1. Fama, Hansen & Schiller win Nobel Prize for Economics
i. Eugene F. Fama, Robert J. Shiller and Lars Peter Hansen shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for their research on how the market prices of assets such as stocks move.
ii. The three laureates, all Americans, “laid the foundation for the current understanding of asset prices,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which selects the winner, said today in Stockholm.
iii. Their work spans almost 50 years of research, beginning with Fama’s finding that it’s difficult to predict price movements in the short run, a conclusion that contributed to the development of stock-index funds.
iv. Later work by Shiller and Hansen focused on longer-run price swings and the extent to which they could be explained by such fundamental features as dividend payouts on stocks and the risk appetite of investors.
v. “Fama’s research at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s showed how incredibly difficult it is to beat the market, and how incredibly difficult it is to predict how share prices will develop in a day’s or a week’s time.
vi. Shiller, a Yale University professor, demonstrated in the 1980s that it’s easier to predict prices over the long term, after finding that stock prices fluctuate more than changes in a company’s dividends would suggest.
2. UN names envoy for Syria chemical weapons
i. The head of the United Nations named Sigrid Kaag to lead the UN's joint mission with the chemical weapons watchdog tasked with eliminating Syria's arsenal, diplomats said.
ii. The UN Security Council, which is set to vote on Kaag's nomination Wednesday, has formally approved a first joint mission with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning (OPCW) Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
iii. The OPCW and the UN have had a team of 60 experts and support staff in Syria since 1st October, destroying Syria's production facilities while the country's civil war rages on.
iv. Kaag is charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile by 30th June, in line with a resolution passed by the Security Council last month.
v. The mission she is set to lead must include about a hundred staff members and be based in Damascus, with a second base in Cyprus.
vi. Kaag, 52, speaks Dutch, English, French, German and Arabic.
Note: i. Kaag, a UN assistant secretary-general working at the UN Development Program, has served since 2007 as the regional director for the Middle East and North Africa with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Amman.
ii. She joined the UN system in 1994 after a stint in the Dutch Foreign Ministry. Since then, she has also worked as a senior UN adviser in Sudan, with the International Organization for Migration and with the UN refugee agency UNRWA in Jerusalem.
3. Muthoot Finance gets ‘Golden Peacock’ award
i. Gold loan company Muthoot Finance Ltd has been bestowed with Golden Peacock Award for ‘HR Excellence for 2013’ at a function in London.
ii. Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate, Government of United Kingdom, presented the award to George M. Jacob, Director, Muthoot Group.
Note: Golden Peacock Award recognises the continuing commitment by business to conduct itself ethically and contribute to economic development, while improving the quality of life of the workforce, their families as well as of the local community and society at large.
4. ING Vysya ties up with IRCTC to offer online ticketing services
i. ING Vysya Bank has entered into a business tie-up with Indian Railways’ IRCTC to offer online train ticketing services to its customers.
ii. This facility enables ING Vysya Bank’s customers to book train tickets using ING Net Banking or ING debit cards. Over 1 lakh tickets were booked during the first month of the launch, the bank said in a statement.
iii. The South-based private sector bank has been enrolled into a select category of financial services firms offering these services with a high level of safety, security and ease of transactions online.
iv. The bank has also invested in advanced systems and technology for processing faster refunds and cancellations.
v. “This tie-up is in line with our ongoing focus to offer the best online experience to our retail customers,” said Brett Morgan, Country Head – Branch Banking and Private Client Group, ING Vysya Bank.
5. NHB partners with UK Government’s DFID for affordable housing programme
i. National Housing Bank (NHB) has joined hands with UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) to launch an affordable housing project that will operate in eight low-income States.
ii. This is the first time that NHB has come up with a project that caters to specified States, said R.V. Verma, Chairman & Managing Director of NHB here today.
iii. The project will operate in the eight States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
iv. DFID has committed pound sterling 50 million (about Rs 500 crore) over 7 years (2013-19).
v. This is comprised of two components: pound sterling 40 million (Rs 400 crore) as a concessional loan to NHB to finance the construction of affordable housing units and loans to low-income households.
vi. DFID will give pound sterling 10 million (about Rs 100 crore) as technical assistance to strengthen systems and policies in the sector, to fund innovative pilots and upgrading of slum housing.
