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Sub-prime Crisis for Dummies

THE CLOUD OF SUB-PRIME CRISIS JUST GOT HEAVIER, DARKER AND LARGER. The New York Times reported that the Federal Government may assume direct control of the two of the biggest mortgage-finance companies in the US to bail them out: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two have nearly 45% of mortgage market share between them, and could potentially tank about USD 5 trillion if they go down. On the other hand, the bail-out of this magnitude might blow away credibility of USD, and imperilling the Fed budget. [Left: Nose-dive - from USD 70 per share last year to USD 9 per share. source: Reuters.com] There is a sense of politics being involved since the NYT report of "nationalization" came out earlier this week. This further took a large chip off the share prices of both and the decline continued for the whole week in spite of confident building reports from the promoters. Fannie Mae's stock, for one, has lost most of its value, swooning from peaks around $70 in August 2007 to

HBR: "The Right Way To Be Fired"

NO EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT HAS A PERMANENCY CLAUSE. The category "permanent employee" is only to differentiate one from temps - both remain time-bound nonetheless. There may be a clause in the employment contract talking about retirement age of an employee, and rather misleadingly, that might go on to give an impression to the newly joined that her job is secure and permanent until the age of say 60 years. However, in reality that section of the employment terms is just another clause suggesting when would you be required to leave your present job. As the "globalization" story propagates to more and more regions and industries, it is getting increasingly important, especially to the optimistic lot like myself too young for that retirement age yet, that the realities of the impermanent nature of jobs and employment be realised, the sooner the better, such that one can make a more informed and rewarding career planning. They also call it acting "professional".

"mind × the + gap" overhauled (July '08)

AFTER SPENDING NEARLY 6 MONTHS under the old 'skin', I thought it was almost time to give " Mind the Gap " an overhaul in look-and-feel. And trust me, it turned out to be a worthwhile and satisfying weekend indeed: Loading up Photoshop for 'grafix' on one hand and coding/debugging xHTML, css, js, and the whole of tech jargon on the other. Almost reliving the time ten years ago, the dot-com boom, and designing, developing and coding of websites with a passion of a rather naive young rookie, just "out-of-the-box" programmer! It was annoying to some degree that Google has most of its products and services under Beta - and they never seem to move out of wrappers. You hardly see any changes or progress. In specifics, I was not happy at all with the tiny collection of templates that are available by default with the Blogger system (have you ever visited any of those beautiful WordPress or LiveJournal pages of your friends (or competition) that left you

4th of July, The US National Anthem, and Outsourcing

THE U. S. CELEBRATES ITS INDEPENDENCE DAY TODAY, July 4th. The custom involves the state sponsored fireworks accompanied by songs such as the National Anthem - The Star-Spangled Banner . [Right: A Ganges-class ship, to which HMS Minden belonged, at war with French Navy in 1806.] The national anthem, which originally was a poem titled "Defence of Fort McHenry" was written by one Francis Scott Key. Mr. Key, a lawyer by profession, was visiting certain British officials at Royal Navy ships at that time. The point in case here is that the ship HMS Minden , a Ganges-class ship, aboard which this national anthem is first conceived and written was Made in India . The ship was built by one Mr. Jamshedji Bomanji Wadia, a merchant of Bombay. And by this account of trivia, the Outsourcing relationship, as it were, between the US and India is as old as 1801 when this ship was first built at Bombay dockyard, one of the best ship-building dockyards of the world at the time. Happy 4

Who Pockets the Extra Money I Pay For Gas?

THERE IS NO PLACE CALLED "KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY" in the world as of now. But perhaps it wouldn't be long before we see a spot on Google Earth with such a name having 3 million in population, partly thanks to the sky-rocketing Oil prices. Interesting Headlines: "The Crude At Rude Prices" and "Oil Crises called Oil Prices" The crude prices reached a historical record USD 145 per barrel - nearly doubling compared to the previous year. A barrel holds 42 US gallons or about 159 litres of crude oil, making it USD 0.91 for 1 litre - almost double from USD 0.44 per dollar last year. This is the purchasing price of crude oil from the OPEC countries, and is not yet usable. The actual process is much more complicated, but at a very high level, it follows steps like transport it, refine it, process it, transport it again, store it, distribute it and make available at the local gas station. This adds additional costs to the original purchase price of Oil.

