. “The more popular cryptocurrency or digital currency becomes, the fewer profits the banking system can reap from traditional services and verification methods that allow them to hold, take or use their customers’ money, and the more financial power they stand to lose as a result.” Even disruptive financial technologies like PayPal, Venmo and Zelle work through the banking system, rather than around it, thanks in large part to the banks’ power.

Central bankers also generally have concluded that commercial banks are a necessary piece of a potential CBDC ecosystem, thanks to their pre-existing regulatory guardrails and ability to move money. Top policymakers at the Fed, including influential Vice Chair for Supervision Randal Quarles, have joined the banking industry in arguing that a digital dollar “could pose significant and concrete risks” and that the potential benefits “are unclear.” Fed Governor Christopher Waller said in August he was “skeptical that a Federal Reserve CBDC would solve any major problem confronting the U.S. payment system,” in a recent speech he titled “CBDC: A Solution in Search of a Problem?”  Further, there’s no central U.S. authority with direct oversight or responsibility for any of this.

In addition to the Fed, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Thrift Supervision, Financial Stability Oversight Council, Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and the Office of Financial Research would all have some stake in the development of a digital currency backed by the central bank, to say nothing of state and regional authorities.

“The U.S. has an active congressional debate, which is beneficial and very important,” Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard tells TIME in an interview. “But the U.S. also has a diffusion of regulatory responsibility with no single payments regulator at the federal level, which is not as helpful. That diffusion of responsibility is part of what creates the lags that our system is working through.” None of this exists in China where the Chinese Communist Party oversees the central bank, commercial banks and their regulators and is unconcerned with privacy.

How a downgraded dollar could hamstring U.S. influence

An American CBDC could have lasting geopolitical impact and curb a longstanding international effort to reduce reliance on the mighty U.S. dollar. “Why we should care about this is that the U.S. financial system is not intrinsically dominant,” Fanusie says. “Other countries, both allies and adversaries, are sincerely interested in finding ways to decrease their dependence on the dollar.” With the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve and primary funding currency, the U.S. can restrict access to funding from financial markets, limit countries’ ability to sell their natural resources and hinder or block individuals’ access to the banking sector.

“Other countries, both allies and adversaries, are sincerely interested in finding ways to decrease their dependence on the dollar”

While dollar dominance has rankled much of the world for decades, there has been no suitable replacement for the U.S., with its massive economy, sophisticated banking system and sprawling international presence. China is in the midst of a long-term push to simultaneously grow its financial markets and internationalize its currency. Both have the end goal of allowing China and its allies to limit the ability of the U.S. to enforce its will through economic actions like sanctions. Fanusie wrote in a January report that being the first major economy to roll out a digital currency is “part of China’s geopolitical ambitions.”

However, the renminbi will not become the world’s reserve currency — at least, not any time soon. But what China has done by being in the forefront of CBDC development is put itself in position to take the lead on development and implementation of rules and regulations for digital currencies on a global scale. “While America led the global revolution in payments half a century ago with magnetic striped credit and debit cards, China is leading the new revolution in digital payments,” writes Brookings’ economic studies fellow Aaron Klein.

Why should central banks offer digital currencies?

Over the past decade, digital currencies, including cryptocurrency and “stablecoins,” have sprung up like weeds. Some purport to be just as safe as dollars, but are backed by questionable assets. In a crisis regulators worry they could fluctuate wildly in value or lose their value altogether. Having central banks, which are responsible for the printing and circulation of coins and paper money, issue digital currencies is in part a reaction to this private sector activity, Shin says, “accelerated by the potential encroachment of private digital currencies, and the need to preserve the role of money as a public good.”

“The status quo is not an option”

Notably, a U.S. digital currency could provide benefits to everyday people. It could increase financial inclusion and fix flaws in current payments systems, Shin adds, citing findings of a recent BIS study.

For example, transferring money between U.S.-based bank accounts, even those held by the same person, can take days. The process can be even longer when crossing international borders. Credit and debit card transactions similarly don’t settle for days and come with significant fees for merchants, who sometimes pass them on to customers. CBDCs could grant universal access to the banking sector and quickly facilitate the distribution of paychecks and government funds, reducing the need for costly bank workarounds like check cashing and payday loans.

Championing CBDCs

Brainard has been pushing the Fed to move on a digital currency for years, but there was little urgency from others at the Fed or in Congress. Companies developing their own currencies, consumers investing in cryptocurrency and the COVID-19 pandemic making paper notes anathema to many Americans changed that. Before COVID-19, Facebook’s Libra project (now known as Diem) showed lawmakers and central bankers the potential for a private company to step in and fill the void by effectively minting its own currency that could be spent by users around the world.

“The status quo is not an option,” Diem co-creator David Marcus said at the International Monetary Fund’s 2019 fall meeting. “Whether it’s Libra or something else, the world is going to change in a profound way.” Brainard, for one, has taken notice. “My own thinking is that stablecoins and related private sector initiatives are moving very rapidly, which makes it incumbent on us to move more rapidly,” she tells TIME. “That is why I have been pushing to advance outreach, cross-border engagement, and policy and technology research for several years now.” So-called stablecoins — unregulated digital currencies created by private companies that purport to represent dollars but are completely unregulated — have become a significant worry for lawmakers and shown the importance of considering tying currency to a central bank.

“It’s getting harder and harder for community banks to compete for new customers when big tech companies can afford to spend billions on marketing and technology,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, tells TIME. “But many of these new ‘fintech’ products don’t come with the consumer protections, federal backing or customer service and relationships with the community that small banks and credit unions provide.”

During a hearing on digital currencies in June, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, compared stablecoins to worthless “wildcat notes” that were issued by speculators in the 19th century. Her expert at that hearing, Lev Menand, an Academic Fellow and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School, went further in his testimony, calling stablecoins “dangerous to both their users and … to the broader financial system.”

With private companies pushing deeper into the digital currency space, rival countries seeking to seize leadership and a public that is moving further away from physical currency, the U.S. is facing a world in which it may not control or even lead the world’s payment systems. That would make the future of money look very different from the past.

Take Advantage of This ‘Fantastic Opportunity’ To Pay Off Student Loans

If you have federal student loan debt, you now have approximately six months to prepare for payments on that debt to restart. Last week, President Joe Biden’s administration announced it is stretching out the moratorium on federal student loan payments until Jan. 31, 2022. This means that payments will not resume until next year and interest rates will remain at 0%. The latest extension comes shortly after two-thirds of borrowers said it would be difficult for them to afford payments if they resumed the following month, according to a recent survey by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“What a fantastic opportunity for borrowers to take more control of their finances,” says Laurel Taylor, CEO and founder of, a student debt repayment platform. “It will be near two years of payment suspension as we look to January 31. I would really encourage borrowers to maximize this opportunity — whatever that means to them.” The freeze on federal student loan payments was originally set to expire at the end of September. This latest extension will be the “final” one, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Education.

Pro Tip

Make sure your address and email are up-to-date with your loan servicer, so you don’t miss any important information about your student loans and the temporary extension. That means any student loan debt you had before the COVID-19 pandemic will be waiting for you when repayment begins at the end of the forbearance period, unless the policy changes again. Experts say you shouldn’t count on any of your debt disappearing in the meantime, because it’s unlikely that there will be broad student loan forgiveness —not even the $10,000 that Biden promised during the campaign, that is.

“I don’t see $10,000 in student loan forgiveness coming. I just don’t think he legally can without Congress,” says Robert Farrington, founder and CEO of The College Investor, a site providing advice on student loan debt. “But I do think he’s able to do a lot of good with the powers he has, such as reforming programs that already exist.”

What to Do in Light of Biden’s Extension of Student Loan Relief

Given this latest update, now may be a good time to rethink your student loan repayment strategy. Keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different, but here’s what you should do in light of the extension of the student loan payment freeze, according to experts we spoke to.

If You’ve Experienced Job Loss or Decrease in Income

Use this time to give yourself breathing room to address other financial priorities. If you’re unemployed or your income has decreased over the last year, continue to focus on covering your necessary expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, transportation, and the like. “This relief is targeted toward people who have experienced a job loss or a decrease in income. I advise them to focus on necessary living expenses and try not to have that guilt or worry about setting money aside for student loans because this time is for you,” says Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez, personal finance coach and founder of Zero-Based Budget, a financial education platform on Instagram.

Another thing you can do to lower your monthly payment when it’s due is apply for income-driven repayment. An income-driven repayment plan is a monthly payment based on your family size and a percentage of discretionary income. If you earn less than 150% of the federal poverty line, your payments could be as low as $0.  To sign up, go to this federal student aid page, and click on “log in” at the top to start an application. If you are already enrolled in an income-driven plan and your income has changed, ask your lender to recertify your income before payments restart. If you make all your payments on time, an IDR plan allows your loans to be forgiven at the end of the repayment period — even if they aren’t fully repaid.

If you’re unsure what the best repayment option is for you, reach out to your loan servicer for help or go to  “Be mindful that your payments may not actually cover the interest that’s accumulating on your loan, which means you could end up paying a significant amount in interest,” says Zuniga-Sanchez. “I want to put that caution out there because it’s very important to be informed when we are making these changes to our student loan repayment strategies.”

If You Still Have a Job or Income

You can use these extra months to help divert some money toward building an emergency fund or pay more pressing high-interest debt, such as credit cards or private student loans.  “Nobody should be paying extra payments toward their loans at this time. Even if you’re able to, you should save that money and eliminate other debts,” says Farrington.

If you haven’t already, prioritize building an emergency fund first. Try to set aside three to six months’ of expenses, but don’t feel overwhelmed if saving that much feels like an unattainable goal right now. Start small, and go from there. Next, focus on paying down high-interest debt — these strategies can help you do that. You can also use extra funds to invest in retirement accounts, such as a 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA, or pay down any lower-interest debt you may have, such as medical debt or a car loan.  If you want to pay down your student loans during this 0% interest period, Farrington suggests putting that money in a savings account and then making a lump sum payment right before payments start up again. “That way, you keep that money as long as you can,” he says.

If You Are Behind on Student Loan Payments

Because all collection activities will resume once the extension ends, try to rehabilitate your loans as soon as possible. Default on federal loans happens when a payment is 270 days past due, sending your loans to collections and exposing you to damaged credit, garnished wages, and seized tax refunds. “Get out of default so that as payments and collection activity resume, you’re not left getting your wages or taxes garnished,” says Farrington.

To rehabilitate your student loans and get out of default, you’ll need to contact your loan servicer, fill out an application, and follow a specific process. If your application is approved and you make nine on-time payments, even during this forbearance period, your loans will typically transfer to a new loan servicer, and you’ll be out of default.

If loan rehabilitation isn’t possible for you at this time, there is additional deferment and forbearance outside of COVID-19 relief that can give you more time to get back on your feet. For example, there’s unemployment deferment and economic hardship deferment, which both temporarily suspend payments on your student loans. But these options should be your last resort.

The Bottom Line

If you’re part of the majority, you likely haven’t made student loan payments in almost two years. Even though the forbearance period has been extended, now is an excellent opportunity to review your finances and make a plan for resuming payments come next year.  For example, you may need to trim or readjust certain spending areas now, so you have room in your budget in 2022 when payment is due. Based on the most recent announcement, it’s safe to assume student loan payments will restart in 2022 and it’s better to get ahead of the curve while you can. “Two years of suspension on student loan payments is unprecedented,” says Laurel, “and it is an opportunity for borrowers to get ahead.”

Janet Yellen Warns, US Could Default On National Debt In October

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned congressional leaders that the U.S. is on track to default on the national debt in October if the White House and Congress are unable to raise the debt limit. In a letter, Yellen said that the Treasury Department would likely run out of cash and exhaust “extraordinary” measures to keep the federal government within its legal borrowing limit at some point next month.

“Once all available measures and cash on hand are fully exhausted, the United States of America would be unable to meet its obligations for the first time in our history,” Yellen said. “Given this uncertainty, the Treasury Department is not able to provide a specific estimate of how long the extraordinary measures will last. However, based on our best and most recent information, the most likely outcome is that cash and extraordinary measures will be exhausted during the month of October,” she continued. Yellen wrote the letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The Treasury Department has taken so-called extraordinary measures to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on the national debt since the federal debt limit was reimposed on Aug. 1. If the Treasury Department runs out of ways to stave off a default without borrowing more money, the inability of the U.S. to pay its debts could send debilitating shockwaves through the financial system. Yellen urged lawmakers for months to raise the debt limit before it was reimposed in August, warning that a delay could “cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy and global financial markets.” She has since pleaded with Congress to give Treasury the ability to pay debts already approved by previous presidents and congressional majorities.

“Waiting until the last minute to suspend or increase the debt limit can cause serious harm to business and consumer confidence, raise short-term borrowing costs for taxpayers, and negatively impact the credit rating of the United States,” Yellen wrote. “At a time when American families, communities, and businesses are still suffering from the effects of the ongoing global pandemic, it would be particularly irresponsible to put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk.” Even so, Democrats and Republicans are locked in a stalemate over who bears responsibility for protecting the full faith and credit of the U.S. The White House and Democratic leaders are planning to tie a debt limit increase to another must-pass government funding bill, daring Republicans to trigger both a government shutdown and a default by opposing the measure.

“We fully expect Congress to act promptly to suspend the debt limit and protect the full faith and credit of the United States and we expect them to do that in a bipartisan way just as they did three times during the prior administration,” said a White House official. But Republicans have refused to raise the debt ceiling unless spending cuts and debt reduction programs are attached.

$400-Billion New City In The American Desert Planned

The cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York and the social services of Stockholm: Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person “new city in America” and appointed a world-famous architect to design it. Now, he just needs somewhere to build it — and $400 billion in funding. The former Walmart executive last week unveiled plans for Telosa, a sustainable metropolis that he hopes to create, from scratch, in the American desert. The ambitious 150,000-acre proposal promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production and a purportedly drought-resistant water system. A so-called “15-minute city design” will allow residents to access their workplaces, schools and amenities within a quarter-hour commute of their homes.

Although planners are still scouting for locations, possible targets include Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas and the Appalachian region, according to the project’s official website. The announcement was accompanied by a series of digital renderings by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the architecture firm hired to bring Lore’s utopian dream to life. The images show residential buildings covered with greenery and imagined residents enjoying abundant open space. With fossil-fuel-powered vehicles banned in the city, autonomous vehicles are pictured traveling down sun-lit streets alongside scooters and pedestrians.

Another image depicts a proposed skyscraper, dubbed Equitism Tower, which is described as “a beacon for the city.” The building features elevated water storage, aeroponic farms and an energy-producing photovoltaic roof that allow it to “share and distribute all it produces.” The first phase of construction, which would accommodate 50,000 residents across 1,500 acres, comes with an estimated cost of $25 billion. The whole project would be expected to exceed $400 billion, with the city reaching its target population of 5 million within 40 years. Funding will come from “various sources,” project organizers said, including private investors, philanthropists, federal and state grants, and economic development subsidies. Planners hope to approach state officials “very soon,” with a view to welcoming the first residents by 2030.

A new urban model In addition to innovative urban design, the project also promises transparent governance and what it calls a “new model for society.” Taking its name from the ancient Greek word “telos” (a term used by the philosopher Aristotle to describe an inherent or higher purpose), the city would allow residents to “participate in the decision-making and budgeting process.” A community endowment will meanwhile offer residents shared ownership of the land. In a promotional video, Lore described his proposal as the “most open, most fair and most inclusive city in the world.” Lore founded before selling it to Walmart and joining the retail giant as head of US e-commerce in 2016. He left the company earlier this year, saying that his retirement plans included working on a reality TV show, advising startups and building a “city of the future.”

On Telosa’s official website, Lore explains that he was inspired by American economist and social theorist Henry George. The investor cites capitalism’s “significant flaws,” attributing many of them to “the land ownership model that America was built on.” “Cities that have been built to date from scratch are more like real estate projects,” Lore said in a promotional video for the project. “They don’t start with people at the center. Because if you started with people at the center, you would immediately think, ‘OK, what’s the mission and what are the values?’

BIG’s founder, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, is meanwhile quoted as saying that Telosa “embodies the social and environmental care of Scandinavian culture, and the freedom and opportunity of a more American culture.” It is not the first new city being planned by Ingels’ firm, which famously installed a ski slope on top of a Copenhagen power plant and has co-designed Google’s new headquarters in London and California. In January 2020, Japanese carmaker Toyota revealed that it had commissioned BIG to create a master plan for a new 2,000-person city in the foothills of Mount Fuji. Although significantly smaller than Telosa, the project, dubbed Woven City, promises autonomous vehicle testing, smart technology and robot-assisted living.

Bitcoin Is Now Official Currency In This Country

El Salvador has become the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender on September 7th, a real-world experiment proponents say will lower commission costs for billions of dollars sent from abroad but which critics warned may fuel money laundering.  The change means businesses should accept payment in bitcoin alongside the U.S. dollar, which has been El Salvador’s official currency since 2001 and will remain legal tender.  President Nayib Bukele, who has pushed for adopting the cryptocurrency, says it will help Salvadorans save about $400 million the government calculates is spent annually on commissions for remittances, while giving access to financial services to the unbanked.

The 40-year-old president is popular with the public but has been accused of eroding democracy, including by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.  Doubters say bitcoin could increase regulatory and financial risks for the Central American nation, and polls show Salvadorans are wary of the volatility of the cryptocurrency, which can shed hundreds of dollars in value in a day.  To warm up a skeptical public, Bukele has promised every citizen $30 in bitcoin if they sign up for a government digital wallet. Ahead of the launch, El Salvador bought 400 bitcoins, Bukele said, helping drive the currency price above $52,000 for the first time since May.

Underscoring the risks, bitcoin weakened about 4% to $50,516 hours later. In the early hours of Tuesday, El Salvador’s wallet had not appeared on Apple Inc, Google and Huawei’s app download platforms, however, prompting a series of tweets from Bukele, including one with a red-faced “angry” emoticon.  “Release him! @Apple @Google and @Huawei,” Bukele said. The wallet was later available from Huawei.  Some citizens were optimistic. “It’s going to be beneficial … we have family in the United States and they can send money at no cost, whereas banks charge,” said Reina Isabel Aguilar, a store owner in El Zonte Beach, some 49 km (30 m) southwest of capital San Salvador.  Known as Bitcoin Beach, the town of El Zonte aims to become one of the world’s first bitcoin economies. However, uptake may be slowed by low internet penetration across the country. It remains unclear whether businesses will be sanctioned if they do not adopt the new currency.

