Opinion polls are only a snapshot at a particular time and election campaigns are dynamic and ever changing. As governor Romney ratchets up the attack on the failed Obama policies, the election dynamics could change
Reading opinion polls in July to decipher what is going to happen in November, is not much better than the medieval practice of reading tea leaves to decipher the future. This was a European practice in which tea was drunk from the cup leaving behind tea leaves, which an expert interpreted to tell you about the future.
Opinion polls are somewhat better, but only just. One realises this when one sees them going here, there and everywhere, but one is bound to take notice if three opinion polls say more or less the same thing. Recently the Wall Street Journal opinion poll, the Quinnipeg opinion poll and the London Economist's opinion poll all noticed that in some crucial swing states the electorate is moving in favour of president Obama. This is despite all the bleak news on the economy, the fact that Mitt Romney has sewn up the Republican nomination and the mis-steps of the Obama campaign. Overall in the new Wall Street Journal/NBC news survey president Obama had a three-point lead over governor Romney 47% to 44%. In the swing states (the ones identified by the survey as the battleground states) he had an eight-point advantage and that advantage has widened from a two-point advantage in April. Similarly the Quinnipeg University swing states poll has president Obama ahead of governor Romney 45%-41% in Florida, 47%-38% in Ohio and 45%-39% in Pennsylvania.
“If he can keep these leads in all these key swing states through Election Day he would be virtually assured of the election,” Peter Brown of Quinnipeg said. Similarly the position of president Obama had strengthened among the Hispanic voters in June. Something is moving the electorate at this early date. The question is what that something is?
The New York Times electoral map shows 217 electoral votes solid or leaning Obama. This includes states like New York and California, Washington and Oregon. 206 electoral votes solid or leaning Romney. This includes states like Texas, Alabama and Georgia. It is the 115 electoral votes which are a tossup where the election will be decided. To win the Electoral College 270 votes are required.
The swing states in this election according to the New York Times are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire. In three of those states a noticeable shift is occurring in favour of president Obama. Four of the eleven swing states are in the Midwest and the Obama campaign has been heavily advertising about governor Romney and his background as the president of Bain Capital in these states. These advertisements portray governor Romney as a job destroyer rather than a job creator in this election year when jobs are the main issue. This is obviously biting and the view of governor Romney is being obviously coloured by this early advertising.
In a new USA Today Gallup poll of swing states an overwhelming majority of voters remember campaign advertisements over the past month and one in twelve say the commercials have changed their minds about president Obama or governor Romney. This is a small margin but one that could prove crucial in a close race says the USA Today. At this point president Obama has the advantage. Among swing states voters who say the advertisement have changed their minds about the candidates rather than just confirmed what they already thought, 76% support the president with 16% favouring governor Romney. It should be mentioned that in the USA Today opinion poll in swing states president Obama is ahead of governor Romney by a very slim margin.
Writing in the American Prospect, Jamelle Bouie says that the Obama campaign has reversed the substantial lead that the Romney campaign had in Florida with an attack of Romney’s connection with Bain Capital. This is biting among white voters of all ages among whom governor Romney has a substantial lead. Now president Obama is ahead in the polls by 4% points and has narrowed the gap among white voters .This is also against the general demographic trends in Florida which should support governor Romney.
There is a movement seen in favour of president Obama among the Hispanic voters. Hispanics said they preferred president Obama to Mitt Romney by a whopping 40% that is 66% to 26%. President Obama’s proactive stand on the Hispanic vote has clearly helped him. After his announcement of amnesty in favour of young Hispanics who are educated in America or have served in the military, this has obviously impressed and enthused the Hispanics and has led to some movement. Further as the Economist poll suggests the swing states have a lower unemployment rate than the national average and this is also could be a part of the reason that the president Obama is doing better in the swing states.
There could also be an acceptance or resignation with an 8% unemployment rate as the “new normal” which might also end up hurting president Obama less. Also the fact that the manufacturing jobs are coming back to America may be helping president Obama in the rust belt states. Hence it is a bundle of factors which is helping the president. But opinion polls are at best only a snap-shot at a particular time and election campaigns are dynamic and ever changing. As governor Romney ratchets up the attack on the failed Obama policies the election dynamics could change. Also as the Republican and the Romney campaign begins serious advertising the numbers could start to move in the other direction. However, it seems that at least in the early going president Obama has weathered the attack.
(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier's College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master's in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)
Do CIC officials consider themselves above the RTI Act? Strangely, a larger bench to over-rule the decision of one of the most respected information commissioners of the CIC is not required to deliberate on the penalty
When and why would the Chief Information Commissioner under the Right to Information Act (RTI) constitute a larger bench to over-rule a decision of an information commissioner? The fact is that he simply cannot do it. Decisions of the Central Information Commission (CIC), pronounced through its information commissioners are final and binding according to section 19(7) of RTI Act, 2005. The legislative intent is very clear, there will be an unhappy party for every decision, and if every decision is to be reviewed, the CIC would be bogged with review petitions. Yet, in a bizarre decision, this is precisely what the CIC has done in a recent case and it can only be construed as illegal.
