E-Newsletter from
Back to Newsletter Vol 2, Issue 02, May 2020
A normal demand curve shows a definite inverse relationship between the market price of a product and the quantity demanded of that product, other factors held constant. But there have been situations in the crude oil market in which there was a positive relationship between the market price and the quantity consumed. Moreover, the responsiveness of change in the quantity demanded of oil in the market was not uniform with the change in price. The demand for oil is mostly derived from other factors such as increased incomes and the availability of cost effective substitutes.

Understanding Crude Oil Demand
The case “Tejas Express: Indian Railways’ Leap toward Privatization?” discusses in detail the decision of public sector undertaking Indian Railways (IR) to go in for a limited form of privatization by allowing another entity to operate one of its premier trains, the Tejas Express (TE), between New Delhi and Lucknow. While IR remained in charge of the physical infrastructure, the services aspect was given over to its wholly-held subsidiary, The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). The case starts out by giving a brief history of IR and touching on the issues that resulted in the public utility incurring mounting losses. It gives a quick insight into the privatization initiatives of the public railway systems of a couple of countries that helps in understanding the consequences of privatizing a public utility. The case then debates whether IR should go in for privatization. Later, it delves deeply into the unique service aspects of the New Delhi–Lucknow TE, which served as the main reason for its eventual success. Details about the future privatization moves of the IR are presented, along with the objections raised against the move. The case ends with the question of whether it is possible to successfully privatize the largest public service in a vast country like India and what the repercussions of such a move are likely to be.

Tejas Express: Indian Railways’ Leap toward Privatization?
The case describes the slowdown of Indian economy. After years of outperforming its emerging market peers, the Indian economy began running out of steam. The view that the Indian economy was staring at a protracted slowdown gained unanimous acceptance by mid-2019. Even the annual report of the RBI for the fiscal year 2018-2019 confirmed that the Indian economy had indeed hit a rough patch. The economy grew at 4.5% for the three months ending September 2019, down from 5% in the previous quarter and down from 7 % for the same period a year earlier, the slowest growth in six years. The collapse of the automobile sector in the financial year 2018-19, the rising number of non-performing assets (NPAs), sluggish consumer demand, and failing manufacturing sector all contributed to the slowdown in the Indian economy. India’s Ministry of Finance and its central bank took several measures including cutting corporate tax, coming out with a bailout package for the cash-strapped housing sector, promising to speed infrastructure spending, rolling back the newly introduced taxes on foreign investors, reviving the automobile sector, slashing angel tax and boosting investments, and bolstering economic growth. On a positive note, contrary to the prevalent grim outlook for the Indian economy, several experts and industrialists were optimistic about India’s economic growth trends. However, economists noted that all policies proposed by the Indian government to address the slowdown seemed to focus on businesses and not on individual earners. Amidst these developments, economists were wondering whether the measures introduced by the government would help in reviving the economy in the absence of strong structural reforms.

Fast Tracking Indian Economy: A Challenging Task Ahead
The case is about the growing dominance of Indian telecommunications company Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (Jio) in the Indian telecom sector. Jio entered the Indian market in 2016 with a host of freebies, including unlimited calling and data plans. Its entry revolutionized the telecommunication sector across the country. Its aggressive and innovative tariff plans helped Jio become the fourth-largest telecom provider in India within six months of its launch. Even after the freebie period ended on March 31, 2017, Jio continued to offer the cheapest data plans as compared to its rivals. This helped it maintain its competitive edge in the market. Joi’s dominance continued, and it soon surpassed other major players in the market. Jio’s rise led to consolidation in the market, with two of the top players, Idea and Vodafone, announcing a merger that left the country with three major telecom players. Jio’s continuous strong run changed the dynamics of the Indian telecom industry, with experts opining that it would soon monopolize India’s telecom sector. The competitors who were experiencing shrinking revenues, mounting quarterly losses, and high debt were taken aback when in October 2019, the Supreme Court of India gave a ruling directing Airtel and Vodafone Idea to pay dues amounting to Rs. 410 billion and Rs.400 billion respectively toward licensing fees and spectrum charges. Given the financial condition of these companies, they would find it difficult to pay the dues. These companies were desperately looking to the government for some relief measures that would enable them to stay on in the market. The competitors’ problems gave Jio ample time to execute its plans and consolidate its position at their cost. Jio’s cheap pricing seemed attractive in the short run, but given the firm’s investment in network coverage, quality, and technology, it was doubtful whether it could continue to offer low prices in the long run.

