Monday, April 20

Worst case scenario for US: IRELAND!!

Paul Krugman on Ireland

Let me also say that Ireland’s recent policy moves — raising taxes and cutting spending in the face of a severe recession, so as to reassure nervous lenders — are an extremely disturbing omen. Iceland was one thing; but now another advanced economy, with a 7-digit population, has hit the limits of anti-recession policy.

Click here for Krugman's NYT article

Friday, April 17

No bad politicians, only misunderstood voters

I have never believed in this strange notion of "all politicians are bad", I believe it is always a case of where the true intent of voters is not understood.

A very interesting article by Madhav Raghavan based on a paper: "Public Disagreement" (Sethi, Yildiz), makes the that discussions and interactions among segregated groups could actually magnify initial biases. Especially when there are inherent bias shared in groups that are invisible or incomprehensible to external folks.

Madhav Raghavan writes

This is reflective of much of India’s caste-based politics, where leaders are able to unite a caste or sub-caste under one ideology, but in a manner that makes their collective views more opaque to everybody else. The Yadavs may unite under Lalu Prasad, but few who are not Yadavs may understand their motivations.

Sethi & Yildiz write

"Members of different social groups often hold widely divergent public beliefs regarding the nature of the world in which they live. Communication in segregated societes can cause initial biases to be amplified, and new biases to emerge where none previously existed."

Also check out Nandan Nilekani's opinion of caste based politics

Wednesday, April 15

Astrology vs. Rocket Science

Who gains from Doha round and by how much,? Is it rocket science or astrology? Are the US bank bailouts trade distorting subsidies?

Read this article in Business Standard

Hoping for a crisis to reform!

Ajay Shah' in this article: India in the Great Recession points out the industrial production growth is at its worst levels since 1993. In addition capital inflows are down, tax collections are down.

Yet private investments have been surging and today constitute a larger piece of the pie, compared to government and household sector, are also the most volatile.

According to Ajay any reversal in private investments, which is likely given the drop in production, could tip India into downturn similar to 1992-93. And given the weak state of fiscal and monetary mechanisms to counter the downturn, we could be in quite a "spot".

Given the surging private investments, Ajay Shah is almost hoping for a crisis that would kickstart the necessary reforms just like in 1992.

Tuesday, April 14

Economists on Indian Economy

In a series of interviews Ila Patnaik talks to leading economists on India. Being an economist herself, the questions are intelligent with ample time to explore responses, where issues like quality of IIP data given its 1993 base are discussed in depth. I wonder what was the size and profile of intended target audience.

I am slowly making my way through them. But definitely a must see to get a quick handle on Indian economy.

Monday, April 13

Need for caste based politics

As India prepares to elect its 15th Lok Sabha: "the biggest, largest political, democratic show in the world"; we will witness yet another spectacle, a tamasha and hopefully, a peaceful election of a new government in a country that is so uniquely...hmm...Indian.

As is often said, in India "we do not cast our vote; we vote our caste", elections will all be about herding the 3700+ "vote-banks" of religions, castes, sub-castes by scores of political parties into various permutations of coalitions to form a "majority" government. Indian politics is rarely about competition of ideas or issues or ideologies but a huge negotiating table with all castes/religions/regions represented based on their numerical strengths hoping to get hand on the various levers of state power.

Many would find this blatant deeply divided, splintered identity based politics appalling...I believe it is a step forward, where the elite have lost their monopoly control over the main political parties.

The intelligentsia's response to this is lot of hand wringing and self-loathing about "bad" politicians who exploit the illiterate and poor. The upper class elites who decry identity politics, also don't care to vote. At least they didn't have to. The upper classes/castes have managed to maintain their environmental privileges i.e. near monopolization of jobs, good (free) education, & professions.

Caste-based identity politics is not "bad" politicians taking advantage of illiterate rather represents a legitimate hunger & aggressive demand for equality, justice and freedom.

Even after decades of Independence, the caste you were born into determines your education, profession, income, quality of life and opportunities presented. And till recently the lower castes and less privileged have accepted the inequities as predestined "karma" most probably from previous births.

