Things we are reading today - July 19th, 2023

Twitter’s cash flow continues to experience negativity due to two key factors: a significant decrease of nearly 50% in advertising revenue and a heavy debt burden. This situation has resulted in the company falling short of Elon Musk’s expectations. The company is taking proactive steps to address these issues and prioritize the importance of ad sales, one such measure is the appointment of Linda Yaccarino, the former ad chief at Comcast’s NBCUniversal, as Twitter’s CEO. By focusing on video content, creator collaborations, and strategic partnerships, Twitter aims to enhance its market position and regain financial stability.

Despite being a superpower, China nevertheless sees itself as a developing nation because it views development as a continuing process. Chinese exports to the Global South currently exceed those to the Global North, with an emphasis on cutting-edge telecommunications, transportation, and “Smart Cities” as opposed to low-cost items. China is successfully exporting those successful developmental models that quickly elevated its own country to the status of a superpower. It trades more with Southeast Asia than it does with the United States, and it is transferring technological infrastructure to a number of developing nations in the Global South. This change denotes a change in the balance of power since China allows these countries to build their own future without relying on the Global North.

The FBI estimates that between 2016 and 2021, losses from scams totaled more than $43 billion. One common scam is investing with someone who promises a 50% yearly return with no chance of loss. If someone/thing produces perfect results time after time, we should be skeptical. The most important information can be withheld or distracted from us by those who want to mislead us, and they could count on us to miss it. To avoid this, we need to control our enthusiasm and ask, “What’s missing?” We need to become conscious of our mental tendencies and shortcuts in order to stop being fooled.

The interview with Nikhil Menon discusses his book, “Planning Democracy,” which explores how India positioned itself as neither fully aligned with the American-led capitalist camp nor the Soviet-dominated communist bloc during the mid-twentieth century. India adopted a mixed economy approach with centralized planning within a parliamentary framework, seeking to present a model for a decolonizing nation without getting involved in superpower competition. This interview sheds light on the significance of centralized planning in policymaking during that era, the propaganda used to support it, and the Indian government’s current approach to data.

In June 2023, the number of households availing jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGS) in India reached 3.04 crore, a 10% increase compared to the previous year. Tamil Nadu had the highest share of households at 17%, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. The only other times the number surpassed 3 crore were in May and June 2020 during the national lockdown due to Covid-19. Chhattisgarh saw the most significant increase of 36% in households availing the scheme. However, in West Bengal, work under MG-NREGS was suspended due to fund suspension, resulting in only 962 families getting jobs compared to 4.94 lakh families in June 2022. The government allocated Rs 60,000 crore for NREGS in the Budget 2023-24, and the total expenditure on the scheme in the previous three financial years exceeded Rs 1 lakh crore.

Shopify Inc., a Canadian e-commerce company, has introduced a new internal tool embedded in employees’ calendar apps. The tool calculates the cost of meetings involving three or more people to emphasize the importance of productivity and cost-efficiency. By considering average compensation data, meeting length, and attendee count, the calculator estimates the cost of the meeting. For example, a 30-minute meeting with three employees can cost anywhere from $700 to $1,600. This initiative aims to remove approximately 322,000 hours of meetings this year to increase productivity.

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