February 20, 2020
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Business in bitesizes

The Science Of Surge Pricing

The economics—and ethics—of surge pricing continue to be in the news, thanks to Uday Kotak’s attack on policies that act against free markets. In this context, a recent interview with Uber’s head of economic research shows how efficiently the taxi service works the system. For instance, Uber knows when a user’s smartphone battery is about to die—thanks to power-saving mode being automatically enabled. Even better, it knows that consumers are more likely to pay a higher surge price for cars as a result. It has also discovered that an arbitrary number with a decimal point works much better in convincing users to accept surge as compared to a round figure. Scientific stuff, eh?

The Return Of Roomy

Roomy Khan—the stock-trader-turned-informer-turned-convict—is back in the news, and boy is she singing. Khan (whose testimony helped nail Galleon Group hedge fund’s Raj Rajaratnam as well as Anil Kumar and Rajat Gupta) recently spoke with Bill Whitaker of 60 Minutes. In a rare look at insider trading, she explains her modus operandi: “The most money you make is when your analysis is totally in an opposite direction to what your hedge is telling you. “ Her motivation was access to the biggest hedge fund on Wall Street.“I was very fortunate and then I threw it all away,” she told Whitaker, her voice cracking.

Navigating The PR Blitz

Not everyone is taken in by the BJP’s publicity blitz to mark its two years in power. In a signed piece titled ‘A Mixed Bag’, MoneyLife editor Sucheta Dalal is scathing about the hype around Modi sarkar. She recounts attending a panel discussion on the government’s performance and writes that she found most people happy to lap up the claims. Dalal also contests the perception that there is less corruption. While there is no big scandal, she writes, corruption while dealing with junior ­officials continues unabated.


The metal everyone wants to buy

Niobium is used to produce stronger, lighter steel for industrial pipes and aircraft parts. It is mined in only three places on the earth and the price of every kilo is seven times higher than that of copper.

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