Monday, July 13, 2009


Can't figure out the title? Don't know what it means? It means - "You don't exist" in some language! Now you could relate to it.

What if I told you that You actually don’t exist - Would you believe me? You'd probably hope for an ambulance to come my way! But No I'm serious! You don't exist in physical form!

Nothing around you exists and everything is an illusion - Me going bonks? Okay - If I was blindfolded, would those objects go out of existence since I cannot see them? No right? But still a blindfolded individual moves around cus in his thoughts those objects exist. It's him and his brain having accepted the existence of reality. So those objects lie in his thoughts and not in physical form. You exist in my thoughts only! Even though you think you are present in physical form - But your physical presence is nothing but my Brain registering you as a physical object in my thoughts - ThereforeYou're a Figment of my Imagination - You're an Illusion - You Don't exist!

You think a physical form of verification is existence? - None of you have met me. You still think that I exist? I'm just a dot. I could be just a ghost floating around.

You Can't exist! Trust me! You're just an illusion. Think I'm still going mad? Okay - Remember your friend whom you’ve not met in a while and wish to get in touch with. Now does he exist in front of you for you to believe that he once existed? No right? - So it's just you choosing to having believed that he did exist! - He too doesn't exist in physical form!

Still thinking I've gone bonks? Okay if I hit your hand, it hurts. If I use anesthesia, it wouldn't but that doesn't mean that the pain does not exit- It's only your acceptance of the emotion or object that caters to it's existence. So everything else such a values, morality, esteem are nothing but certain chemicals choosing to be in harmony! You're Just like Music - Music doesn't exit - But you still react to it just like I react to you!

When you watch TV - Do people exist inside the Television? No right? They actually exist in your thoughts. Haven't you seen some people talking to someone else when the person is not in front of him? They can see stuff that you can't! Yeah Yeah They see Dead people as well!

Remember why you woke up when you had that nightmare - Cus you thought it was real and once you woke up you thought that it was a dream and not "Reality"

So nothing exists and everything is just your imagination! Everything is an illusion!Why have I written this? - It's one of the many monologues I have about the existence of matter! Because before anything started, be it big bang, God and what not - How did it all start? I reach point where it's just impossible for you to exist! Cus nothing existed in the first place! How can nothing exist before the existence of everything as the existence of nothing which in itself is questionable, as nothing is in the first place absence of something. If something never existed, can nothing exist?

If you didn't understand what I've written - Don't bother! I exist – You know why? Cus my boss let’s me know the reason for my existence :)

In honour of Goddess of Conformity!

I conform! We all conform because we choose to. Period. Don't waste your time disputing this! I am the rat in that race and I compete with you the rat! And oh yes I love to complain just like you that you're the rat!

You are a Rat by Choice -

""We all all part of that rat race" - Yaaawwwwnnnn Hmmm....,. The fact is you're a rat by choice. Period. You're as annoying as the rat who you kept complaining about. PeriodIsn't it strange? The rat race and the whole notion of conformity that we keep complaining about is so strange when we have made ourselves the choice of being the rat! Oh yes we have!

Lets take on Society and it's influence -

You'll say society influenced your thoughts and since your Mummy was a lawyer and all Lawyers were doing well(pay packets) you turned into one. You liked certain aspects, the peripherals of being a lawyer (be it cars, fame, money) and made the choice which is one of the many paths that you could choose. Are you blaming society? Can't you just say that you chose like others to follow and achieve the same aspects that everyone has?Okay when I did pick up the cigarette I made the choice. Period - Do I have to blame aspects of peer pressure, society, Macho-cool image passport and other similarities when it's eventually me that picked up the cigarette? Get the drift?? Bottom-line - You've chosen to be influenced by society. So yes society and it's influences is largely a blame game - the same escapist tendencies we exhibit and finding fault in something else.There were many who didn't succumb under the pressure of picking up the cigarette - Because they chose not to despite the pressure. So some choose to do the same mundane boring stuff because deep down they believe to be part of the society that believes getting that Merc S class and killing each other Rat in the race is much better and easier than seeking the path that would be their true path of happiness.

What I am here for?