But since the 1990s, with opening of the economy, legacy of Mandal Commission, greater awareness and access to economic opportunities, "genteel" expressions of reform are being replaced by a more militant demand for change and reform.

And since power is never relinquished without a fight, the backlash to this movement is also equally gaining ground mostly in the form of radical, nationalistic Hindu parties. Demands for affirmative action & social justice is met with arguments of meritocracy, highlighting inequality is met with need for nationalistic spirit of unity, demand for religious freedom with fears of proselytizing and claims of "historical" wrongs, police brutality with need for security and war of terror, and when all else fails plain denial works just fine. Even today Indian census deliberately avoids gathering crucial caste/religion related data or in many cases just refuse to count key minorities.

India has a long road to reach the point where an individuals "karma" is not predestined at his/her birth rather a choice available equally to all. Rather than seeing identity politics as regressive, it should remind us of the inequalities. And till caste determines an individuals destiny, caste based politics will continue to play a big part in Indian elections.

The uniqueness of India is that this battle will happen using ballots and not bullets..mostly..hopefully!!!

My recommended reading...

Shakespeare & Banking Regulation

[Via Dani Rodrik]

Dani Rodrik writes...

A single loan requires not one but two terms to be negotiated, and that one may become much more important than the other in certain situations was clear enough to Shakespeare four hundred years ago. Wrote Geanakoplos:

“Who can remember the interest rate that Shylock charged Antonio? But everybody remembers the pound of flesh that Shylock and Antonio agreed upon as collateral. The upshot of the play, moreover, is the regulatory authority (the court) decides that the collateral level Shylock and Antonio agreed upon was socially suboptimal, and the court decrees a different collateral –a pound of flesh but not a drop of blood.” Thus did the The Merchant of Venice end happily, not with a cramdown, but with very different terms if the loan were to be foreclosed.

[Via Economic Principals]

For at least a century, he noted, economists have been accustomed to thinking of the interest rate as the most important variable in the economy – lower it to speed things up, raise it to slow them down. Yet especially in times of crisis, collateral demands – alternatively, margin requirements, loan-to-value ratios, leverage rates or “gearing” – become much more important.

Central banks, therefore, should rethink their priorities. The Fed should learn to manage system-wide leverage, he said, reining in on it in ebullient times and propping it up in anxious times, in order to prevent the worst outcomes.

Kudos to RBI

Economist article raises questions on RBI/Govt's stance on the need for foreign banks, at the same time one has to credit RBI for NOT being asleep at the switch. It had raised provisioning for real estate loans way back in Apr 2006. To quote then RBI governor YV Reddy:

"It’s based on the feedback that there was a tendency of multiple acquisition of houses by the consumers which was increasing the risk profile of both the banks and the consumers... If the real estate market improves by way of scrapping of Urban Land Ceiling Act, rent control laws and low transaction cost... then we may look at reducing the risk-weight of real estate sector loans.”

In contrast to Greenspan's reluctance to recognize asset bubbles, RBI had been very vocal about asset bubbles and the risks they posed to banking system. Yet even they thought "developed" countries would be less immune.

According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan,

"The elevated realty prices along with non-transparency in the real estate sector may lead to an “asset bubble” and pose risks to the banking system. Moreover, real estate markets are characterised by opacity and other imperfections in developing countries. Such developments can easily generate bubbles in the real estate market because of problems in the elasticity of supply and information asymmetries.”

Even at the risk of giving into "consipiracy theories", it is difficult to ignore Simon Johnson's assertion that financial oligarchy in US led to the regulatory lapses and will block essential reform.

Saturday, April 11

Religion of Free Markets

Quotable quotes below from Dick Armey from Freedom Works that is organizing Tea Parties against taxes & bailouts.

Dick Armey:

"Markets will punish immorality"

"When you are dealing with the government, its like dealing with the devil, you're gonna be the junior partner"

No wonder right-wing folks also fervently believe in the Second Amendment, if you are going to trust markets to punish immorality, you better bear some strong arms!!

Bankers victim of predatory lending by Govt.

[via Beat the Press]

Interesting headline raises the point about sanctity of contracts.