In the run-up to the launch, the government installed ATMs that will allow bitcoin to be converted into dollars and withdrawn without commission from the digital wallet, called Chivo.  Bukele on Monday asked for patience.  “Like all innovations, El Salvador’s bitcoin process has a learning curve,” he said on Twitter. “Not everything will be achieved in a day, or in a month.”  In barely two years in office, Bukele has taken control of almost all levers of power. Last week, top judges appointed by his lawmakers ruled he could serve a second term. Bukele has promised to clean up graft, but the Biden administration recently put some of his close allies on a corruption blacklist.  Analysts fear adopting the cryptocurrency could fuel money laundering.. After the bitcoin law was approved, rating agency Moody’s downgraded El Salvador’s creditworthiness, while the country’s dollar-denominated bonds have also come under pressure.

The move has muddied the outlook for El Salvador’s quest for more than $1 billion in financing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  But Bukele, who does not shy away from controversy, on Monday retweeted a video that showed his face superimposed on actor Jaime Foxx’s in a scene from Django Unchained, a Quentin Tarantino film about American slavery. The video portrayed Bukele whipping a slave trader who had the IMF emblem emblazoned on his face.  Bukele later deleted the retweet.  In his own tweet, Bukele said: “We must break the paradigms of the past. El Salvador has the right to advance towards the first world.”

Thiru Vignarajah Named CEO Of Capital Plus Financial

Sri Lankan American Thiru Vignarajah, who recently fell short in the race for the Baltimore, Maryland, mayoral race last year, was named to a post in the financial industry. Vignarajah, the former federal and state prosecutor who has run high-profile campaigns for mayor of Baltimore and Baltimore City state’s attorney in recent years, Aug. 30 was named the chief executive officer at Capital Plus Financial, a community development financial institution and subsidiary of Crossroads Systems, Inc.

“Thiru’s personal journey and record of leadership and service embody the values that define Capital Plus,” former Capital Plus Financial CEO Eric Donnelly, who will remain CEO of the holding company, Crossroads Systems Inc., said in a statement. “It is hard to imagine a better person to help write the next chapter of our remarkable story.” Capital Plus bills itself as a company dedicated to closing the wealth gap in the U.S., according to a local Patch report.

The company said its loan portfolio balance grew to more than $130 million over the past year, and that it helped small businesses survive the pandemic by approving nearly 480,000 federal Paycheck Protection Program loans amounting to $7.6 billion, more than 80 percent of which went directly to companies and independent contractors of color, the report notes.

“Capital Plus has emerged as a national leader in tackling the barriers that fuel the racial wealth gap, from access to capital and low financial literacy to discrimination in mortgage lending and lack of credit history,” Vignarajah said in a statement. “This is a pioneering community financial institution that is not just talking about these longstanding problems, but finding ways to solve them. I am honored by the opportunity to build on this success and continue this mission-driven work,” he said.

India’s Chennai Turning into a Data Center Hub

Tamil Nadu’s capital city Chennai after being the ‘Detroit’ of India for housing several automobile makers is turning out to become a major data center hub. With the central government and Reserve Bank of India insisting on players to have their data stored in India, the data center business is getting a boost.

“With three submarine cable landing stations (one more to come), a comfortable power supply position (data Centre capacity is generally measured in MW), the availability of market and knowledge pool, Chennai is an ideal location,” Nikhil Rathi, CEO and Founder of Web Werks India Pvt Ltd, a major player told IANS.

Adding further he said the Covid-19 lockdown saw huge amount of data traffic and it is growing. Web Werks has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Tamil Nadu government to build a 20MW data Centre here at an outlay of about Rs.700 crore and will have a headcount of 100.

For Web Works, Chennai will be its second largest location in India. The company has its data centers in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi in India. It also has data centers overseas. The Tamil Nadu government is working to come out with a separate policy for data centers to strengthen the ecosystem.

“Most common requirements of data Centre’s pertaining to housing regulations and power are being worked upon to encourage data Centre investments and further downstream investments,” the state government said.

Rathi said all buildings cannot house a data center. The building that houses a data Centre will generally need a higher ceiling. “The buildings are machine specific,” Rathi added.

According to the state government, there are six submarine data cables with a bandwidth of 14.8 Tbps. The rural areas in Tamil Nadu are also well connected with more than 12,524 village panchayats with a minimum scalable bandwidth of 1 Gbps. As per TRAI, Chennai is among the top five service areas in India for broadband subscriptions.

The state government has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with nine companies for setting up data centers with a total proposed investment of Rs 16,927 crore and employment potential of over 9,000 jobs over the last two years.

National and international companies, including Yotta, Princeton Digital, ST Telemedia, Netmagic and Adani are in the process of setting up their data centers in Chennai. The Ambattur locality in Chennai is the preferred choice for data center companies owing to its favourable geographical conditions and existing data center ecosystem.

Siruseri is the next ideal destination due to the presence of several IT companies, which offers a great market opportunity, the government said.  Rathi said there is a good market for data centres in Southern cities like Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad owing to the concentration of IT companies, talent pool.

He said Tamil Nadu has the single window clearance which eases the regulatory clearance process. As per a JLL report, Mumbai and Chennai are expected to drive 73 per cent of the sector’s total capacity addition during 2021-23, while other cities like Hyderabad and Delhi-NCR emerging as new hotspots.

India’s data center sector will require investment of $3.7 billion over the next three years in order to fulfill the 6 million square feet greenfield development, JLL said.

Data centres in Chennai:

STTelemedia Data Center
NTT Netmagic
NTT Netmagic (Upcoming expansion)
Princeton Digital (Upcoming)
ST Telemedia (Upcoming)
Siruseri SIPCOT IT Park
Nxtra site 1
Reliance Jio
Nxtra site 1 (Upcoming)
Adani Group (Upcoming)
Technoelectric (Upcoming)
Mantra Data Centres (Upcoming)

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Moves Forward in US Senate

The US Senate has voted to move forward on a bipartisan infrastructure bill after weeks of negotiations last week, clearing a key procedural hurdle on a bill that includes $550 billion in new spending for infrastructure projects around the country, media reports here said.

In the 67 to 32 vote, 17 Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Democrats to advance the bill. The proposal includes some of President Biden’s top domestic priorities and provides billions of dollars in funding for bridges, roads, broadband internet, clean water, public transit and more over the next five years. It encapsulates so-called “hard” infrastructure and is separate from Democratic efforts to pass a $3.5 trillion package for so-called “soft” infrastructure, which includes policies like Medicare expansion and universal child care.

“This deal signals to the world that our democracy can function, deliver, and do big things,” President Biden said in a statement before the vote. “As we did with the transcontinental railroad and the interstate highway, we will once again transform America and propel us into the future.”

The long-awaited text of a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package has come to be realized after several months of negotiations and a month after President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators first announced such a deal.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act focuses on investments in roads, railways, bridges and broadband internet, but it does not include investments that Biden has referred to as “human infrastructure,” including money allocated for child care and tax credits for families. Democrats are looking to address those priorities separately. The package calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years.

The bipartisan bill would be funded by unspent emergency relief funds, corporate user fees and strengthened tax enforcement for crypto currencies, among “other bipartisan measures,” the White House said. The bill would also use roughly $53 billion from states that returned unused enhanced federal unemployment money.

Former President Trump has termed the “so-called bipartisan bill” terrible, and vowed to primary GOP Senators who vote for it.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the final product, just over 2,700 pages long, will be “great for the American people.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will consider amendments this week and a final vote could be held “in a matter of days.”

“It’s been decades since Congress passed such a significant standalone investment,” the New York Democrat said, “and I salute the hard work done that was here by everybody.”

Here’s a look at what’s included in the agreement:


Roads, bridges, major projects: $110 billion

Passenger and freight rail: $66 billion

Public transit: $39 billion

Airports: $25 billion

Port infrastructure: $17 billion

Transportation safety programs: $11 billion

Electric vehicles: $7.5 billion

Zero and low-emission buses and ferries: $7.5 billion

Reconnect communities: $1 billion

Other infrastructure

Broadband: $65 billion

Power infrastructure: $73 billion

Clean drinking water: $55 billion

Resilience and Western water storage: $50 billion

Environmental remediation: $21 billion

How would they pay for it?

According to a recent fact sheet from the White House released a few days before the final legislation was unveiled, the package will be financed through a combination of funds, including repurposing unspent emergency relief funds from the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening tax enforcement for cryptocurrencies.

Goals of the plan

Back in June, the White House shared a fact sheet with the aims of the package: Improve healthy, sustainable transportation options for millions of Americans by modernizing and expanding transit and rail networks across the country while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Repair and rebuild roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

Build a national network of electric vehicle chargers along highways and in rural and disadvantaged communities.

Electrify thousands of school and transit buses across the country to reduce harmful emissions and drive domestic manufacturing of zero emission vehicles and components.

Eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes, delivering clean drinking water to up to 10 million American families and more than 400,000 schools and child care facilities that currently don’t have it, including in tribal nations and disadvantaged communities.

Connect every American to reliable high-speed internet.

Upgrade the power infrastructure, including by building thousands of miles of new, resilient transmission lines to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy, including through a new grid authority.

Create a first-of-its-kind Infrastructure Financing Authority that will leverage billions of dollars into clean transportation and clean energy.

Make the largest investment in addressing legacy pollution in American history.

Prepare more infrastructure for impacts of climate change, cyberattacks and extreme weather events.

India Launches E-RUPI Digital Payment Platform

(E-RUPI Digital Payment Solution is a cashless and contactless instrument for digital payment. It is a QR code or SMS string-based e-Voucher, which is delivered to the mobile of the beneficiaries)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched digital payment solution e-RUPI, a person and purpose specific cashless digital payment solution, via videoconference on Monday, August 2, 2021. Speaking on the occasion, he said the eRUPI voucher was a symbol of how India was progressing by connecting people’s lives with technology. He expressed happiness that this futuristic reform initiative had come at a time when the country was celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav on the 75th anniversary of Independence.

e-RUPI is a cashless and contactless instrument for digital payment. It gets delivered to the mobile phones of beneficiaries through a QR code or SMS string. The users of this new one-time payment mechanism will be able to redeem the voucher without a card, digital payments app or internet banking access, at the service provider.

The platform has been developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on its unified payments interface (UPI) platform, in collaboration with the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the National Health Authority.

The PMO in a recent statement said that e-RUPI can be used for delivering services under schemes meant for providing drugs and nutritional support under Mother and Child welfare schemes, TB eradication programs, drugs and diagnostics under schemes like Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, fertilizer subsidies etc. It added that even the private sector can leverage these digital vouchers as part of their employee welfare and corporate social responsibility programs.

Speaking at the launch of the new platform, Modi said that the e-RUPI voucher is going to play a major role in strengthening the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme by the government. He further said e-RUPI will help in assuring targeted, transparent and leakage-free delivery for all.

Modi said that e-RUPI is a person as well as a purpose-specific payment platform. The prime minister further noted that technology is being seen as a tool to help the poor. He added that technology is bringing transparency in DBT. Speaking on the adoption of technology, Modi said that India is showing the world it is not behind in adopting new technology. Be it in terms of innovations or usage of technology in the delivery of services, India is capable of being a global leader.

He said that the work done in the field of digital infrastructure and digital transactions across the country during the past 6-7 years is being applauded by the world today. He added that the government is using direct benefit transfer to provide benefits of 300 schemes ranging from LPG to ration to pension directly to beneficiaries.

In addition to the government, he stated, if any organization wanted to help someone in their treatment, education or for any other work, then they would be able to give an eRUPI voucher instead of cash. This would ensure that the money given by him was used for the work for which the amount had been given.

The Prime Minister observed, “eRUPI will ensure that the money is being used for the purpose for which any help or any benefit is being provided’’. There was a time when technology was considered a domain of the rich people and there was no scope for technology in a poor country like India. “Today we are seeing technology as a tool to help the poor, a tool for their progress,’’ he pointed out.

Modi asserted how technology was bringing in transparency and integrity in transactions and creating new opportunities and making them available to the poor. For reaching today’s unique product, the foundation was prepared over the years by creating the JAM system, which connected mobile and Aadhaar. “Benefits of JAM took some time to be visible to people and we saw how we could help the needy during the lockdown period while other countries were struggling to help their people,’’ he stressed.

The development of digital transactions had empowered the poor and deprived, small businesses, farmers and tribal population. This could be felt in the record 300 crore UPI transactions in July, amounting to ₹6 lakh crore, he highlighted.

India was proving to the world that “we are second to none in adopting technology and adapting to it” through innovations and use of technology in service delivery. The country had the ability to give global leadership alongside major countries of the world, he added.

As Amazon Stocks Stumble, Jeff Bezos Loses Title As Richest Person On The Planet

Jeff Bezos, the multibillionaire has lost the title as the richest person on earth as his net worth actually tumbled — by $13.9 billion in one day, August 2nd.   Bezos’ net worth fell because Amazon’s AMZN, +0.12% stock price took a hit last week, sliding 7% after the company reported less-than-anticipated second-quarter growth.

The drop in Bezos’ net worth allowed for French tycoon Bernard Arnault to claim the No. 1 spot of the ultra-wealthy. Arnault heads the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH LVMH, +1.49%,  whose subsidiaries include Louis Vuitton, Sephora, Moët & Chandon and Tiffany & Co.

It might seem that a global pandemic and economic recession would set the luxury goods market back a bit, but Arnault remarkably grew his wealth by nearly $100 billion during the first year of the pandemic.

Arnault’s net worth sat at $195.8 billion as of Monday, while Bezos’ hovered at $192.6 billion.  Bezos made history in 2020 as the first person ever to be worth $200 billion, as Amazon enjoyed big gains from pandemic lockdowns.

The two billionaires had jockeyed for the top spot throughout May and June of this year, but the recent toss up put an end to Bezos’ 50-day streak at the top of the heap, according to Forbes.

In total, there are 2,755 billionaires worldwide, 86% of which are richer than they were a year ago for a combined $5 trillion increase in wealth in 2020.  Meanwhile, the median net worth for American families is $121,700.

US Economy Grows At 6.5% In 2nd Quarter

The US economy grew at a lower-than-anticipated annual rate of 6.5 per cent in the second quarter, marking the return to an above pre-pandemic level of overall economic activity, the Commerce Department reported. However, the 6.5 per cent gain was considerably less than the 8.4 per cent Dow Jones estimate, Xinhua news agency reported.

In terms of real gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic activity — the economy has now recovered in that has grown bigger than its pre-pandemic size. Earlier this month, the National Bureau of Economic Research designated the pandemic recession as the shortest on record, lasting just two months: March and April 2020.

In the first quarter, real GDP increased by 6.3 per cent, 0.1 percentage point less than previously reported, according to the latest data issued by the Department on Thursday. The increase in real GDP in the second quarter reflected increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), non-residential fixed investment, exports, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by decreases in private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, and federal government spending, the Commerce Department report showed.

Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased. The GDP data was released a day after the Federal Reserve signaled that it was inching closer to tapering its asset purchases amid concerns over surging inflation and the rapid spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant.

In the latest update to its World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday projected the US economy would grow by 7.0 per cent this year, up 0.6 percentage point from its April projection.

The upward revision reflects the anticipated legislation of additional fiscal support in the second half of 2021 and improved health metrics. In 2022, the US economy is expected to grow by 4.9 per cent, according to the IMF.


The Brutal Truth About Bitcoin

Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, has been on a wild ride since its creation in 2009. Earlier this year, the price of one Bitcoin surged to over $60,000, an eightfold increase in 12 months. Then it fell to half that value in just a few weeks. Values of other cryptocurrencies such as Dogecoin have risen and fallen even more sharply, often based just on Elon Musk’s tweets. Even after the recent fall in their prices, the total market value of all cryptocurrencies now exceeds $1.5 trillion, a staggering amount for virtual objects that are nothing more than computer code. Are cryptocurrencies the wave of the future and should you be using and investing in them? And do the massive swings in their prices—nearly $1 trillion was wiped off their total value in May—portend trouble for the financial system?

Bitcoin was created (by a person or group that remains unidentified to this day) as a way to conduct transactions without the intervention of a trusted third party, such as a central bank or financial institution. Its emergence amid the global financial crisis, which shook trust in banks and even governments, was perfectly timed. Bitcoin enabled transactions using only digital identities, granting users some degree of anonymity. This made Bitcoin the preferred currency for illicit activities, including recent ransomware attacks. It powered the shadowy darknet of illegal online commerce much like PayPal helped the rise of eBay by making payments easier.

While Bitcoin’s roller-coaster prices garner attention, of far more consequence is the revolution in money and finance it has set off that will ultimately affect every one of us, for better and worse. As it grew in popularity, Bitcoin became cumbersome, slow, and expensive to use. It takes about 10 minutes to validate most transactions using the cryptocurrency and the transaction fee has been at a median of about $20 this year. Bitcoin’s unstable value has also made it an unviable medium of exchange. It is as though your $10 bill could buy you a beer on one day and a bottle of fine wine on another.

Moreover, it has become clear that Bitcoin does not offer true anonymity. The government’s success in tracking and retrieving part of the Bitcoin ransom paid to the hacking collective DarkSide in the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack has heightened doubts about the security and nontraceability of Bitcoin transactions. While Bitcoin has failed in its stated objectives, it has become a speculative investment. This is puzzling. It has no intrinsic value and is not backed by anything.

Bitcoin devotees will tell you that, like gold, its value comes from its scarcity—Bitcoin’s computer algorithm mandates a fixed cap of 21 million digital coins (nearly 19 million have been created so far). But scarcity by itself can hardly be a source of value. Bitcoin investors seem to be relying on the greater fool theory—all you need to profit from an investment is to find someone willing to buy the asset at an even higher price.

Despite their high valuations on paper, a collapse of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is unlikely to rattle the financial system. Banks have mostly stayed on the sidelines. As with any speculative bubble, naive investors who come to the party late are at greatest risk of losses. The government should certainly caution retail investors that, much like in the GameStop saga, they act at their own peril. Securities that enable speculation on Bitcoin prices are already regulated, but there is not much more the government can or ought to do.