Sorry to bore you to death but ancient philosophies have solved Sunshine's Dilema k's of yrs. back - The fact is that each one of us has certain desires - By that it is meant that there a certain actions we enjoy irrespective of the result - I always loved playing some sport - I could be hours at the sports field just kicking the ball, playing baskteball, etc. - That was my desire - I just don't know how far I wanted to go but I derived a huge amount of pleasure from that act - Can I continue? - Well I have made the choice of someday owning the latest HD TV with the best Bose system on offer so I choose to be a part of that rat race because deep down maybe I don't have the courage to quit all else and just be involved in derving the pleasure of just playing basketball and made a subconsious choice not not wanting to be left behind in achieving those materialist gains that basketball wouldn't have helped me.

How much we blame society and it's lack free thinking - It's us as well that loves structure - Else we would all be wondering what to do and easy to pick up something that is readymade - The whole doctrine of being Doctor engineer is an easy choice and is spoon fed so we subconiously make that choice and just follow.I have seen many individuals kick their fancy jobs because they weren't just happy - They are now part of small startups, community service, etc. and are quite happy. So by choosing not to do anything about conformity - You make the choice of conforming!

The bottomline is that it boils down to you - And each time I go yaaawwwnnn when someone says that he worked hard to get xyz degrees - Donkey's Get degrees! They get those for reasons that else in society thought it was good, before even asking themselves whether they actually love the process of getting there.

Isn't the act of getting married an act of conformity? Donkey's have a sense of belonging and love their families - But you went 7 times merry go around without knowing why? - Bottom line - Donkey's are smarter!Easier Said than done? To quit your boring life and do something else? - How tough you make it sound is again is a choice that you've made.Can you say "I care a Rat's Bum while quitting my job"? No Na? You care about his bum even more!Ponder over it....

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why Blame the Govt.?

Suhel Seth- The English Media's favourite round table boy. An individual who has an opinion on everything under the sun so what if you don't understand them. Have an opinion and a strong one at that.

Post the beginning of the economic crisis, most have blamed the Govt. for reacting very late. People have opined about how complacent the current administration has been in averting the present crisis and how late they were in taking steps to curtail the ramifications.

I am not a fan of this present Govt. , only of few individuals just like any other administrations in the past. But wonder what the govt. could do in order to avert this crisis. I do think govts. are complacent but to me the criticism otherwise is placed i.e. about the role of the govt.

Few Arguments made by those who criticise the govt.

1. They brought down interest rates very late: In Mid 2005-06 when credit was growing at 23% Kamath and his tribe wanted it head south as the India growth story would be over cause of dearer funding. RBI was criticised throughout 2007 when interest rates were rising. Various banks had criticised RBI on the grounds that several new and cheaper channels of funding emerged(PE,VC Equities etc.) especially to Realty. In hindsight we see wisdom of having been conservative with our credit. To me the central bank is the best judge of when interest rates need to be brought down.

Whether or not Interest rates were brought down late is very subjective cause the important point is of them being effective. Obviously interest rates need to be brought down slowly and in a cordial manner.

Interest rates are down today. Has the demand situation reversed? A resounding no. The demand destruction post the excess supply was bound to happen and interest rates rather the reduction of it wouldn't have helped one bit. In fact in hindsight seem prudent. If banks had relatively cheaper credit available it would have entered a system that was still running at high prices. In layman's terms- Funding Jag purchase by the Tata's at a high price would have created another cycle of problems of credit. The need to fund the deal obviously is no reason for credit to become cheaper.

2. Policy Changes were inadequate: What policy could have reversed the dismal situation that textiles and gems and jewellery segment were in as the problem with these sectors was with the huge demand fall in target markets. What impact would zero export duty have when there in no importer ready to buy abroad. The fact is the policy would have been ineffective to curb demand fall abroad.

When banks are collapsing abroad what policy would have helped the IT sector where BFSI account for 40% of India's IT revenues.

3. Oil prices were brought down very late: Again don't think govt is at fault here. There were two Strong reasons- One is of the previous losses that had to be recovered and to get some cash in the balance sheet of these companies so that they don't cry "Oil Bonds Please" later. And mind you Oil bonds contribute to inflation again instead of bring it down. Second is of the depreciating currency. If one denies the impact of the currency then one is undermining it's role. Inflation control that was achieved during the appreciating rupee would have the opposite one during a cheaper rupee.