After the AIG fiasco, just when you thought things had reached the rock bottom, bankers start digging faster.

From the original NYT article

Both large and small banks have pressed the Obama administration to make it less costly for them to exit the bailout program by waiving the right to exercise stock warrants the banks had to grant the government in exchange for the loans. At a meeting last month, the chiefs of three of the largest banks separately asked Mr. Obama to direct the Treasury not to exercise the warrants, Mr. Fine said.

Bankers want to return the bailout money, to avoid excessive compensation caps and get this, government should make it cheaper for bankers to pay themselves more. Imagine Goldman trying to renegotiate its contract with Warren Buffet, claiming the conditions were "too tough" post signing the contract. I guess no harm in trying!! Dig away!!!

While it is easy to beat up on Bankers now, one cannot and should not expect anything other than self interested behaviour that responds to incentives. Just as "War is too important to be left to Generals", "Banking is too important to be left to bankers" hence strong regulation & oversight etc. etc. as much as one may cringe at the prospect, the only hope is politicians along with academic economists step up to the plate.

Thursday, April 9

Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world

Initially I thought it must be me, unable to grasp the deep meaningful thoughts, cloaked in otherwise simplistic, vacuous, vague and obvious terms that Naseem Taleb uses to explain his "Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world".

That was till I came across the first line on Taleb's homepage

"My major hobby is ... [to] get some entertainment & make a living out of the epistemic arrogance [or is it "ignorance"] of the human race."

Taleb's self description gets more entertaining with words & phrases like "how not to be turkey", robustify, fragilize, "pull tricks on reviewers", "a style that owes as much to Stephen Colbert as it does to Michel de Montaigne" (WSJ), Had Nassim Taleb been born in any other period, he would have certainly been put to death”, Carine Chichereau and "Please do not ask finance questions (not my specialty)"

Mechanism to scale rural innovations

In a visit to India, Navi Radjou came across many "rural" innovations and wonders "Can they scale?". It is rather ironic that these are idealistic, romantic, "rural" innovators and NOT generic run-of-the-mill entrepreneurs out to make money.!!

I have little patience for such patronizing do-gooder's romantic pet projects that do not meet the simple test of markets i.e consumer acceptance and business viability.

Navi suggests "What is missing is a mechanism to cross-pollinate and scale up these bright ideas among India's 250-million-strong agricultural community which lives scattered across more than 600,000 villages"

The obvious answer has to be "THE MARKET MECHANISM". The perfect mechanism is "profit motive" combined with this strange and wonderful mechanism called "markets" that automatically connects to utility to consumers. Unless one can show market failure and/or social barriers. And if it works why leave city dwellers out of benefiting from these innovations.

The list of silly projects is long "Simputer", OLPC $100 Laptop, usually run by academicians, specialize in guilt tripping and clamour for government subsidies.

Tata's ADR premiums

Ajay Shah points to ADR premium given the Nano buzz and rotation within automotive sector given Detroit's troubles

Ajay Shah's blog: Spike in the ADR premium for Tata Motors

I would be curious to analyze the individual company's reaction to these premiums. Infosys repeatedly sold into these premiums through local shares to ADR conversions. Does concentration of ADR holdings, strategic investor in ADRs etc. make a difference?

Conglomerate discount

(Via Greg Mankiw)

In an article in WSJ Jeremey Siegel points to possible problems with the way S&P calculates P/E ratios. He later responds to critics in an article on Yahoo, in which makes an interesting point about "the sum of stock prices of 500 stocks must be worth more than "a single company with 500 divisions,". The logic here being losses cross boundaries within divisions with shareholders sharing combined losses, while in case of seperate companies, bondholders bear the losses. Since as per option theory "The value of a firm's equity can be viewed as an option on the total value of the firm, after the bondholders and other claimants have been paid. It is a fundamental theorem of option theory that the sum of the option prices on individual firms is worth more than a single option on the value of all the firms."

Taking the logic forward, what does that say about the value a company with multiple per above it would depend on whether the management cross-subsidizes losses across divisions or if it sells of loss-making divisions at the value of the option the division represents. So greater the diversification among divisions lower the value or higher the conglomerate discount, unless the conglomerate is run strictly as a portfolio with high correlation among divisions.