Bitcoin is not innocuous. Transactions are processed by “miners” using massive amounts of computing power in return for rewards in the form of Bitcoin. By some estimates, the Bitcoin network consumes as much energy as entire countries like Argentina and Norway, not to mention the mountains of electronic waste from specialized machines used for such mining operations that burn out rapidly.

Whatever Bitcoin’s eventual fate, its blockchain technology is truly ingenious and groundbreaking. Bitcoin has shown how programs running on networks of computers can be harnessed to securely conduct payments, within and between countries, without relying on avaricious financial institutions that charge high fees. For migrant workers sending remittances back to their home countries, for instance, such fees are a major burden. Technologies that make payments cheaper, quicker and easier to track would benefit consumers and businesses, facilitating both domestic and international commerce.

The technology is not without risks. Facebook plans to issue its own cryptocurrency called Diem intended to make digital payments easier. Unlike Bitcoin, Diem would be fully backed by reserves of U.S. dollars or other major currencies, ensuring stable value. But, as with its other ostensibly high-minded initiatives, Facebook can hardly be trusted to put the public’s welfare above its own. The prospect of multinational corporations one day issuing their own unbacked cryptocurrencies worldwide is deeply disquieting. Such currencies won’t threaten the U.S. dollar, but could wipe out the currencies of smaller and less developed countries.

Variants of Bitcoin’s technology are also making many financial products and services available to the masses at low cost, directly connecting savers and borrowers. These developments and the possibilities created by the new technologies have spurred central banks to consider issuing digital versions of their own currencies. ChinaJapan, and Sweden are already conducting trials of their digital currencies.

Ironically, rather than truly democratizing finance, some of these innovations may exacerbate inequality. Unequal financial literacy and digital access might result in sophisticated investors garnering the benefits while the less well off, dazzled by new technologies, take on risks they do not fully comprehend. Computer algorithms could worsen entrenched racial and other biases in credit scoring and financial decisions, rather than reducing them. The ubiquity of digital payments could also destroy any remaining vestiges of privacy in our day-to-day lives. While Bitcoin’s roller-coaster prices garner attention, of far more consequence is the revolution in money and finance it has set off that will ultimately affect every one of us, for better and worse.

Pandemic Leaves Indians Mired In Massive Medical Debts

NEW DELHI (AP) — As coronavirus cases ravaged India this spring, Anil Sharma visited his 24-year-old son Saurav at a private hospital in northwest New Delhi every day for more than two months. In May, as India’s new COVID-19 cases broke global records to reach 400,000 a day, Saurav was put on a ventilator.

The sight of the tube running into Saurav’s throat is seared in Sharma’s mind. “I had to stay strong when I was with him, but immediately after, I would break down as soon as I left the room,” he said. Saurav is home now, still weak and recovering. But the family’s joy is tempered by a mountain of debt that piled up while he was sick. Life has been tentatively returning to normal in India as new coronavirus cases have fallen. But millions are embroiled in a nightmare of huge piles of medical bills. Most Indians don’t have health insurance and costs for COVID-19 treatment have them drowning in debt. Sharma exhausted his savings on paying for an ambulance, tests, medicines and an ICU bed. Then he took out bank loans.

As the costs mounted, he borrowed from friends and relatives. Then, he turned to strangers, pleading online for help on Ketto, an Indian crowdfunding website. Overall, Sharma says he has paid over $50,000 in medical bills. The crowdfunding provided $28,000, but another $26,000 is borrowed money he needs to repay, a kind of debt he has never faced before. “He was struggling for his life and we were struggling to provide him an opportunity to survive,” he said, his voice thick with emotion. “I was a proud father — and now I have become a beggar.”

The pandemic has devastated India’s economy, bringing financial calamity to millions at the mercy of its chronically underfunded and fragmented healthcare system. Experts say such costs are bound to hinder an economic recovery. “What we have is a patchwork quilt of incomplete public insurance and a poor public health system. The pandemic has shown just how creaky and unsustainable these two things are,” said VivekDehejia, an economist who has studied public policy in India. Even before the pandemic, healthcare access in India was a problem. Indians pay about 63% of their medical expenses out-of-pocket. That’s typical of many poor countries with inadequate government services. Data on global personal medical costs from the pandemic are hard to come by, but in India and many other countries treatment for COVID is a huge added burden at a time when hundreds of millions of jobs have vanished.

In India, many jobs returned as cities opened up after a severe lockdown in March 2020, but economists worry about the loss of some 12 million salaried positions. Sharma’s job as a marketing professional was one of them. When he asked his son’s friends to set up the campaign on Ketto to raise funds, Sharma hadn’t seen a paycheck in 18 months. Between April and June this year, 40% of the 4,500 COVID-19 campaigns on the site were for hospitalization costs, the company said. The pandemic has driven 32 million Indians out of the middle class, defined as those earning $10 to $20 a day, according to a Pew Research Center study published in March. It estimated the crisis has increased the number of India’s poor — those with incomes of $2 or less a day — by 75 million.

“If you’re looking at what pushes people into debt or poverty, the top two sources often are out-of-pocket health expenditure and catastrophic costs of treatment,” said K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India. In the northeastern city of Imphal, 2,400 kilometers (1,490 miles) away, Diana Khumanthem lost both her mother and sister to the virus in May. Treatment costs wiped out the family’s savings, and when the private hospital where her sister died wouldn’t release her body for last rites until a bill of about $5,000 was paid, she pawned the family’s gold jewelry to moneylenders.

When that wasn’t enough, asked her friends, relatives and her sister’s colleagues for help. She still owes some $1,000. A health insurance scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018 was intended to cover around 500 million of India’s 1.3 billion people and was a major step toward easing medical costs. But it doesn’t cover the primary care and outpatient costs that comprise most out-of-pocket expenses. So it hasn’t “effectively improved access to care and financial risk protection,” said a working paper by researchers at Duke University.

The program also has been hobbled by disparities in how various states implemented it, said ShawinVitsupakorn, one of the paper’s authors. Another paper, by the Duke Global Health Institute and the Public Health Foundation of India, found costs of ICU hospitalization for COVID-19 are equivalent to nearly 16 months of work for a typical Indian day laborer or seven to 10 months for salaried or self-employed workers.

Meager funding of healthcare, at just 1.6% of India’s GDP, is less, proportionately, than what Laos or Ethiopia spends. At the outbreak’s peak in May, hospitals everywhere were overrun, but public facilities lacked the resources to handle the floods of patients coming in. “The result is a suffering public health system, where the provision of care is often poor, prompting many to flock to private hospitals,” said Dehejia.

A public hospital treated Khumanthem’s mother, but her sister Ranjita was admitted to a private one that cost $1,300 per day. Ranjita was the family’s only earner after Khumanthem left her nursing job last year to return home during the first wave of the virus. She’s now hunting for work while looking after her father and her sister’s 3-year-old son. At her home in Imphal, Khumanthem grieved for her mother by remembering her favorite food — chagempomba, a type of gruel made with vegetables, rice and soybeans. Every few minutes, she looked toward the front gate.

“This is usually the time Ranjita would return home from work,” she said. “I still keep thinking she could walk through the gate any moment now.” Back in New Delhi, Sharma sighed in relief as an ambulance brought his son home from the hospital last week. Saurav needs physiotherapy to build up his weakened muscles, a daily nurse and a long list of medications. It may be weeks before he will be able to stand on his own, and months before the ambitious lawyer who graduated among the top of his class will be able to go to court again.  The costs will continue. “Our first priority was to save him,” Sharma said. “Now we will need to figure out the rest.”

NRI Appointed As Vice-Chairman Of Abu Dhabi Chamber Of Commerce

The crown prince of Abu Dhabi & deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan appointed Indian-origin businessman Yusuffali MA as the vice-chairman of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI). The 65-year-old businessman is the only Indian among the 29-member board. Yusuffali is the chairman and managing director of Lulu Group International,  a chain of hypermarkets and retail companies which is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It was founded in 2000 by Yusuffali in Thrissur district of India’s Kerala.

This is indeed a very proud and emotional moment for me. I am very happy to receive Abu Dhabi’s highest civilian award from the blessed hands of HH Sheikh @MohamedBinZayed, Crown Prince & Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. (1/3) Sheikh Mohamed issued a resolution to form a new board of directors for ADCCI, chaired by Abdullah Mohamed Al Mazrouei and prominent Indian businessman Yusuffali MA as the vice-chairman.

ADCCI is the apex government body of all businesses established in Abu Dhabi and functions as a bridge between the government and the business sector. The mission of this governing body is to contribute towards developing and organize the commercial and trade activities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, increase the competitiveness capabilities of the companies of the private sector, and expand their opportunities through providing high world-class services which would contribute to realizing sustainable development in the Emirate.

“It is truly a very humbling and proud moment in my life. My sincere gratitude to the visionary leadership of this great country and I will strive to do my best towards justifying the great responsibility entrusted upon me. Apart from working for the growth of Abu Dhabi economy and the larger business community, I will sincerely work towards further boosting the Indo-UAE trade relations”, news reports quoted him as saying. Yusuffali arrived in Abu Dhabi 47 years ago and in April 2021, Sheikh Mohamed honored Yusuffali with ‘Abu Dhabi Awards 2021’, the highest civilian honor for his almost five-decade-long contributions in the fields of economic development and philanthropy.

In Retaliation For Critical Coverage, Modi Government Raids Top Indian Media

Indian tax authorities on Thursday, July 21, 2021,  raided one of the country’s most prominent newspapers in what journalists and the political opposition denounced as retaliation for the outlet’s hard-nosed coverage of the government’s pandemic response. The DainikBhaskar Group, whose Hindi-language broadsheet boasts a combined circulation of more than 4 million, was raided simultaneously in at least four locations, including at its headquarters in Madhya Pradesh state.

Surabhi Ahluwalia, a spokeswoman for the tax authority, said searches were on at multiple locations across the country linked to the group but declined to share details about the case. She said the department usually undertakes searches in matters of tax evasion. But the justification of tax evasion was panned by government critics, who pointed out that the Bhaksar has been persistently needling India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with its coverage, including as recently as this week.

The Press Club of India said in a statement that it “deplores such acts of intimidation by the government through enforcement agencies to deter the independent media.” Under the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who rose to power in 2014, several critical media outlets have found themselves in tax investigators’ cross-hairs, raising fears about the health of the independent press in the world’s largest democracy. Reporters without Borders, the advocacy group, recently placed India at 142nd place in its press freedom rankings, roughly on par with Myanmar and Mexico.

Om Gaur, the Bhaskar’s national editor, said his staff’s mobile devices were seized during the raids as a “tactic to harass journalists.” “The raid is outcome of our aggressive reporting, especially during the second wave of pandemic in April,” Gaur said by telephone. “Unlike some other media we reported how people were dying for lack of oxygen and hospital beds.” The tax investigation “is not going to change anything for us,” he added. “We will keep doing good journalism.”

As covid-19 roiled India this spring, the Bhaskar splashed photos of funeral pyres on its front pages, reported on corpses floating in the Ganges river and repeatedly challenged the government’s narrative about the disaster and its official death statistics. Gaur, the editor, contributed an op-ed in the New York Times that made waves in his home country. The paper has sometimes taken a less-than-orthodox approach to holding government accountable: as citizens in the state of Gujarat struggled to procure covid-19 medication in April, the paper published the phone number of the BJP’s state president in a massive front-page headline.

This week, after The Washington Post and its media partners disclosed the Indian government’s use of the NSO Group’s Pegasus phone hacking program against opposition figures, activists and journalists, the DainikBhaksar was one of the few Hindi-language papers that featured the story prominently. It also followed up with an article recapping what it said was Modi’s record of snooping on political rivals going back 15 years, when he served as chief minister in Gujarat. The article was quickly retracted.

On Thursday, opposition figures rebuked the government. “Income Tax raid on DainikBhaskar newspaper & Bharat Samachar news channel is a brazen attempt to suppress the voice of media,” Ashok Gehlot, the chief minister of Rajasthan state and a member of the Congress Party, said in a tweet. “Modi government cannot tolerate even an iota of its criticism.” India’s free-wheeling press was stunned in 2017 when the government launched an investigation into New Delhi Television, which was known for its independent streak. The top investigative agency raided NDTV’s offices and the homes of its founders, the Roy family, over suspected financial malfeasance. The channel called it a “blatant political attack on the freedom of the press.” The company has also faced a litany of probes from various agencies over alleged tax violations and money laundering.

In 2019, NDTV protested again when the Roys were barred from boarding an international flight out of Mumbai. The most recent raids on a media outlet came in February, when authorities investigated NewsClick, a left-leaning digital outlet, over its foreign remittances from a businessman with alleged links to China’s Communist party. The outlet denied the accusations.

Job Advertisement


Consulate General of India, Atlanta (USA)                

(1) Clerk
(1) Marketing Assistant
(1) Messenger

Consulate General of India (CGI), Atlanta requires the services of qualified young persons to fill up the following posts at the Consulate.

For Clerk: 

Required Skills:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university;
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills in English ;
  • Proficiency with MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, etc;
  • Dependable, organized, problem-solver;
  • Great Typing skills;
  • Keenness to learn and willingness to work hard.

Experience: 1-2 years of similar experience in an administrative role

For Marketing Assistant:

Required Skills:

  • A University Degree or equivalent qualification, preferably in Business & Marketing. Masters preferred;
  • Knowledge of International Trade Issues, including Intellectual Property Rights;
  • Adequate experience in the interdisciplinary analysis of trade and commerce vis-à-vis international political developments;
  • Proficiency in English language, communication skills, teamwork, Computer Operation – including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Knowledge of US Government functioning, rules & regulations, and Policies;
  • Organizational skills to plan promotional events;
  • Keenness to learn and willingness to work hard.

Experience: 1-2 years of similar experience in Marketing Assistant Role

For Messenger:

Required Skills:

  • A High School degree is a must and, a bachelor’s degree is preferred;
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills ;
  • Knowledge of Computer Skills, if any, preferred. (applicant may have to perform the clerical job as and when required);
  • Dependable, organized, problem-solver;
  • Keenness to learn and willingness to work hard.

Experience: 1-2 years of similar experience.

Head of Chancery

Consulate General of India, Atlanta

5549 Glenridge Drive

Atlanta GA 30342

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

Please Note: Position(s) are only for applicants who are either US citizens or permanent residents. Deadline of Submission: 10/07/2021

Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments Begin

The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department announced today that millions of American families have started receiving monthly Child Tax Credit payments as direct deposits begin posting in bank accounts and checks arrive in mailboxes. This first batch of advance monthly payments worth roughly $15 billion reached about 35 million families today across the country. About 86% were sent by direct deposit.

The payments will continue each month. The IRS urged people who normally aren’t required to file a tax return to explore the tools available on These tools can help determine eligibility for the advance Child Tax Credit or help people file a simplified tax return to sign up for these payments as well as Economic Impact Payments, and other credits you may be eligible to receive.

Under the American Rescue Plan, each payment is up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child ages 6 through 17. Normally, anyone who receives a payment this month will also receive a payment each month for the rest of 2021 unless they unenroll. Besides the July 15 payment, payment dates are: Aug. 13, Sept. 15, Oct. 15, Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.

Here are further details on these payments:

  • Families will see the direct deposit payments in their accounts starting today, July 15. For those receiving payment by paper check, they should remember to take into consideration the time it takes to receive it by mail.
  • Payments went to eligible families who filed 2019 or 2020 income tax returns.
  • Tax returns processed by June 28 are reflected in these payments. This includes people who don’t typically file a return, but during 2020 successfully registered for Economic Impact Payments using the IRS Non-Filers tool or in 2021 successfully used the Non-filer Sign-up Tool for Advance CTC, also on
  • Payments are automatic. Aside from filing a tax return, including a simplified return from the Non-Filer Sign-Up tool, families don’t have to do anything if they are eligible to receive monthly payments.

Additional information is available on a special Advance Child Tax Credit 2021 page, designed to provide the most up-to-date information about the credit and the advance payments.

Financial Literacy Movement Launched By Sal Khan & Others

A group of business, sports, entertainment and nonprofit leaders, including Khan Academy’s Indian American founder and chief executive officer Sal Khan, has banded together to launch the “Financial Literacy for All” initiative. The initiative, which launched June 21, will support embedding financial literacy into American culture. This 10-year commitment will reach millions of youth and working adults enabling them to achieve greater financial success for themselves and their families, according to a news release.

In addition to Khan, the group includes Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart; Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Company; Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO of Bank of America; Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens; Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines; Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL; Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA; Tony Ressler, executive chair of Ares Management and principal owner of the Atlanta Hawks; and John Hope Bryant, chair and CEO of Operation HOPE. McMillon and Bryant will serve as co-chairs of “Financial Literacy for All,” with expectation that the initiative will expand as additional organizations sign on.

“I believe we are in a moment in history, where the public and private sector can join together to help every American reach their potential and fully participate in the greatest economy on earth,” said Bryant. “With this initiative, we are not just seeking to change America’s relationship with their finances, but to change their mindset on what they can accomplish.” “Financial well-being begins with good pay and benefits, but it also includes real opportunity for career growth and access to tools and resources that help manage daily financial needs, build greater financial resiliency and plan for retirement.” added McMillon. “We are inspired by Operation Hope’s vision and look forward to collaborating with other major employers to discover new and better ways to support and engage our associates along their individual financial well-being journey.”

Underscoring the need for financial literacy, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s current Investor Education Foundation survey found that only one-third of U.S. residents surveyed could answer basic questions about interest rates, financial risk and mortgage rates—down by nearly one-quarter from 2009, according to the release. In addition, the cost of financial illiteracy to U.S. citizens is estimated to be $415 billion for 2020, according to a recent study by National Financial Educators Council.

Given the importance and societal impact of financial literacy and with a goal to expand people’s access to opportunities, these organizations are acting now—leveraging their collective innovative and creative expertise as well as their daily interaction with millions of employees, clients, customers and suppliers to spur a national movement of financial capability, it said. This alignment of vision and mission is supported by making financial literacy easier to understand and generating public awareness of its importance by directly connecting with working adults; and providing targeted outreach to middle and high school students as well as those attending community college and four-year universities with innovative outreach and existing “Best Practices.”

