Financial Comedy

Watching the Indian financial networks lately is better then watching the latest comedy flick.  The talking heads are just trying to say something positive but the reality is there is nothing to say. My favorite was on Friday when an HSBC analyst said “inflation could hit 15% but growth should not be impacted much.”

Are you kidding me? Current inflation is 11.42% (a 13 year high) and for it to rise to 15%,  that’s a 31% jump. It’s like saying crude going from USD 140 to 183 is no big thing. Even today, growth is getting affected and if inflation does hit 15% it’s definitely going to dull the “India Shining” story.

Luckily not everyone is so brain dead, an analyst from a local broker had the following rare gem: “Why would a US fund manager buy ICICI Bank, when he is getting a Citi or Merrill a lot cheaper?”

One of the big growth stories for the past 3-4 years in India has been the rise of automotive component manufacturing companies.  However, with the slow down of the US automotive market all 3 companies (Chrysler, Ford and GM) are all getting taken to the cleaners.  Last week GM’s stock hit a 53 year low, I would imagine the guys over in Detroit aren’t ordering as many parts as they did last year.  So much for the “decoupling” theory that was being tossed around a couple months back on TV. 

My New Yoga Instructor

After my recent vacation I’m now pushing maximum density (borrowed from the Breakfast Club) and decided to try something new. Even before the trip I’d been looking to start yoga classes and have been dragging my feet. Then I heard about the Wii Fit and thought it might be cool. After actually seeing the launch of the Wii Fit in NYC on May 19, I decided I would buy it and see how it goes.  

However, that was easier said then done.  I stood in line for an hour at Best Buy to buy the Wii Fit and my dad stood in line at Toys R Us for the Wii. After getting it to Bombay and using it for the past week it’s pretty damn cool. It has a bunch of yoga positions and strength training exercises. The yoga exercises are really good because the Wii Fit balance board checks your center of balance and let’s you know if you are doing them correctly. It’s no substitute for a gym but a great way todo some activity if you are feeling to lazy to head to the gym.

I’ve decided to publicly keep track of my weight and BMI as reported by Wii on the right side of this blog.  I need to get my a#$@# in shape if I really want to run the Mumbai Marathon in Jan 2009.


Carriers love the iPhone

A couple days ago I was called an iHole – someone who can’t stop talking about their iPhone.  Well it continues…By now I’m sure you’ve been slammed with iPhone coverage and heard the latest version is being released on July 11. People love the iPhone because the interface is so natural, it doesn’t ship with a 60 page manual b/c it’s just that easy to use.  

The latest phone has two big things going for it: GPS and AppStore.  Let’s take AppStore first, it has an easy to use interface to select and download programs to the iPhone platform.  I had a CrapBerry for 3 years and never downloaded any programs to the phone for 2 reasons: not many developers on that platform and more importantly no easy way to get programs on the phone.  With GPS the whole location based services market will grow exponentially.  Yes, Nokia has GPS on some of their phones but only a handful of applications were taking advantage of it. Once the iPhone started talking about it tons of developers jumped on the location based services bandwagon. An example of a great restaurant app from Urbanspoon.

iPhone has changed the game and the carriers love it and will probably do whatever they can to switch CrapBerry users to the iPhone platform.  Imagine you are a carrier today and have a CrapBerry user that is paying USD 30/month for the service and part of that goes to Research in Motion.  Now, if that user switches to an iPhone the carrier gets the full amount and even willing to charge less for the data plan since the carrier gets the whole enchilada…genius.


The Sensex was down over 515 points today to hit a low for the year – 14571.29.  The reason for the bearish performance was inflation, the gov’t announced inflation was 11.05% a 13 year high mainly on the back of increased gas prices.

But the fun doesn’t stop there, several people I’ve spoken to are putting their India expansion plans on hold because everything is so fu!@#$ expensive. Real estate is the biggest hurdle for most businesses and prices are still sky high and are set for a STEEP fall.  Take a look at some of the real estate stocks – Omaxe, Ansal, Parsvnath, DLF, HDIL, Shobha, Kolte-Patil and Puravankara are all down 60%-80% from their highs.  During the run up in these stocks many people forgot that most real estate transactions in India occur in the black – meaning under the table.  I laughed when the real estate guys started listing b/c it would be like Pablo Escobar listing his drug trade.  Granted your product is good and clients are happy, but they are paying you under the table and last time I checked the Big 4 accounting companies don’t like that.

Bummed Out? US Senator Seeks Comments

The Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, decided to ask his constituents “how are things going” in light of the high price of oil.  He didn’t expect much of a response but soon received over 600 emails that talked about their plight.  Several of the response are below:

“By February we ran out of wood and I burned my mother’s dining room furniture.”
“It costs me so much money in gas that my wife and I live on $6 per day to eat.”
“My mortgage is behind, we are at risk for foreclosure, and I can’t keep up with my car payments.”

Although many people from the US can sympathize with the anecdotes, I showed the same document to many Indians and the response was the same – Why do they live so far away, why do they have 2-3 cars for a family of 2, why did they buy big houses…ouch no sympathy here. However, most still want to emulate the American dream.

When I first saw the email I thought it was a joke. However, the entire document is available on Senator Bernie Sanders website. Direct link to PDF

Back to Reality

After a long vacation I’m finally back in Bombay and back to my regular blogging schedule. Over the next few weeks I’ll be dropping in a couple posts from my travels to Italy and the US, the highs and the lows.  It was a great time and got to see many friends and relatives.  Got a ton of pics as well and sifting through them all to find some gems to post.