Cycling back Jeremey Siegel's argument would depend on the correlation between the 500 components of S&P 500. So if you believe S&P 500 companies offer significant diversification, lesser the reason why you should treat it as "company with 500 divisions".

Recession talk-free zone!!

Ireland's "Cheapest Bailout" turning costly

Ireland's bank bailout was supposed to be the "cheapest bailout", according to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. Obviously events since then have shown that the claim was premature and plain wrong. Things have continued to spiral downwards.

Given that past experience, Minister's claim "we don't need any bailout here" from EU for Irish economy is completely inexplicable.

As economists (Kevin O'Rourke & Barry Eichengreen) suggest there are essentially three ways out. 1.)Devaluation, 2.) Fiscal Stimulus and/or 3.) External bailout

1. Devaluation: It is not so much that Ireland should not devalue, rather that it cannot. As Kevin O'Rourke explains "devaluation [should be] unilaterally decided upon and announced under cover of darkness."... BUT "the technical and legal problems associated with switching from one currency to another are immense -- just think of all the planning that accompanied the introduction of the euro in the first place. Laws would have to be passed. Notes and coins would have to be produced. Somebody would notice."

2. Substantial Fiscal Stimulus: Peer pressure from EU membership and need to maintain euro membership means government cannot cut taxes or increase expenditure. Rather it has been forced to commit to cutting to deficits back to 3% as required by EU commission.

3. Bailout: That leaves the only option being fiscal transfers from abroad, equivalent of California getting federal stimulus. Parallels have been drawn between California given the property bubble and lack of control over its currency.

So it is strange to hear Brian Lenihan claiming no need for EU bailout. Rather he should be "shaming" EU into extending substantial support and shoulder the cost Irish population is paying to keep Euro afloat.

Kevin O'Rourke suggests stimulating a devaluation by cutting wages across the economy. Unless there is a mechanism to get free agents to act against their perceived interests or act in unison, this is equivalent of leaving the recovery to labour markets to correct, i.e. do nothing!!.

I guess it would be instructive to re-read Paul Krugman's article on Spain as it is very relevant here in Ireland.

Wednesday, April 8

Just discovered MIA

I completely missed the whole MIA phenomena, I guess it was around Grammys; just discovered and "blown" away

I bongo
with my lingo
And beat it like a wing yo
To Congo
To Columbo
Can't stereotype my thing yo
I salt and pepper my mango
Shoot spit
Out the window
Bingo I got em in the thing yo
Now what? I'm doing my thing yo

Talking about inspirations check out Jimmy (In case you missed the original connection/inspiration)

London, tamil tigers, terrorism, politics, immigration, bollywood, rap, Africa; its all in there.

Her story from Wikipedia

When she was six months of age, her family moved back to their native Sri Lanka. Motivated by his wish to support the Tamil militancy on the island, her father became a political activist, adopting the name Arular, and was a founding member of The Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students (EROS), a political Tamil group that worked to establish an independent Tamil Eelam. Her alias, M.I.A., stands for both Missing in Acton and Missing in Action.

Because of the conflict, the first years of her life were marked by displacement. relocated to Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, moving into a derelict house. Contact with her father was strictly limited, as he was in hiding from the Sri Lanka Army. Later resettling in Jaffna, the conflict deteriorated further, and the family once again tried to flee the island.She has stated that her school was destroyed in a government raid. Eventually she, her two siblings, and mother (Kala) moved back to London where they were housed as refugees.

M.I.A. gave birth to a boy on 11 February 2009,naming him Ikhyd Edgar Arular Bronfman, just days after performing at the Grammy Awards.

Finally!! A cure for happiness

FDA Approves Depressant Drug For The Annoyingly Cheerful

Gaddafi: "Obama flickr of hope"

A sign of times? Hopefully!!... when Gaddafi worries for Obama's life

"Obama is a flicker of hope in the middle of the imperialist darkness," the Libyan leader said, adding: "There is a fear that they would liquidate him as they liquidated Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln."