6. Birla Sun Life launches BSLI Savings Plan
i. Private sector insurer Birla Sun Life Insurance (BSLI) today launched a participating traditional plan, BSLI Savings Plan, with guaranteed additions for the first five years of the policy term.
ii. “BSLI Savings Plan is designed to cater to the changing needs across customer segments with the flexibility it offers in choosing the policy term and the premium paying term with guaranteed additions,” Birla Sun Life Managing Director and CEO, Jayant Dua said in a release issued here.\
iii. The plan is a savings-cum-insurance option that aims to provide secured growth to savings and comprehensive financial protection from the risk of unfortunate death.
iv. There is an option for premium payment term of 10, 15 or 20 years with the minimum age of entry at 18 years and the maximum at 50 years.
v. At inception, the customer needs to choose the sum assured, the policy term and the premium payment term.
vi. The minimum sum assured for this plan is Rs 30,000.
Note: BSLI is a joint venture between the Aditya Birla Group and Sun Life Financial Inc, a leading international financial services organisation from Canada.
7. ONGC Videsh wins two oil blocks in Myanmar
i. ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp, has won two onland oil blocks in Myanmar, strengthening its presence in the south-east Asian nation.
ii. OVL, which has stakes in the A-1 and A-3 gas discovery blocks and three other offshore acreages in Myanmar, was last week awarded two oil and gas exploration blocks in that country's Onshore Blocks Second Bidding Round - 2013.
iii. The firm got Blocks B-2 (Zebyutaung-Nandaw) and EP-3 (Thegon-Shwegu), according to the list of winners released by Myanmar's Energy Ministry.
iv. Other pre-qualified Indian companies Cairn India, Oil India Ltd (OIL), Jubilant Offshore Drilling and Prize Petroleum drew a blank.
v. Myanmar awarded 13 onshore blocks, with OVL, Italy's Eni, Pakistan's Petroleum Exploration (PVT) and Canada's Pacific Hunt Energy Corp each winning contracts to operate two blocks.
8. High prices of vegetables push retail inflation up to 9.84% in Sept
i. Retail inflation rose marginally to 9.84 per cent in September, mainly due to a hike in food prices, particularly of vegetables.
ii. Retail inflation measured in terms of consumer price index (CPI) was at 9.52 per cent in August.
iii. Retail inflation for rural and urban areas in September stood at 9.71 per cent and 9.93 per cent, respectively. The same was 8.93 per cent and 10.32 per cent (revised figures) in August.
iv. Inflation in the food and beverages segment rose by 11.44 per cent in the month under review as against 11.06 per cent in August.
v. For CPI inflation, price data are collected from select towns by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) and from select villages by the Department of Posts.
9. Mohan Dharia passes away
i. Former Union minister, freedom fighter and environmentalist Mohan Dharia, who quit the Indira Gandhi government against imposition of Emergency, died here today of chronic kidney failure. He was 89.
ii. He was admitted to Poona Hospital on Saturday and underwent dialysis. However, his condition deteriorated and he breathed his last at 7.55 am, doctors attending on him said.
iii. A socialist at heart, Dharia was minister of state for planning, housing and urban development in the Indira Gandhi government in 1971-75.
iv. A recipient of Padma Vibhushan, the highest Padma award, in 2005, Dharia retired from active politics in 1982 and formed “Vanrai”, an organisation dedicated to the cause of conservation and social forestry.
v. Interestingly,even though a bitter critic of Indira Gandhi, Dharia was conferred the prestigious Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 2011, by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
10. Sanam Singh and Vijayant Malik won the ITF Doubles Title 2013
i. The Indian tennis pair Sanam Singh and Vijayant Malik on 12 October 2013 won the doubles title in the 15000 US dollars ITF Men's Futures Tennis Tournament at the Jake Hess Tennis Stadium in Houston, USA.
ii. In the final match, they defeated fourth seeded pair of Evan King (USA) and Costin Paval (Romania) in two sets 7-6 (5), 6-4.
11. Varun Arora won UN Award for 'Open Curriculum' Web Platform
i. Varun Arora, a young innovator from India on 10 October 2013 selected for United Nations 10 Young Innovators Competition 2013.
ii. Varun Arora is among 10 people from around the world selected for a prestigious United Nations award in recognition of their work as entrepreneurs and use of technology to change the world.
iii. Varun Arora awarded for his creation Open Curriculum, an online platform for local educational material for standard, primary and secondary schooling.
iv. The UN competition is open to young social entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 26 and seeks innovative digital solutions in the form of start-ups or initial concepts meeting global developmental challenges.
12. Many People Killed and Several Injured near a Temple in Madhya Pradesh
i. Approximately, 115 people were feared killed and over 100 injured in a stampede on 13 October 2013 near a temple at Ratangarh in Madhya Pradesh's Datia district.
ii. The stampede was caused by rumours that a bridge they were crossing was about to collapse.
iii. The unfortunate incident occurred when a large number of devotees arrived from Datia and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh at the Durga temple at Ratangarh, about 60 kms from the district headquarters.
iv. Nearly 200 people have been injured in the mishap and they have been admitted in close by hospitals.