Lets us look at the issue. My father, Kishanlal Mittal, an RTI activist in his own right, requested the following information from Central Information Commission on 15 March 2011:
(a) Copies of all petitions/affidavits pertaining to the decisions of your Information Commission on RTI appeal/complaints or any other RTI related matter filed in any high court/Supreme Court.
(b) Copies of all replies, affidavits, documents and records submitted by your Information Commission to the high court/Supreme Court in connection with any of the above cases.
(c) Copies, with file noting, if the CIC has decided not to contest any case(s) filed by a public authority.
(d) The basis of selection of legal professionals to represent CIC in above cases, list of legal professionals selected, and remuneration including contingencies paid to them.
(e) The information may be provided on a DVD considering the policy of CIC to digitize all documents.
The CPIO (Chief Public Information Officer) on 28 March 2011 replied saying the information cannot be provided by the CIC. An appeal was filed with First Appellate Authority of CIC, who upheld the decision of CPIO... The Adjudicating Authority (AA), in her order of 9 May 2011, claimed to have heard the joint secretary, law of CIC, to whom no notice of hearing was issued and consequently was not present during the hearing—thus making farce of the hearing proceedings. The arguments advanced post-facto were designed only for denial of information. It is also amply evident that the AA has proffered the arguments of the “legal cell” which is the contesting party in this case-and did not apply her mind independently.
Mr Mittal filed a second appeal with CIC dated 15 May 2011 praying for the order of the appellate authority be quashed and information be provided without any further delay.
The case came up for hearing before Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi on 12 March 2012. He did not agree with the order of appellate authority and observed that information can be denied only U/S 8 or 9 of the RTI Act, 2005. He also lamented that the neither the CPIO nor the appellate authority made any effort to provide the information. Not only did Mr Gandhi order the information to be provided by 15 April 2012; but also issued a show-cause notice on the CPIO asking her to explain why action should not be taken against her for not providing the information in time mandated U/S 20(1) of RTI Act, 2005.
On the appointed day of the show-cause hearing on 15 April 2012 the then CPIO informed Mr Gandhi that Akashdeep Chakravorty, joint secretary, law of CIC is the person responsible for providing information and he had not provided any information till date to the appellant. Mr Gandhi then issue a show-cause notice to Mr Chakravorty to appear before him on 14 May 2012 with information and explanation for not obeying the order of the Commission. Needless to say Mr Akashdeep never appeared before the Mr Gandhi.
Fearing penalty and disciplinary action, Mr Chakravorty circulated a note to the secretary, Central Information Commission to constitute a larger bench. Secretary, CIC, on 26 April 2012 recommended to Satyanand Mishra to constitute a larger bench and immediately on 27th April, Mr Mishra accepted the recommendation and directed a larger bench to be constituted consisting of Mr Mishra, Ms Annapurna Dixit and Shailesh Gandhi. The case files were recalled from the registry of Mr Gandhi. Needless to say that that the hearing of the larger bench were never held till the time Mr Gandhi retired last week.
Large benches are constituted in the CIC to deliberate on important points of law. Here the decision on the case was already taken and only point remained was to penalise Mr Chakravorty. Mr Mishra is making an ingenious attempt to reinvent the law by attempting to reverse an order passed by a brother information commissioner. It is not only unethical but also bad in law directly contravening provisio 19(7) of RTI Act, 2005. A three-member bench is certainly not required to deliberate on the penalty. This makes amply evident the sinister attempt to prevent Mr Chakravorty from being penalised. It must also be remembered that in the past, Mr Gandhi had ordered an inquiry to be conducted against Mr Chakravorty.
How does an ordinary citizen deal with such blatant illegality perpetrated by none other than the CIC? Can the RTI Act be perverted only to rescue the CICI’s own officer from being penalised? Do CIC officials consider themselves above the Act? Strangely, a larger bench to over-rule the decision of one of the most respected information commissioners of the CIC is not required to deliberate on the penalty.
(Girish Mittal is a Mumbai-based RTI activist.)
According to brokerages, IT, financials and pharma would come out with strong numbers during the first quarter of FY13 while realty, metals and mining would continue lag behind
Non-commodities, especially information technology (IT), financials and pharma are the sectors that would come out with strong results during the first quarter of the current fiscal, say brokerages. While the previous quarter (Q4 FY12) was dominated by deceleration in growth, moderating core inflation, sharp depreciation of the Indian rupee and a correction in crude oil prices, the direction of the markets would depend on how global events unfold especially inflows and domestic growth momentum, the brokerages said.
"With the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) clearly emphasizing the need for fiscal consolidation before embarking on monetary easing, the timing and magnitude of future rate actions would depend on how the growth-inflation dynamic pans out. We believe the pace and magnitude of the RBI's rate actions would be critical to revive business sentiment and, in turn, the investment cycle," said Infrastructure Development Finance Company (IDFC) in a report.
