A vendor waits for customers at his stall at a wholesale food market in Mumbai October 14, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui By Rajesh Kumar Singh NEW DELHI | Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:01am EDT NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Inflation in India unexpectedly hit a seven-month high in September as food prices climbed, increasing the odds for yet another central bank interest rate hike even as the economy stumbles through its worst crisis since 1991. The wholesale price index (WPI), India’s main inflation measure, climbed to 6.46 percent last month – its fastest rate since February – pushed up by food prices such as a 322 percent jump in onion prices, government data showed on Monday. Worries over high inflation led new Reserve Bank of India chief Raghuram Rajan to surprise markets last month with an interest rate hike. Many analysts now expect him to raise interest rates by another 25 basis points on October 29, even after data showing economic growth in the June quarter hit a four-year low. “The pickup in inflation is testament to the lingering inflation risks and underscores the need for the RBI to keep its inflation guards up,” said Leif Lybecker Eskesen, Chief Economist for India & ASEAN at HSBC in a note. Federal bond yields posted their biggest advance in three weeks after the data firmed up expectations for a second consecutive rate hike in as many months. The benchmark 10-year government bond yield ended up 8 basis points on the day at 8.57 percent, its highest since September 23. Other data showed consumer prices rose 9.84 percent year-on-year in September, the fastest pace in three months. Economists in a Reuters poll last week had forecast an annual 9.60 percent rise in retail prices. India is not the only major emerging market wrestling with inflation and high food costs – China’s consumer inflation hit a seven-month high of 3.1 percent in September. But the pace of growth in food prices in India stood out, rising to an annual 18.40 percent last month, the fastest clip since July 2010 and triple the 6.1 percent rise seen in China. India’s inflation data comes on the heels of Friday’s disappointing industrial output numbers. Output grew a much-slower-than expected 0.6 percent in August, hurt by weak investment and consumer demand, dashing hopes of an economic rebound by the end of the year.
The numbers are based on publicly available data on public assistance programs from 2007-2011. “Because pay is low and weekly work hours are limited, the families of more than half of the workers in the fast-food industry are unable to make ends meet,” the report said. Related: The real budgets of McDonald’s workers The data supports the claims that hundreds of fast food workers have been making across the country over the last year. Protests from New York City to Los Angeles, Memphis to Detroit have cropped up since last November , with workers calling for a minimum of $15 an hour and the right to organize without retaliation. The common narrative among fast food workers is that their pay is too low , they don’t get scheduled for enough hours and they get no benefits. The new report fuels their fire, finding that only 13% of fast food workers get health benefits from their employers, compared to 59% of the workforce on the whole. It also said that the median worker only works 30 hours per week, compared to 40 for the rest of the workforce. How I live on fast-food wages A separate report out Tuesday slammed fast food giants for pushing their workers onto the public safety net. The National Employment Law Project said that the 10 largest fast food companies in the U.S. were responsible for more than half the total cost to taxpayers — about $3.8 billion a year alone. The report calls out McDonald’s ( MCD , Fortune 500 ), Yum!
Low fast-food wages come at high public cost, reports say
It was like a plug was pulled and people drained out of the store. As quick as the frenzy started, it went away, with hundreds of full shopping carts abandoned in the wake. Because many of the items were perishables, Walmart needed to throw away quite a bit of food, leaving them with an even bigger bill for this freebie shopping spree. Now that the dust has settled, the war of press releases begins. Louisiana officials said they have no intention of being left holding the bag for the expense of the unlimited shopping Walmart let go on. The statement left it unclear on who is footing the bill, but referred all further questions on freebie Saturday to Walmart, in what appeared as a nice way of handing off the bill to the retail giant. Trey Williams, a spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, the agency that issues the food stamp EBT card, said that emergency procedures are in place for incidents such as this, but Walmart did not follow those procedures. Williams said: “Some retailers chose not to follow the process,” he said. “Those businesses are only being reimbursed for the (maximum) amounts on individual cards.” Williams also said that the amount of the transactions that went above the balances on the individual card are being sent back as insufficient. Meaning Walmart is left holding the bag for letting these transactions go through. The emergency EBT card procedure calls for no more than $50 per card is allowed to go through when a problem occurs such as the one Saturday. The two Louisiana Walmart stores involved in this free-for-all shopping on Saturday said they called Walmart headquarters and they were told to let the cash registers keep ringing up the groceries, and this is what they did. Several other grocery stores in the area stopped taking the EBT food stamp cards when they realized there were no limits on the cards, but not Walmart. Shoppers are free and clear of any wrong doing in the eyes of the law. They broke no laws of the land, but what about knowing that they werent entitled to all that food they took out of Walmart?
Half of fast food workers need public aid
Fletcher Reports say that while corporate profits soar, half of fast-food workers need public assistance to get by. Citigroup’s earnings edge lower, missing estimates Associated Press Bank says its earnings fell slightly in the third quarter as lower expenses werent enough to offset a drop in revenue. More business news Overall, the core fast-food workers are twice as likely to rely on public assistance than workers in other fields, said one of the reports, which examined nonmanagerial fast-food employees who work at least 11 hours a week and 27 weeks a year. Even among the 28 percent of fast-food workers who were on the job 40 hours a week, the report said, more than half relied on the federal safety net to get by. These statistics paint a picture of workers not being able to get their fair share of the largest, richest economy in the world, said Sylvia A. Allegretto, lead author of the report by the university economists. It is a good thing that we have these work supports, but they should be a last resort. Those workers are left to rely on the public safety net even though the nations seven largest publicly traded fast-food companies netted a combined $7.4billion in profits last year, while paying out $53million in salaries to their top executives and distributing $7.7billion to shareholders, according to a second report by the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group. The reports lend academic support to the growing activism among fast-food workers, poorly paid employees of federal contractors and other low-wage workers, who for the past year have been calling a series of small but growing one-day strikes. The workers are demanding raises to $15 an hour and an easier route to forming unions. The job actions are supported by organized labor groups, including the Service Employees International Union and Change to Win, who are lending organizing staff and cash to the effort. The aim of the unions is to gain new members, and short of that, increase pressure for raising the $7.25-per-hour federal minium wage while highlighting the nations growing economic inequality. Fast-food industry representatives call the workers demands unrealistic. Raising wages for cooks, cashiers and drive-through window workers who earn a median wage of $8.69 an hour, according to the report by the Illinois and Berkeley economists would ultimately lead to fewer jobs overall, they argue. Also, they say, the franchisees who own many fast-food restaurants operate on thin profit margins, and dramatically raising wages would force them out of business. But advocates for fast-food workers say the new reports demonstrate what they have long suspected: that the fast-food industry generates substantial profits that are distributed inequitably.