• Maid Economics

    The luck of the draw has allowed me to live in various cities — most recently, Gurgaon and Bangalore. In every single instance, residents of the apartment associations have complained of how maids or drivers or household help in general have raised their prices.

    Or that they leave to take up another job for a marginally higher pay. Or that they become "arrogant", demand advances and bonuses. The response of the employers is to attempt to create rules for the "society" such as:

    a) Provide a chart of pay for activity and tell every household to pay only that much.

    b) Ask for "no-objection certificates" from past employers if any household help attempts to move elsewhere.

    In my opinion, this is the possibly worst response to rising wages. Let me replace the word "maid" by "software engineer". Would we be happy if companies got together and said we'll only pay this much for this job — and no other employer can offer you more? If this actually happens, it could be construed as an attempt to

    Read More »from Maid Economics
  • Imagine a world in which you had very easy-to-understand financial products. I'll detail a few below.

    Simple Life Insurance: You pay us non-refundable premium every year. If you die we pay your family money. This much money. If you live, your family is happier. Over and out.

    Simple Mutual Funds: They come in three varieties:

    a) Simple Equity Funds: We invest in the stock market. Forget Large cap or mid cap, forget this sector or that. We know what to buy, and we'll give you the fund manager's resume and past performance. We benchmark to the NSE Nifty. We don't pay dividends. We don't give bonuses. If you want to sell, you sell.

    b) Simple Debt Funds: We buy debt. We know we can buy short term, long term, gilt, corporate, CDs, CPs and all that. But we decide what to buy. You just park your money with us. We are risky.

    c) Simple liquid funds: We're better than fixed deposits for tax treatment. We only invest in bank CDs which are like fixed deposits except they pay us more than they'll

    Read More »from The Kiss of Simplicity
  • Imagine criminals that have sophisticated guns, satellite radios, bombs, strong armour, GPS trackers and fancy cars. And imagine someone has been given the task of "policing" them from a bullock cart, with only bows, arrows, and a sign that says "Stop, or I'll say stop again".

    In the civilized world, it would be entirely unnecessary to kill the regulator. As long as you have the technology, you just have to get away in your car when a bullock cart chases you, and let your armour take the brunt of any bow or arrow that's fired.

    This is how our regulatory system is.

    Bernie Madoff was "discovered" at about the same time that Satyam founder Ramalinga Raju admitted he fudged accounted. Mr. Madoff is now cooling his heels in jail, where he will be for the rest of his life. Ramalinga Raju's only relation with heels is that he's probably getting a pedicure - he is out on bail and the cops haven't even been able to cobble together a case.

    That story isn't the only one. The 2G scandal involving

    Read More »from A Blunt Regulatory Knife
  • Things are changing, ever so slightly. The story of the last 10 years has been that of an incredibly shining India and much of that shine has had to do with factors that aren't Indian. But the result has been a rapid increase in consumption that has made for very profitable consumer facing industries like motorbikes, cars, FMCG, retail, mobile phones, pressure cookers and so on.

    But is this growth stalling? There is both evidence and reasons to suspect that we might be headed in the other direction.

    Much of the rapid boom in consumption over the last 10 years has been on the back of low interest rates (relative to inflation). Credit growth has been as high as 30% year on year, and people have borrowed to pay for consumer durables - from fridges to TVs to mobiles to what not. Manufacturers have been happy to provide interest rate subventions if people would actually buy - you might remember the days of "zero interest EMI" payments to buy TVs, and I've personally benefited from them.


    Read More »from Is the Indian Consumption Boom Over?
  • 20 years ago, you had very limited choices when it came to knowing, analyzing or buying financial products. You went to a bank for a fixed deposit and nothing else. A stock broker would sell you stocks. To get information about companies, you would either buy a (hopefully unbiased) magazine, or go through the cumbersome process of requesting physical annual reports for analysis. You wouldn't know about competitive products or better rates unless you were willing to toil and wait forever.

    Everything has changed today. Fixed income no longer means just a fixed deposit; it could mean a fixed income mutual fund, a bond traded on a stock exchange, a government security bought at an auction. Banks and stock brokers and nearly every financial advisor will sell you all these products, mostly at the same time. Stock exchanges and the regulator (SEBI) have tightened disclosure requirements, making it mandatory for listed companies to provide information to everyone on a regular basis. We have

    Read More »from The Internet of Finance


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Deepak Shenoy has built technology companies and now trades and writes about the Indian financial markets. He has built and deployed algorithmic trading systems and continues to work with back-testing, refining and enhancing trading through technology. He blogs at [link: http://capitalmind.in]Capital Mind and runs [link: http://marketvision.in]MarketVision, a financial knowledge company.

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