So Long, King Gates

FINALLY, THE IT TZAR TAKES THE BACK SEAT. And as Mr. Bill Gates completes his last full working day by the EOD today - June 27, 2008 - at his Richmond, WA office in the US , an era of Biggest, Richest, and Fastest draws towards a change. Call him Innovator , Software Evangelist , Chief Software Architect , or by any other name, above all, Mr. Gates is a successful businessman, Zero-to-billions kind. And that is how I would want to reckon him, for Mr. Gates is not perhaps a mesmerising orator, neither a charismatic leader, nor a magnanimous personality. Even if he is all of these, they rather remain secondary, for the bottomline is, Mr. Gates knows business, does business and means business. Period. Arguably the world's most famous dropout - and thus perhaps the tallest example that education and money may not have a direct corelation - wrote the first BASIC compiler 17 years ago, and left the legacy as the world's richest man with such words: "There is nobody getting ric

"The Beautiful Mind" Turns 80

"The special commodity or medium that we call money has a long and interesting history. And since we are so dependent on our use of it and so much controlled and motivated by the wish to have more of it or not to lose what we have we may become irrational in thinking about it and fail to be able to reason about it as if about a technology, such as radio, to be used more or less efficiently..." -- John F. Nash , lecture at CII in Mumbai, Feb 2007 IF THE WORLD IS CONSIDERED A "CLOSED SYSTEM", deeming it a Zero-sum game, Nash Equilibrium could certainly offer a different meaning to the notion of money, and thus, to the word richness or net-worth and the world economy. [Today, June 13, John F. Nash, Jr. turns 80. A humble tribute to the 1994 Nobel Laureate legend.] Arguably, the Nash equilibrium is the single game theoretic solution concept that is most frequently applied in economics. In terms of strategy and planning, the equilibrium could be simplified as

ImagineCup 2008 - Runnup

"Achieve What You Can Imagine." --imaginecup.co.uk invention, innovation, inspiration, imagination... If any of the i's tantalise you, entertain yourself with this cute little 1.5 minute teaser video, which in fact is a runnup to the ImagineCup 2008 due this month. "Great innovators don't imagine things in the future; They imagine them in the present, and change the future..." Go here for a list of Software Project designs that made it to the semi-finals of the innovation competition this year. [The video above is one among many created by the students of Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication. Go here for the video on YouTube, and here for other possibilities from Microsoft.] Edit: The '08 finals will be held in Paris between July 3 and 8, 2008.

Clinton bows out of the race to the 'White'house

Yahoo: Clinton suspends campaign, endorses Obama . And now, it is 'young' Barack Obama pitted against 'experienced' Mr. McCain. Let's suppose that Senator Obama continues the momentum, wins over the Clinton vote-split, manages to prove that young is the new 'old', defeats the myth by showing that change could also be other than what is loose in your trouser pocket, and finally makes it to the 'White'house, should he rename it? [Above: Girls from Obama village in Japan dancing for Barack Obama's campaign.] Talking about names, I am almost certain that it is purely coincidental that Baraq Obama sounds so similar with the two other major disasters for the Bush Administration: Iraq Osama Edit: Oh, by the way, Obama's middle name, through his Kenyan father, is Hussein - as in Saddam Hussein...

The Green Wall of China

TODAY, JUNE 5, IS THE WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY . It is an open secret that China is the biggest abuser of environment in the world. Most of the manufacturing in China uses coal-burning furnaces, and that one single industry equals more than the most the whole of Europe in terms of CO2 emission. At the same time, China is the single largest country to have invested the most - USD 8 bn - into planting trees. Criticised yet again though it is doing some serious spend, the reason is rather different from a change-of-heart or accountability or even a soft-corner for environment. Beijing, its capital is being subjected to sand storms so frequently that the Chinese have already coined a term for it - Yellow Dragon. Sand from this area have already started crossing the Pacific and reaching Americas. [Above: an artist's impression of the Green wall of trees stopping the Gobi desert in its tracks.] This is the Gobi desert from Mongolia making inroad into China at an alarming pace - claiming

Warne Lifts Maiden IPL

A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO I was sitting over the fence of 80% and 20% of the opinion makers reacting to the possibility of success of the IPL business model. 80% were the sceptics and believed that as it happened with ICL (Indian Cricket League – Chaired by Kapil Dev and sponsored by Zee Entertainment), IPL would find very few takers – perhaps only the useless of the useless lot would devote time to this remix masala version of the gentlemen’s game. To my mind, both these Indian T20 “cricetainment” versions were not at par: ICL was but a “zee thing”, where as the Premier League had the mind, money and muscle backing of BCCI – an important element that could make it swing and bounce. [Above: Team Jaipur after winning the maiden IPL. 1 June 2008. Source: http://ipl.indiatimes.com] It appears that this compressed format of the game may not have gone down too well with all quarters of the cricket, especially the British media and "empirical" standards. Lord Archer , for example, has

Ken Harvey, the "Richest" CIO

KENNETH M. HARVEY AT HSBC HAS HAD A LASTING impression of an IT leader for me. And I believe in the capacity of a corporate executive, 'richness' (see: Money ) has more to do with quality of role, thought leadership and budget at disposal. In all of these terms, one might wager, Ken Harvey indeed must be a very rich man, for him being the group CIO of the world’s largest organisation , and then having a whopping USD 5bn in terms of his annual spending budget. It always felt great to conclude my induction sessions for the newly joined Business Analysts in my team by saying, "While certain organizations (vendors) aspire to make millions every year, Ken plans to spend in billions..." It rather gave everyone, me included, a sense if you like, of having a bundle or two of "cash" from Ken's kitty into our pockets. I specifically recall Mr. Harvey’s discussion with the Gartner members where one of the panellists posed him with the question of the challe

Statistically...

