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Now, that’s a clear sign, if anything

Disclaimer: This post contains financial mumbo-jumbo, and hence, you may find it boring. Just because you’re an i-banker or you understand such stuff, or the rare animal, the i-banker who understands such stuff, doesn’t mean you should read this. Insomniacs, on the other hand, please go ahead. In fact, do read the whole blog. If that doesn’t do the trick, this blog definitely will.

The below news article happened to catch my eye a couple of days ago, and to me, it looked like the clearest sign that QE3 will not happen.

Chinese Holdings of Treasuries Climbed in April as Fed Purchases Near End:

The Communist nation’s holdings of longer-term notes and bonds rose 0.8 percent to a record $1.149 trillion in April, surpassing the $1.145 trillion held in December, U.S. Treasury data released yesterday show. Holdings of short-term bills maturing in one year or less declined by 32 percent to $3.9 billion, the least since April 2004, the data show.

That, my friends, is a flattener trade, if I ever saw one – lopsided, but still a flattener. (For those readers, who disregarded my disclaimer above, and still proceeding braveheartedly, really, what kicks are you getting out of this?)

And, if there’s anything I learnt from my trade, you just don’t put that kind of money at stake, without have some sort of guarantee from the issuer.

But you could argue, it’s just a net change of $2 billion odd – which really doesn’t make a difference in the market with that sort of liquidity. But taken in context with how China tut-tutted when QE was announced – and then it takes on a new dimension:

Chinese officials, as well as those in Germany and Brazil had been critical of the Fed’s asset purchase plan when it was first announced in November, said the proposal would be inflationary and could hurt the value of dollar-denominated assets. The Fed became the largest owner of Treasuries through what has become known as its policy of quantitative easing, in which bonds were bought to add cash into the economy and reduce the risk of deflation. The purchases end this month.

“One might draw a loose conclusion that they stepped aside at the onset of QE and during the period of time when the economy seemed to be gaining better footing and there were some inflationary concerns,” said Chris Ahrens, head interest-rate strategist at UBS AG in Stamford, Connecticut, one of the 20 primary dealers that trade with the Fed.

And oh, this makes it even more interesting:

Even with the increase, the data “underestimates what China’s buying,” said Scott Sherman, an interest-rate strategist at Credit Suisse Group AG in New York, a primary dealer. “China deals through foreign intermediaries” leading to initial tallies counting their purchases as belonging to other holders, such as the U.K.

All ye i-bankers out there, if you have wasted your precious time reading this sorry blog-post, well, enjoy your free time, while you can. I foresee a lot of work in the coming quarter. (Subject to market conditions. Of course. But ye i-bankers already knew that, didn’t you?)


My $0.02 on the IIMs

Go forth and contribute. I have heard that the professors are losing a lot of hair and sleep on this. The least we can do is give them our two cents. (And that’s probably about what I can afford at the moment :P)


Do IITs, IIMs add value?:

When it is said that the IITs, IIMs owe their eminence entirely to students, not to faculty, it is implied that they do not add value. True or false?

Well, an IIMB director answered this effectively a few years ago when some in the corporate world had made similar statements. He made an offer: he would make public the admissions list the moment it was finalised. Corporates could come and recruit anybody on the list right away. If the IIMs did not add value, neither the students nor the corporates should have a problem doing this. There were no takers. The companies’ bluff had been called.

My comment:

The entities that seem hellbent on taking away the autonomy of faculty and administrators at IIMs, would also have the stated objective of improving the IIMs. Would these entities be taking such steps to cramp the functioning of the faculty if they thought that the faculty = IIT/IIMs? I would think not. This seems to be the origin of the comment.

A suggestion: One way one can keep the hellhounds at bay, is to show to the world how the faculty at IIMs can do better than the students they teach. I am not sure how that can be achieved – maybe have a model system of governance, or hold a summit and then submit whitepapers on the functioning of various institutions of the country – which would add value to these institutions, etc.


After a long time, I finally remember what Sunday afternoons are about – listening to Rachmaninoff / Tchaikovsky, reading the newspaper and dozing off when you want to, waking up suddenly to discover it’s only 4:00pm and lie back and … Continue reading


Finally, I have the gumption and time to move my blog to my own domain – Some of your comments and wisecracks may not have made it through to the blog’s new avatar – the fault is entirely mine. … Continue reading

Missed the bloody deadline again

If things were hunky dory, you would have been reading a proper blog-post, and I wouldn’t be boring you with this dime-a-dozen apology post, for missing my weekly deadline.