4. Tax rates should have been cut: Look dude to pay taxes you need income, you need profits. What taxes are you gonna pay when both don't exist? Yup the previous argument seems valid. But the fact is that if one wanted economic activity it is imperative that one spends. It's important that money flow improves which yes could happen by reducing tax rates and leaving more money in the hands of the consumer. Probably the govt. is at fault here. But given the levels of fiscal deficit, the farm loan waiver, the 6th pay commission I guess I would have a be a real tough nut to implement this measure.

In a nutshell, even if the govt wanted to and was not complacent as said to be in some quarters they role would have been insignificant given the fact that the excess supply and over heated demand had to correct severely.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Expensive Shit!!

Wrote Earlier on Mouthshut-

Most of us have at some point or another opined on how the West rather the U.S. with its barrage of Capitalist posterboys have been icons our Indian Counterparts are expected to follow. How at several points we've been told that accountability and corporate governance of the west is something for people closer home need to emulate.Corporate Governance from the West???
What Crap!!!

Subprime mess to many would require no introduction. Today TOI reported that a U.S. citizen killed self and family as a consequnce of the Job losses. The whole world is in a tailspin. Noone is sure, secure about tomorow. Each passing day throws some bad news about the economy.And then you have the best news of all.

In one of the worst crisis to ever hit the world in the past 30 years we have Merril Lynch's Former Ceo, John Thain spend $35,000 on a commode. i.e. Rs 17,50,000. Quite an expensive potty!!!He had $1.2 Million spent to renovate his new office. Probably use the new environment to cope with an economic one never seen before. That's Rs 6 cr just on renovation. All this at company expenses.The audacity of bank bosses is quite commendable. You have governments who are injecting billions into the economy by buying bad assets, create jobs and revive demand in various sectors. Indirectly it's revived surely in one sector- Sanitaryware.

This lavish over the top expenditure has come at a time when the U.S. Banks are reeling under pressure, thristy for funds. At a time later when Merrill was sold out to Bank of America just to keep it afloat. At a time when the world is screaming credit crunch, at a time when there's no Lehman brothers, no jobs, John Thain flushes down in style!You then had beggars actually come in corporate jets. Remember the General Motors Ceo and his kin flying down to ask the govt. for funds. It took some public criticism to actually get them to come in Cars that to Hybrid ones!!!Now you have Citigroup that needs to be told by the U.S. Goverment to cancel a purchase of a Corporate Jet.I'm not sure whether these bosses will ever learn. The've ensured a safe landing for each one of them.

Merrill paid $4 billion as bonuses when the company actually incurred a $ 20 billion loss. Surely they deserved it!!!Richard Fuld escaped with his millions, Stanely O'neal went out on a neat pay. So where's the accountability in a country which preaches about capitalism and all its goods, about how the markets punishes non- performers and rewards only success. The $ 4 billion bonus payout surely wasn't rewarding success.....

Why blame politicians?

Post 26/11 MTV’s news bite program, MTV Wassup had carried pictures of Shivraj Patil and Mamta Banerjee. The take was to identify who the politicians were and whether "youngistaan" could identify those individuals. None had.The youth or people they interviewed would have known shivraj patil, given 26/11. Post Nano debacle Mamta surely would have been known to the yuppie ever criticising junta.

This is our youth, it's us, that blame politicians for everything that goes wrong but isn't aware of the names of the politicians. This is that section of the youth that would shoot smart slogans against politicians without knowing their namesOne can be excused of not knowing who Kamal Nath is or for that matter AK Anthony. But obviously these individuals are not sure whose responsible for internal security. Given that serial blasts in various cities and the "cribbing" that we all get involved in surely at some point they informed you on who shivraj Patil is. Given the fact that we complain of not enough jobs, investment and growth surely Mamta Banerjee would have been known. I guess the problem lies in sterotyping. Mamta Banerjee was passed of as Rabri devi!! Cheers to the youth.

Would it make any difference if these names were known to the youth? A resounding No. But there's a larger issue at stake. Awareness!

