Politics & the Nation
  • IPL v2 to get played in a country other than India!!
    • Finally the denouement.  BCCI had been forced to host IPL version 2 outside the country.
    • While we can surely understand the government's priorities in providing security cover for the elections, the way the issue appears to have been handled at all levels, perhpas, is to be blamed.  It is not known clearly whether anybody has given a thought to the beating that India's image takes in the international sporting scene because of this decision.  While it is a foregone conclusion that elections should get top priority in so far as providing security is concerned, the powers that be ought to have considered the economic consequences that flow out of IPL moving out of India.
    • The first season of IPL had provided employment opportunities to a large number of people at various venues. It had also contributed close to Rs 100 crore to the exchequer. 
  • Political parties, elections and the internet
    • It is proving to be a heady combination.
    • Considering that 54% of the voters in India, will be under 25 years of age, internet will be an ideal medium, say political parties.
    • Of the 714 million people eligible to vote, about 350 million are expected to cast their ballot if the turnout remains the same as five years ago. 
    • In the world’s second largest democracy, the United States, there were only 131 million registered voters in the presidential election last year but most households have access to the internet, compared to just 40 million users in India. 
Finance & Economics
  • Know the size of the cola market in India?
    • It is about Rs. 7,500 crore per annum.
    • What essentially are the constituents in a cola drink?
      • Put simply it is the carbonation, sugar and the concentrate.
      • It is carbonation that gives a cola its fizz.
    • Pepsi is reported to have followed Thums Up formulation of a stronger fizz -- at least in one market in the country viz., Andhra Pradesh.  Consumers in AP are fond of Thums Up’s strong carbonation taste since it goes well with the local spicy cuisine. 
  • Gold: Is it another bubble waiting to burst?
    • Today's ET op-ed article is worth a read.  Some excerpts, diversions and snippets worth our attention:
    • It’s reckoned that the stockpile of gold in India now is more than the 8,000 tonnes stashed away in the US treasury’s vaults in Fort Knox. Unlike the US, where the government owns most of the gold, India’s government owns a measly 300-odd tonnes. The rest is in private hands: bridal jewellery in Godrej almirahs or bank lockers. And little of this hoard comes up for sale. 
    • What makes us believe that there is speculation going on in gold?
    • Reports hint that gold exchange traded funds (ETFs), pieces of paper whose value is linked to gold prices, are still pulling subscribers, even as gold imports are coming down to zero, singalling that Indians hoarding gold are not doing so. Why are people buying paper gold when they can’t afford the real thing for their daughters’ marriages? Because speculators are buying the paper, when folks that really need gold can’t afford to.
    • Those of you who have badgered me with questions relating to gold standard will find this article really helpful in understanding it.
  • US announces its plans to spend $1 trillion to buy toxic assets of banks
    • In the wake of the uproar over the millions of dollars in bonuses for employees at troubled insurance giant AIG the prospects for getting more bailout money from Congress appear very dim. The new plan would rely on the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to supplement the government’s $700-billion bailout fund. 
    • The plan will have three major parts: A public-private partnership to back private investors’ purchases of bad assets. The $700-billion bailout fund would provide the backing. The government would match private investors dollar for dollar and share any profits equally. 
    • Secondly, it would expand a recent Fed programme that provides loan for investors to buy securities backed by consumer debt. It’s an effort to make it easier for people to get auto, student and credit card loans. The term asset-backed securities loan facility (TALF) programme is getting up to $100 billion from the bailout fund; that money then is being leveraged to support up to $1 trillion in Fed loans. Under Geithner’s plan for the toxic assets, part of that $1 trillion would now go to support purchases of banks’ troubled assets. 
    • And lastly, using the FDIC, which guarantees bank deposits, to purchase toxic assets. The agency would create special investment partnerships and then lend them money to buy up troubled assets. 
  • If you had been a consistent reader of this blog, you would have by now noticed that I have been a strong proponent of the dollar's demise
    • In the medium to long term; to be precise.  Just as the Gold Standard has given way to the greenback in the early 1970's, I expect some other currency or basket of currencies taking center-stage in the post-crisis scenario.  While my take on the subject can be tested in due course of time, the persistent rise of the dollar may pose some troubling questions (not to me; though).
    • So what explains this rise of the dollar?  Let's take an expert's view on the subject here.
Language lessons
  • bauble: Noun
    • Cheap showy jewellery or ornament on clothing
  • whoosh: Verb
    • Move with a sibilant sound (sibilant: A consonant characterized by a hissing sound (like s or sh))
    • eg: He whooshed the doors open