AT TIMES IT SEEMS impossible to not to include statistics in my analysis while making a proposal for a client or to the higher management. This is also at the cost of pure brilliance of a point that need to statistical support but is rather a marvel of common sense. Statistics and sensibility are supposed to be the right mix. Statistics are to be handed to the right personal, at the proper time and format, to be utilised in the appropriate manner in aid of the point rather than being the point themselves. This seldom becomes the case nowadays. I couldn't help but mutter to myself at such times the following: "Statistics are like a lamp-post to a drunken man - more for leaning onto than for illumination."

Business Development, Pre-sales, Sales and the 'Arrow-head'

HAVING BEEN TRAINED FOR CULTIVATING 'GROWTH' AND evaluated for a few appraisal cycles by now for tasks that were marked under a title called 'Business Development' (or something that either sounds or seems similar), the debate on the subject by a certain groups of 'experienced' personnel almost immediately drew my attention. And it becomes interesting when, with all due respect, the so-called experts, having built their careers in the relevant fields, seemed rather confused between the functioning and mandate of 'Business Development' and 'Sales' functions. Before taking a dig on that, respectfully, here is my version of the 'classical' definition (or differentiation) of the two: "Business Development is a bunch of activities of today, based on your strategic vision of your product/service framework, that the Sales people would be selling tomorrow." Well, this definition might neither be universal nor be entirely technically acc

Cheers! to Life...

Cheers! To The Many Faces in Life of Life as Life That Makes a Life * * * When old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders. --Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali (1912), pp37. Today, May 7, is also Tagore's Birth Day.

My Net-worth is in Millions Already!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE AMONG MILLIONAIRES? If you are in IT in India, perhaps you already are! First, some bullet-points about the global and Indian IT industry that got me thinking: Indian Software Industry is approx 66% of Worldwide Software Services Top 6 Indian IT Companies makes of approx. 50% of total Indian IT Industry In terms of sales among these top six (in descending order of reported figures for 2007 - TCS, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, Satyam, and HCL), the first three clocks almost 60% Now, a Forrester Research forecast reports says that the total Global IT spend (IT industry potential) is projected to be at USD 1.55 trillion in 2007-08. Wow! A quick back of an envelop analysis reveals some pretty interesting monetarily figures. (above: rather front of the envelop; the back was already taken by the groceries' list...) Enjoy: Global IT industry at USD 1.55 tn (2007) ↓ 66% of it is served by companies in India ↓ 50% of which is with the top 6 players of India i.e. 33% of g

A "Revo-lulu-tion" in Print Publishing

ANYONE WITH A SOMEWHAT SERIOUS SLANT towards one's blogging lines would want to publish something in a physical paper format (read: book ) at some point in time. At least that is what my general observation has been. On one hand, while the technology of bringing words online in the forms of Blogger, LiveJournal, MySpace and alike have made content creation a one-click job and in doing so might have taken the 'authors' away from the traditional book-publishing process, on the other hand it is really interesting to see how the same technology loops back and makes publishing a book in paper format an equally user-friendly and accessible experience. Add to that the ability to enable Creative Commons options, variable pricing options, and manufacturing (physical printing on paper and binding) and shipping on-demand, provides the new dimension of flexibility in the hands on authors. This is the modern technology looping back to aid the traditional medium of publication rather tha

Crowded 'Facts'

Crowded 'Facts': "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it - there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones." -- Arthur Conan Doyle ( Sher

The Bard's Birth Day

April 23 - TODAY BEING ST. GEORGE'S DAY is also considered to be the Birth Day of William Shakespeare . (Nobody knows for sure of the bard's exact date of birth.) If one wonders about the alchemists of that era, and if they would have got a couple of 'immortality' pills of which one was taken by Shakespeare such that he would still be alive at this time, what kind of blogs would he be maintaining..? Perhaps a blog with the highest hits on the net! Footnote: Sampling only Technorati may perhaps be a rather narrow view, but looking at their popular index stats available of top 100 , the most popular blog as of this moment is - The Huffington Post , closely followed by (my personal preference) TechCrunch . (Well, by including weblinks here, I just contributed one more point to the 'authority' count on Technorati for both.)

"Fred the Shred" under the weather?

THEY CALL HIM "FRED THE SHRED...". If you count "few good men" who took the lead in the "rationalisation" of workforce in the conservative European banking and Financial services, Fred has to be in the front row. Sir Frederick Anderson Goodwin, remained in the news in Europe, mainly Britain, for his often visionary yet unorthodox methods of running Britain's second largest Banking group. After he assumed control, the RBS groups, perhaps for the first time, saw a rather American-styled cost-cutting, or Shredding as the Britons prefer to call it. Managing nearly 1000 people worldwide at the age of 32, the acumen more than the aggression made Fred the CEO of the Clydesdale Bank at the age of 36. He has been quoted as famously saying, "I have no time for cynics, spectators or dead wood". And as we speak, being with the RBS group, he is the longest serving CEO in the FTSE-100 index. (That precisely makes me wonder if the pool underneath is in