"He (Obama) speaks logically. Arrogance no longer exists in the American approach which was previously based on dictating to the rest of the world in order to meet its own conditions," Gaddafi said in the remarks carried by state media.

Tuesday, April 7

Our amazing capacity to hate

I completely echo the Jug Suraiya's sentiment on our amazing ability to hate

Click here for VHP's website to see an example: "Pujya Swami Laxmananandji killed in a cowardly attack by Christians in Orissa". Not some criminals, not some murderers rather All Christians are responsible!!. And VHP is a not a fringe organization but plays a central role in Indian politics. And based on this allegation hundreds of christians were killed.

Will economists save the world?

Barry Eichengreen and Kevin O’Rourke in this article write that the world is doing as bad as the 1930s Great Depression so far. In response to Eichengreen and O’Rourke's scary paper, Paul Krugman writes

"the only thing standing between us and Great Depression 2.0. It’s only to the extent that we understand these things a bit better than our grandfathers — and that we act on that knowledge"

Hopefully the economists understand and politicians will oblige, while the rest of us quiver in fear

"The poll found that 70 percent of respondents were very or somewhat concerned that someone in their household would be out of work and looking for a job in the next 12 months."

and hope for the best from Obama...

"For all that, the number of people who said they thought the country was headed in the right direction jumped from 15 percent in mid-January, just before Mr. Obama took office, to 39 percent today, while the number who said it was headed in the wrong direction dropped to 53 percent from 79 percent. That is the highest percentage of Americans who said the country was headed in the right direction since 42 percent said so in February 2005, the second month of President George W. Bush’s second term."

Monday, April 6

No Guantanamo in India

Kasab the Mumbai terrorist who killed 180 stands trial.

Kasab made a plea to speak to his lawyer Anjali Waghmare, who was appointed by the special court last week. He was granted permission to do so by Special Judge M.L. Tahilyani.

Kasab is a coward, Anjali is the hero(ine)!!

Petraeus: "Pakistan could be facing internal collapse within six months"

Dire assessment of Pakistan in NYT today.

For an alternative perspective to Pakistan being a failed state, click here to read Wajiha Ahmed's second take on Long March. Pakistan is a country fighting itself, a fledgling democracy bravely figthing to survive. To quote Wajiha:

But Pakistani religious parties (JI, JUI) are more similar to some factions of the BJP or Shiv Sena in India than they are to any militant terrorists in FATA and Swat. And just to emphasis, they have never received more than 14% of the vote and lost the 2008 elections.

But democracy is not an event, it is a process. Therefore, rather than being reported with cynicism, this important civil disobedience movement should instead have been encouraged and celebrated. In the past year, Pakistanis have successfully forced out a military dictator (Musharraf) AND compelled an authoritarian leader (Zardari) to listen to their voices – a rare, uplifting story in these trying days.

Dire assessments were made of India's breakup, throughout its history, check out

India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy

Sunday, April 5

Big B's Bizzare Blogpost

The story begins not too long ago...

In the begining Big B is "misquoted" in the media as trashing Slumbog Millionaire for its depiction of poverty. Without full facts Jug Suraiya in his column picks on Bachchan and "people like Bachchan" while making his point about recognising reality of poverty in order to obviously state the obvious.

But along the way he calls BigB's daughter-in-law a "manglik" (some rumor about bad inauspicious astrological mumbo jumbo), accuses "people like Bachchan" of being " the continuance of poverty, and makes references to flatulence, passing wind, incest and family secrets

That sets the stage for BigB to make his entry and respond through his BIGADDA blog. The blogpost is angry, falsely modest, long, with meaningless interludes and dramatic emotional rhetoric. Just like a true BigB movie.

Below is my "slightly" faithful summary of Big B's argument....


I am but a small and insignificant metaphor in this huge ocean of knowledge and principles.

There is an odious culture that has given to lacerate and destruct the very existence of those that have through hard and difficult labour, earned what in my most modest disposition, can be termed public celebrity, which only exhibits how dubiously one could destroy individuals, with malicious bias.

I shall make myself literate enough to challenge any personal unjustified and prejudiced accusation. If you shall abuse me unjustly, I shall not hesitate to pay you back justly !! In a free society there cannot be a select community that shall have the liberty and protection of passing judgment without answerability.