Specific steps include promotion of a recently launched educational video series from Walmart that will reach more than a million of its associates; all 80,000 Delta people in the U.S. will have access to in-person and/or virtual Operation HOPE coaches and curriculum starting July 12; and Bank of America will expand access to its award-winning Better Money Habits platform, the release noted.

June 21st Is Child Tax Credit Awareness Day

The White House has designated June 21 as Child Tax Credit Awareness Day to ensure eligible families know about the American Rescue Plan’s expansion of the child tax credit and know how to access the benefit. The American Rescue Plan signed in March as part of the stimulus relief bill includes a historic temporary expansion of the child tax credit for 2021 that will offer $3,000 for each child age six to 17 and $3,600 per child under six to eligible families. The benefit will be disbursed in two installments. The first half, $1,500 or $1,800 per child, will be paid in monthly payments of $250 or $300 starting July 15 and continuing through December. You’ll claim the other half on next year’s tax return.

You normally must have earned income to claim the child tax credit. For this year, you’re entitled to the credit even if you were not employed and had no earned income. And whereas the usual $2,000 credit is only refundable up to $1,2000, the entire expanded credit is refundable. What “fully refundable” means is that if your total federal income tax liability is less than the credit amount, you receive the difference back as a refund. For example, if your total tax liability is $0 and your credit is $3,600, you’ll receive $3,600 back. If your tax liability is $2,000 and your credit is $3,000, you’ll receive $1,000 back. The income threshold to receive the full credit is $75,000 for a single filer.

The IRS estimates that almost 90% of children are eligible to begin receiving monthly payments without any further action required, the National Association of Counties reported. This means if you filed your 2020 or 2019 taxes, you will not need to do anything further to begin receiving your payments starting July 15. Otherwise, you must file for the credit in order to receive it.

The IRS has set up two portals where you can input your information in order to ensure you’re covered. If you have not filed or are a non-filer in general, you can use the IRS Non-Filer Portal Tool located on the IRS website. If you’ve filed a tax return but have had a change in income or marital status or you’ve had a baby, you’ll use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, which the IRS will make available before the monthly payments begin.

About 27 million children qualify for this direct income support, including many whose families have no earned income and thus would not be eligible for the child tax credit under the normal rules. Estimates suggest that the expansion could lift nearly 5 million children out of poverty in 2021, according to the National Association of Counties. This would represent an almost 50% reduction in the child poverty rate.

Dr. Kiran Patel Invests In Mumbai-Based EV Charging Startup

An eminent Indian-American cardiologist and philanthropist, has raised more than $15mn in Series A funding for a Mumbai-based electric vehicle charging solutions company, Magenta EV Solutions. Besides being a cardiologist, Dr. Kiran Patel is a billionaire and a serial entrepreneur.

“My wife and I have always believed in building a legacy by partnering with companies who are passionate in making this planet better for the next generation. I met the Magenta team over lunch when I was in India and within minutes into the discussion, I felt I found a team who are as passionate as I am, to bring about a difference,” Dr. Patel said.

Founded by Maxson Lewis and Darryl Dias, Magenta was Incorporated in 2017, and in the last three years, it has established itself as a key player in the EV charging market under the ChargeGrid brand. The company aims to have a share of 30% in the Indian EV charging market, which it estimates to be 3000 by 2030.Seed funded by HPCL and incubated by Shell, ChargeGrid is also backed by the Microsoft Startup Program to further boost its advanced technology platform. At present, Magenta has operations in more than 10 cities.

“With Dr. Kiran Patel coming aboard, Magenta would be exposed to global markets, backed by financial and strategical management bandwidth. Dr. Patel has been investing and supporting start-ups and early-stage businesses in India and across the globe and mentor them through their scale-up journey,” said the company in a statement. It further added that Pantomath Capital Advisors Private Limited is the sole investment banker to Magenta for the transaction.In 2018, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd invested in Magenta Power, as it plans to get into the electric vehicle charging business in the future.

“Magenta provides end-to-end hardware, software, installation, operations and maintenance of electric vehicle charging solutions. Magenta will expand its product line with new streetlamp integrated EV charger, one of many new innovative products currently under development,” said the company in the above-mentioned statement.Lack of charging stations has been one of the biggest impediments for adoption of electric mobility in the country and startups like Magenta are playing a crucial role in developing low-cost chargers which can be deployed in different parts of the country.

The Indian government in collaboration with manufacturers of electric vehicles and charging devices has been developing a low-cost charging device for electric two and three-wheelers which is expected to help push the adoption of such vehicles in the coming years.The Narendra Modi government has been urging vehicle manufacturers to develop and manufacture electric vehicles to reduce vehicular emissions and curb oil imports. The union government has also been incentivizing the purchase of such zero-emission vehicles and setting up of changing devices through the second phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing Electric and Hybrid vehicle (FAME) scheme.

Dr. Patel has generously contributed his fortune for several noble causes in India, his country of origin, the United States, his adopted country, and Zambia, the country of his birth. Dr. Patel is also the Chairman and President of Optimum Healthcare, Inc.All philanthropic campaigns, contributions and projects have resulted from his passion for health, education and charity. That’s why he has also commissioned Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Global University, a 120-acre institute under construction in India.Sharing his own experiences of investing in the state of Gujarat and in the United States, Dr. Patel, said, with the state requiring more trained personnel to support the growing needs, he is willing to establish a Medical College in Rajasthan.

Dr. Patel, a very soft spoken physician of Indian origin, said the projects combine his passions for health education and charity. In his first venture in running a university, he hopes to fulfill a need for competent doctors in the area while also educating generations of physicians who can serve in underprivileged areas across the globe.Dr. Patel had purchased the former Clearwater Christian College property with a goal of developing an osteopathic medical school in his home-state, Florida. The Indian American physician closed on the $12 million purchase of the 25-acre campus overlooking Old Tampa Bay at the west end of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

India Denies State-Owned Banks Will Withdraw Funds From Foreign Currency Accounts

The Indian government has denied reports that it has asked state-owned banks to withdraw funds from foreign currency accounts abroad in anticipation of their potential seizure with regard to the Cairn legal dispute, terming such information as “false and baseless”.

“Condemning all such source-based reports as false, the Government of India said that these are totally incorrect reports which were not based on true facts. Certain vested parties appear to have orchestrated such misleading reporting, which often relies upon unnamed sources and presents a lopsided picture of factual and legal developments in the case,” said an official statement.

It said that the India is “vigorously” defending its case in this legal dispute, and has filed an application on March 22 to set aside the “highly flawed” December 2020 international arbitral award in The Hague Court of Appeal.“The government has raised several arguments that warrant setting aside the award. This proceeding is pending,” the government said, adding that it is committed to pursuing all legal avenues to defend its case in this dispute worldwide.

It was also stated that the CEO and the representatives of Cairns have approached the government for discussions to resolve the matter. “Constructive discussions have been held and the Government remains open for an amicable solution to the dispute within the country’s legal framework,” the Finance Ministry statement said. (IANS)

A Crypto Crash Wiped Out $1 Trillion This Week

Wild, stomach-churning moments are part of the experience when you buy a ticket to the crypto circus. But the past week’s volatility was enough to make some of the crypto faithful wonder whether they’ve been bamboozled.

On Wednesday, a broad crypto crash wiped out about $1 trillion in market value — a staggering drop from $2.5 trillion just a week ago. Bitcoin, which accounts for more than 40% of the global crypto market, nosedived 30% to $30,000 on Wednesday, its lowest point since January.By Friday, bitcoin had rebounded slightly, to around $37,000 — bruised by continued regulatory concerns, and far off its all time high above $64,000 that it hit a month ago.

Volatility is baked into the nascent cryptocurrency market, but the digital assets’ explosive growth in the past year has attracted hordes of amateur and professional investors looking for a quick profit. Many of them ride an upswing and get out, or panic sell when things turn sour, exacerbating gains or losses.

What happened?

The crypto market had been especially shaky for about a week before the crash on Wednesday.

On May 12, bitcoin fell 12% after Elon Musk walked back Tesla’s commitment to accept bitcoin as payment, citing concerns over the crytocurrency’s massive carbon footprint. Musk added to investor anxiety last weekend with a pair of seemingly contradictory tweets about bitcoin that left investors scratching their heads.

Then the big crash came Wednesday, after Chinese officials signaled a crackdown on crypto use in the country. The central bank issued a warning to Chinese financial institutions and businesses not to accept digital currencies as payment or offer services using them.The threat of increased regulation triggered a panic, and bitcoin plunged before rebounding slightly and leveling off. Other cryptocurrencies also tanked: Ethereum fell more than 40%, while dogecoin and binance lost around 30%.

By Thursday, bitcoin had recouped some losses and was back above $41,000. But a Friday statement from Chinese officials reiterating the need to crack down on cryptos beat bitcoin back down. It was trading around $37,000 on Friday afternoon. Other cryptos were also in the red.

Regulatory concerns

China has long had limits around crypto trading within its borders. Officials declared in 2013 that bitcoin was not a real currency and banned financial and payment institutions from using it. Individuals can hold or trade cryptocurrencies, but major exchanges in mainland China have been shut down.

On the surface, this week’s statements simply underscored China’s suspicion of cryptocurrencies generally. But they sent a clear signal that Beijing is not loosening its grip on the market anytime soon. Authorities are also launching a state-backed digital yuan that would keep money flows under strict oversight.

And it’s not just China. On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned about potential risks cryptocurrencies pose to the financial system. Powell also said the central bank would publish a paper this summer that will explore the implications of the US government developing a digital currency of its own.

A potential central bank digital currency “could serve as a complement to, and not a replacement of, cash and current private-sector digital forms of the dollar, such as deposits at commercial banks,” Powell said. The Treasury Department is also turning its attention to the crypto space. On Thursday officials said any transfer of digital currency valued at $10,000 or more must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

“Cryptocurrency already poses a significant detection problem by facilitating illegal activity broadly including tax evasion,” the Treasury said in a statement. “Despite constituting a relatively small portion of business income today, cryptocurrency transactions are likely to rise in importance in the next decade, especially in the presence of a broad-based financial account reporting regime.”

Bitcoin had been up nearly 6% Thursday but pared its gains after the statements from US officials, according to Bloomberg.

The future of cryptos

The week’s wild swings were a test for cryptocurrency fans. True believers tend to take the long view: At the start of 2020, bitcoin was trading around $7,000 a coin, which means it’s still up more than 400% in that time, even after crashing this week.

“We all tend to focus on day-by-day, week-by-week,” said William Quigley, managing director at crypto-focused investment fund on Wednesday. “But that’s not how most people buy cryptocurrencies, or even stocks.

Is it a bubble? Probably, according to ethereum co-creator VitalikButerin. In an interview with CNN Business this week, Buterin said he wasn’t surprised by the crash, because he’s seen it all before.

“We’ve had at least three of these big crypto bubbles so far,” he said. “And often enough, the reason the bubbles end up stopping is because some event happens that just makes it clear that the technology isn’t there yet.” (Courtesy: CNN Business)

Colonial Pipeline Paid Hackers $5M In Ransom

Colonial, a major US fuel pipeline has reportedly paid cyber-criminal gang DarkSide nearly $5m (£3.6m) in ransom, following a cyber-attack.Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware cyber-attack over the weekend and took its service down for five days, causing supplies to tighten across the US.CNN, the New York Times, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal all reported a ransom was paid, citing sources. Colonial said last week that it would not comment on the issue. Japanese consumer tech giant Toshiba also reported its European division in France had been hit by the same cyber-criminal gang.

Following the cyber-attack, Colonial announced it would resume operations on Wednesday evening, but warned that it could take several days for the delivery supply chain to return to normal.The 5,500-mile (8,900km) pipeline usually carries 2.5 million barrels a day on the East Coast. The closure saw supplies of diesel, petrol and jet fuel tighten across the US, with prices rising, an emergency waiver passed on Monday and a number of states declaring an emergency.

The average price per gallon hit $3.008 (£2.14) – the highest level seen since October 2014, according to the Automobile Association of America.US President Joe Biden reassured motorists that fuel supplies should start returning to normal this weekend, even as more filling stations ran out of gasoline across the Southeast. According to reports, Colonial had said initially it would not be paying the ransom demanded by the hackers.

Toshiba Tec France Imaging System, which is part of Toshiba, said it was hit by a similar cyber-attack by DarkSide on May 4th. However, the firm emphasized that no leaks of data had been detected and that only a minimal amount of work data was lost during the event.

It said it had put protective measures in place immediately after the attack.In light of a sharp increase in ransomware cyber-attacks during the pandemic, on Thursday President Biden signed an executive order to improve US cyber-defences. Earlier in the week, he said that although there was no evidence that the Kremlin was involved, there was evidence to suggest that the DarkSide gang of hackers was based in Russia.

The news that Colonial Pipeline paid these criminals is a major blow to President Biden. Only this week he signed a long-awaited executive order to beef up federal cyber-security and, in turn, make the US more secure from future attacks. These efforts have, in the view of some in the cyber-security world, been completely undermined.How can the Biden administration encourage corporations to spend millions securing their computer networks from attack when they’ve just witnessed Colonial, under the glare of the public eye, cave in to criminal demands and pay their way out of trouble?

The news will swell the ranks of those in the security world who want ransomware payments banned. But with companies, jobs and sometimes lives put at risk when ransomware hits, it is a tough call for policymakers.The potential silver-lining in this case comes from reports that even after Colonial paid the hackers, the criminals were so slow to help the company that pipeline staff got to work on recovery themselves.

The DarkSide hacker crew can no longer claim that they can restore victims services quickly and this may make others question whether or not to give in to their demands.’Our goal is to make money’

Cyber-security firms told the BBC that DarkSide operates by infiltrating an organisation’s computer network and stealing sensitive data.Typically, a day later the hackers will make themselves known, announcing that they have encrypted all the data in the network and are prepared to leak it onto the internet and delete it, if they are not paid a ransom by a certain deadline.

DarkSide operates by making the software used to execute this attack and then training affiliates to use it, who then give the gang a cut of the ransoms they take.Following concerns the Colonial cyber-attack was caused by nation-state hackers with a political motive, DarkSide posted on its website: “Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.”

The group also indicated it had not been aware that Colonial was being targeted by one of its affiliates and intended to “introduce moderation and check each company” its partners want to encrypt, “to avoid social consequences in the future”.On Friday, Reuters reported that DarkSide’s website on the dark web was no longer accessible.Colonial Pipeline’s website also continues to be offline.

Elon Musk Says, Tesla Will Not Accept Bitcoin For Transactions

Tesla has suspended customers’ use of bitcoin to purchase its vehicles, Tesla’s billionaire CEO said last week, citing concerns about the use of fossil fuel for bitcoin mining.Elon Musk said the company had suspended use of bitcoin for purchase of its electric vehicles, citing fears about the world’s biggest cryptocurrency’s “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels”.

The company started accepting bitcoin in March. Musk tweeted that they plan to start using it again “as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy”. Following the tweet, bitcoin fell nearly 17% – its lowest point since the beginning of March. “We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use <1% of bitcoin’s energy/transaction,” Musk said.

How does bitcoin use fossil fuels? Bitcoin mining – the process by which the currency is created using high powered computers that compete to solve complex mathematical puzzles – is powered by electricity generated by fossil fuels, especially coal. At current rates, it is using approximately the equivalent amount of energy each year as the Netherlands did in 2019.

At current rates, such bitcoin “mining” devours about the same amount of energy annually as the Netherlands did in 2019, the latest available data from the University of Cambridge and the International Energy Agency shows.

Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at currency trading firm OANDA, said that Musk was getting ahead of investors focused on sustainability.

“The environmental impact from mining bitcoins was one of the biggest risks for the entire crypto market,” Moya said. “Over the past couple of months, everyone disregarded news that bitcoin uses more electricity than Argentina and Norway.”

Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone in Melbourne, said Musk’s reaction was a blow to bitcoin but an acknowledgement of the currency’s carbon footprint. “Tesla has got an image of being environmentally friendly and bitcoin clearly is the opposite of that,” Weston said.

Bitcoin And Crypto Markets Crash

Bitcoin (BTC-USD) is experiencing a massive sell-off, shedding almost 15% in the last 24 hours — the biggest intraday drop since February.  The drop appears to coincide with reports that the US Treasury is planning to tackle financial institutions for money laundering carried out through digital assets.

Data website CoinMarketCap cited a blackout in China’s Xinjiang region for the fall, which allegedly powers much of Bitcoin mining — the process by which new bitcoins are entered into circulation.

On Sunday, the flagship crypto shed nearly $8,000 and was trading 12% lower at $54,900 around 12PM in London, down from a day high of $61,293.  It hit a day-low of $53,302 in the early hours of Sunday. Currently it has regained some lost ground, down 9% to $55,409 around 6PM.

Bitcoin’s flash crash saw a new record in liquidations, resulting in more than one million positions being wiped off the books. This meant that $10bn in positions were liquidated, according to Bybt.

Other cryptocurrencies have also plummeted.  Ethereum (ETH-USD) the second biggest cryptocurrency in circulation, fell 17% before paring losses. It is currently down 13% to $2,132. Litecoin (LTC-USD) also declined, down 24% to $252.

It comes days after bitcoin approached $65,000 ahead of the debut listing of cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase on Wednesday. Coinbase is the first crypto firm to list on the Nasdaq (^IXIC).

In late February, bitcoin saw a retreat to as low as $43,000 amid uncertainty in the traditional markets over stimulus expectations and their positive effects on US bond yields.

Bitcoin prices have been up and down over the last few months as governments and regulators hone in on the sector amid rising demand.

On Friday, bitcoin plunged 4% after the Central Bank of Turkey banned the use of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets for payments.

Turkey’s central bank said the ban was motivated by a lack of “central authority regulation” and “supervision mechanisms” for cryptocurrencies and other similar digital assets.

The Bitcoin Lion Wakes Up!

Bitcoin has officially reached an all-time high of $59K. Its market capitalization is now over a trillion dollars. The fact is that those of us who know nothing about cryptocurrencies are getting excited when we learn that thousands have been harvested in recent days.

