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Cricket hopes for a good Yankee innings

Also in today’s edition: Sanjeev Krishan makes a case for himself; Can’t live with China, can’t live without China

Good morning! Elon Musk's SpaceX must be a creepy place to work at, thanks to the allegedly creepy behaviour of the boss himself. The Wall Street Journal reports that Musk dated an intern at SpaceX who is more than 20 years his junior. He also allegedly offered to buy a horse for a former SpaceX flight attendant in exchange for sexual favours. Another former employee has alleged Musk asked her to have his babies. We don't really have anything to add except that the allegations speak for themselves. That's another story, as when similar allegations had surfaced earlier, Musk had dismissed them as "politically motivated" smear campaigns. Ah. 

🎧 A reality check for India’s lithium dreams. Also in today’s episode: how new ventures that provide elder care services in India are opening up. Tune in to SpotifyApple PodcastsAmazon MusicGoogle Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Soumya Gupta, Roshni Nair, and Anup Semwal also contributed to this edition.

The Market Signal* 

Stocks & Economy: Despite US consumer price inflation slowing to a pace not seen in three years and counterparts in Europe and Canada taking the global lead in cutting interest rates, the Federal Reserve is reluctant to bring down its benchmark rates. 

Fed chief Jerome Powell indicated that confidence that prices would continue to soften was still not high enough to reverse rates. The central bank now expects one cut in 2024 and four in 2025.  

Retail inflation in India softened too, dropping to a 12-month low of 4.75% in May, although food inflation remained at the same level as April. 

Meanwhile, industrial output fell to 5% in April, which was the lowest in three months. It was 5.4% in March. 

Asian equities were upbeat in early trade, taking their cue from US shares. The GIFT Nifty indicates a flat or positive opening for Indian equities. 

BUSINESS OF SPORT

Can Cricket Bowl Americans Over?

The US-India face-off at the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup in New York was as much a sports event as a business plan. 

The US hosting the tournament and the game’s inclusion in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics are significant milestones. Cricket’s initial addressable US audience would roughly be ~5-10 million (primarily those of South Asian descent). Tiny for a country of 335 million, but it matters.

At the heart of that story is a one-year-old T20 league, the Major League Cricket (MLC), backed by prominent Indian-Americans such as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen, alongside top IPL franchises. The MLC saw 70% of its matches sold out, 80% of seats filled, 100% of hospitality sold, and ticket sales adding up to a third of its first-year revenue. Broadcast and sponsorship contributed 30% each. Head to The Core to know how MLC is conquering the US.

BIG FOUR

Striking When The Iron Is Hot

Word is that Beijing wants to levy a record fine of approximately $138 million on accounting and consulting services giant PwC for its audit of Evergrande, the Chinese property developer accused of committing financial fraud. The Big Four firm is also facing regulatory scrutiny from countries such as Australia.

Sensing trouble for PwC’s China unit, PwC’s India chief is closing in on a potential opportunity, according to Financial Times. Sanjeev Krishan is reportedly lobbying for a spot in the network leadership team. It’s a big deal because the executive committee only consists of leaders from the US, EU (rotating chair), UK, and Asia Pacific/China. The justification is that India was the fastest-growing of PwC’s 21 biggest businesses in 2023.

But: Krishan is up against a wall. India’s growth trajectory doesn’t make up for the fact that PwC’s business in the country is still small compared to that in other regions.

INDIA-CHINA RELATIONS

It’s Complicated

Imported Chinese machinery and plants are lying quiet in many factories for lack of knowledgeable technicians to run them. Industry has now persuaded at least two ministries to intervene with the external affairs ministry to fast-track visas to Chinese technicians to restart work. 

The ministries are said to be pressing for limited entry of Chinese experts. Nearly 60% of the $100 billion Chinese imports comprise engineering and electronic items.

Meanwhile, the government is said to be insisting on majority Indian ownership of any joint venture with Chinese companies. Several projects were reportedly stuck due to a lack of clarity but the MG Motor-JSW venture for electric vehicles, in which Indian entities, including the JSW Group, employees, financiers and dealers together have 51% ownership, could become the template for them as well. 

The Signal

Restricting trade, capital and people movement in a globalised world is often counterproductive. After the Galwan border clashes in 2020 between the armies of the two neighbours, India banned Chinese apps, and imposed curbs on personnel and imports, including capital inflows. While Chinese plants and machinery help reduce capital costs, skilled technicians help train Indian workers. Curbing movement of both harms local industry as developing domestic expertise takes time. It not only affects Indian competitiveness, but also forces more imports of finished goods. For instance, Indian drugmakers still heavily depend on active pharmaceutical ingredients made in China.

FYI

RIP: Two Indian nationals, recruited as helpers to the Russian Army, recently died fighting in the Ukraine war, India’s foreign ministry revealed. Separately, at least 40 Indians died in a building fire in Kuwait. 

Got the munchies: Snacks and namkeen maker Haldiram’s is considering a public issue as talks to sell a stake to PE investors fell through, Bloomberg reported. 

🌞safe: 50,000 women received insurance payouts as the ongoing heatwave in north and west India robbed them of work days; the scheme is run by self-employed women’s group SEWA. 

Cough up: A telecom operators’ body asked the new India government to introduce a fair share charge on OTT services such as messaging and streaming. 

No pilgrims: Airline operator Spicejet shut down direct flights from Hyderabad to Ayodhya in just two months, citing low demand. 

THE DAILY DIGIT

86

The percentage of Indian employees who say they are either struggling or suffering, according to the Gallup 2024 State of the Global Workplace report. Thirty-five percent of staffers surveyed said they felt angry every day, while just 14% said they thrive at the workplace. (The Economic Times)

FWIW

1,99,99,900%: That’s the profit percentage of one highly distinguished jeweller in Jaipur. Gaurav Soni reportedly sold several pieces of fake jewellery, worth no more than ₹300, for a staggering ₹6 crore. His victim? An American woman named Cherish, who only discovered the truth when she showcased her "treasures" at an exhibition in the US. Now, Jaipur police are hot on the trail of this cunning jeweller. Netflix, crime doc when?

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