Monday, June 15, 2015

Hollande sounds alarm on Grexit; News outlets losing control to Apple, Facebook & Google; India inflation negative for seventh month

1 Hollande sounds alarm on Grexit (BBC) French President Francois Hollande said there was "little time" to prevent Greece from leaving the eurozone. He said the ball was firmly in Greece's court. "It's not France's position to impose on Greece further cuts to smaller pensions, but rather to ask that they propose alternatives," he said.

Talks with Greek and EU officials in Brussels on Sunday failed to reach an agreement that would release bailout funds to Greece. Eurozone finance minister will meet on Thursday, but Greece's Yanis Varoufakis said he did not plan to present new proposals at the meeting. The prospects of a Greek default in just over two weeks' time has worried investors.

Europe wants Greece to make spending cuts worth €2bn (£1.44bn) to secure a deal that will unlock bailout funds. Greece must repay more than €1.5bn of loans to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the end of June and promise further economic reforms to receive about €7bn of bailout funds. The funds have been delayed by three months amid growing fears the government will soon run out of money.

Sticking points between Greece and the IMF and EU remain reforms to VAT, pensions and a primary budget surplus target for this year and next year. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned Athens would stand its ground until its creditors become "realistic". He called on the IMF and EU to "meditate" on the idea that: "We are not only the heirs of a long history of struggle. We are also carrying on our shoulders the dignity of a people, and the hope of the peoples of Europe."

2 News outlets losing control to Apple, Facebook and Google (Mark Sweney in The Guardian) Traditional news outlets face an increasingly uphill struggle to make money as readers move to mobile devices, giving Facebook, Google and Apple increasing control, according to a new international survey.

The use of mobile devices to access news on a weekly basis surged in the last year from 37% of respondents to almost half (46%), according to a 12-country report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ). As smartphones and tablets become the devices of choice for accessing content, traditional news brands are being dis-intermediated by the Silicon Valley giants.

The US firms are in a battle to be the top platform for news, with Facebook recently unveiling its Instant Articles service, and Apple announcing a revamp of Newsstand as Apple News. The report shows a 42% increase year-on-year in referrals from Facebook to the top 20 global news organisations, showing the increasing importance of social media in driving traffic and revenue.

“The reality is that only the most loyal users are downloading and using apps,” said Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of research at the RISJ. “For others, social media, messaging apps, email and mobile notifications are becoming an increasingly important route to news”.

Nielsen says the relative difficulty in monetising content on mobile devices compared to traditional desktop websites, and the rise of ad-blocking technology, means that news brands will find it increasingly hard to make money.

3 India inflation negative for seventh month (Times of India) Inflation in India remained in negative territory for the seventh month in May, registering a decline of 2.36% on account of subdued prices of food items, fuel and manufactured goods. In the coming months, however, the price situation will depend on the progress of monsoon, experts said.

The wholesale price index- (WPI) based inflation was -2.65% in April. It has been in the negative zone since November. Inflation in May 2014 was 6.18%.  The lower inflation comes amid a forecast of deficient monsoon this year. The Consumer Price Index inflation had inched up marginally in May to over 5% from 4.87% in the previous month.

Overall, food inflation was 3.8% — much lower than the previous few months. The May inflation in manufactured items (food products, sugar, edible oils, beverages) declined by 0.64% — lowest in past many months. Inflation in fuel and power basket was at -10.51% on annual basis, though slightly up from April.

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