Strike continues at Maruti’s Manesar plant, production hit

The striking workers are demanding the recognition of a new union-Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU)-formed by those working at the Manesar plant, besides retaining contract labourers for the two upcoming new units inside the complex

New Delhi: The country's largest car-maker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) today said its Manesar plant has stopped functioning, resulting in a production loss of about 1,200 units so far as a workers' strike entered the third day.

"The situation remains the same as of now," a company spokesperson told PTI.

He, however, declined to share any further details.

On Saturday, about 2,000 workers employed at the plant struck work from the second shift of the day.

Striking workers are demanding the recognition of a new union-Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU)-formed by those working at the Manesar plant, besides retaining contract labourers for the two upcoming new units inside the complex.

Taking no disciplinary action against the 11 office bearers of the new union is also another demand.

According to senior officials of MSI who wished not to be named, the company has so far incurred a production loss of about 1,200 units till the first shift of operations today.

The Manesar plant rolls out about 1,200 units every day in two shifts. While the first shift operates between 7.30am and 4pm, the second shift starts at 4pm and ends at 12.30am.

The workers said the company currently has one union, Maruti Suzuki Kamgar Union, which is mainly dominated by those working at the Gurgaon facility.

"The Manesar plant is completely different and issues are also separate. So we are asking for recognition of our new union. But the management has forcibly taken written undertakings from workers that they are happy with the old union," a source had claimed.

The company's Gurgaon plant, however, is functioning as usual.

The last time the company witnessed a major strike was when workers stopped production for three months from November 2000 to January, 2001.

MSI is setting up two new units with an annual installed capacity of 2.5 lakh units each inside its Manesar facility at a total investment of Rs3,625 crore. The existing plant in Manesar can produce 3.5 lakh units annually, while the three units in Gurgaon have a combined annual capacity of 8.5 lakh units.

The company's stock was trading at Rs 1,223 apiece, down 0.86% from the previous close in post-noon trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange today.


Industry favours listing of stock exchanges

Industry chambers Assocham, FICCI and MCX-SX have favoured listing of the stock exchanges, while NSE is of the view that listing should be allowed only after segregation of the regulatory and commercial roles of bourses

New Delhi: Asked by the government for suggestions on a new set of rules for ownership and governance of the stock exchanges, the industry has favoured listing of the bourses, reports PTI.

However, there is no unanimity among the industry bodies and the exchanges themselves on how to segregate the regulatory and commercial roles of stock exchanges.

Industry chambers Assocham, FICCI and MCX-SX have favoured listing of the stock exchanges, while NSE is of the view that listing should be allowed only after segregation of the regulatory and commercial roles of bourses.

On 23rd May, the corporate affairs ministry had held consultations with the representatives of stock exchanges, industry chambers, accounting bodies and other stakeholders on the new rules. It had sought a roadmap by 30th May for segregation of the regulatory and commercial roles of the bourses.

A Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)-appointed committee chaired by former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Bimal Jalan had suggested last year sweeping changes in the way stock exchanges are owned and run and strongly recommended capping their profitability and not allowing them to get listed to safeguard their front-line regulatory role.

However, the proposals met with stiff resistance and SEBI sought the government's suggestion before implementing them.

Subsequently, the ministry of corporate affairs set up a committee under joint secretary Renuka Kumar to discuss the Jalan panel's recommendations with stakeholders.

According to sources, FICCI has suggested that listing of the bourses should be allowed, as the process of segregation would take time. Assocham, too, has favoured listing and feels that segregation should be gradual and done over a period of time.

In its response, the NSE pointed out that there is an inherent conflict of interest in an exchange between the regulatory and commercial roles and this gets increased or exacerbated if you list an exchange, they added.

"NSE has recommended that segregation is a must before listing," a source said.

Implementation of the Jalan Committee's recommendations has been pending for many months now.

The committee, set up in January 2010 to review the ownership and governance norms for market infrastructure institutions, submitted its report to SEBI in November last year. The market regulator invited comments on it till 31st December.