It's human tendency to always find fault with someone else for our failures. We loathe everything about politics not cause of necessarily of an informed view but a cynical "herd mentality".

There's a another equally passionate section that opines of us being responsible cause we don't vote and therefore don't make any difference. To me that's illogical. You could make a difference through your vote only if it's excercised through an informed view. And not just cause you have to “vote” and the jingoism surrounding "it's our responsibility to make a difference….we must vote".

The basic point I'm making here is that awareness of politics would be improve one's view point of it but obviously is required for better assessment of politics.Another classical sterotyping - Rural voters are swayed by politicians based on caste and creed. So it's an informed choice that they make. Also there are poor, illiterate and uneducated and therefore get swayed by politicians.

This to me is hypocrisy of the urban junkie at it's best.It's the same disdain we show towards the "bihari" with his strong rural accents who possibly end up cracking IIT's and IAS's v/s a call center exec with his imported dialect who probably can't spell "que".Other problem of politicians being corrupt. To me it's the system inefficiencies that are to blame of which we are a part of.

Surely Arun Jaitley, Kapil Sibal, PC, Ravi Shankar, Mani Shankar, Suresh Prabhu, ain't your usual Corrupt Brigade. Yup the problem lies in branding each one as another Amar Singh or a Pappu Yadav.

Why are politicians expected to uphold values which we've long lost?

The glasshouse corporate world is filled with individuals who would ate the slightest instance chose self-interest over a societal benefit. Who would expect tax benefits and exmptions for themselves but a loan waiver ends up in a hue and cry.

In a nutshell, don’t' think that awareness of politics would change ones' perception of it but surely awareness and following politics would go a long way in assessing it's failures.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Inflation is important

Your mom would usually complain of prices soaring through the roof each year. She'll surely not complain about the fact that each year there has been more income in her hands.

Inflation is unfortunately a necessary evil. We hate the fact that prices soar but ignore the increase in incomes that go along with it. It's obvious, as closer to the equilibrium point, increase in prices means more incomes in the hands of factors that enter production.

In short: Prices need to rise. It's only when prices rise, is there an incentive to sell. When there is an incentive to sell will suppliers of goods and services deploy more capital and resources. This increases the factor incomes at the resources end which then creates demand for other services. And like a magic wand that increased prices eventually lead to your increased income.

So if prices drop you may be happy but good chance that you income would never increase.

So mama, just relax, you need inflation and it's important.

Sell Side Risks - Benefits from the Current Crisis 2

The current crisis has re-aligned the world. Has taken the world back to "what Grandma told you". B-schools have lost their usual Recruiters. Wonder what would it be at IIM's to know that Merrill Lynch and Lehman is no more gonna recruit.

The current crisis has thrown it's fair share of benefits. The most important of all is Risk Assessment. Not the risks not associated with Asset prices, credit etc.

It's led to a re-assessment amongst individuals, amongst my generation that had it fairly good. To whom the word "savings" seemed a euphemism. During my initial stints post college I wondered how certain expenditures were tolerated amongst our circles given the fact that our incomes were the same. Individuals who would earn Rs 15,000 pm but own a Rs 20,000 cell phone. As for me Rs 20,000 meant several months of fixed expenditure on phone bills, maintenance, food bills, investments(and the losses that come with it). Most were passive about these concerns.

Savings were never a concern. Expenditure and life on plastic was a norm.

The worst hit in the re-assessment are those in the ITES sector especially one in BPO's. Jobs are at stake everywhere. The problem lies more with the adjustment to lifestyle changes. To me it's good as a sense of arrogance and nonchalance has slowly made way for humility.

The Crisis has restored some Sanity. Extravagance is out, and rationality is in. A rude awakening to the Batmen, as I call them (given that they work only at night). A lifestyle that's lived on leverage, on excesses. The tunes Rock On! have been silenced to some meditative ones to cope with the crisis.

Most have gone back to basics. PSU's have emerged are the most sought after recruiters today. Here the point is not about whether PSU's are better at utilising the resources as compared to their Private counterparts. The larger point is about traditional sectors or what is otherwise known as Old-Economy seeing some talent inflow albeit temporary. Heavy engineering and FMCG are other neglected sectors that have seen interest.

