Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pearls After Swine...

Dear Investor:

Swine flu is a pandemic that is fast spreading across the world and remains a high risk to global economic development.

Clients who wish to hedge their Swine Flu exposures may now consider our Global Swine Flu (tm) Index - An investable currency basket split across asset classes and geographies which uses our proprietary Swine Universal Amalgamated Regressor (SUAR) Model to determine optimal portfolio constituents for complete de-risking.

For the first time ever, investments in this Index are jointly guaranteed by the Fed & the IMF along with the BOJ, ECB, BOE, SNB, ILO & WHO; A study has shown that making pigs safer to eat could boost global GDP output by 0.00002133%, thus offering significant upside potential to global growth prospects.

Our key recommendations based on the model are:

1) Long MXN against CNY

Historically, the number of any sort of cases reported in China (whether they be of swine flu or human deaths) is always less than the actual number, whereas in the current crisis the number of cases reported in Mexico is higher than the actual. To exploit the undervaluation of the MXN, investors can go long at current levels; Decimation of the Mexican Economy is a key downside risk.

2) Short USD against all currencies

The US response to any bad news in any field in any part of the world has been to print more US dollars. The flu crisis will also lead to more dollar printing (to serve as handkerchief replacements) which should lead to further dollar weakness. Major event risks include Timothy Geithner & Ben S Bernanke. With the exit of George Bush, bombing of pig-breeding countries is not a high-probablility risk, though that may form part of the next round of fiscal stimuli.

3) Long INR against all currencies

The Indian economy will be unaffected by Swine Flu. Diseased pigs have ruled India for the last 60 years anyway and the local population has developed complete immunity to any such threats. We recommend going long INR.

4) Long currencies of Osama sightings

The market is pricing a significant possibility of Osama being dead. This gives a boost to fears of Swine Flu as people will eat pork with more impunity if Osama is dead. Swine Flu concerns will recede in countries where Osama is sighted and tactical longs may be entered into accordingly. Getting assassinated before TPing remains a key downside risk.

Any analysis included in this document is being provided for decorative purposes only. Structure pricing is a function of market liquidity & H1N1 vaccine availability. Market investments are subject to sanity risks. Please do not read the offer document too carefully before investing.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

His Mirror of Erised...

He looked into the mirror.

He saw a hermit, perched atop a snow-capped mountain. Trudging along with his bare feet in the frosty wind, quivering with every gust but going on determinedly. He was about to reach the top...

The image faded.

He saw a young couple bent over a baby in a cradle. Their eyes were shining with joy. The baby gave a radiant smile in his sleep, secure in the knowledge that there were two people in the world ready to do anything for him...

The image changed.

He saw a young man & woman walking on the pomenade. She was speaking animatedly, pouring her heart out. He was listening, in rapt attention, with the invisible beam of trust & understanding encouraging her to go on...

The image blurred.

He saw a man shouting instructions to a group of people. The man was full of tremendous vitality. They all listened to him as one. They knew that those without hope could hope, with him around...

The image vanished.

He saw a man get out of a super luxury car and walk up to the stage. The thunderous applause of a hundred people greeted him, as the mike announced "The award for the Indian Business Leader of the Year goes to..."

The image disappeared.

He saw a group of people at a dinner table. Smiling, laughing without a care in the world. Each one happy with the sheer pleasure of being together...

The image did not stay.

The mirror was turbulent now. Nothing was visible. He was trying to decipher, trying to see the image which would fit, the one which would stay...

Then it cleared. Slowly, steadily, unwavering, undisturbed.

And he saw himself, exactly as he was at that instant.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dearth Song

What about cash in hand

What about the vain

What about all the returns

That you said we were to gain…

What about killing markets

Is there a time

What about all the things

That you said was yours and mine...

Did you ever stop to notice

All the losses we've had before

Did you ever stop to notice

The crying Earth the weeping shores?

What have we done to the world

Look what we've done

What about all the yield

That you pledge your only son...

What about rising markets

Is there a time

What about all the dreams

That you said was yours and mine...

Did you ever stop to notice

All the assets dead from store

Did you ever stop to notice

The crying Earth the weeping shores

I used to dream

I used to glance beyond the MTMs

Now I don't know where we are

Although I know we've drifted far

Hey, what about past performance (What about us)

What about commodities (What about us)

The markets are falling down (What about us)

I can't even invest (What about us)

What about the bleeding fund (What about us)

Can't we feel its wounds (What about us)

What about intrinsic worth It's our planet's womb (What about us)

What about MBS (What about it)

We've turned assets to dust (What about us)

What about retailers (What about us)

Have we lost their trust (What about us)

What about carry trades (What about us)

We're ravaging securities (What about us)

What about interest rates Cut despite our pleas (What about us)

What about the Holy Street (What about it)

Torn apart by greed (What about us)

What about the real economy (What about us)

Can't we set it free (What about us)

What about investors dying (What about us)

Can't you hear them cry (What about us)

Where did we go wrong Someone tell me why (What about us)

What about the man (What about us)

What about the crying man (What about us)

What about Buffet (What was us)

What about crashes again Do we give a damn…

[With apologies to Michael Jackson]

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Cribber adviseth...Come back to life!

