Monday, June 21, 2010

B Grade Movies Meet Financial Markets...

Travelling around Mumbai has its advantages. If one is observant enough, some walls are adorned with posters from the latest...errr...mass entertainment motion pictures. I was just wondering what the results would be like if we had similar titles for the horrors encountered everyday in financial markets. A sample:

Kamsin Cable Pe Arabi Fida

Yen Anaadi, Dollar Khiladi

Pyaasa I Banker

Euro Ki Jawaani

Zahreela Fed

Sulagte Stops

Khooni Krosses

Shaitaani Dealing Room

Vaayda - The Future

Patni Short, Padosi Long

Bhayaanak Trade

Bid Humaar, Offer Tohaar

Vahshi Hedge Fund

Baagi Investor

Petticoat Mein Rate Float

Garam Technicals
Souten Ka Spread

Trader Bana Salesman

Qatil Economist

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Just One Word...

An interesting question to ponder over, on a lazy Sunday evening:

For each field of study, what's the one word that is central, top-of-mind and can act as the defining fundamental, building block or the representative summary of that field?

I tried to come up with some of them:

Geography: Maps

History: Dates

Journalism: News

Literature: Letters

Languages: Syllables

Philosophy: Thought

Law: Justice

Arts: Expression

Mathematics: Numbers

Geometry: Point

Chemistry: Elements

Physics: Forces

Electrical Engineering: Currents

Computer Engineering: Binary

Biology: Cell

Sociology: Society

Psychology: Person

Marketing: Customers

Economics: Demand-Supply (slight bending of rules here...)

Finance: Capital

Astronomy: Celestial

Religion: Belief

Architecture: Structure

Education: Learning

Agriculture: Crops

Medicine: Healing

Management: Decisions

Political Science: Collective

Accounting: Balance

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Sound of Silence...

Dusk was falling fast.

Chhotu hurried up, eager to reach home quickly. Under the weight of his school bag, walking fast was difficult. But he kept moving. Today could be a special day.

His mother was standing at the entrance, as usual. The sound of her child's feet was music to her ears.
The boy, in his eagerness, rushed past and headed straight to his mattress. His hands quivering with excitement, he lifted the torn pillow and took out the small box beneath it.

Inside it were some coins. Carefully he started counting. Then he took out another coin from his pocket and added it to the small pile. "10 rupees, 75 paise" he said. His face fell. Still another rupee and a quarter short.

He looked at his mother, who was smiling with a mixture of amusement and understanding. Answering his look , she said "It's ok. You will save enough soon. Come now, I have made hot onion poha. He should be coming anytime now. You can listen to him while eating."

Sure enough, almost as if on cue, it started. Chhotu ran up to the only window in the room and stood on his toes, struggling to see.

The flute man was on time again. He was walking along the road, playing as usual. A mellifluous melody reverberated through the air. It produced a feeling of peace and tranquility in Chhotu, such as he seldom experienced. A feeling that would transfer him to another world, a world which was pristine, unblemished, a world so pure as could never be imagined.

He had seen and heard the flute man many a times on different days. A thin, ragged figure, with his trademark stained kurta and a white cap. He carried a pole from which hung flutes of different sizes and colours, some more attractively decorated than the others, some long, some short, but all capable of producing rapturous sounds.

Chhotu had his heart set on buying one of those flutes. He already knew which one wanted to buy. It was painted silver in colour, with a golden thread hanging from one of its ends. Getting one was his dream. He sadly looked at the coins still clenched protectively in his fist. One day, he would have enough.

It had never ceased to amaze Chhotu as to how many different tunes the flute man could produce. Most people would usually play film songs or folk songs. His tunes were entirely original. At times, enthusiastic and cheerful. At times, sad and melancholy. Clearly, they reflected the thoughts which possessed him. Nevertheless, the flute man would always play, oblivious to the reactions of the people walking on the street.

One day when Chhotu helped out his neighbouring vegetable vendor in carrying some vegetables, the old man gave him some money in gratitude. His heart thumping with joy, Chhotu realised he finally had enough money to buy a flute.

He sat anxiously, waiting for the flute man to turn up. Soon, one of those magical instruments would be his.

He waited the entire evening. In his restlessness, he couldn't even eat properly. But the flute man didn't turn up. Disappointed, he went to sleep.
In the morning, he heard people talking outside.

"Poor fellow, was so young. Always played so nicely"
"It's a wicked world. Who can stand before His will?"

His mother was sitting just outside with a sad look upon her face. As she saw Chhotu coming she beckoned to him to sit on her lap.

Ruffling his hair reassuringly, she said "You know, that flute man who used to come everyday...They say there was an accident last night...A truck hit him...The driver lost control...He was blowing the horn as a warning but the flute man didn't realise...He was deaf you see..."

Chhotu looked at his mother with a frozen expression, bereft of any reaction. He went back inside without a word and stood on tiptoe at the window. There were no melodies. There was only the sound of silence.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Generating Financial Headlines...

Today, a senior colleague sent across a brilliant compilation. This whole blog is dedicated to him. I reproduce the compilation here:

Column 1: US, China, Asia, Europe, World
Column 2: Stocks, Bonds, Commodities, Markets, Banks, Economy, Currencies
Column 3: Soar, Rise, Slide, Plummet, Drop, Fall, Correct, Rally, Dip
Column 4: On
Column 5: Job, Euro, China, US, Credit, Consumption, Bank, Economic, Consumption, Production, Demand, Supply
Column 6: Fears, Growth, Expectations, Concerns, Easing, Failures, Tightening, Rise, Fall, Devaluation, Intervention

Well, whats so great, you ask? Just pick a word from each column, and there you have it folks - your very own Financial Headline Generator! It actually works! Try it!

Example 1: US Stocks Fall On Consumption Fears

Example 2: European Banks Rally On China Demand Growth

As you may  realise, a leading news and data provider website is a leading proponent of this approach...No prizes for guessing which one!

Its a fairly comprehensive approach too and works well even when one doesn't have a clue about financial markets! Just take a region, a market, a movement verb, and a cause. Repeat ad infinitum!

Sometimes, the zeal with which news providers seach for causes in trying to explain market movements, is simply exasperating. Much of the time, market movements may not have a particular driving reason - it just happens that a combination of bids and offers makes markets move that way!

But the human mind seeks explanations, preferring a simplified single dominant cause for the observed behaviour, rather than realising that thousands of exiguous threads of action and reaction came together to produce that behaviour.

Onward then...

World Markets Fall On Production Devaluation...

(If that didn't make sense, well, thats the point!)