Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Brazil president removed from office; Data as the new oil for India's Ambani; Debt as a way of life

1 Brazil  president removed from office (BBC) Brazil's Senate has voted to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office for manipulating the budget. It puts an end to the 13 years in power of her left-wing Workers' Party. Ms Rousseff had denied the charges.

Sixty-one senators voted in favour of her dismissal and 20 against, meeting the two-thirds majority needed to remove her from the presidency. Michel Temer has been sworn in as president and will serve out Ms Rousseff's term until 1 January 2019.

The centre-right PMDB party politician had been serving as acting president during the impeachment proceedings. During his first cabinet meeting since the vote, Mr Temer said his inauguration marked a "new era". He asked his ministers to "vigorously defend" the government from accusations that Ms Rousseff's dismissal amounted to a coup d'etat.

He also told ministers to work closely with the Congress to revive the Brazilian economy. Mr Temer is travelling to China to take part in a summit of the G-20 group of major economies. The dismissal of Ms Rousseff has caused a rift between Brazil and three left-wing South American governments that criticised the move.

Brazil and Venezuela recalled each other's ambassadors. Brazilian envoys to Bolivia and Ecuador have also been ordered home. Ms Rousseff lost the impeachment battle but won a separate Senate vote that had sought to ban her from public office for eight years.

Ms Rousseff was suspended in May after the Senate voted to go ahead with the impeachment process. She was accused of moving funds between government budgets, which is illegal under Brazilian law. Her critics said she was trying to plug deficit holes in popular social programmes to boost her chances of being re-elected in 2014.

2 Data as the new oil for India’s Ambani (Khaleej Times) At the vast open-plan headquarters of Indian telecoms start-up Jio, billionaire oil tycoon Mukesh Ambani stands in short sleeves beneath a digital tracker that logs every new subscriber to his service. The 59-year-old is India’s richest man, and his Reliance Industries oil & gas group is the country’s most profitable.

Now, though, he’s betting at least $20 billion on building, from scratch, a national digital empire stretching from phones and hardware to home entertainment and custom-made apps. The ambitious Jio project could make Reliance the most comprehensive provider of telecom and internet services across India — and give it unprecedented access to the country’s untapped ‘big data’: how millions eat, shop and have fun.

“For Reliance... data is the new oil, and intelligent data is the new petrol,” Ambani said in March, explaining his drive to move closer to India’s consumers. Reliance has said little publicly about Jio, and even less about the potential for wide-scale data mining in a country where consumers have not, to date, made a big deal about online privacy. But top executives are clear on the opportunity.

“It’s called Deep Packet Inspection, and what you can do with the analytics of that is mind-boggling,” said a senior Reliance executive, referring to a practice that digs into ‘packets’ of data created by computers for efficiency, mining them for information. Jio is unlikely to contribute significantly to Reliance profits anytime soon, but is hugely significant for its future.

According to filings at the Commerce Ministry, Jio has more than Rs325 billion ($4.9 billion) of long-term debt, and other liabilities topping Rs580 billion, as of March. In addition, Reliance has spent over Rs290 billion on Jio and is expected to invest more — all adding up to more than what it has been spending on its core refining and petrochemicals business.

Reliance says its oil business is pumping out cash, and any investment in Jio has to be ambitious. Two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion population are not online, and Jio hopes to capture 100 million users — nearly half of India’s current smartphone users — within a year of launch.

3 Debt as a way of life (Suzanne Moore in The Guardian) Many gamble, as they no longer save. Can’t save/won’t save. New figures show that Britain’s “saving habits” are collapsing. This can be put down to the record low in interest rates and the attempt to boost consumer spending. Surely this is also to do with stagnating wages and a culture where saving for many is just impossible.

One big difference is the acceptance of debt as a way of life. Indeed, such contradictory messages about debt and spending are pumped out that I am not surprised there is little interest in saving. It’s still disappointing to take cash out of a machine that has “free withdrawals” emblazoned over the top, to find that they’re not.

All of us, whatever our social class, have our own bling. From superyachts to the little place in France, to the extraordinary nails. The less you can change about your life, the more the small rewards matter. Nails, spray tans and lash extensions are treats – mini-breaks from reality. Someone else waits on you. Everyone else can see what you have spent.

The familiar whine – that people are not actually poor because they possess a smartphone – is put into perspective by how near the edge many are. People are poor when they have no savings, nothing to fall back on. This has to be spelt out.

There is a general agreement among those who can afford to do it that saving is a habit that all must learn. The crisis in consumer confidence that the experts are talking of, though, is surely less serious than this crisis in saving. If one must save to have a secure future and that is beyond our means, the future looks poor.

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