Economies Re-align as they grow so it's always a good chance that manufacturing may not remain so hot. In India its the services sector that has propelled growth. And unlike in the past where it was imperative to have a dominant industrial base that theory will not hold longer.

Industrial revolution was built on the fact that it created huge employment which means money went into the pockets of consumer. Today most manufacturing is automated and is more capital intensive than labour. So services substitute the role of spurring growth as they generate substantial employment. And the services then create their own set of implicit demands.

The problems with the IT sector should be seen as a blessing in disguise. Yup I'm all for labour to be determined by market forces than national service. But found it terrible that Aeronautical engineers landed up at Oracle. Metallurgy grads were mining software systems and best of all, was the telecom lot that was actually attending calls.

Most countries in the past or that have been historically power full have always been superior in technology, in indigenous science. Be it the Romans, Russians and present day US. Technology and the incentive towards research is an important factor in any nation's development. And yes quality of labour force at the right places and to incentivize them is crucial.

In this era where probably 3 years of economic growth has been lost. It's pays to invest to the basic sectors such as science and infrastructure. Not in education. I'll tackle it later.

Second it also opens up issue on FDI. I'm not a communist but surely capital flow theories that are essentailly decided by John Thain and his kin need to be seen carefully. The stability of banks for ex. is a crucial point. In India thankfully PSU banks or our banking system is a trusted source. Therefore it would pay that banks end up being just what they are..banks!!! Any leverage towards areas such a private equity should be completely de-risked.

Sell Side Risks - Benefits from the Current Crisis

Was asked by my boss once as to whether anyone could sum up the reason behind the Global Crisis we all see. To me it seemed simple: Wall street sold products whose risks weren't understood clearly. Agencies rated these instruments as AAA securities cause they didn't understand them and others bought it cause they pretended to understand them.

So the whole world is in a tailspin now. Products created by Quant geniuses who are bad with numbers, MBA's who haven't got their basic economics right, analyst's that predict earnings of others but are not sure whether their own company can survive the downturn. I actually wonder what right does Merrill, Lehman and Morgan have to rate any company. I once told a good friend that Morgan De-rated x company on liquidity issues. He reply was to ask whether Morgan had any idea about their own companies states of affairs.

If PWC messed up with Satyam's audits and issues a more bizarre statement that it's audits cannot be relied on, we all question it's right to audit the books of any company. Don't we?

The point I am getting here to about selling. Various theories have been purported about what led to this credit crisis. The two main points

1. Interest Rates: Obviously easy liquidity and interest rates fuelled the credit bubble along with accompanying surge in Real Estate prices. If interest rates and easing liquidity could propel growth Japan wouldn't have been in a prolonged recession. So don't think interest rates are so much at fault.

2. Complex Instruments: Some have credited it to the complex instruments(CDS's, CDO's) created arrogant newbie "foreign educated" junkies. I don't think so. It's reported that of huge portion of the credit off take was towards people who couldn't afford.

From CNN -
"For instance, in both 2006 and 2007, well over 40 percent of sub prime borrowers were awarded mortgages with either little or no documentation of their ability to pay. With these so-called "liar loans," borrowers did not have to show proof of either earnings or assets."

These problems could happen without these derivatives. In early 90's Indian banks were running huge NPAs. Bank of India had a NPA of 10%. These derivatives didn't exist. The indian banking system especially some large private sector ones run the risk of huge NPAs without having any exposure to Credit derivatives.

To me essentially the problem lies with "Selling". Selling products individuals don't understand, selling theories/opinions that lack basic foundation of reasoning and understanding of financial products and on which risk mechanism evolve. And also the drive for what looks good instead of how reliable it is.

To cut a long story short, - Been reading bloom and its cousins for the past 2 years and the Eco times for the past 8 years. The quality of opinion closer is far better and superior than Uncle Sam's prodigy. It's kinda like the difference between the suave sophisticated suit wearing investment banker and the very orthodox and conventional Venkateswar,Krishnmurthy, Subramanium types who to me are the best to listen to when it comes to economics. Ask an tie-wearing ICICI salesman on how Fiscal Deficit is linked to inflation and new theories would be sold and sold convincingly. Forget the good ol school classic economics.

Contd to post 2