So this is what a friend had to say, post his 26th birthday...

"first thing
stop thinking abt what ppl think abt you
dont type just read
step by step
first take the class list and point out people who you were very regular with or u really like and now think have changed or are no longer good people
send them a text saying " I am sorry for everything..."
they deserve a second chance and u should give them one
then whoever calls back or messages back answer them in more than 20 words not like hmmm... or yes... or no... long complete sentences
end the conversation by i miss you... i dont think u have ever done this
thatss to make yourself realize that u miss the people and u r losing out on prescious time
then write this whole thing down in your blog so that reinforces the feeling
then maro 50 sit ups and go for a brisk walk
no music
look at the couples
and try and gauge how they met
i mean at juhu beach
think of allt he ridiculous stories u can come up with
let your mind run wild
if the guy looks nice anf the girl not nice
its like he was in a car she in a bus
but he loved the way her hair was flying
and she had the most beautiful eyes
he just chucked his work and followed her till dindishi agar from colaba when she got off
he went to her and said that i dont this often but i just had to tell you how beautiful your eyes are and then they dont meet for 2 years
again one day at best house red light their eyes meet
and she had a smile in her face
and so on and so forth
but remember this is not a task
jsut try and get in touch with your good feelings inside
get emotional
miss the love of your life if any
cry if it makes u cry
let go
stop thinking what people want u to think
be yourself
and no music
others' words are worthless
listen to yourself
do it baby
you deserve yourself..."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Why so serious...

I saw "Dark Knight" yesterday. Again. The difference being that this time it was in the IMAX Dome in Wadala. An awesome cinematic experience. The Dome setting brought out the appeal of the visual imagery, the action sequences, the sounds of the movie.

And I was left marvelling yet again at the insane vagaries of one of the most terrifying villains of all time (whether fictional or real) - The Joker.

It is not easy to understand exactly why the Joker is so scary. You watch his antics, you watch his horrifying deeds and slowly, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, things start falling in place. But one does not get a complete picture.

The Joker as an antagonist is frightening because he shakes your beliefs to the very core and does something truly unexpected - he far exceeds the set of normal "expected unexpecteds" that you have implanted in your mind.

People set rules, regulations and impose restrictions on themselves in order to ensure a beneficial social order, in order to prevent excesses, in order to develop a sense of progress an achievement. They attempt to understand, to adapt to their environment & then to manipulate it to their advantage - to control, to direct towards such ends as each one might have.

The Joker turns all of this on its head. He's a self-described agent of Chaos, who does not believe in rules. He does not have ends. He has means, & in the absence of ends, does not know what to do with them. He's like "A dog chasing cars", who would not know what to do with one if he caught one.

It amuses him to see people who try to control things. People who formulate plans and who think things will go go according to them. He wants to prove that that people do not know what to do once their plans fall apart. He's an entity who wants to test the infallibility of people merely to prove that they are going to fail. He pushes them to their limits to prove that they will falter.

The Joker thinks that people desire control over their surroundings, their environment, their fate, other people. It is to such people that the Joker poses a threat. He brings them down to their knees. He brings down the Mob, which hungers for money & harbours the notion that things will be back to normal once Batman is dead. He brings down mentally-ill people, who, relatively blamelessly, believe that they will regain control of their minds with the Joker's help. He brings down the corrupt police officials, who betray their fellow officers for money. He brings down Jim Gordon, who in his zeal to capture him, overlooks the danger of corrupt people within his own team. His greatest triumph is the fall of Harvey Dent, the incorruptible White Knight of Gotham City, who is maddened by the loss of the woman he loves and who blames the external environment for it. Dent loses control over himself; He starts believing in the fairness of Chaos; He believes that it was an indecent world which was cruel to him & the way to tackle it, the only morality is, Chance.

How does one defeat such a person? Men like the Joker only want to "Watch the world burn". They are not looking for anything logical. They cannot be bullied, reasoned with or bribed. As he says when Batman is interrogating him for Dent's & Rachel's locations, "You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with."

The way out lies in realising the gap in the Joker's ideology, the one thing that he has not bargained for - People who exercise control only over themselves, instead of everything else. Those are the people who are able to defeat the Joker. Rachel Dawes, who does not flinch from death right till the end. The people in the two ships who master their fear & let their trust in humanity surface; The ones who choose to not succumb to the mistrust induced by him. And most importantly, Batman. The one who chooses to see himself become a villain, an outlaw, a hated figure - because HE's internally at peace with what he is doing, because he knows what he is doing is right. He does not seek control over the opinion of the people of Gotham City. He does not desire fame, adulation, praise. He's able to let go of it all because of his steely resolve, the belief that what he's doing is right. He realises that he has control only over himself, he can only shape things by the way he reacts to situations.

The Joker is a villain of our times - senseless, purposeless, without any morals or rules. I see him in various forms everywhere - in criminals who commit the most dastardly crimes, in terrorists who kill innocent people, in the driver who kills in a fit of road rage, in the student who goes on a shooting spree, in the distressed executive who commits suicide, in the intolerance of the moral police & religious fundamentalists - everywhere when people lose control over themselves & become agents of Chaos.

Without a doubt, one of the finest characters created in cinematic history.