Well, the good news, (or bad news :P) is that I will be getting my internet in a few days. By which point I will be ready with something more substantial. Till then toodles!

You would think I would not miss Delhi

borderLotus Temple, Delhi. (Image via Wikipedia)… or Bangalore when I relocated to London. Yeah, that’s right. Ladies, and gentlemen, I have relocated to London, and I am already missing sadda Dilli terribly.

First of all, I have to get used to people calling it a night, when it’s still blindingly sunny outside. And that, if you have just stepped off the boat, plays havoc with your jet-lagged body clock. The sun rises at around 5:15 am and sets around 9:30 pm. On top of that, as if they have daylight savings on. What the hell. There is so much daylight to go around, that they need to shift the clock an hour backward, so that the sun sets late night, instead of a much more respectable evening time.

Secondly, the cost of going the same distance, or travelling the same time in a cab here is exactly the same as you would pay for an auto in India, except that it’s in pounds. Which makes it a whole lot expensive. It doesn’t feel really bad when you shell out 70 pounds for a half-an-hour ride, because it looks so little. Only when you get out of the car, and start walking away, and have time to convert that amount into rupees, you realise, that was 10 times your monthly allowance in India. Holy crap.

Similarly, a burger costs you 3 pounds, and it doesn’t even taste that good. So on and so forth. Note to self: must learn the multiplication table of 83.45, or whatever the exchange rate is, to prevent bankruptcy.

Last night I was having dinner at my hostel mess. The mess boy/man (can’t make out his age), came up to me when I was taking a bit too long, and looked expectantly at me, as if asking whether I was done. In India, if I nodded, he would have picked my plate and walked back. In London, they just point to the kitchen. Oh well. Atleast I don’t have to workout so much anymore.

In some ways, though, somethings haven’t changed. It’s still impossible to tune the shower to spray water at just the right temperature. So you either decide to cook yourself, or ice yourself up depending on what the weather channel has to say. Mostly I go for the well-cooked option. Arreey yaar, what will people back at home think, London jaake bhi chokra takes bath in cold water.. tch tch.

The weather is awesome: It’s nice and breezy and the rain here is disciplined, and falls straight down and doesn’t go sideways like in Delhi. But don’t tell the locals that. Somehow they find the constant drizzle a pain in the neck. Me thinks, anybody who cribs about the weather should be made to stay in Rajasthan for a month, to see how much the people there, would love natural drip irrigation, and that too, for free.

And there is that other favourite crib point about London: The Tube. I can’t believe these idiots! Me thinks, all of them should be given a life-changing assignment of getting from Noida to Rohini within 2 hours (which is about 50 kms apart). When they come back, they will kiss each tube train they will see.

Not only do they crib about their city, they crib about everything else! Consider this: Mukesh Ambani’s plane recently got into trouble, for not paying taxes, and it made the page 11 here in a newspaper I generally patronise nowadays (The Metro newspaper that you can pick up for free :P). There were some interesting figures there on the page: the price tag of the aircraft, the amount of tax unpaid, Mukesh Ambani’s yearly income, and… the number of people that go hungry everyday in India. All very relevant, I tell you. Just imagine, if Mukesh Ambani hadn’t bought the plane, and had gone waltzing into the hinterlands just throwing dollar bills at every person he meets, India would be such a better place. Sigh.

A lot of my friends have moved en masse to London, with some of them popping in and out of this place often. So, my social life would pretty much be the same. Which is a relief. I couldn’t stand so much angrezi anyway. It’s only here, that I realise how much I miss talking to people in Hindi. Which is kind of weird because I have taken to chatting with the manager of a local Pakistani restaurant, and he talks to me in Punjabi, and I talk to him back in Hindi, interspersed with what I think is Urdu. Works well.

Most of all, I am missing my sheltered life of being a student. Suddenly here I am in the big bad world; though I can’t complain that I haven’t had ample warning. But still yaar, when it happens, it’s kind of saddening. Still sometime, before I get homesick though, but that is another day.

Anyway, this is just the sort of post, that I wanted to avoid writing, but there goes my resolutions out of the window, because of ear-popping schedules and other engagements. I am deeply aware of cardinal sin I have committed. Shall be rectified very soon. In the meanwhile, I have come up with some brilliant ideas, I would like to expound upon, so dear reader, you just have to be patient while I find the right words for them.

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I am on Ubuntu!

Yay! Finally! 🙂