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Friday 2 August 2019

Weekly Reading: Some Interesting Stuff

1) The cure for baldness is here
I have always maintained that anyone who can find the cure for two problems will become billionaires - baldness and obesity. Looks like one of the problems is coming to an end. And technology is intervening here as well.

The physiology of balding has long vexed even the most entrepreneurial of scientists. Despite a rare confluence of commercial forces and scientific interest, generating new hair remains outside the realm of the possible. This could be changing, though—and not owing to new packaging of the same old medicines. Recently a series of scientific publications have explored advances that involve both stem-cell research and 3-D printing, with the goal of cloning a person’s actual hair and then inserting it into his or her scalp—in tremendous, unlimited quantities.
 Using cells from a person’s own body minimizes the risk that the immune system will reject the hair transplants 

2) The big business of sleep
The Western world is currently undergoing an epidemic of poor sleep – fueled by everything from auto-play streaming services to the rise in millennial anxiety. And yet, new and alarming research is telling us more than ever about its dangers, from higher rates of heart disease to doubling our risk of cancer. But now, coming to the rescue is a £100 billion sleeping giant, as tech titans and start-ups repackage rest as the ultimate wellness cure.

3) Fungi are getting ready to kill us! (And we are helping them!!!)
Candida auris, a fungus that can kill anyone who comes into close contact with a carrier, was first identified in 2009 in a Japanese patient with an ear infection. It then started showing up in hospitals in Asia, Africa and South America in patients without a clear link — and no one could figure out why.

The majority of fungi grow well in ambient temperatures but only a small percentage can tolerate our body temperature. The concern is that the higher ambient temperatures caused by global warming will eventually lead some kinds of fungus to breach the thermal restriction zone, what Casadevall explains is a zone that is so hot that it typically keeps most fungal species off our body. Without those defences working, Candida auris and other fungal species that adapt to higher temperatures can infect and possibly kill humans.

4) Ruchir Sharma on why a US Fed rate cut can be dangerous
The US Federal Reserve appears poised to cut interest rates for the first time since the global financial crisis a decade ago. Adjusted for inflation, the Fed’s benchmark rate is now just half a per cent and the cost of borrowing has rarely been closer to free, but the clamour for more easy money keeps growing.

Everyone wants the recovery to last and more easy money seems like the obvious way to achieve that goal. With trade wars threatening the global economy, Federal Reserve governors say rate cuts are needed to keep the slowdown from spilling into the United States, and to prevent doggedly low inflation from sliding into outright deflation.

In this environment, cutting rates could hasten the outcome that the Fed is trying to avoid: a debt-fueled market bubble, followed by collapse and an economic downturn with falling prices – much like Japan in the 1990s. Japan showed that central banks can print all the money they want, but can’t dictate where it will go. Easy credit could not force over-indebted consumers to spend, and much of it ended up going to finance “bridges to nowhere” and the rise of debt-laden “zombie companies” that still weigh on Japan’s economy.

5) Urjit Patel's insights into the Indian banking system
Indian funding model is bank-led; hence, the banking sector health has to be a priority area.
The dominance of bank-led funding is slowly changing, but, expected to remain important, plus there is interconnectedness between banks & non-banks.

There is a significant divergence in the performance of private banks (PBs) and government banks (GBs) in terms of operations & financial indicators. GBs have a high ratio of non-operating expenses to earnings compared to PBs. High-cost structure of GBs is borne by economy; maybe impinging transmission of policy rate changes.

As many as 90 per cent of frauds occurred in GBs while the share of PBs is about 10 per cent.
In Indian banks, capital is low relative to NPAs compared to global standards.

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