People gather next to illuminated festive Christmas decorations in Hong Kong, China (Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg)  

BQuick On Dec. 25: Christmas Special

It’s a holiday and a slow news day. Yet, we thought you’d like to get caught up with what’s gone in the world while you were feasting.

1. Take Cover! The Bears Are Here

Investors who were hoping to meet Santa on Christmas eve ended up dining with Scrooge instead.

First went the U.S. markets, and then Asia followed. Battered and bruised for three months, a bull market in the U.S. whose durability had exceeded all others lurched within a few points of its demise, extending one of the roughest stretches for equities since the financial crisis.

  • Today U.S., European and Indian markets are shut for Christmas today.

2. NCLT’s Testing Year Ahead

The National Company Law Tribunal, tasked with a key job of helping recover unpaid corporate loans, has helped resolve insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings involving more than Rs 80,000 crore this year, according to a government comment. And the kitty is expected to swell beyond Rs 1 lakh crore in 2019 with several big-ticket default cases pending.

  • But it won’t be all breezy. The new year is set to test the mettle of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code which several high-profile cases yet to be resolved.
  • Plans are afoot to further strengthen the NCLT by increasing number of judges and benches and provide adequate infrastructure to fast-track the process, according to government officials.
  • The ministry of corporate affairs secretary has said that the IBC process has helped address stressed assets worth around Rs 3 lakh crore indirectly since it came into force.
The estimated amount includes recoveries made through resolution plan and cases settled before admission by the NCLT.
Injeti Srinivas, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs

But that’s just the government’s view.

Here’s a more holistic analysis of the good, bad and ugly of the new insolvency law, by Ajay Shah and Susan Thomas.

3. New Rs 20 Note

The Reserve Bank of India will soon introduce Rs 20 notes with additional features, reported PTI. The new notes will be different in size and design. Oh and yes, don’t worry - the old notes will continue to be valid currency.

Rs 20 notes account for almost 10 percent of the total currency notes in circulation.

According to RBI data, there were 4.92 billion pieces of Rs 20 notes in circulation as on Mar. 31, 2016. The number more than doubled to 10 billion pieces by March 2018.

That’s it for the news. Here are some more interesting stories you can read as you laze around on your Christmas holiday.

15 Nonfiction Books To Read

Bloomberg columnist and law professor at Yale University Stephen L. Carter has book suggestions for you as you look to fill your holiday buying cart. Here's what he writes.

  • I haven’t read everything published this year, but I read a great deal, and these are my 15 favorites. Each reflects serious thought, research and argument. Each made me look at things in a new way.
  • Gregg Easterbrook: “It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear.” So maybe the world isn’t going to pieces. Easterbook argues that if we study actual evidence, things are actually going well in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, economically, environmentally, demographically and in most other ways. And most of what’s not working, he says, we have the tools to fix.
  • Paige Williams: “The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal and the Quest for Earth’s Ultimate Trophy.” Less a dinosaur story than a heist story — how did that illegal Tyrannosaurs skeleton wind up at an auction in New York? — with plenty of fascinating details about the way that the market for fossils has distorted the incentives in paleontology.

You can see the full list here...and also find why a book about climate change refugees was his favourite this year.

Technology’s 2018 Story In Charts

It was another momentous year for the technology industry — not necessarily in a good way. Here is Bloomberg Opinion’s assessment of the eight biggest themes in technology for 2018 and what they tell us about the industry’s future.

Similar to 2017, a common thread in several of these themes is disillusionment about technology or the companies behind it.

Hopes and Fears for Driverless Cars: There’s promise for autonomous driving technology, but it will take years to come to fruition, and it may not be a transportation cure-all.

BQuick On Dec. 25: Christmas Special

Tech Employees Find a Voice: Tech companies’ most valued assets are their employees, and now those people want more of a say in how their companies treat them and how they influence the wider world.

BQuick On Dec. 25: Christmas Special

Find out more through charts on how the cracks widened for Big Tech.