Reliance Jio: Marching Toward Monopoly
The case is about the new equilibrium price of eggs in the US in 2019. The 2015 outbreak of avian influenza caused a shortage of eggs in the country, leading to record high egg prices. But the high prices did not sustain for long and plunged in 2016 and 2017. The poultry industry saw some moderate recovery in egg prices in 2018, before they fell again in November 2018. The fall continued during the year 2019 with egg prices falling so low that they did not even cover the cost of production. The lower price was a reflection of the oversupply conditions prevailing in the US egg market since early 2018. The year 2019 saw some structural changes, including high demand for cage-free eggs in the market. To take advantage of the demand for cage-free eggs, retailers and producers alike pledged to move toward cage-free, organic, and nutritionally enhanced eggs. As the supply of cage-free eggs exceeded demand, some manufacturers began producing conventional eggs, which resulted in the oversupply of all categories of eggs in the country. As the egg glut continued, the number of hens in the US simultaneously increased. The low egg prices in the country were so unprofitable that the largest producer and distributor of eggs in the country, Cal-Maine, reported a wider-than-expected loss in the quarter ending August 31, 2019. The falling prices affected egg producers country wide, resulting in their incurring huge losses. The absence of a trade agreement between the US and other countries for the export of eggs and a global egg glut further aggravated the situation, creating the possibility of more price volatility issues in the coming years. The question is, will the egg prices fall further due to excess supply? Also, where are the declining egg prices headed? Is there a possibility of price recovery as the demand for eggs remains strong?

New Equilibrium Price of Egg in the US
This case provides an overview of the cause of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and its impact on the global economy. The case starts with the COVID-19 outbreak in China and describes its spread across the world. As of March 16, 2020, over 158 countries and territories globally had reported a total of 171,027 confirmed cases of COVID-19 that originated in Wuhan, China, and a death toll of 6,526 deaths. The case then deliberates the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy. The economic uncertainty the virus had sparked was likely to cost the global economy $1 trillion in 2020. World financial markets were tumbling over concerns about supply-chain interruptions from China, and about oil price uncertainty among major producers. Moreover, the travel and tourism industry across the world was badly hit by travel restrictions. The outbreak of the COVID-19 was adversely affecting global Foreign Direct Investment flows as well. The case then discusses about mitigation policies implemented by governments and central banks. Monetary and fiscal authorities in many countries had implemented fiscal and monetary measures to protect both their health systems and their economy. Governments were providing support, particularly to the sectors and workers most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The central banks of the US, the Eurozone, Canada, Britain, Japan, and Switzerland agreed on March 15, 2020, to offer three-month credit in US dollars on a regular basis and at a rate cheaper than usual. China had ramped up funding support for virus-hit regions and its central bank had slashed several key rates. Finally, the case discusses the future outlook of the global economy after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Global Economic Impact of Coronavirus – Assessment and Mitigation (A)
This case is about the challenges faced by the Tata Power due to Tata Mundra Project, a coal-based power plant project, in India. Mundra project was set up with the objective of providing low-cost electricity across the country. Tata Power was well-known for its ethical stance and corporate social responsibility, but it faced unprecedented challenges regarding its Mundra project. The project soon came on the verge of shut down faced with criticism on economic, social and environmental fronts. After the Supreme Court verdict against it in 2017, Tata Power management found himself left with only a few options —to appeal to the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision, to sell 51% stake in CGPL for just Rs. 1 to one of the largest procurers of power and retain a 49% stake to operate the plant under the Operation & Management contract, or to renegotiate with electricity procurers on the tariff, and lastly, they could forget the equity investment in the project and hand the project over to the lenders. What should the management do?

The Mundra Project: Tata Power’s Mega Headache
The case is about the world’s leading integrated steel and mining company, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal’s troubles amid a shift in global steel demand. The year 2019 was challenging for the global steel industry as it affected steel production across the world (except in China). Steel demand in the rest of the world contracted due to slumping demand from automakers, slow global economic growth, trade tensions, and geopolitical issues across the world. Lower steel prices and higher raw material costs affected the global steelmaker ArcelorMittal in terms of its profitability. The company saw a fall in steel demand in its core markets such as the US and Europe, driven by macro headwinds, including depressed manufacturing activity and continued weakness in the automotive industry. In 2019, ArcelorMittal posted an annual net loss of US$2.45 billion as against a net income of US$5.14 billion the previous year. Despite challenging market conditions in 2019, one of ArcelorMittal’s greatest achievements was its acquisition of India-based Essar Steel, which, according to the company, was an important strategic move to establish its presence in an emerging global market. There were signs that the falling demand that roiled global steel markets witnessed in 2019, would stabilize in 2020. ArcelorMittal expressed some optimism in the expectation that the apparent steel consumption in its core markets would grow in 2020. In its five-year strategic plan Action 2020, the company expected to improve its core profit and achieve a surplus in its annual free cash flow by the end of year 2020. It remained to be seen whether the steelmaker would be able to deliver on its strategic plan.

Shift in Global Steel Demand: Impact on ArcelorMittal

UnsubscribeVisit icmrindia.org
Case Research Center, IBS Hyderabad
Reach us at: casehelpdesk@ibsindia.org

© Case Research Center IBS Hyderabad, 2020