The proposals generated intense debate and opposition was raised to proposals like non-listing of bourses and caps on profitability, terming them as anti-investor measures.

In the wake of stiff opposition to the proposals, SEBI later put the ball in the government's court.


Burden of information: The performance of fund managers depends on how data is analysed and processed

A growing problem is that governments all over the world are interfering with markets as never before and these interventions distort the price signals, information and create bubbles

One of my readers was kind enough to ask a question as to why expert fund managers with an active team of analysts and traders underperformed their inactive benchmarks. The simple answer is information; how information is analysed and processed.

There is a growing problem with the global economy. Governments all over the world are interfering with the markets as never before. Normally, markets can correct by themselves as the equilibriums assert themselves and the markets return to their means. But government interventions distort the price signals, information and create bubbles. A good example is Brazil.

Brazil's macroeconomic management has been quite good over the past decade. It has been rewarded by an economy that is growing; but actions by Brazil itself, the US Federal Reserve and China have all combined to create a credit bubble. In Brazil, like China, the state-owned banks have increased lending to help Brazil avoid the recession. Banco do Brazil is the country's biggest financial firm, with a fifth of total assets, and National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) accounts for 40% of the lending. This amount of credit might have been beneficial, but the result of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing allowed for a massive carry trade and foreign direct investment grew 90%.

The flood of money created a credit boom. Credit has grown enormously and is now as large as 45% of the economy. Brazilians have therefore been able to borrow money, many for the first time, to buy homes, motorcycles, refrigerators and other consumer goods. They now spend up to 20% of their income on debt. The torrent of money has also pushed up the value of the real.

But the Federal Reserve is not the only government involved. The Chinese have been pumping up their economy with a vast quantity of bank loans. The combination of speculation with free money and Chinese demand has created a spike in commodities. But since the Chinese have held their currency down, Brazil is now inundated with cheap Chinese goods that are harming its manufacturing sector.

The creation, length and effects of these different government policies are anyone's guess. Financial journals, magazines and television programmes are filled with pundits trying to predict government action. The analysts, traders and managers might be right about one government and make their investments based on that prediction. But the combination of erratic actions with variable interactions throughout the global economy means the probabilities of getting it right decline.

It is not just that governments interfere with the markets. Many are quite opaque about what they are doing. State-owned firms and sovereign wealth funds are equally silent as to their intentions. Disclosure is not required and in many emerging market, information is actively suppressed. This results in an ever-widening information gap.

Managers, traders, and analysts make this problem worse by assuming that the terabytes of information that assault them on an hourly basis have a basis in truth. Often they are anything but accurate, complete and timely. They are also making assumptions about the causes and motivations. Governments are supposed to act in the best interests of their citizens. Corporations are supposed to be making profits. More often governments are acting in the best interests of the party, and politicians in charge and state-owned firms are actively supporting political goals at the taxpayer's expense.

It is not only that the information and basic assumptions that are bad. The expert money managers compound the problem by putting their faith in numbers, equations and algorithms. The world is a dynamic place. If these formulas ever had a basis in reality, that basis may have changed drastically. Mathematical models in science can be an accurate approximation of reality if the data used to construct them is accurate. But scientific instruments used to collect the data do not intentionally lie for economic gain. People do. For example, Axa Rosenberg Group, a quantitative investment firm paid $242 million to settle allegations relating to an error in its computer model that lost millions. The error was introduced in the system in 2007, but the company's management only learned about it two years later, in 2009, and then took another year to tell people about it.

Managers are like everyone else, subject to cognitive biases. They are often very smart and exceptionally well paid. So they feel that they are right when they follow a herd, interpret information that confirms their beliefs, anchor their opinions on a few assumptions, underestimate their own biases, discount contrary information and remember their choices as better than they actually were.

As John Maynard Keynes pointed out, "The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones." When expert managers understand themselves and their world better, they might do a better job hitting their benchmarks, but that might be too much to ask.  

(The writer is president of Emerging Market Strategies and can be contacted at [email protected]  or [email protected].)


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