I accuse the journalist Jug Suraiya of a rare episode of sheer cerebral inertia. Two journalists sparked this ‘hoo-ha’ (by) both brazenly cut and pasted passages from my Blog into unrecognisable gutter-press filth.

As (to) the marital disposition of my daughter-in-law as ‘manglik’ is disgusting. I came in person to you, at my own instigation and of my own volition. I confronted your entire editorial staff in your offices , after I had presented a faithful account of the private events surrounding my son’s marriage.

My wealth is not shameful. I am not ashamed of it.

He may turn up his nose at my commercial endorsement of ‘the world’s most expensive suiting material’, but I am proud to represent such a fine example of India’s great industrial heritage, that of the production of textiles. I refuse to be considered by his ilk as a specimen of ‘dirty laundry’ that must be ritually beaten clean, with my fellow citizens as witness.

Here I accuse Jug Suraiya of a pauperised conception of poverty. I am not splitting hairs here: ‘poverty’ ceases to be a useful word unless it is carefully defined. Come to think of it, any other view manifests a form of aesthetic poverty. Add it to the list of possible poverties a human being may suffer.

Please refer to Amartya Sen’s great book, ‘The Argumentative Indian’, and find that if you disagree with him, then you make his point in the process. May I also remind him as well that I defend until (his) death his right to disagree with me.

I argue that India needs more wealth. Hope is not the point. The point is the binding nature of an oath. Jug Suraiya has lost sight of the global industrial context and commercial meaning of SM, which surely have some measure of relevance on the subject of India’s material wealth prospects, and hence its correlative poverties.

SM is a deeply symbolic foot through the cinematic door into the vast domestic Indian market by the Western film industry. Why else would Hollywood have been so wildly ecstatic about a small budget British outfit with American funding? It is time for Jug Suraiya to wake up and smell the Starbucks.

It is the common ‘disease’ rife amongst the so-called ‘urbangentsia’: that of neurotic self-referentiality. At its worst, this self-referentiality is infested with effete self-loathing, born from that kind of masochistic conscience possessed by the culturally decadent, infected with the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of a self-styled elite who confuse their own egoism and class prejudices with genuine social conscience.

I contend that merely acknowledging how culpable we all are in the continuance of ‘disowned [material] poverty’ and engaging in some ritual hand-wringing is about as useless as all his publicly aired gastric wind. That your own esteemed associate editor, Jug Suraiya, has himself fallen victim to Media propaganda, is an indictment of its wild intoxications.

After all, Jug Suraiya may find his greatest talent yet - and even relief - in the rolling up of sleeves and the digging of new sanitary facilities with his own hands. He could not only do with some such facilities for his own scatological literary tropes.

I offer my humble apologies to the author if I fail to adequately paraphrase him but I am confident enough that I have not misunderstood his point.


I do not know if it is just me, but I am still rolling on the floor LOL!!!

In the end there is an interesting point Big B makes about "the cultural bias towards foreign representations of India’s identity, privileged above our own" which inspite of everything written above is heartfelt. I only wish he would have made it in a way that made sense!!!

Friday, April 3

Aravind Adiga in Dublin

Heard Aravind Adiga on Radio today. Truly refreshing to hear a confident genuine Indian accent. Few quotes (as I remember)

"Ashrams and Yoga are the Disney version of India. Nobody in India is into ashrams, yoga and spirituality. Truly spiritual thing about India is men taking their destiny into their own hands and shaping better lives for themselves"

"India traditionally has had very low crime rates, the lower castes/classes meekly accepted their plights, but with education and great awareness through media, things are going to get worse". ( I totally agree, India is in huge denial when it comes to its casteism problem.)

I resisted reading "White Tiger" for sometime given media blitz but was hooked from the first page finished it in one long plane ride. Among the very few books that speak to the truth of contemporary India. It truly describes the cruel reality of Indian existence in a honest way. Nothing romantic about India, nothing redeeming about any of the characters. Just the reality of things as they are, and it is painful.

