This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off -- normally on Sunday -- and does not appear when I am on vacation, travelling, or otherwise busy.)
Joe A Scaria
Former Senior Assistant Editor, The Economic Times, India
Monday, October 24, 2016
Eurozone grows at fastest pace this year; Tata group removes chairman; Women now drink as much as men
1 Eurozone grows at fastest pace this year (San Francisco Chronicle) Business activity across the 19 eurozone economies grew in October at its fastest pace so far this year, shrugging off any major concerns about Britain’s “Brexit” vote, a survey has shown.
The purchasing managers’ index, a survey of activity among 5,000 companies in the services and manufacturing sectors, rose to 53.7 points from 52.6 the month before. The index, compiled by research firm IHS Markit, is on a 100-point scale, with 50 separating growth from contraction.
The increase was led by stronger momentum in Germany, whereas France saw a slowdown. Overall, new orders and hiring intentions rose. Work backlogs accumulated at the fastest pace in five years — a positive sign for the economy that suggests companies are enjoying good demand.
The improvement may not be strong enough to keep the European Central Bank from expanding its bond-buying stimulus program in December, analysts say. Inflation, at 0.4 percent annually, is still far below the 2 percent target rate.
2 Tata group removes chairman (BBC) The board of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, has unexpectedly replaced Cyrus Mistry as chairman. Ratan Tata has been named as interim chairman while a selection committee finds a permanent replacement.
Mr Mistry has led the company, which owns Tata Steel, since late December 2012. He was the first chairman to be appointed from outside the family for 70 years. No details were given by the company as to why the board had decided to make the change. Mr Mistry was only the sixth chairman of the group, which is nearly 150 years old.
Ratan Tata was the previous chairman and was in charge of the company for more than two decades until he stepped down in 2012 at the age of 75. Tata Sons owns Jaguar Land Rover, as well as Tetley Tea. It is one of India’s oldest conglomerates and is made up of more than 100 companies, including Tata Motors, Tata Power and the IT giant, Tata Consultancy Services.
This is perhaps the biggest upheaval that corporate India has seen in recent years. It was during Ratan Tata’s tenure that the group made many bold acquisitions, among them the takeover of Corus Steel and Jaguar Land Rover. Some of those decisions paid off, while others have cost the company a lot of money.
JLR has turned into a profitable company, but Tata Steel has been suffering heavy losses in the UK. The members of the selection committee charged with finding the permanent replacement are Ratan Tata, Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya. The committee will complete the selection process in four months.
Mr Mistry is the youngest son of Pallonji Mistry, an Indian construction tycoon. The Shapoorji Pallonji Group owns 18% of Tata Sons, making it the largest shareholder.
3 Women now drink as much as men (Sarah Boseley in The Guardian) Women have caught up with men in the amount of alcohol they drink and are doing increasing amounts of damage to their health as a result, according to a global study that looked at the consumption habits of four million people over a period of over a century.
The change is partly the result of successful marketing campaigns and the creation of sweeter products aimed at young women or girls, as well as cuts in price, say health campaigners. Some studies have even suggested that younger women may be out-drinking men, according to the study’s authors.
The researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre of the University of New South Wales, Australia, say the conclusion is that public health efforts need to focus more on women.
The analysis, published in the journal BMJ Open, looks at the convergence of drinking habits between men and women over time, from 1891 to 2014. It pools the results of 68 international studies, published since 1980, to look at the changing ratio of male to female drinking over the years.
Historically, far more men drank alcohol than women. Men born between 1891 and 1910 were twice as likely as their female peers to drink alcohol and more than three times as likely to be involved in problematic use or use leading to harms. But in all three respects, this had almost reached parity among those born between 1991 and 2000.
Women’s drinking has increased for a number of reasons. Those who have succeeded in obtaining jobs that were once the preserve of men have joined – or found it necessary to become part of – the after-work drinking culture.
But drops in the price, which have led to wine and beer becoming regular items in the supermarket shopping trolley and part of everyday life at home, have also been a factor, alongside deliberate marketing targeted at women.
Sally Davies, the chief medical officer (CMO), changed the alcohol guidance earlier this year, advising both men and women they risked harm if they drank more than 14 units a week – previously the upper limit for men was 21 units. But she warned that there was no safe limit for anybody.
Women’s bodies do not tolerate alcohol as well as men’s, however, because they have a higher fat to water ratio. Because they have less water, the alcohol in their system remains more concentrated. They also have smaller livers than men, which makes it harder to process alcohol safely.