For Pakistan and America, Taliban has grown out to be the Frankenstein monster and they are dealing with it just as Frankenstein and others did and if this continues I do not think that there will be a different end.

In some ways, writers become so prophetic. That is what I love about writing. It is almost like a glance or a peep into and sometimes whole picture of the future.


Harold and Kumar series

I had seen Harold Kumar go to Whitecastle a year ago and I was laughing so much that my stomach hurt.  Then yesterday I saw the second one -Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. It was so funny and gross and a satire on American politics. It was bigger than the previous one but better? I have to say there is a tie.

Everything that can go wrong does and then unthinkable happens and they are on the run while we enjoy their situations. The unique thing is the casting. There is no major white actor and the lead actors are Indian and Korean. Every stereotype is demolished there and I just love it not only for the mindless comedy that it is but for the understated voice that lies beneath all the weed, nudity and weirdness.

People who are young at heart would do better to watch it.

Wall Street Carnage

Just weeks ago, we were discussing possibilities of Lehman and Merrill being in trouble, but they were there. Hell, only yesterday I wrote about how Lehman was looking for buyers and measures to go a controlled path so that the markets are least affected. This morning I wake up and the news is that there is no more Lehman, AND there is no more Merrill Lynch. The news has been flabbergasting. All on a weekend. In 2 days, 2 of the world’s largest investment banks are no more. Something as dramatic as this has not happened since the Great Depression. It is unbelievable. And the worst thing is that no one knows yet what is in store and how much wreckage is yet to come due to the complex financial instruments that have been traded. Some people are saying that this will bring about a new financial order. Well, I certainly hope that it will be better and more stable.

The news has not only affected the US markets but also the markets overseas. Here, in India, both the BSE and NIFTY have fallen and shares of major companies across many sectors have taken a plunge. I know I am saying this again and again but it is hard to believe that there is no more Merrill Lynch. It is sold to Bank of America for nearly $45 billion which was worth $100 billion last year. Lehman is filing for bankruptcy.

All aside, the concern I as well as all must have is that what will happen of the employees of these companies not only in the US but also in the foreign branches? It is a messy situation and the Wall Street is bathed in blood ( figuratively speaking ). Indeed an unusual weekend it was.

And that is when there are still firms like WaMu and AIG to take care of. This is gonna be a long month.

US Financial Markets in Doldrums

The news about Lehman going for an almost firesale and a sale in any case, has been splashing since few days all over the media. Check out at : News about Lehman Crisis

This comes about right after the great rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddi Mac by the Federal agency of the US government. The move was anticipated as a stopper for more bad news and rotting companies but as it has turned out, investments continue to get sour and companies are still at high risk, along with the danger of whole of the market and eventually the economy going down a whirlwind path. To me, it is particularly astonishing because I thought, as did most of the people, that banks like Lehman were more prudent and perhaps would be able to manage the situation. As it turns out, it is not about the ability to manage. The forces of market are far more weighty and dangerous that a single firm could contain. The news is doing the rounds that Merrill Lynch and Washington Mutual are in for a similar fate if they do not get up and do something right now. If Lehman goes badly, Merrill may be next in line with all the pressures, although the situation there is not so critical, and may I add, YET. It was assumed that the credit crunch would stop after Bears Stearns was bailed out. But it did not.  And it is not to be predicted that how much longer and how much wider it is going to go on.

In all of this, a student of economics should ask that are there any lessons to be drawn here about free markets, capitalism, socialism, socialized capitalism, government intervention and globalization etc? I would say that when we will look at these events in hindsight, there will be many many lessons. However, what all this has certainly done is to question the robustness of capitalized markets and their efficiency to deal with the problems. Why is it that the fellow banks and financial institutions are not coming to the rescue of the beleaguered Lehman when its collapse could spell a bigger doom which will take them down too. Why are they asking the government to support the bad credits and intervene for stabilizing the markets. Is it not the inherent and imminent rule of capitalism that the profits as well as losses will be shared by the markets. Why then are then the  losses expected to be  turned over to the government?

