Business review from the Economist
India takes up universal basic income
Though the idea has been discussed for decades, India's government said the time is ripe for a serious discussion about the merits of a universal basic income. The finance ministry's annual economic survey included a chapter on UBI as a potential and more efficient substitute for the country's myriad welfare programs, many of which take the form of subsidies that fail to reach the intended beneficiaries. The report emphasized that implementing a UBI would be fraught with difficulties, but its prominence in an official government document is noteworthy.
Donald Trump attacked alleged currency manipulators, taking aim at China, Germany and Japan for what he claimed were deliberate attempts to keep their currencies low in order to gain a trade advantage. Peter Navarro, his trade guru, described the euro as an "implicit Deutschmark" that is "grossly undervalued." Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, pointed out that Japan's stimulus program is designed to reflate the economy. Expectations that the Trump administration wants a weaker dollar helped push it down by 3 percent against a basket of currencies in January.
The eurozone's economy grew by 1.7 percent in 2016, below the 2 percent it notched up in 2015. Still, that was more than the 1.6 percent growth in GDP in the United States, its weakest pace in five years. Notwithstanding the Brexit vote, the best-performing economy in the G-7 was probably Britain's, which grew 2 percent.
The head of the European Banking Authority proposed creating a publicly funded "bad bank" that would buy up $1.1 trillion in toxic debt that sits on the balance sheets of European banks. Those nonperforming loans, a quarter of which are in Italy, are a drag on growth. The EBA has no power to implement such a plan. Germany, which has very low levels of bad debt, would probably oppose it.
Apple cheered investors when it reported a rise in revenue for the last three months of 2016, dispelling worries about a wobble in sales. The company sold $78.4 billion in the quarter, up by 3 percent from the same period in 2015. Sales of the iPhone increased by 5 percent, a relief for Apple after months of shrinking demand for its signature product. China was still a weak spot, though the 12 percent drop in revenue there was not as bad as in some previous quarters.
Lyft was downloaded more times over a day than Uber on the Apple app store for the first time, after its rival became ensnared in more bad publicity. A campaign to persuade people to delete their Uber app took off on social media when it was accused, wrongly as it turned out, of trying to take advantage of a taxi strike at New York's JFK International Airport that was being held as a protest against Trump's ban on refugees. Lyft is planning to expand to another 100 American cities this year.
Toyota sold 10.2 million cars last year, meaning it can no longer claim to be the world's biggest carmaker. That crown passes to Volkswagen, which, despite Dieselgate, parked sales of 10.3 million vehicles in 2016.
Vodafone confirmed that its subsidiary in India is in merger talks with Idea Cellular. The joint subscriber base of India's second- and third-biggest carriers would number 390 million.
Global politics from the Economist
Trump bans all Syrian refugees
America's refugee policy was thrown into turmoil by Trump's executive order to halt all refugee admissions for four months and ban Syrian refugees indefinitely. In addition, all citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were stopped from entering the United States for three months. The directive caused confusion in the United States and abroad.
Neil Gorsuch was nominated by Trump to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Antonin Scalia a year ago.
A gunman killed six people at a mosque in Quebec City, the capital of Canada's French-speaking province. Police later arrested a man who reportedly has anti-immigrant and white-supremacist views.
In Chile, 11 people died in wildfires, which consumed more than 1,300 square miles of forest and the town of Santa Olga in the central part of the country.
Guinea's president, Alpha Condé, was elected chairman of the African Union, a yearlong ceremonial post, while Morocco was readmitted. It withdrew 33 years ago after the admission of Western Sahara, which it claims and occupies. That dispute is still unresolved.
Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, dissolved the police squads that spearheaded his war on drugs. The order came after police killed a South Korean businessman.