If you want to move into an investment, it is cheaper and easier than trading stocks and options.

FSix years ago, when I first analyzed the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and recommended it to some, many people said it was a scam, and I thought it was crazy. It then had a market capitalization of just over $ 6 billion. This year, Bitcoin became the first crypto to earn a trillion dollars.

Over the past few years, the lucky few have had the opportunity to book high gains of up to 16,377% – a rare history of those who were able to turn $ 1,000 into $ 164,770.

As mentioned above, at about $ 59,000 each, Bitcoin is still a clever strategy to double your money to 10x or 20x. Over time, as more and more people try their luck, the event may turn out to be a catastrophe.

Gold has always been. The era of what was once considered a safe haven seems to be coming to an end.

Hedging is a good idea, but no one wants to do it with gold that has fallen into a bear market pattern. When the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, gold prices fell again after a slight rise. Then the yellow metal is not doing its job now.

Last year, the United States spent $ 5.3 trillion on coronavirus relief, more than $ 27% of our annual GDP, but that did not significantly affect the price of gold.

The situation in the U.S. stock market has changed significantly this week. However, few investors may have noticed these signs. After a month of market fluctuations, the S&P and Dow jumped simultaneously, hitting all-time highs. For the first time in history, the Dow jumped to 33,000

Most people are thankful for Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion U.S. rescue plan, which will soon create a massive surge in the economy and pocket many Americans in the crowd.

Now, if you are a gold digger, many other things are hard to accept. It’s even more challenging for you to buy that Bitcoin has taken over the job of gold.

This is because gold has a history of thousands of years, while bitcoin has existed for a decade.

People have used horses for thousands of years. Within a decade, cars had eliminated horses, as the saying goes!

Then crypto has become your question mark!

If you have not yet taken your first step in this burgeoning market, there is no better time to do it. One reason for this is that as of January 2021, there are more than 4,000 cryptocurrencies in existence. Many are worthless. In the name of this, brokers and advisers are flooding the internet. Without a phone number or an office to ask questions about, or a certificate to show off, this cryptocurrency system, which continues to buy and sell only on digital platforms worldwide, has become a headache for economists and a secret money-making platform for intelligent greed.

For example, Bitcoin was the story of the highest investment in 2013 and 2014.

They have been at the forefront of developing currency exchanges and investment funds, driving Bitcoin into the headlines. At the time, Bitcoin was trading at $ 90. Over the next five months, Bitcoin rose 1,192 percent to $ 1,163. People across the country made millions of dollars. Some were even millions of banks. As a matter of fact!

Bitcoin’s popularity has grown due to its resistance to inflation, which is expected to become a more widely used payment method. But skeptics argue that its wild price rise could keep many companies away.

The market was buoyed when the electric car maker’s investment raised Bitcoin to a record high of $ 58,332.36. Still, the currency fell slightly after billionaire CEO Elon Musk expressed some skepticism on Twitter.

Many tons of cryptocurrencies are benefiting from this massive cash flow. Although many share the same DNA as Bitcoin, their total is very small.

As the world looks back on our time’s most revolutionary technological advances, two of the most important of these cryptocurrencies should be seen as examples.


As of March 2020, the ETH is trading at $ 130.

Today, a single shot costs more than $ 1,825. That’s about ten times more in a year. If you invested in ETH five years ago, a 1,000 investment would be worth more than $ 800,000. This is a very rare and unusual 80,000% gain.


LTC was the first crypto to launch with Bitcoin in 2011. Today, a litecoin costs $ 201.11. Five years ago? It was trading below $ 5 that day. If you had bought $ 1,000 worth of Litecoin in 2016, you would have $ 34,200 in your pocket today.

There is no such thing as intellect when you think of yourself, and you have to test whether it exists today.

As Bitcoin soared from close to $ 5,000 last March and soared to $ 60,000 on March 13th, you may feel that something is missing now.

But it would be best if you were 100% focused on allowing your stock portfolio winners to rise higher and continue to know how to protect those gains when the market finally turns around.

The price of the world’s largest digital currency rose 8 percent to $ 59,274.13 a day earlier. That brings the total value to $ 1.15 trillion. (Coindesk Data Show).

Prices began to rise following further indications that institutional investors and large corporations were coming to cryptocurrency.

For example, Bitcoin-based investment firm NYVDG announced on Monday that it had raised $ 200 million from a group of investors, including Wall Street Titans Morgan Stanley, New York Life, billionaire financier George Soros, and Soros Fund Management.

Insurers on the company’s platform now have exposure to bitcoin worth over a billion dollars, which can be “an example of accelerating institutional bitcoin adoption”. The company’s announcement comes a month after Tesla revealed it had bought $ 1.5 billion worth of bitcoin, following in the footsteps of smaller companies such as Microstrategy and Jack Dorsey’s Square.

It remains at full strength this year as well.

The latest US stimulus package worth $ 1.9 trillion has now brought more money to market. The arrival of this new paper money reduces the value of the already popular dollar. This happens naturally. If the dollar had depreciated 13% of purchasing power against foreign currencies last year – it would have continued and would have had accurate results. This means that your purchasing power is declining rapidly. This means that following the same policy is a big mistake. Winners are said to be added quickly.

These are just some of the goal-setting shareware that you can use. No strategy is perfect. Any investment always carries the risk of loss. Some fail along the way.

But the coming months and years are likely to be more exciting and rewarding than anything we’ve seen before. There can be no doubt that peer-to-peer transactions and digital currencies are echoing a revolution that removes intermediaries and transfers power into the people’s hands. Any Crypto investment is a risky affair, play responsibly, lucky ones mint the fortune!

(My safer recommendation, there is a Bitcoin tracking stock whose symbol is GBTC, which trades around $52; which moves in parallel to Bitcoin).

Let me conclude,  nothing is guaranteed, but the potentials are enormous.

Gautam Adani World’s Biggest Wealth Gainer, Adds $16.2 Billion In 2021

Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani has achieved a remarkable milestone amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as he added the highest wealth to his fortune in the world, as per the latest Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index showed that so far in 2021, Adani has added $16.2 billion, taking his total net worth to $50 billion. With this surge in his wealth, Adani is now the 26th richest person in the world.

Even though he’s not in the club of the 25 richest people on the planet, Gautam Adani has managed to ‘outgrow’ fellow billionaires, including the two richest men in the world, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, by seeing his net worth ballooning the most in 2021. While Adani has added $16.2 billion to his wealth since the start of this year, Amazon’s Bezos has seen his wealth shrink by $7.59 billion to $183 billion while Tesla’s Musk added $10.3 billion to reach $180 billion, as per Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The development comes at a time when the Adani Group is rapidly expanding its footprint in diversified sectors, including airports business and data centres. Recently, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited announced that Windy Lakeside Investment Ltd, a unit of Warburg Pincus, will invest Rs 800 crore for a 0.49 per cent stake in the company.

Shares of several Adani companies have surged over the past one year amid the pandemic, adding to its Chairman’s wealth. Adani Enterprises’ shares have increased over four-fold in the past one year and the stock price of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone has more than double during the period.

Google Co-founder Larry Page is ranked second in terms of highest gain in wealth with a growth of $14.3 billion. Amazon Inc Founder Jeff Bezos is the richest person on the planet with a net worth of $183 billion, followed by Elon Musk with a net worth of $180 billion.

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani is the 10th richest person in the world with a net worth of $84.8 billion. So far in 2021, he has added $8.05 billion of wealth. (IANS)

Adani’s fattening wallet has been on account of a surge in investor interest in his companies across sectors such as ports, power plants, renewable power, airports, data centres and coal mines. Except for one company, all his other companies have seen their share prices appreciate by over 50% this year — the odd one out being Adani Green Energy, whose 12% rise in 2021 gets dwarfed by the 500% rise in its value in 2020.

Known to be media shy, the self made first generation billionaire is also not a stranger to controversies. His Carmichael coal mine project in Australia has been the object of disaffection of environmentalists for fear of damage to the ecology and the company was renamed last year as Bravus Mining and Resources in order to distance itself from the Adani brand name.

Senate Passes $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

The US Senate approved President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan Saturday, March 7th securing additional aid for American families, workers and businesses — and a legislative victory for the Biden administration.

After more than 24 hours of debate, the evenly divided Senate voted 50-49 to approve the measure. Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska was absent because he was in Alaska for a family funeral.

The final vote was 50-49, with all Democrats voting in favor of the bill and all Republicans voting against it. The passage of the bill was met with cheers and applause from Democrats, celebrating the passage of one of Mr. Biden’s key priorities. Vice President Kamala Harris did not need to visit the Capitol to break any ties, as GOP Senator Dan Sullivan left due to a family emergency on Friday.

The package would deliver a new round of financial assistance to Americans grappling with the impact of the pandemic, including $1,400 direct payments, an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits and an increase to the child tax credit.

Individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000 would receive the full direct payments of $1,400 per person. But those payments would phase out for individuals and couples who make more than $80,000 and $160,000, respectively.

The income cutoff was lowered after moderate Democrats demanded that the latest round of checks target lower-income families.

Federal unemployment benefits would be extended through Sept. 6 at the current rate of $300 per week, and the first $10,200 of those benefits would be tax-free for households that earn $150,000 or less. That provision followed a lengthy debate Friday among Democratic senators.

Democrats were under pressure to get the bill to Biden’s desk before current federal unemployment benefits expire on March 14.  The budget reconciliation process allowed them to act without Republican backing, requiring only a simple majority to pass the bill.

Democrats took a victory lap after the passage of the bill, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer telling reporters after the vote that “it’s a great day for this country.” Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders called the bill “the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working families in the modern history of this country.”

President Biden dubbed the plan “historic” during an address on Saturday.

“For over a year the American people were told they were on their own,” he said, and later added, “This nation has suffered too much for much too long, and everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation.”

The president noted that 85% of American households will now soon receive direct payments of $1,400 per person, and a “typical middle class family of four” will get $5,600. “That means the mortgage can get paid. That means maintaining the health insurance you have. It’s going to make a big difference in so many lives in this country,” he said.

“The bottom line is this: This plan puts us on the path to beating this virus,” Mr. Biden said Saturday. “This plan gives those families that are struggling the most the help and the breathing room they need to get through this moment. This plan gives small businesses in this country a fighting chance to survive. And one more thing,” he added, “this plan is historic.”

Naureen Hassan Named 1st VP, COO Of NY Fed

Indian-American Naureen Hassan, a 25-year veteran of the financial services industry, has been named as the First Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Bank said that the appointment effective March 15, was approved by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. “As First Vice President, Hassan will be the New York Fed’s second ranking officer as well as an alternate voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee,” the statement said.

“Naureen’s leadership background, deep commitment to fostering diverse teams, and extensive technology and financial experience will be critical to her role as a bank leader,” John C. Williams, President and CEO of the New York Fed, was quoted as saying in the statement.

“I am confident that Naureen will be an inspiring and innovative leader, and look forward to working with her to move our organisation forward in line with our values,” he added.

Meanwhile, Denise Scott, Executive Vice President of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and chair of the New York Fed’s Board of Directors, said that “Naureen’s leadership experience and operational expertise are fully aligned with what the search committee and I envisioned for this role”.

According to the statement, Hassan has previously served in various capacities in the financial services industry, focusing primarily on digital and business process transformation. For the past four years, she was Chief Digital Officer of wealth management at Morgan Stanley. Hassan’s parents are immigrants from Kerala, India. Her father, Javad K. Hassan was a former senior executive at IBM and former president of Global Inter Connect Systems at AMP Inc (now TE Connectivity).  (IANS)

17% Of Food Production Wasted, UN Report Estimates

A new report from the United Nations estimates that 17% of food produced globally is wasted each year. Instead of finishing your leftovers, you let them go bad and buy takeout.

It’s a familiar routine for many — and indicative of habits that contribute to a global food waste problem that a new United Nations report says needs to be better measured so that it can be effectively addressed.

The U.N. report estimates 17% of the food produced globally each year is wasted. That amounts to 931 million metric tons (1.03 billion tons) of food.

The waste is far more than previous reports had indicated, though direct comparisons are difficult because of differing methodologies and the lack of strong data from many countries.

“Improved measurement can lead to improved management,” said Brian Roe, a food waste researcher at Ohio State University who was not involved in the report.

Most of the waste — or 61% — happens in households, while food service accounts for 26% and retailers account for 13%, the U.N. found. The U.N. is pushing to reduce food waste globally, and researchers are also working on an assessment of waste that includes the food lost before reaching consumers.

The authors note the report seeks to offer a clearer snapshot of the scale of a problem that has been difficult to assess, in hopes of spurring governments to invest in better tracking.

“Many countries haven’t yet quantified their food waste, so they don’t understand the scale of the problem,” said Clementine O’Connor, of the U.N. Environment Program and co-author of the report.

Food waste has become a growing concern because of the environmental toll of production, including the land required to raise crops and animals and the greenhouse gas emissions produced along the way. Experts say improved waste tracking is key to finding ways to ease the problem, such as programs to divert inedible scraps to use as animal feed or fertilizer.

The report found food waste in homes isn’t limited to higher income countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Roe of Ohio State noted that food sometimes is wasted in poor countries without reliable home refrigeration. In richer countries, people might eat out more, meaning food waste is simply shifted from the home to restaurants.

Roe said cultural norms and policies also could contribute to waste at home — such as massive packaging, “buy one, get one free” deals, or lack of composting programs.

That’s why broader system changes are key to helping reduce waste in households, said Chris Barrett, an agricultural economist at Cornell University.

For example, Barrett said, people might throw away food because of a date on the product — even though such dates don’t always say when a food is unsafe to eat. “Food waste is a consequence of sensible decisions by people acting on the best information available,” he said.

To clarify the meaning of labeling dates, U.S. regulators have urged food makers to be more consistent in using them. They note that labels like “Sell By”, “Best By” and “”Enjoy By” could cause people to throw out food prematurely, even though some labels are intended only to indicate when quality might decline.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a family of four wastes about $1,500 in food each year. But accurately measuring food waste is difficult for a variety of reasons including data availability, said USDA food researcher Jean Buzby, adding that improved measurements are part of a government plan to reduce waste.

Richard Swannell, a co-author of the U.N. report, said food was generally more valued even in richer countries just a few generations ago, since people often couldn’t afford to waste it. Now, he said, awareness about the scale of food waste globally could help shift attitudes back to that era. “Food is too important to waste,” he said.

Warren Buffett Admits To A Rare ‘Mistake’

In his annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB), investing guru Warren Buffett disclosed that the company took an $11 billion writedown last year on its 2016 purchase of Precision Castparts, describing it as “a mistake.”

The 90-year-old billionaire, Berkshire’s chairman since 1970, said in the company’s annual letter to shareholders that the “ugly” write-down had a simple explanation. “I paid too much for the company,” he said. “My miscalculation was laid bare by adverse developments throughout the aerospace industry.”

Despite that loss and fallout from the pandemic in general, the company’s operating businesses enjoyed a solid end to 2020. The sprawling conglomerate, which owns Geico, Dairy Queen, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company, Duracell batteries and many other consumer, financial, industrial and energy companies, said Saturday it posted a net profit of $35.8 billion in the fourth quarter, an increase of 23%.  Berkshire’s operating profit rose nearly 14% in the quarter, to $5 billion.

In the letter, Buffett also disclosed that Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on May 1, normally held in Buffett’s home town of Omaha, Nebraska, will instead be livestreamed from Los Angeles so that vice chairman Charlie Munger, who lives in Southern California, can attend.

The 97-year old Munger did not attend last year’s virtual shareholder meeting in Omaha due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, Buffett was joined on stage by another Berkshire vice chairman, Greg Abel.

“I missed him last year and, more important, you clearly missed him,” Buffett said of Munger, who is also chairman of California newspaper publisher Daily Journal (DJCO), which held its own shareholder meeting on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Buffett said Abel and Berkshire’s third vice chairman, Ajit Jain, will also be on stage in LA to answer questions during the virtual May 1 meeting, which is scheduled to last from 1:30 p.m. ET until 5:30 p.m. Buffett said he hoped Berkshire can once again hold an in-person meeting in Nebraska in 2022. As he often does in Berkshire’s annual letter to shareholders, Buffett — who has a net worth of some $90 billion — dispensed some words of wisdom about the current state of the market.

Staying away from bonds and buying back more Berkshire stock

He is not currently a fan of bonds because despite a recent uptick, yields remain historically low. “Bonds are not the place to be these days,” he wrote, adding that the yield on the 10-year Treasury, now hovering around 1.46%, was 15.8% in 1981.

“In certain large and important countries, such as Germany and Japan, investors earn a negative return on trillions of dollars of sovereign debt. Fixed-income investors worldwide — whether pension funds, insurance companies or retirees — face a bleak future,” Buffett noted.

He also defended Berkshire’s propensity for using cash to buy back its own stock. The company spent $24.7 billion last year to repurchase shares. Some investors have argued that Berkshire could find a better use for its cash, which totaled more than $138 billion in cash at the end of 2020. Berkshire could it use to make more acquisitions.

“In no way do we think that Berkshire shares should be repurchased at simply any price,” Buffett wrote. “American CEOs have an embarrassing record of devoting more company funds to repurchases when prices have risen than when they have tanked. Our approach is exactly the reverse.”

Still, some wonder if Buffett has lost his Midas touch. Berkshire Hathaway’s stock is up just 11% over the past year, compared to a nearly 23% gain for the S&P 500. The company has lagged the broader market during the past five years, too, despite being a major investor in Apple (AAPL).

Buffett, however, defended the company’s investment strategy, describing it as like a classic diner. “At Berkshire, we have been serving hamburgers and Coke for 56 years. We cherish the clientele this fare has attracted,” Buffett wrote.

Although he has dipped his toe into higher techs like Apple and Amazon (AMZN) recently, the majority of Berkshire’s investments are in slower growth “value” stocks such as Chevron (CVX), Verizon (VZ), American Express (AXP) and, yes, Coca-Cola (KO). (Buffett is an avid drinker of Cherry Coke.)

In other words, don’t expect Buffett to start investing in meme stocks like GameStop (GME) or momentum darlings such as Tesla (TSLA).