Financial markets have often come to the stage of creating havoc in the whole of economy. They seem to be periodically going into a crash state after a boom state. Had it been a completely free market without any government intervention at all, things would have been different and I mean better by that? Is it this unexplained camaraderie between the two which is responsible for bad turns. Or can we ask the question that capitalism is not able to deal on its own and that it is most of the times the government which supports it?

Altogether, it is a very interesting time for not only financial analysts but also for general economists. What amazes me often is that the complexities of the financial instruments( like exotic derivatives) have grown so much that it is hard to estimate and calculate their worth even by those who are creating them. Something like the Frankenstein’s monster. Aren’t they?

I am waiting for the Monday morning and the markets to open and see what is the fate waiting this crisis. Meanwhile, the decision about Lehman should hopefully become clear in the coming day.

Blasts in Delhi

As I have always said, the terrorists are the ultimate cowards who aim at innocent people without any warning without showing their faces they are fighting and only those bunch of idiots know for what good. They think they will change something by doing this. They think that they will be called martyrs and heroes. Well, I call them here and now: The ultimate cowards and a disgrace on the name of humankind. If it were in my hand, if I could catch them, I would put their family members in a room and plant a bomb there and then ask them how they feel. What goes in their minds then? Is it worth it, whatever they are fighting for? If they could in all honesty say yes, then I would send them to an asylum and if no, then I hope they realize what madness it is. The bomb would off course be diffused after that.

This ranting is of no use. We should be able to do something. We cannot let this country be a playground for terrorists. The only method which comes to my mind is Gandhigiri. As they are leaving their email ids for all the people showing off their false pride, we should send them emails telling how our families got affected and what we feel. We should let them know what the common man thinks. We should ask them what they want? What is their purpose in life? What is it that they want? Let us engage them fruitfully. If they can create a fake id we shall too and we shall email them. I think it is a good idea. I will try it and I urge all of you who read this to try too and ask your friends to do so. May be a force of 1 billion peaceful people will prevail over a handful of haters and terror makers.

Ignited Minds – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

This book is written by the once President and a very distinguished scientist of India who has worked relentlessly in space programs of the country along with many others to make India one of the few nations today with a highly developed space program. It is known that the Indian President is just a figurehead with no real powers. But, this man, he used that non existent power and so should every other president of India for what he/she is worth. He used the platform to call and address the youth from this country, to push them towards the goals which will make India a better place, to make them dream dreams which can become a pleasant reality. Ignited minds is all about that. It is about not compromising with anything other than the best. It is about making progress and prosperity a national dream. It is about making oneself committed to the best that we can do to take the country and its people forward by being enterprising, by being hardworking and by being creative. That is what India needs today, leaders with a vision and positive, can do attitude.

Kalam has been the best president in the recent times and I now know why. It is because of his genuine belief in his country and countrymen. In his sincerity towards progress and in his consistent optimism with a never ending enthusiasm to leave this country a better place. I salute him.

As for the book , Ignited Minds is a must have, must read and very well timed book for every Indian, more so youth.

I am glad!

Today I am glad that I did what I had wanted to for a long time. I wanted to make a teeny tiny difference in the life of at least one of those deprived kids who have to lose their childhood for earning their bread. There is a boy who works in the canteen of my hostel and he does not go to school. Today, I made a decision and told him that I will teach him. And I am glad that I did. Since long I had been thinking about being a teacher in the evening school run here for the poor children. But this is a better idea, because this kid I am talking about, cannot even go to that school, due to work timings clash. I asked him if he wanted to study and he said that he wanted to study but could not. Neither are his 3 elder brothers and a younger sister educated. Just his smallest sister goes to study.

I could feel that he was happy at the prospect of it. He was glad too. I made him promise me that whatever I teach him here, he is going to teach that to his siblings who are uneducated. I am excited and nervous. Excited because I am sure I am doing something positive, finally, rather than just speaking about it. Nervous because I am a horrible teacher, as my brother tells me, in the sense that I am rather impatient. But, I think that I will learn patience and many other things in this all.

I feel good.