For the last nearly 18 months, the Indian economy and markets have been groping through intensifying darkness and concerns, culminating in the cradle of pessimism. This sense of gloom and doom was led and reflected in by several indicators-growth plunged, inflation peaked, interest rates climbed, fiscal slipped, trade situation worsened, and rupee nose-dived. All of the above were aggravated by a policy paralysis.
IDFC expects Sensex earnings growth to come in at 11.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) in Q1 FY13, as against 16.7% in the previous quarter. "Growth would be a more tepid at around 7.1% y-o-y ex SBI (higher earnings due to a low base). Non-commodities are expected to report strong numbers, led by IT services (45% y-o-y), pharma (25% y-o-y) and financials (48% y-o-y). Earnings of commodities are likely to contract by 20% y-o-y. Companies expected to clock strong bottomline growth are Tata Motors (37% y-o-y), Infosys Technologies (49% y-o-y), TCS (41% y-o-y), ICICI Bank (31% y-o-y) and SBI (133% y-o-y)," IDFC said.
Result expectations for Q1FY13, excluding financials and oil, indicate some moderation in aggregate sales growth at 19% against 19.6% in Q4FY12 and APAT growth of 9.1% y-o-y against 11.1% in Q4FY12, said Emkay Global Financial Services. According to the brokerage, strong sales growth is likely to come from IT and pharma sectors, which have benefited from depreciation of rupee and both these sectors are likely to post sales growth of around 32%-33%.
"Sales for mid-cap and small-cap companies are expected to grow at 21.9% and 15.5% while their APAT are expected to contract by 2.5% and 4.8%, respectively. Outside of Financial and oil sectors, robust APAT expansion is expected for autos (13% y-o-y), consumers (22%), IT (36%) and pharma (45%). Stress is likely to be visible markedly in agri inputs (-15%), engineering and capital goods (5% y-o-y), metals & mining (-23%) and real estate (-17%)," Emkay Global said.
ICICI Securities expects few sectors like automobiles, IT, FMCG and oil and gas to perform well across all parameters during the first quarter of current fiscal. "On the negative side, we expect capex linked sectors like capital goods, infrastructure, power to report subdued results due to weak execution, high raw material and borrowing costs and stretched working capital cycles," the brokerage said.
"On the PAT front, we anticipate 7.8% y-o-y growth supported by improved profitability from the oil & gas sector. Ex-oil & gas, we project our coverage universe profitability declining by 4.0% y-o-y against flattish bottomline in Q4FY12 due to higher interest costs. The slower bottomline growth is also likely to be on account of higher mark-to-market (MTM) losses following rupee depreciation against the US dollar at about 7.5% quarter on quarter (q-o-q) and 20.8% y-o-y, ICICI Securities said.
"With the earnings downgrade cycle at its end, possible monetary easing ahead and supportive valuations, we see limited downside in markets from here, but upsides would be a function of clarity on oil price direction and reforms," says Motilal Oswal Securities.
"Indian markets remained flat in 1QFY13. We believe that a bulk of the earnings downgrades (3% downgrade in FY13 earnings) is now behind. Monetary easing has begun with RBI surprising the markets thrice with the CRR/Repo rate cuts. Valuations remain below historical averages (rolling 12-month forward PE of 13.8 v/s 10-year average of 14.6x). We see limited downside in markets from here, but upsides would be a function of clarity on either of the catalysts playing out," the brokerage said.
According to Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt Ltd, headwinds in the form of slowing demand, high interest rates and extremely volatile currency to adversely impact results. "Revenue growth of Nifty companies is expected to fall to a two-and-a-half year low of just 12.2% y-o-y (the previous time it had fallen lower than this was in Q3FY10 at 10.5% y-o-y). Revenue, excluding companies in the oil & gas sector, is expected to rise at 15.3% y-o-y, a nine-quarter low (the previous low was in Q4FY10 at 8.8% y-o-y). Overall net profit (PAT) of Nifty companies would lag the revenue growth and rise by 10.8% y-o-y," the brokerage said.
Kisan Ratilal Choksey Shares and Securities Pvt Ltd (KR Choksey), in a report said that macro slowdown concerns are reflecting in the topline which is expected to grow only by 12.2% y-o-y however EBITDA margin and net profit margin are expected to improve supported by auto (led by operating leverage), banking and IT (primarily assisted by the rupee depreciation against the dollar) in Q1FY13. Other sectors excluding auto, BFSI and IT are witnessing pressure at operating and PAT level due to stiff competition which impacts their ability to fully pass on increase in input prices, it added.
"Macroeconomic variables such as GDP growth, industrial production, credit growth, corporate earnings are pointing broad based economic slowdown and all time low investment activity. We believe falling commodity prices; speed up reform process and lower interest rate cycle should revive investments and moderate inflation going forward. Considering the recent trend in growth and inflation, we believe RBI would focus to stimulate growth than anchoring inflation in coming monetary policy review," said KR Choksey in its report