“The tens of millions of other investors and speculators in the United States and elsewhere have a wide variety of equity choices to fit their tastes. They will find CEOs and market gurus with enticing ideas,” he said. “Many of those investors, I should add, will do quite well.”

But Buffett stressed a more patient approach to investing. “All that’s required is the passage of time, an inner calm, ample diversification and a minimization of transactions and fees,” he said.

US Debt Soars To $29 Trillion, Owes India $216 Billion

The US, the world’s largest economy, owes India USD 216 billion in loan as the country’s debt grows to a record USD 29 trillion, an American lawmaker has said, cautioning the leadership against galloping foreign debt, the largest of which comes from China and Japan.

In 2020, the US national debt was USD 23.4 trillion, that was USD 72,309 in debt per person. “We are going to grow our debt to USD 29 trillion. That is even more debt owed per citizen. There is a lot of misinformation about where the debt is going. The top two countries we owe the debt to are China and Japan, not actually our friends,” Congressman Alex Mooney said.

“We are at global competition with China all the time. They are holding a lot of the debt. We owe China over USD 1 trillion and we owe Japan over USD 1 trillion,” the Republican Senator from West Virginia said on the floor of the US House of Representatives as he and others opposed the latest stimulus package of USD 2 trillion.

In January, US President Joe Biden announced a USD 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to tackle the economic fallout from the pandemic, including direct financial aid to average Americans, support to businesses and to provide a boost to the national vaccination programme.

“The people who are loaning us the money we have to pay back are not necessarily people who have our best interest at heart. Brazil, we owe USD 258 billion. India, we owe USD 216 billion. And the list goes on the debt that is owed to foreign countries,” Congressman Mooney said.

America’s national debt was USD5.6 trillion in 2000. During the Obama administration, it actually doubled.

“Since the eight years Obama was President, we doubled our national debt. And we are adding another—projected here—a completely out of control debt-to-GDP ratio,” he said urging his Congressional colleagues to consider this national debt issue before approving the stimulus package.

“So I urge my colleagues to consider the future. Don’t buy into the—the government has no money it doesn’t take from you that you are going to have to pay back. We need to be judicious with these dollars, and most of this is not going to coronavirus relief anyway,” he said.

Congressmen Mooney said that things have gone completely out of control. The Congressional Budget Office estimates an additional USD 104 trillion will be added by 2050. The Congressional Budget Office forecasted debt would rise 200 per cent.

“Today, as I stand here right now, we have USD 27.9 trillion in national debt…That is actually a little more than USD 84,000 of debt to every American citizen right here today,” Mooney said.

Reliance Acquires Majority Stake In US-Based Skytran Inc

Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Limited (RSBVL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), announced on Sunday that it has acquired majority stake in its investee company skyTran Inc for a consideration of $26.76 million.

With this transaction, RSBVL has increased its shareholding to 54.46 per cent on a fully diluted basis, RIL said in a statement.

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of RIL, said: “Our acquiring majority equity stake in skyTran reflects our commitment to invest in building futuristic technologies that would transform the world. We are excited by skyTran’s potential to achieve an order of magnitude impact on highspeed intra and inter-city connectivity and its ability to provide a high speed, highly efficient and economical ‘Transportation-As-Service’ platform for India and the rest of the World.”

“We firmly believe that non-polluting high speed personal rapid transportation system will help facilitate environmental sustainability through efficient use of alternative energy and make an impactful reduction in air and noise pollution,” he added.

SkyTran is a technology company incorporated under the laws of Delaware in the US in 2011. It has developed breakthrough passive magnetic levitation and propulsion technology for implementing personal transportation systems aimed at solving the problem of traffic congestion globally. The technology has been developed by skyTran to create smart mobility solutions, said a company statement. (IANS)

Money vs. Happiness

The question whether the rich are more satisfied with their lives is often taken for granted, even though surveys, like the Gallup World Poll, show that the relationship between subjective well-being and income is often weak, except in low-income countries in Africa and South Asia. Researcher Daniel Kahneman and his collaborators, for example, report that the correlation between household income and reported life satisfaction or happiness with life typically ranges from 0.15 to 0.30. There are a few plausible reasons. First, growth in income mostly has a transitory effect on individuals’ reported life satisfaction, as they adapt to material goods. Second, relative income, rather than the level of income, affects well-being — earning more or less than others looms larger than how much one earns. Third, though average life satisfaction in countries tends to rise with GDP per capita at low levels of income, there is little increase in life satisfaction once GDP per capita exceeds $10,000 (in purchasing power parity). This article studies the relationships between subjective well-being, which is narrowly defined to focus on economic well-being in India, and variants of income, based on the only panel survey in India Human Development Survey (IHDS).

Why do we need a new measure of well-being when there is already a widely used, objective welfare measure based on per capita income? There are several reasons. The first stems from the distinction between decision utility and experienced utility. In the standard approach to measure well-being, ordinal preferences are inferred from the observations of decisions made supposedly by rational (utility maximising) agents. The object derived is decision utility. In contrast, recent advances in psychology, sociology, behavioural economics and happiness economics suggest that decision utility is unlikely to illuminate the utility associated with different experiences — hence the emphasis on measures that focus more directly on experienced utility, notably using subjective well-being (SWB) responses.

We draw upon the two rounds of the IHDS for 2005 and 2012. An important feature of IHDS is that it collected data on SWB. The question asked was: compared to seven years ago, would you say your household is economically doing the same, better or worse today? So, the focus of this SWB is narrow. But as it is based on self-reports, it connotes a broader view that is influenced by several factors other than income, assets, and employment, like age, health, caste, etc.

There is a positive relationship between SWB and per capita expenditure (a proxy for per capita income, which is frequently underestimated and underreported): the higher the expenditure in 2005, the greater was the SWB in 2012. The priority of expenditure, in time, rules out reverse causation from high SWB to high expenditure, i.e., higher well-being could also be associated with better performance resulting in higher expenditure. High expenditure is associated with a decent standard of living, good schooling of children, and financial security. As India’s comparable GDP per capita in 2003 (PPP) was $2,270, well below the threshold of $10,000, it is consistent with extant evidence.

Aspirations and achievements

In order to capture the gap between aspirations and achievements, we have analysed the relationship between SWB and ratio of per capita expenditure of a household to the highest per capita expenditure in the primary sampling unit. Although this is a crude approximation to relative deprivation, we get a negative relationship between SWB and this ratio. In other words, the larger the gap, the greater is the sense of resentment and frustration, and the lower is the SWB.

The larger the proportionate increase in per capita expenditure between 2005 and 2012, the greater is the SWB. To illustrate this, we construct three terciles of expenditure in 2005: the first representing extremely poor, the second the middle class, and the third the rich. If the proportionate increase in per capita expenditure is highest among the extremely poor and lowest among the rich, the higher will be the SWB of the extremely poor. This is indeed the case.

This provides important policy insights. One is that in a lower-middle-income country like India, growth of expenditure or income is significant. However, the widening of the gap between aspirations and achievements or between the highest expenditure/income of a reference group and actual expenditure/income of a household reflects resentment, frustration and loss of subjective well-being. So, taxing the rich and enabling the extremely poor to benefit more from economic opportunities can enhance well-being. In conclusion, objective welfare and subjective well-being measures together are far more useful than either on its own.

(Veena S. Kulkarni teaches Sociology at Arkansas State University and is a co-author for this article. Raghav Gaiha is Research Affiliate, Population Studies Centre, University of Pennsylvania; Vani S. Kulkarni teaches Sociology at University of Pennsylvania. The Oped was published in the Hindu and at IPS)

Bitcoin Hits $1 Trillion Market Cap, Soars To Another Record High

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency jumped to an all-time high above $54,000, setting it on course for a weekly jump of more than 11%. It has surged roughly 64% so far this month and was last up 5.5% at $54,405.


All digital coins combined have a market cap of around $1.7 trillion.(REUTERS)

Bitcoin touched a market capitalization of $1 trillion as it hit yet another record high on Friday, countering analyst warnings that it is an “economic side show” and a poor hedge against a fall in stock prices.


The world’s most popular cryptocurrency jumped to an all-time high above $54,000, setting it on course for a weekly jump of more than 11%. It has surged roughly 64% so far this month and was last up 5.5% at $54,405.


Bitcoin’s gains have been fueled by signs it is gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies, from Tesla and Mastercard to BNY Mellon.

All digital coins combined have a market cap of around $1.7 trillion.

“If you really believe there’s a store of value in bitcoin, then there’s still a lot of upside,” said John Wu, president of AVA Labs, an open-source platform for creating financial applications using blockchain technology.


“If you look at gold, it has a market cap $9 or $10 trillion. Even if bitcoin gets to half of gold’s market cap, that still growth of 4X, or $200,000. So I don’t know when it stops rising,” he added.


Still, many analysts and investors remain skeptical of the patchily regulated and highly volatile digital asset, which is little used for commerce.


Analysts at JP Morgan said bitcoin’s current prices were well above estimates of fair value. Mainstream adoption increases bitcoin’s correlation with cyclical assets, which rise and fall with economic changes, in turn reducing benefits of diversifying into crypto, the investment bank said in a memo.


“Crypto assets continue to rank as the poorest hedge for major drawdowns in equities, with questionable diversification benefits at prices so far above production costs, while correlations with cyclical assets are rising as crypto ownership is mainstreamed,” JP Morgan said.


Bitcoin is an “economic side show,” it added, calling innovation in financial technology and the growth of digital platforms into credit and payments “the real financial transformational story of the Covid-19 era.”


Other investors this week said bitcoin’s volatility presents a hurdle for it to become a widespread means of payment.


On Thursday, Tesla boss Elon Musk – whose tweets have fueled bitcoin’s rally – said owning the digital coin was only a little better than holding cash. He also defended Tesla’s recent purchase of $1.5 billion of bitcoin, which ignited mainstream interest in the digital currency.


Bitcoin proponents argue the cryptocurrency is “digital gold” that can hedge against the risk of inflation sparked by massive central bank and government stimulus packages designed to counter Covid-19.


Yet bitcoin would need to rise to $146,000 in the long-term for its market cap to equal the total private-sector investment in gold via exchange-traded funds or bars and coins, according to JP Morgan.

Coconut Oil Is The Best Hair Oil

Coconut oil is natures hair care miracle, offering 10-fold benefits when it comes to hair health. While its numerous hair advantages are well known, here are the top 5 benefits that make coconut oil indispensable.

  1. Coconut Oil Is The Ultimate Hair Protector

No one does the job of shielding hair better than coconut oil. Living in a warm and sunny environment has its own set of problems for hair. Every exposure to sun causes hair to lose moisture and shine, increasing dryness. But not when there’s coconut oil to protect it. A Research Gate study reveals that coconut oil seeps 10 layers deep into the hair shaft and forms a layer of protection that continually hydrates your hair. It also has SPF and anti-oxidant abilities to safeguard from sun damage. Additionally, chemical damage from shampoos and other styling products, including heat damage, can be averted by applying coconut oil prior to exposure.

  1. Coconut Oil Restores Hair Health From Within

As you tire out from superficial hair care products that do more damage than good in the long run, remember that coconut oil seeps into the deepest part of the hair shaft and rejuvenates the hair follicles to restore hair health from the inside out. The fatty acids and vitamins of this oil go deep into the hair to moisturize and hydrate the hair follicles to combat dryness.

  1. Coconut Oil Is A Scalp Saviour

Humidity and extreme climatic changes are not friends to our scalp. With abundant anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, coconut oil has the ability to prevent and treat multiple scalp issues including dandruff, dryness, and other infections. It also efficiently removes sebum build-up, a critical factor causing greasiness in the scalp and hair.

  1. Coconut Oil Effectively Removes Frizz

While we wish everyday were a good hair day, the reality is often quite different. Frizz, which is a result of moisture being sucked out of hair, generally happens when the harsh chemicals in some shampoos deplete the hair of its natural moisture. During the drying process, moisture is sucked out, especially in humid climes leading to frizzy hair. Applying a few drops of coconut oil to freshly washed, damp hair, ensures that the moisture stays locked in and your hair stays frizz free.

  1. Coconut Oil is Natural and Environmental Friendly

Coconuts trees, common as they are in the tropics, literally grow abundantly all around us. Hence, coconut oil is natural, local, available in plenty and perfectly suited to our hair’s multi-faceted needs, Let us ditch the multitude of exorbitantly priced, non-biodegradable and unnecessary hair products, and replace it with the all-natural goodness of coconut oil and do our part in protecting the environment. Our hair, our bank account and our planet will thank us for it. (Picture: Dr. Axe)

Biden Orders Allowing H4 Work Permits

“Withdrawn”. A single word on a thick bureaucratic file on the seventh day of the Biden administration delivered a huge win for spouses of workers on H1B visas in the US who spent the last four years worried sick that their work authorizations would be killed off.

The latest development brings to an end years of effort by the Donald Trump administration to rescind an Obama era regulation that allowed a certain subset of spouses of H1B visa holders to work in the US. Up until the summer of 2015, H4 visa holders could not legally hold paid employment in the United States. Almost as soon as Obama changed the game, the lawsuits followed and then the Trump presidency took the attack on the H4 work permit to a whole new level.A

On text messages, chat groups and online threads, the outpouring of relief played out online on Tuesday evening. “Great news! Hopefully H4EAD delays will be ending soon which is leading to a long wait for dependent spouses,” tweeted Rashi Bhatnagar.

Sharmistha Mohapatra posted, “Big win for H4 EAD holders today. Former Pres Trump’s EO to rescind H4 EAD is now withdrawn by POTUS. Let’s hope excruciating long wait times often resulting in job loss is taken away too!”

From the time the skewering of the H4 work permit (called the EAD) began in Fall 2017, the proposed rule has been published seven times for ongoing review, keeping the H4 community on cliff-edge. The Trump government justified the move saying it is “economically significant” and aligns with the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, which was mostly code for keeping foreign workers out of the US and flinging red meat to the Trump base. Now, the backlink to that Trump executive order ends up as a 404 (page not found) error and re-routes to the Biden White House.

“Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization” was a Trumpian agenda pursued by White House immigration hawks with intense zeal and inter-agency collaboration. It was being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), where it was parked for months. The pressure on the H4 community never really let up since Trump took office.

The decision to rescind the proposed rule on revoking the H4 work permit came on the same day Biden signed an executive order calling for the practice of racial equity in the United States. Data from the US government show that Indian and Chinese workers account for the lion’s share of H1B visas. H4 visas typically follow the same trajectory. Indians filed 74 per cent of all H1B petitions in fiscal year 2019. Chinese filed 11.8 percent. (IANS)

UN Expects India’s Economy To Recover By 7.3% This Calendar Year

The United Nations sees the Indian economy recovering by 7.3 per cent this calendar year after a coronavirus-driven fall of 9.6 per cent last year. The UN’s World Economic Situation and Prospects 2021 report released on Monday said that “despite drastic fiscal and monetary stimulus” India’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell because of lockdowns and other containment efforts that “slashed domestic consumption without halting the spread of the disease.”

India’s GDP growth was forecast to dip in 2022 calendar year to 5.9 per cent, according to the report.

China, where the Covid-19 pandemic started and spread bring the rest of the world to its knees, was the only major economy to have grown last year, registering a 2.4 per cent increase last and is forecast to grow by 7.2 per cent this year and by 5.8 per cent next year, according to the report.

The global economy shrank by 4.3 per cent last year and is forecast to grow by 4.7 per cent this year and 5.9 per cent the next.

UN’s Chief Economist Elliot Harris said, “The depth and severity of the unprecedented crisis foreshadows a slow and painful recovery.”

He warned against the temptation to impose excessive fiscal austerity while the world recovers from the pandemic.

“As we step into a long recovery phase with the roll out of the vaccines against Covid-19, we need to start boosting longer-term investments that chart the path toward a more resilient recovery,” he said.

He said that the world now needed “a redefined debt sustainability framework, universal social protection schemes, and an accelerated transition to the green economy.”

The World Bank earlier this month forecast India’s economy to fall by 9.6 per cent during the current financial year but recover by 5.4 per cent next financial year if there is wide vaccination against the disease and it is contained.

Compared to this, according to the UN estimates made on a fiscal basis for India, its economy was estimated to fall by only 5.7 per cent in 2020-21 and increase by 7 per cent in 2021-22 and 5.6 per cent in 2022-23. The International Monetary Fund is set to release on Tuesday its report on the economic scenario with growth forecasts. (IANS)


America’s Billionaires Have Grown $1.1 Trillion Richer During The Pandemic

Billionaires are minting money during the pandemic, even as millions of Americans join the ranks of the poor. US billionaires have collectively become $1.1 trillion — nearly 40% — richer since mid-March, according to a report published Tuesday by progressive groups Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness.

In other words, not only have the uber-wealthy recovered their losses from the spring, many are faring much better than before. That’s in large part because of the sizzling stock market. Elon Musk alone is about $155 billion richer, boosted by Tesla’s skyrocketing market valuation

Forty-six people joined the ranks of billionaires since March 18, 2020, the week after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, according to the report. 

Clearly, the pandemic is worsening America’s already troubling inequality crisis. The staggering gains at the top contrast sharply with the financial struggles of those at the bottom, many of whom are on the front lines of the pandemic and have lost their jobs or had wages cut.

America’s 660 billionaires now hold $4.1 trillion in wealth — two thirds more than the amount held by the bottom 50% of the US population, the report found. 

Poverty rate climbs sharply

More than 8 million Americans fell into poverty during the final six months of 2020, according to real-time estimates published by economists at the University of Chicago, University of Notre Dame and the Lab for Economic Opportunities. 

The US poverty rate declined during the first few months of the pandemic, in large part because of the federal government’s stimulus checks. However, the poverty rate climbed 2.4 percentage points during the second half of the year — nearly double the largest annual increase in poverty since the 1960s, the economists found. 

Some groups have suffered more than others. The poverty rate for Black Americans is 5.4 percentage points higher today than in June 2020, translating to 2.4 million people who have fallen into poverty, the economists found. 

For those with a high school education or less, the poverty rate has surged to 22.5%, compared to 17% in June. 

Florida, Mississippi, Arizona and North Carolina were among the states that suffered the largest increases in poverty rates. The state-level findings “suggest that poverty rose more in states with less effective unemployment insurance systems,” the economists said in the report. 