Academic Promotion Systems

It truly is scary how mediocrity & bureaucratic red tapism can become self sustaining within organizations. Read this article to see how this draft UGC (University Grants Commision) proposal for promotions within universities, actualy discourages genuine quality research publications. The scary part is that UGC sets standards for ALL universities across India.

Even private organizations could easily read this document to see many aspects of their own performance and promotion systems reflected in here. I sure there is a Dilbert cartoon for this.

India in G20

Hu Jintao wanted a world currency. Sarkozy wanted more regulation and an international regulator. Merkel opposed additional fiscal stimulus. Medvedev was re-seting Russia-US relations.

And Manmohan Singh wanted Obama's autograph!!

Listening to Manmohan Singh's press conference later it seemed we were glad that we were invited and that in itself was an achievement.

I am sure we could have done better. Protectionism and IMF reform were items we could have championed publicly. Atleast got the PR right. But I guess with elections back home, really, who cares about a "fancy" global financial meltdown. We truly have bigger issues to worry about.

Thursday, April 2

Orphans of Ireland

Interesting article on where Ireland finds itself today. It is a strange amalgmation of European & American ideals/ideas. Sometimes I think the Irish have it backwards: when it comes to "pop culture" it is closer to America and in "economics" it is European. Ideally it should be the other way around.

Wednesday, April 1

Lessons from the New Deal

A very clear articulation of the economic history of depression era and lessons (hopefully!!) learned from Christina Romer Chair of Council of Economic Advisors to President Obama.

To quote Economist "Christina Romer... is very fun to listen to. She provides an extremely cheery account of the policy failures and successes of the 1930s."

In addition I would recommend Paul Krugman's "The Return of Depression Economics" to understand global crises since Depression.

Tuesday, March 17

Nandan "stepping up"

It is very interesting to note that Nandan (Co-Chairman of Infosys) links to a scathing Atlantic Monthly article on Narendra Modi and critices Mayawati & BJP for their divisive politics.

While most captains of industry generally tend to stick to broad obsequiousness, atleast publicly, when it comes to policitians it is refreshing to note that somebody is standing up. Even though it suspiciously coincides with his US book tour. Nothing like a little controversy to get a promotional book tour going!!

While the cynic in me notes that Congress party is missing and thus signalling his political ambitions or at least a bias or hopefully it is a genuine appeal for tolerance and for leaders with "Universal Appeal", and if that is too much, atleast lets have status quo and ineffective coalitions.

And it is about time. The ugly speech by Varun Gandhi deserves stronger language and any person with any conscience and voice has to stand up and speak. The sheer irony of Varun speaking of "cutting necks and hands" when his mother Menaka Gandhi is the biggest champion against cruelty towards animals. This is just the tip of the growing intolerance against so called “western values”, “Christian conversions”, “muslim terrorists” & “lower castes reservations”.

While it has been always been assumed that China will have the rockier path to being a modern, developed, democratic society; I believe it is India that has bigger demons to exorcise before it reaches the goal of modern tolerant genuinely democratic society.

Saturday, March 14

Review of banking crisis from "doer of deeds"

Jamie Dimon quotes Teddy Roosevelt

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Thursday, March 5

Moment of Zen

It is easy to stand on the sidelines and take cheap shots in hindsight, but by God it is funny.

Sunday, February 15

Keep the foreigners out, unless they want to die!!!

Somedays the world just makes less sense


Job Losses Pose a Threat to Stability Worldwide
Just last week, the new United States director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told Congress that instability caused by the global economic crisis had become the biggest security threat facing the United States, outpacing terrorism.


U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship
Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months.


(Computerworld Article)
"A provision intended to require banks receiving federal bailout funds to give hiring priority to U.S. workers over foreigners with H-1B visas was left in the economic stimulus package when U.S. House and Senate negotiators agreed on a compromise bill this week."


The Cheapest Bailout: Thomas Friedman, NY Times
“All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”

“Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history. It wasn’t through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade. No, the formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat.”

Saturday, February 14

For a "civil" society

Never felt so patriotic. Support the The Pink Chaddi Campaign. It is about equality, it is about dignity, it is about freedom. It is about my daughters.