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Jottings: Disclosures To Disappoint

A recent estimate of bookings reveals that a record number of two million people will be staying in rooms or residences booked through Airbnb during the yearend holidays

Photo Credit : Umesh Goswami

The government may end up being disappointment with the outcome of its four-month Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS) that ended on 30 September. The IDS figures are expected to be revised downwards to around Rs 55,000 crore from the earlier indicated figures of Rs 67,000 crore. This is because of two reasons. One, the government received less tax than it had expected in the first instalment of 25 per cent of the figures disclosed, during the fourmonth IDS window, by those with unaccounted income. Two, some of the declarations were later found to be bogus.

The government should have had around Rs 30,000 crore in taxes and penalties had the IDS figures of Rs 67,000 crore held true. Now the figures will be much less. Remember, under IDS, tax evaders had to disclose their unaccounted assets by paying penalty and taxes of 45 per cent. As per the scheme, 25 per cent tax and penalty was to be paid by 30 November, the next 25 per cent by 31 March and the balance by September 2017. Unfazed, the government has given a last chance to all those hoarding unaccounted wealth. The latest scheme asks the declarants to disclose their wealth by paying 50 per cent tax and penalties. Will this succeed?
— Ashish Sinha

Around The World With Airbnb
A recent estimate of bookings reveals that a record number of two million people will be staying in rooms or residences booked through Airbnb during the yearend holidays. The hotel industry worldwide has an estimated 18 million rooms on offer for guests. This further confirms what analysts have been saying about the disruptive power of new technologies like aggregation. Airbnb is a platform where people can offer rooms inside their homes or even their entire homes to “guests” on rent. Launched in the US, Airbnb has become increasingly popular across the world. Guests benefit by paying less than hotel room rates and hosts earn extra income. While there have been concerns about safety, the aggregator claims that the platform offers enough measures to keep both hosts and guests as safe as possible. Airbnb is doing to hospitality what Uber has been doing with public transport.
— Sutanu Guru

New Season, New Battle

Right after a very successful festive sales month in October, the Indian e-tailing industry witnessed a slowdown in November. As per a report by RedSeer Consulting, the industry saw a 15-20 per cent decline in transactions in the three weeks after demonetisation was announced compared to the first week of November. To redeem themselves of the plunging numbers, e-tailers are now adopting new measures. A recent analysis from RedSeer shows that high-margin private labels are in vogue again; each of the Big 3 is either announcing or launching private labels across categories. Increasing customer loyalty (and thereby reducing acquisition cost) is another key focus area. While Flipkart is making further investments in the high repeat FMCG category, Amazon is further upping the ante with its recent Prime Video launch. Needless to say, the battle is on!
— Ayushman Baruah

Yet Another Win For India Over England

Even as cricket fans were celebrating the convincing win of the Indian team against England, there was more good news for Indians vis-a-vis the erstwhile colonial rulers. It seems that India’s gross domestic product (GDP) has crossed that of the United Kingdom in dollar terms for the first time in more than a century. India now ranks behind the US, China, Japan, Germany and France. Of course, looked at dispassionately, it is no miracle for a country with a vast population and geographical size like India to have a bigger GDP than that of relatively tiny England. But people, nevertheless, celebrated as England happened to rule India for almost two centuries. If GDP is calculated using the purchasing power parity method, Indian economy would be third largest in the world.
— Sutanu Guru

Whithering Double-digit Returns?

With bank deposit interest rates tumbling and equities unwinding, the crucial question is: what is the near future of investing? In India, inflation is waning; hence, interest rates could continue to be low. In the US, a strong economy is likely to reflect in higher interest rates. The US Fed has indicated another three interest rate hikes in the coming year. For starters, expect lower returns from investments. In global markets, debt yields are expected to rise as price of debt will fall. Investors will find it increasingly expensive to carry leveraged trades. Rising interest rates in the US may weigh on global equity markets. Domestically, the debt market signals that PE ratios should be around 15-16. Hence, equities may flip-flop or see-saw, while debt will offer lower returns. Whatever happened to double-digit returns? Possibly, they are a thing of the past.
— Clifford Alvares