How Biden wants to fight inequality

The wealth and poverty statistics provide further proof of America’s K-shaped economic recovery. 

The stock market is at record highs, the housing market is booming and Big Tech is thriving. However, other industries including airlines, restaurants, hotels and movie theaters are still in disarray. 

Janet Yellen, President Joe Biden’s newly confirmed Treasury secretary, has acknowledged this problem and suggested it’s nothing new.

“Well before Covid-19 infected a single American, we were living in a K-shaped economy, one where wealth built on wealth while working families fell further and further behind,” Yellen told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing last week. 

Biden and Yellen are calling for bold action from Congress to ease inequality. Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks, $350 billion in state and local aid and enhanced unemployment benefits. The White House is also expected to push for a multi-trillion infrastructure package that would be aimed at further boosting the economy — and could be financed in part by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Surging housing, stock markets

The pandemic has been a boon to the housing market, with existing home sales hitting a 14-year high in 2020. Home prices, a major source of wealth, hit a record high

The stock market has played a significant role in the divide between rich and poor.

Even though the US economy has not fully recovered from the pandemic, the S&P 500 is up by 72% from its low point in March. That V-shaped recovery reflects optimism about vaccines, trillions in relief provided by Washington and unprecedented steps from the Federal Reserve that have essentially forced investors to bet on stocks. 

Not surprisingly, surging stock prices are especially helpful to the wealthy because they have more skin in the game. As of early 2020, the wealthiest 10% of US households owned 87% of all stocks and mutual funds, according to the Federal Reserve. By contrast, millions of less affluent Americans can’t feel the stock market boom.

Tesla’s (TSLA) skyrocketing share price has lifted Musk’s wealth by more than 600%, according to the wealth report. Other big gainers include Amazon (AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, whose wealth has climbed by more than $68 billion during the pandemic. Facebook (FB) co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is about $37 billion more wealthy than in mid-March.

Inequality isn’t just an American problem.

It will take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recoup their losses from the pandemic, according to Oxfam International’s annual inequality report released Sunday. By contrast, it took just nine months for the world’s top 1,000 billionaires to recover. 

(Picture; Fox Carolina)

Indian Americans Have Highest Average Household Income In USA

The household income of Indian American family on an average is USD 120,000 (over ₹87 lakhs) per annum, surpassing all ethnic groups and white Americans as well, according to a report released by the Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development.

But almost 7 percent of Indian Americans live at or below the federal poverty line, defined in 2018 — the year for which the report drew its data — as $12,490 for a single person, and $25, 750 for a family of four. Low-income Indian American immigrants had feared the Trump-era’s version of the public charge rule, which would deny permanent residency to those who have availed of federal public benefits, such as food stamps, housing assistance and a myriad of other benefits.

Indian Americans and Filipino Americans have the lowest poverty rates among all ethnic groups, and White Americans. Fifty-seven percent of Indian Americans own their homes, while 26 percent are renters. Data shows that some groups, like Indian households, are earning remarkably high incomes (USD 119,858), others, like Burmese households, are earning incomes (USD 45,348) comparable to those earned by Black (USD 41,511) and Latinx (USD 51,404) households.

Nepalese and Bangladeshi American households have an annual income of about $46,000, while Pakistani Americans come closer to the AAPI average, with household incomes of $79,000 per year. Eighteen percent of Bangladeshi American households fall below the federal poverty line, while 16 percent of Pakistani Americans are low-income.

But prosperity does not cut equally among all AAPI ethnicities, including other South Asian American subgroups. While the mean household income for all AAPI ethnicities is $82,000 annually, Burmese Americans earn just half of that at $42,000 per year.

Burmese Americans have the highest level of poverty in the nation, surpassing Black and LatinX households, according to CAPACD — an Oakland, California-based organization that works with low-income AAPI families.

As a whole, 11 percent of Asian American households are at or below the federal poverty level. By comparison, almost 24 percent of Black and Native American households, and 18 percent of LatinX households are low-income.

Poverty levels for White Americans is below 10 percent; they also represent the highest percentage of homeowners — almost 80 percent — according to the CAPACD report.

Because of modern immigration policy, immigrants are more likely to be wealthy and educated when they immigrate to the U.S., stated the report. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 has favored higher education or professional class skills or those who have family in the U.S. As of 2012, 61 percent of Asian immigrants have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the overall U.S. population, in which only one-third have graduated from college or university.

Asian Americans have also gobbled up the majority of employment-based visas, which contributes to a higher earning capacity.

But the authors of the report — Cy Watsky, Josh Isimatsu, Arika Harrison, and Emanuel Nieves — stated that the myth of the model minority masks the severe economic, education, and employment disparities within the AAPI community. People from Asia are clubbed into one ethnic category, which disallows an examination of diverse backgrounds, said the researchers.

“Ultimately, while the Asian American category allows for political solidarity and power for many, when we examine the economic indicators for the AAPI community, it becomes clear that the aggregated data does not come close to telling the full story of these diverse communities,” wrote the researchers.

The U.S. Census does not provide disaggregated wealth data, which is important in understanding the long-term financial security for AAPI households, stated CAPACD in a press release.

“The aggregation limits the conversation around Asian American wealth and financial security. In fact, many AAPI communities are not as economically prosperous as the stereotype of the community would otherwise suggest. These individuals have unrecognized economic needs, which can be best addressed through policies informed specifically by the diverse experiences of AAPI communities,” stated the organization, advocating for disaggregated data for the AAPI community.

(Picture: The Mill Chronicle)

Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Covid Relief Proposal Has Ambitious Plans for Rekindling US Economy

President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion relief package Thursday that included more stimulus payments and other direct aid, but don’t expect to see those funds in your bank account anytime soon. There’s a lot that has to happen before Biden’s plan — which is chock-full of measures long favored by Democrats — becomes law. And even though Democrats will soon control the White House and both chambers of Congress, that doesn’t mean lawmakers will follow Biden’s suggestions to the letter.

As per Kevin Kosar, resident scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and co-editor of the book “Congress Overwhelmed,” the earliest the stimulus money could reach one’s home maybe mid- to late February.

Biden’s massive plan includes several immediate relief items that are popular with a wide swath of Americans, including sending another $1,400 in direct stimulus payments, extending unemployment benefits and eviction protections, and offering more help for small businesses. It also would boost funding for vaccinations by $20 billion and for coronavirus testing by $50 billion.

But it also calls for making some larger structural changes, such as mandating a $15 hourly minimum wage, expanding Obamacare premium subsidies and broadening tax credits for low-income Americans for a year.

It’s the first of two measures Biden has planned to right the nation’s economy and fight the coronavirus. He intends to announce a recovery strategy at his first appearance before a joint session of Congress next month.

The plan, which would require congressional approval, is packed with proposals on health care, education, labor and cybersecurity. He has outlined a five-step approach to getting the vaccination to the American people, and to ensure that it is distributed equitably. “Equity is central to our COVID response,” he said.

Here’s a look at what’s in Biden’s plan: 


— A $20 billion national program would establish community vaccination centers across the U.S. and send mobile units to remote communities. Medicaid patients would have their costs covered by the federal government, and the administration says it will take steps to ensure all people in the U.S. can receive the vaccine for free, regardless of their immigration status.

— An additional $50 billion would expand testing efforts and help schools and governments implement routine testing. Other efforts would focus on developing better treatments for COVID-19 and improving efforts to identify and track new strains of the virus.


— Working with states to open up vaccinations beyond health care workers, including to people 65 and older, as well as essential front-line workers.

— Establishing more vaccination sites, including working with FEMA to set up 100 federally supported centers by the end of his first month in office . He suggested using community centers, school gymnasiums and sports stadiums. He also called for expanding the pool of those who can deliver the vaccine.

— Using pharmacies around the country to administer the vaccine. The Trump administration already has entered into agreements with some large chains to do that. 

— Using the Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era law to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.”

— A public education campaign to address “vaccine hesitancy” and the refusal of some to take the vaccine. He called the education plan “a critical piece to account for a tragic reality of the disproportionate impact this virus has had on Black, Latino and Native American communities” 


— Stimulus checks of $1,400 per person in addition to the $600 checks Congress approved in December. By bringing payments to $2,000 — an amount Democrats previously called for — the administration says it will help families meet basic needs and support local businesses.

— A temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures would be extended through September.

— The federal minimum wage would be raised to $15 per hour from the current rate of $7.25 per hour.

— An emergency measure requiring employers to provide paid sick leave would be reinstated. The administration is urging Congress to keep the requirement through Sept. 30 and expand it to federal employees.

— The child care tax credit would be expanded for a year, to cover half the cost of child care up to $4,000 for one child and $8,000 for two or more for families making less than $125,000 a year. Families making between $125,000 and $400,000 would get a partial credit.

— $15 billion in federal grants to help states subsidize child care for low-income families, along with a $25 billion fund to help child care centers in danger of closing.


— $130 billion for K-12 schools to help them reopen safely. The money is meant to help reach Biden’s goal of having a majority of the nation’s K-8 schools open within his first 100 days in the White House. Schools could use the funding to cover a variety of costs, including the purchase of masks and other protective equipment, upgrades to ventilation systems and staffing for school nurses. Schools would be expected to use the funding to help students who fell behind on academics during the pandemic, and on efforts to meet students’ mental health needs. A portion of the funding would go to education equity grants to help with challenges caused by the pandemic.

A president can propose ideas, but Congress passes the laws


Biden’s relief proposal now shifts to Congress, where it may change substantially as Democratic leaders transform it into a bill. They must decide whether they want to use a special legislative process called reconciliation, which would require only a simple majority of votes to pass the Senate — eliminating the need for Republican support — but would limit the provisions that could be included. Also, reconciliation also be used only sparingly each year. 

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Another factor that could determine the path and speed at which lawmakers act is the health of the economy, said John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. If the nation’s jobs report in early February shows a continued deterioration of the labor market, for instance, Congress may be spurred to move faster and approve more assistance.

Whatever leaders decide, the effort is expected to have an easier time passing in the House — which approved a $3 trillion relief package last May that contained measures similar to those in Biden’s plan — even though Democrats now hold a slimmer majority there.

“A new president and a new tone from the White House can put some pretty significant pressure when pressure is needed,” Hudak said. “For this to happen in some expedited time, it’s really going to require significant influence from the president, especially on key senators.”

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Is New Vice-Chair Of US-India Business Council

US-India Business Council (USIBC) has selected Biocon Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw as one of its vice-chairs effective immediately. US Chamber of Commerce’s USIBC on January 14 announced three vice-chairs to its 2021 Global Board of Directors. The two other business executives joining Shaw as vice-chairs are Amway CEO Milind Pant and Edward Knight who is the vice-chair at Nasdaq. 

 “Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw will be one of the three vice-chairs for the US-India Business Council’s board of directors,” said USIBC Chairman Vijay Advani in a statement from Washington DC. “The perspectives of the new vice-chairs will be invaluable as the Council charts a path forward in the post-pandemic era and work to deepen the US-India partnership,” said Advani.

As vice-chairs, Mazumdar-Shaw, Pant and Knight will work with Council President Nisha Biswal and its policy directors to elevate priorities in key sectors and lead meetings between industry and government.

The trio will also work to amplify the voice of industry on international trade and investment issues and emphasise the key role that businesses can play in strengthening democratic institutions and combatting the global pandemic.

“I am honoured to serve the Council, which is committed to enhancing the US-India bilateral trade. In my new role, I look forward to forging collaborative initiatives in pharma and healthcare in research, innovation and skill development between our two nations,” Mazumdar-Shaw said.

The pandemic has provided an opportunity for robust engagement between the two countries that can lead to knowledge sharing in digital healthcare, medical technologies and Intellectual Property-led drug and vaccine innovation to deliver healthcare solutions, she added.

The Council represents top global firms operating across the US, India and the Indo-Pacific. Recognising that US-India trade is driven by new business hubs, the Council is also focused on strengthening connections between cities and states in both countries.

IAPC Seminar ByAlberta And British Columbia Chapters On Global Economy In The Post-Covid Era

“Covid pandemic globally impacted meticulously by various factors like globalization severely disrupted, the digital revolution accelerated, and inequality in all the sectors drastically increased,” said Dr. EtayankaraMuralidharan, Ph.D. (School of Business, MacEwan University, Edmonton, Canada.), commencing the Zoom conference on Saturday, January 9th, 2021.


As a part of IAPC’s Web series Town Hall meetings, Alberta and British Columbia Chapters together was hosting the seminar on the subject “Global Economy in Post Covid Era.” The meeting was presided by Dr. Joseph Chalil( Chairman, IAPC), and Dr. P.V Baiju ( IAPC Director board member) was the moderator for the seminar.


Dr. Muralidharan presented the vivid aspects of the Covid consequences and how the world is adopting and reshaping globalization with social media resources like Zoom or webinar. He narrated the income inequality and income mobility and the means to change the objective or methods of operation in the governmental, organizational, and individual levels. He presented in turn how organizations contribute to social inequalities and how the firms need to develop CSR practices, reshape work designs, and to align compensation


The other panelist and economic expert, Dr. S. Mohammed IrshadPh D. (Jamsetji Tata School of Disaster Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India presented how the Covid pandemic pushed the economy down. Major countries are on the brink of economic recession, and the global economy is going to trail Pre pandemic trajectory for many years to come. He explained how economic resilience or accountable capitalism or how government stimulus can help overcome it.


The subject matter experts, after their presentations, tactfully answered the various questions raised by the audience. It was condensed that already pre Covid recession was creeping in, and the unexpected pandemic boosted the factors of recession. It is still uncertain how long the peril will continue.


BinoyKaruvayil, VP of the IAPC Alberta chapter, welcomed the guests and all the participants from the various chapters in Canada and the USA. Miss NeethuSivaram of the British Columbia Chapter well managed the event as the MC. Anjaleena Jose, the budding singer with her melodious voice, inspired the participants with her patriotic song ‘ VandeMataram.’


Dr. Joseph Chalil thanked the guests and the Chapter members of the hosting Chapters. Chairman also released the colorful “IAPC Alberta Chronicle Vol 2” and congratulated Chief editor Rajesh Peter and the editorial team. Founder Chairman GinsmonZacharia, General Secretary Biju Chacko, Treasurer Reji Philip, BoD member Thampanoor Mohan, Vice President C G Daniel, Treasurer Innocent Ulahannan were also active participants of the Zoom Meeting.  With the vote of thanks by Anitha Naveen, Secretary BC chapter, the productive and informative session was concluded.

World Bank To Fund $500 Million ‘Green’ Highways Project In India

India and the World Bank on Tuesday signed a $500 million project to build safe and green national highway corridors in the states of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
The project will also enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in mainstreaming safety and green technologies.
The Green National Highways Corridors Project will support the ministry construct 783 km of highways in various geographies by integrating safe and green technology designs such as local and marginal materials, industrial by-products, and other bio-engineering solutions. The project will help reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions in the construction and maintenance of highways.
“Connectivity for economic growth and connectivity for sustainable development are two important aspects of a country’s development trajectory. This operation brings these two priorities together in support of India’s growth strategy,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.
“This project will provide efficient transportation for road users in the four states, connect people with markets and services, promote efficient use of construction materials and water to reduce the depletion of scarce natural resources, and help lower GHG emissions,” he added.
The National Highways of India carry about 40 per cent of road traffic. However, several sections of these highways have inadequate capacity, weak drainage structures and black spots prone to accidents. The project will strengthen and widen existing structures; construct new pavements, drainage facilities and bypasses; improve junctions; and introduce road safety features.
As it is imperative that the infrastructure investments are climate resilient, disaster risk assessment of about 5,000 km of the National Highway network will also be undertaken under the project along with support to the ministry for mainstreaming climate resilience aspects in project design and implementation.
The $500 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a maturity of 18.5 years, including a grace period of five years. (IANS)

Lawmakers Urge President-Elect Joe Biden to Preserve Work Authorization for H-4 Visa Holders

