Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Headline Inflation vs Core Inflation and India's Choice

Most western countries exclude food and fuel inflation when viewing inflation data. It means, they do not calibrate their monetary policies looking at the above two.

India on the other hand includes these in the reported inflation. Its because we think its important to include these. ITs probably because with limited spending power the percentage of income Indians spend on these is significant.

I feel these two are supply side issues. Fuel inflation is imported. The fuel prices are volatile as its exposed to vagaries of exchange rate and oil price fluctuations in the international mkt. Food is largely supply dependent. There is little the RBI policy could do to alter the prices(demand / supply) of these by changing the interest rates. Especially the food prices can be raised by cartels by creating artificial shortfall.

Then why are we continuing to increase the interest rates to rein in inflation? Whats the core inflation in India? I do not understand this. In the process we are killing whatever growth that can be achieved by relentlessly increasing the interest rates.

RBI knows this. Raghuram Rajan certainly knows this. Then why?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Haiyan: Reporting Body Count for Disasters

I remember the cold winter morning of 2-Dec-1984 in Bhopal. It was around 7:00 am and I was brushing my teeth, getting ready for school. The radio was on and the "samachar" broke the news of news of some gas leak and reported 24 deaths. I asked my mother, "If a gas cylinder bursts, can it kill 24 people?". She shrugged. I shuddered. We had 2 cylinders at home. I was 11. Well for some weird reason the school bus didn't turn up that day. Like any other day my father drove across the city to the Military Hospital at his usual hour. He still recounts the horrors he saw on the way. We was later to be part of the Army Medical Response team and was honored for this contribution.

As the day wore on, the casualty count built up dramatically. With every bulletin it soared, to 100, 400, 700, 1000. It just kept climbing. It took a week for the horror to sink in. The numbers finally added up to 5000-10000. The official count was of course much lower.

Over the ensuing decades, I've seen this eerie pattern repeat itself again and again. Be it 1999 cyclone in Orrissa, Bhuj earthquake, or 2004 earthquake. I still remember feeling the jolt. I was in Japan and it was morning time. Then the bad news started pouring in and the count started from a 100 or so. I remember this from CNN. It finally stopped at more than 200,000.

I write this as Cyclone Haiyan tears through Philippines. I remember reading about a 100 body bags being requested in an article just yesterday. Today the count stands at 10,000. They are calling the biggest one in the recorded history.

It takes a while to fathom the destruction caused by these disasters. Manmade or natural.

When I heard about Phailin, I feared the same. The count reported was 23. But kudos to administration, they could keep the casualties low to double digits. While we messed up Uttarakhand and the Day Phailin landed, 200 people died in a stampede in MP, we did go a good job of managing a Cat-4 hurricane.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Month 115

The first six months have rolled on. These 6 months have reinforced the notion about my inability to sustain. Very little if any positive has come out. It's been an continuous and dangerous slide down. Ten years seem a distant future. Farther than the last 10 looked on the eve of 2003. As impossible as the monsoon of 1995 during a wet ride home in a packed bus at the Barakhamba road in New Delhi. 

I'd never forget that ride. Moments that are so momentus but you don't realize when actually living them. 

My wife and daughter are away visiting her parents. I'm alone in the house and pensive,brooding??

The US visit is behind me and yet looming large over the future. The foreboding coming true. The ramp downs actually turning into an averlanche. The business wilting away sucking the life out of me.
I had a night out with my usual mates. Wife is away and the boys came over to enjoy the evening. 

I actually said during our conversation. "The amount of negativity built up inside me is not healthy. " little  can they do to ally or dilute the vitriol or offer solutions.  All they could do is lend me their ears and what good sport they are! I truly value their company. They make life bearable. Help me make it through another week if not more. 

A new thread has started on the job hunt. Just started... Just like several others before that faded into nothing.  It's a demotion. Reporting into two level below where my classmate is.  But maybe that's an escape. Or a new beginning on a lower trajectory or a mirage or a death spiral accelarator.   

Time will tell 

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Myth of Cheaper iPhone 5c

I've already written about it when iPhone 5c was launched and it seems most people have seen through it already.

The point here is different and it comes from my experience of iOS 7 on iPhone 4. Ever since I  upgraded to the new OS my iPhone 4 which till iOS6 was a fairly high end, responsive device, dropped on its knees and started crawling.

As the OS gets better and more powerful, the hardware needs to keep pace with it. It would not make sense strip away features / capabilities from the OS just to force fit an underpowered hardware. And suppose you did that, the moment you fork the OS, the entire Apps ecosystem will get rocked. So far Apple has kept the appstore on a tight leash and if the apps are more mature/stable, its only because there is limited fragmentation. In other words "There can't be a cheaper iPhone".Apple anyways drops the price of the earlier model as soon as the new one is launched. The older model is supported for another 3 years or so and then sunset. That's what they did with iPhone 4 this year.

Its easier for the Andriod to differentiate itself by forking the OS as we already have a spectrum of devices for all budgets. In fact Andriod 4.4 is going to do something similar.

Lets see how it pans out.

Reliance iPhone Scheme

This is an awesome scheme that according to me can do the same magic for Reliance as it did for AT&T 6 years ago.

Rs. 2999 for an iPhone 5s with all you can eat Data, Voice and Messages is simply phenomenal and I think this will change the way Reliance comm is seen in the masses. This can turn the tide for reliance and get them the high ARPU.

I'm going to buy reliance comm shares just for this scheme as I think this scheme has the potential of turning around their fortunes.

Post #30 I've got visitors

Just yesterday, I was connected to my site over the database and was stunned to see I had a couple of registrations. I almost freaked out. No one, ever visited my site in the last 1 year. I've been the sole user of the site. In fact I do not even have an "about us" section. 

Not just that they visited, they also registered. But then that's all they did. They never went ahead and set up their accounts. Leave alone uploading their statements etc. 

So I got nervous. I've already figured out a couple of vulnerabilities in my site and I thought I must plug them asap.

So the first thing I decided to secure was the database. Now sql injection is a common malice. What I worry most is someone is going to drop the schema, table or delete records.

Now its not so easy given they don't know the name of my schema etc. But even then, why take a chance. So I decided to create a brand new user just for the application and gave it only select, insert update execute rights. No DDL grants. No delete rights either except on one table as I needed to delete things using the application.

Good learning and finally when I was done, I felt a little more secure. I now need to address a few other such stuff.

Also, I feel I need to improve a few other things on my site to make it a little more intuitive. Currently, I don't think its that easy to navigate.I'd do it in the next week or so.