Over 60 members of the US Congress, including all four members of the ‘Samosa Caucus,’ wrote a letter to President-elect Joe Biden Dec. 16, urging him to preserve work authorization for H-4 visa holders. H-4 EAD is granted to the spouses of H-1B visa holders who are on track to get their green cards.
“We respectfully request that the Department of Homeland Security publish a Federal Register notice on day one of your administration that would extend the validity period of all expired H-4 EADs. We are confident that your incoming Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security will rectify the systemic processing issues that have been created by the Trump Administration,” wrote the members of Congress.
The revocation of H-4 work authorization is the Sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of more than 100,000 women from India since the advent of the Trump administration. H-4 visa holders are the dependent spouses of H-1B workers and largely have skills comparable to those of their spouse. However, they had not been allowed to work until 2015, when former President Barack Obama, via executive order, allowed them work authorization, known as H-4 EAD.
Shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump immediately stated his intention to rescind H-4 EAD. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking — which has passed almost all procedural hurdles — currently rests in the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for final approval.
Save Jobs USA filed a lawsuit in 2016 against the Department of Homeland Security, alleging that foreign workers were competing with and replacing American workers.
H-4 visa holders with work authorization are not limited to the types of jobs they can pursue.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last November that H-4 EAD was in fact negatively impacting American workers: H-1B workers were remaining in the U.S. longer than they might have, since their spouses now had work authorization. Thus, they now faced increased competition for employment from H-4 and H-1B visa holders.
The Circuit Court has thrown the case back to a lower court.
In their letter to Biden, the 60 members of Congress — including Reps. Ami Bera and Ro Khanna, D-California; Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington; and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, framed the issue as one of gender equality.
“This rule presented an important step towards rectifying gender disparities in our immigration system as around 95 percent of H-4 visa holders who have secured work authorization are women,” wrote the members of Congress.
“Before the rule was granted, many women on H-4 visas described depression and isolation in moving to a new country and not being allowed to work outside of the home. Unfortunately, these women are losing and will continue to lose their jobs until this is put right, disrupting the lives of their families and the functioning of employers in our districts,” wrote the lawmakers.
The organization Save H4 EADs conducted a survey of 2,400 of its members in 2018. The survey found that 59 percent have postgraduate or professional degrees and above and 96 percent have a bachelor’s degree and above.
About 43 percent purchased a home after receiving work authorization, and 35 percent of them bought a home over $500,000. Forty-nine percent of workers with H-4 EAD have annual individual income of over $75,000. Sixty percent pay taxes of more $5,000. Five percent have started their own businesses, creating employment for American workers.
Meanwhile, in a major win for H-1B workers, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Dec. 16 ruled that computer programming can be considered a specialty occupation, stating that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ denial of a visa for a computer programmer was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta cheered the ruling. In a blog post, Mehta said: “While the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Innova Solutions is doubtless a victory for U.S. technology companies who employ foreign workers as computer programmers, the decision has broader implications, as well. For one, the decision is a refreshing rebuttal to USCIS’s longstanding practice of challenging computer programming on specialty occupation grounds.”
The Indian American attorney noted that this was the first time a circuit court has ruled in favor of the H-1B petitioner, adding that petitioners have won similar decisions in lower courts.
On March 31, 3017, two months after President Donald Trump took office with his “Buy American, Hire American” ethos, USCIS released a memo stating that computer programming would no longer be considered a specialty occupation. The agency noted that some programmers hold only an associate’s degree or less.
“As such, it is improper to conclude based on this information that USCIS would “generally consider the position of programmer to qualify as a specialty occupation,” noted the USCIS memo.
Current law requires H-1B workers to possess a bachelor’s degree or higher, with academic credentials specifically related to their prospective job duties.
In 2017, USCIS had denied an H-1B visa to Dilip Dodda who was scheduled to work for Santa Clara, California-based Innova Solutions as a programmer analyst. Dodda was denied his visa: USCIS noted that computer programming was not a specialty occupation.
Dodda had more than 10 years of experience in computer programming. Innova had planned to assign him to work for one of its clients, Change Healthcare Operations. Dodda would provide consulting services on Change Healthcare’s patient billing and payment system, which required knowledge of several programming languages.
However, USCIS noted in its response to the lawsuit that Innova had stated in its Labor Certification Application that the position in question was a “Wage Level 1 entry position.”
Innova provided to USCIS a list of about 14 functions that Dodda would perform, including writing script, testing beta sites, performing initial debugging, and rewriting code to fix buggy sites. USCIS nonetheless denied Innova’s petition for Dodda.
In its lawsuit, Innova contended that USCIS failed to properly consider the evidence and did not articulate any reasonable basis for its decision. It stated that the agency’s decision therefore must be set aside as arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.
In 2019, United States Magistrate Judge Virginia Demarchi denied Innova’s lawsuit against USCIS, ruling that Innova had not sufficiently established that Dodda was to be engaged in a specialty occupation.
Demarchi said in her ruling that USCIS had noted that even interns could be classified as computer programmers. She ruled in favor of USCIS, stating that Innova failed to submit sufficient evidence “showing the unique or complex nature of the position, or how this position differs from other similar positions within the same industry.”
Innova appealed the lower court’s decision. Judge John Owens, writing for the three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit, noted that USCIS relied solely on the Labor Department’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, which states that most computer programmers normally have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, and that a bachelor’s degree is the typical level of education most programmers need to enter the field. “USCIS’s decision in light of that evidence was arbitrary and capricious,” ruled Owens. “It offered an explanation for its decision that ran counter to the evidence before it.” Mehta said in a blog post

Trump Backs Down, Signs Covid Stimulus Package

Responding to multiple calls and prompting s from leaders from both the political Parties, President Donald Trump, finally signed into law a major coronavirus stimulus/survival package along with an annual spending bill on December 27th night, avoiding a government shutdown before a Monday night deadline.
Trump has railed against the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill and a $1.4 trillion government funding bill since Congress approved it, demanding $2,000 checks and cutting out foreign aid. But on Sunday evening after days of being lobbied by allies, Trump decided to sign the bill and not leave office amid a maelstrom of expired benefits and a government shutdown.
The Bill was voted upon nearly a week ago, and millions were awaiting Trump’s signature, as millions of Americans have temporarily lost their unemployment benefits after President Donald Trump failed to sign the Covid relief bill into law.
US President-elect Joe Biden had warned of “devastating consequences” if Mr Trump continued to delay signing but the Saturday deadline has now passed. Republicans both privately and publicly tried to sway Trump to change his mind after days of attacks on the bill.

After careful negotiations among congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump threatened to blow up the deal — which his own administration negotiated and indicated he would support. More than $2 trillion was at stake, including badly needed pandemic aid for programs like unemployment and food assistance.
The package worth $900bn was approved by Congress after months of difficult negotiations and compromises. Trump said, he wanted to give people bigger one-off payments.
The bill includes the payment of $600 to Americans earning less than $75,000 a year. Mr Trump said, he wants Americans to receive $2,000 but Republicans in Congress refused to agree to the change.
The coronavirus economic relief is part of a $2.3tn spending package that includes $1.4tn for normal federal government spending. A partial government shutdown would have begun on Tuesday, had Trump still not signed the bill. About 14 million Americans would have been affected by a lapse in unemployment benefit payments and new stimulus cheques.
What did Biden say?
In a strongly worded statement published on the transition website on Saturday, Mr Biden described Mr Trump’s refusal to sign the bill as an “abdication of responsibility”.
“It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority,” Mr Biden said.
He praised the example of members of Congress in compromising and reaching a bipartisan agreement, adding: “President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.”
What’s Trump position?
On Twitter earlier, the president had reiterated his objection to the bill, saying: “I simply want to get our great people $2000, rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill.”
The coronavirus aid relief bill – with the larger budget bill rolled in – overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and Senate on Monday but, a day later, Mr Trump issued an implied veto threat, describing the package as a “disgrace” full of “wasteful” items.
He baulked at the annual aid money for other countries in the federal budget, arguing that those funds should instead go to struggling Americans.
Mr Trump’s decision to bat the measure back to Capitol Hill stunned lawmakers since he has largely stayed out of negotiations for a coronavirus aid bill that had stalled since last July.
His top economic adviser, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, had proposed the $600 payments early this month, and many have questioned why the president waited until now to object.
“I will sign the omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” Trump said on Sunday night.
The president also said the Senate would soon begin work on ending legal protections for tech companies, examining voter fraud and boosting the check size for direct payments. The current Congress ends in six days.
“I applaud President Trump’s decision to get hundreds of billions of dollars of crucial COVID-19 relief out the door and into the hands of American families as quickly as possible,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement that did not mention the commitments Trump said the Senate has made.
“To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said previously in a statement.
On Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who had pressed for higher stimulus checks, urged Trump to sign the bill, saying on ABC’s “This Week” that “the suffering of this country will be immense” if the president fails to sign the bill before the shutdown deadline.
But even if the House passes $2,000 stimulus checks, the GOP-controlled Senate is not expected to take up the legislation. The chamber will hold a pro forma session Monday morning and is scheduled to return Tuesday to begin the process of overriding Trump’s veto of the annual defense bill.

With Congress Approving Stimulus Bill, When Will You Get A Second Stimulus Check?

A second round of stimulus payments is included in a coronavirus relief package struck by congressional leaders late Sunday after months of negotiations between Congressional leaders from both the major political parties.

US Congressional Lawmakers voted Monday on the deal, which would provide for $600 checks, but experts say it will take at least two weeks for the Treasury to get cash into individuals’ bank accounts after legislation is signed.

“The timing could be more challenging this time, but the IRS could likely begin to get the money out in January,” said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

In March, Congress provided individuals with $1,200 direct payments and couples with $2,400 plus $500 per child under the $2 trillion CARES Act. Those payments started phasing out for singles who earn more than $75,000 a year and those earning more than $99,000 did not receive anything. The income thresholds were doubled for couples.
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As with the first round, the new payments will only be sent to people below a certain income level, though it wasn’t immediately clear Sunday where that would be set.
It took two weeks after that bill was passed for the IRS to start distributing the money — but some eligible recipients still haven’t received it, months later.
Who gets the money fastest

The payments do not go all out at once. Those whose bank information is on file with the IRS will likely get the money first because it will be directly deposited into their account. Others will receive paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the mail.

About 90 million people — more than half of those eligible — received their payments within the first three weeks of April after the March deal was signed. Most people had their money within two months.

Still, about 12 million eligible Americans were at risk of not getting the money at all because the IRS had no way to reach them. While most people received the money automatically, very low-income people who don’t normally file tax returns had to register online before November 21 to provide their address or bank account number.

IRS under pressure

If Congress keeps the eligibility requirements the same as they were for the first round of checks, the process may be nearly as easy as hitting a button. But it could complicate things if the parameters are changed — especially if Congress adds restrictions aside from income.
Additional checks may delay the start of the 2020 tax filing season. A second stimulus check means the agency will have to make changes to the tax return forms, some of which have already been sent to the printers.

December is not an ideal time to add to the IRS’s workload. It’s typically the month when work is done to prepare for the upcoming filing season and more staff may be on leave than usual due to the holidays.

“I believe the IRS will deliver the stimulus checks in a timely manner. It just might be at the expense of the filing season start date,” said Chad Hooper, the executive director of the Professional Managers Association, which advocates for more than 30,000 non-union IRS workers.

This story has been updated with details of the stimulus deal reached Sunday.

Protesting Indian Farmers Call For 2nd Strike In A Week By SHONAL GANGULY (AP News)

Tens of thousands of protesting Indian farmers called for a national farmers’ strike on Monday, the second in a week, to press for the quashing of three new laws on agricultural reform that they say will drive down crop prices and devastate their earnings.

The farmers are camping along at least five major highways on the outskirts of New Delhi and have said they won’t leave until the government rolls back what they call the “black laws.” They have blockaded highways leading to the capital for three weeks, and several rounds of talks with the government have failed to produce any breakthroughs.

Scores of farmer leaders also conducted a token hunger strike on Monday at the protest sites. Heavy contingents of police in riot gear patrolled the areas where the farmers have been camping.

Protest leaders have rejected the government’s offer to amend some contentious provisions of the new farm laws, which deregulate crop pricing, and have stuck to their demand for total repeal.

At Singhu, a protest site on the outskirts of New Delhi, hundreds of farmers blocked all entry and exit routes and chanted anti-government slogans. Some of them carried banners reading “No farmers, no food.”

About two dozen leaders held a daylong hunger strike at the site, while a huge communal kitchen served food for the other protesters.

“It’s the government’s responsibility to provide social benefits (to people.) And if they don’t give those, then people will have to come together” to protest, said Harvinder Kaur, a government employee who came from her home in Punjab state to help at the kitchen.

Another protester, Rajdeep Singh, a 20-year-old student who helps his farming family back home in Punjab, said the protest would continue until their demands are met.

“Now it’s their (government’s) ego and the question of our pride,” he said.

Farmer leaders have threatened to intensify their actions and have threatened to block trains in the coming days if the government doesn’t abolish the laws.

The farmers filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Friday seeking the quashing of the laws, which were passed in September. The petition was filed by the Bharatiya Kisan Union, or Indian Farmers’ Union, and its leader, Bhanu Pratap Singh, who argued that the laws were arbitrary because the government enacted them without proper consultations with stakeholders.

The farmers fear the government will stop buying grain at minimum guaranteed prices and corporations will then push prices down. The government says it is willing to pledge that guaranteed prices will continue.

With nearly 60% of the Indian population depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, the growing farmer rebellion has rattled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration and its allies.

Modi’s government insists the reforms will benefit farmers. It says they will allow farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment.

Farmers have been protesting the laws for nearly two months in Punjab and Haryana states. The situation escalated three weeks ago when tens of thousands marched to New Delhi, where they clashed with police.

GOPIO-CT Organizes Experts Panel On 2021 Tax Planning and Tax Saving Tips

With the year 2020 with all the uncertainties due to the Covid pandemic coming to a close, most of us, especially the Indian Americans are getting ready to file the annual Tax Returns. With ever changing Tax Laws, and in the context of the Covid pandemic and the ushering in of a new administration led by President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris preparing to lead the nation, there are several unanswered questions on how best to use the prevailing tax laws to benefit individuals, families and businesses.


GOPIO-CT, the most active Chapter in the world, under the leaderships of Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International and Ashok Nichani, the local Chapter president and the Exceptive Committee organized a Virtual Zoom Session on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, with the objective of educating Indian Americans on 2021 Major US Tax Reform, Tax Planning and Tax Saving Tips, International Taxes, Estate & Gift tax and Retirement Plans. Attended by hundreds of members and leaders of GOPIO, the educative session was led by several experts on Tax law in the US, with particular focus on international Taxes.


Cecil Nazareth, ACA, CPA, MBA addressed the audience on Tax Planning 2020-’21 and International Taxes with particular focus on: IRS enforcement; Biden proposed tax plan; Year-end Tax planning; and, Other proposals/planning tools. He recommended tax filers to avoid “red flags” that could potentially lead to one greater scrutiny. Under Biden administration, Nazreth stated, “Chances of tax cut is greater for lower and middle class Americans, with tax rate possibly to go up for those earning over $400,000.” He was of the opinion that “No tax hike in Covid times” and “New credit for people providing long term care to relatives with incentive to offer more retirement savings.” He suggested small businesses to “Apply for PPP loan forgiveness NOW” while cautioning that “Expenses are not deductible if loan is forgiven.”


Cecil Nazareth CA, CPA is a partner with Nazareth CAs & CPAs, Cecil worked at Ernst & Young and the AICPA in key strategic positions. Cecil is an Indian Chartered Accountant and a U.S. CPA. Cecil is a leading authority on Indo–US tax issues. Cecil has an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University and Information Technology from Columbia University. His is also an author of “International tax and compliance handbook” with special emphasis on India-U.S. taxes.


In his address, Michael Markhoff. Esq., spoke about Estate, Gift taxes and Trust Options for Children, while educating the audience on “changes you should consider to your estate plan in 2021 due to the election; Planning to minimize state estate taxes; and Trust options for children.”

Markhoff said, the new Administration under Biden is likely to lower the exemption, resulting less returns for people with higher income. He suggested to “make gifts before the end of the year” and highlighted the options for making gifts from one person to another within family to avoid higher taxes. Suggesting that Life Insurance is a good planning and will help pay for estate plans, he recommended “charity plans will leave with lower state taxes.”


Attorney Michael Markhoff, a partner at Danziger & Markhoff LLP, is a graduate of Columbia College and Brooklyn Law School and is listed in Best Lawyers in America – Trusts and Estates and Category and Super Lawyers – Trusts and Estates Category. Michael was named Trusts and Estates Lawyer of the Year for White Plains, New York for 2016 and 2018 by Best Lawyers in America.


Andy Roth, Esq., addressed the audience on “Looking into Key CARES Act and SECURE Act – Retirement Plan, including on taxes for those with Coronavirus infections. Under CARES ACT, he said, “You, or your spouse or dependent, are diagnosed with coronavirus by a CDC-approved test (including a test authorized under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;) and, or our experience adverse financial consequences as a result of your, or your spouse or a member of your household that is, someone who shares your principal residence. “Qualified individuals can elect in their tax return to treat allowable in-service distributions in 2020 as CRDs even if their employer’s plan does not adopt CRDs,” he told the audience.


Attorney Andrew E. Roth is a partner of Danziger & Markhoff LLP with over 35 years of experience as an ERISA attorney.  He is a frequent lecturer in the areas of pension, profit-sharing and employee benefits law.  Mr. Roth attended University College of Arts and Science of NYU and graduated magna cum laude from Brooklyn Law School. Mr. Roth also received an LLM in Taxation from NYU School of Law.


Shiva Bhashyam CFP®, AEP®, APMA® emphasized the importance of Financial Planning in Retirement and offered Market update and outlook, Retirement planning checklist, and Behavioral investing – how and why to manage emotions during volatile markets.


Shiva Bhashyam received his undergraduate degree in economics from Tufts University and a Masters Degree in Management and Finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Shiva is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) practitioner, Accredited Estate Planner (AEP®), and Accredited Portfolio Manager Advisor (APMA®). Shiva has been a financial advisor with an Ameriprise Financial Private Wealth Advisory Practice, Bhashyam Wealth Management Associates. Shiva has been named a Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisor for 2019 & 2020.


Kim Ramchandani spoke about Long-Term Care Planning Options, and on ways to help you to have a conversation with your loved ones about making a plan now about your wishes. “It is important because your life and your health don’t just affect you; they affect all the people who love and care for you,” she said.

Kim Ramchandani, CHFC® is Senior Vice President, Financial Consultant, Webster Investments. Kim provides holistic wealth management services that address he full spectrum of her clients’ financial concerns, including investments, life insurance, family finances, retirement and estate planning. She has 13 years’ experience in investment services and is a Chartered Financial Consultant. ®

David Folley, who works closely with Webster Investments, in his presentation spoke about Tax Incentives to us in 2020. Pointing to the fact that a third of our society is in retirement, he said, they can be used to reimburse age related caps in the tax laws. While educating the participants on the long-term care, he said, Long Term Care, he said, it is the option to live in the community rather than be institutionalized when one is old or disabled. He warned that when one is older, Medicare and Medicaid will run their course soon, and one’s savings will end and one’s family will not be there to care for you. He suggested using Long Term Care Plans as   a way to prepare to cover the cost of treatment when you need it the most.

In his brief introductory remarks, GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham reminded participants of the many efforts by GOPIO, which has led a delegation to the IRS representing Indian Americans and their many concerns, especially on the FBAR issue in the year 2011.

GOPIO-CT President Ashok Nichani welcomed the panelists and the participants. In his remarks, he highlighted the many initiatives, especially educating Indian Americans on Taxes and Tax Laws in the US. GOPIO-CT Vice president Prasad Chintalapudi moderated the Q/A after each speaker. GOPIO-Central Jersey Vie President Vijay Garg served hosted the Zoom event for GOPIO-CT. Other GOPIO leaders present at the Webinar included GOPIO-CT Secretary Rajneesh Misra. GOPIO International officers including Vice President Ram Gadhavi, Treasurer Kewal Kanda, Associate Secretary Jaswant Mody and Media Council Chair Nami Kaur, GOPIO-Manhattan President Shivender Sofat and GOPIO-Central jersey President Kunal Mehta.

Over the last 14 years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future. GOPIO-CT – Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – serves as a non-partisan, secular, civic and community service organization – promoting awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of PIOs through community programs, forums, events and youth activities. It seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities.

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