Sunday, April 11, 2010

Entrepreneurship буюу Шинийг Санаачлаx нь

1977 онд АНУ-н Аpple компани анх удаа компютерийг лаборатораас гаргаж энгийн хүмүүсийн хэрэглээнд хүргэж чаджээ. Энэ анхны нийтийн хэрэгцээнд хүрч чадсан компютерийн нууц нь технелогийн давуу талдаа байсангүй. Харин ч түүнээс илүү хүч чадалтай электрон машинууд хаа сайгүй байсан бна. Apple II гэгдэх энэ машины гол давуу тал нь зөвхөн технологийн мэргэжилтэнгүүд биш энгийн хүмүүсийн наад захын хэрэглээг хамгийн хялбараар хангаж чадсанд байжээ. Энэ personal computer гэж нэрлэгдэх болсон багаж түүнээс хойш сургууль, эмнэлэг, албан байгууллага, айл гэр гээд бүх газруудад нэвтэрч олон арван сая хүний ажилийг хөнгөвчилж, хөдөлмөрийн чадавхийг нь нэмэгдүүлснийг бид мэднэ. Тэгвэл компютер, интернэттэй холбоотой IT (information technology) industry буюу компютер мэдээллийн зах зээл сүүлийн 40н жилийн дотор оргүйгээс эдийн засгийн хамгийн хүчтэй салбаруудын нэг болж хөгжжээ. Энэ бол технелогийн хувьсгал гэхэд болно. Өөрөөр хэлбэл технелогийн хувьсгал нь хамгийн нарийн технологийг нээснээсээ илүү тэр технелогийг хүмүүсийн хэрэгцээнд үр дүнтэй хүргэснээрээ онцлог гэхэд болно.

2007 оныг хүртэл Америкт сурч амьдардаг Япон, Европын оюутнууд Америкийн гар утасны технологи болон хэрэглээний хоцрогдолыг гайхан ярилцдаг байлаа. Гэвч тэр жил iPhone гээд зөвхөн нэг товчлууртай, тэр чигээрээ дэлгэц болчихсон гар утас гарсан нь 2-хон жилийн дотор Apple-г дэлхийн гар утасны зах зээлийн smart phone гэсэн ангилалын 15%-г эзлэхэд хүргэж улмаар Nokia, Samsung зэрэг гар утасны зах зээлийн хуучин эздийн байр суурийг доргиож эхлэх нь тэр.. Энэ утасны хамгийн онцлог нь технелогийн хамгийн шинэ шийдэл байсангүй. Touchscreen display буюу дэлгэцээрээ дамжуулан мэдээлэл оруулдаг технелоги аль дээр үед (tablet computers, palm with stylus) бий болчихсон байсан. Харин iPhone-ий онцлог нь энэ технологийг хүмүүсийн хэрэгцээнд хамгийн хялбараар, үр дүнтэйгээр хүргэж чадсанд оршино. Application буюу бие даасан програмистуудын бичсэн ойр орчинд байгаа ресторануудын жагсаалтыг гаргах, цаг агаарын мэдээг олж үзэх зэрэг зөвхөн нэг тодорхой зүйлд зориулсан бичил хэрэглээний програмуудыг iPhone анх удаа хэрэглээнд нэвтрүүлж чадсан бөгөөд саяхан Apple 1 тэрбум!!! дахь бичил програмаа заржээ. Зарагдсан бичил програмын орлогын 30%-г Аpple авдаг бөгөөд үлдсэнийг нь програмистууд өөрсдөө шингээдэг бна. Програмыг Apple өөрөө зохиодоггүй гэхэд муугүй орлого.

2010 он. Apple iPad гээд А4-н цаасны талаас арай том, тэр чигээрээ дэлгэц болчихсон мини компютер маягийн юм гарлаа. Зарим хүмүүс мэдээллийг хүлээн авах технологийн хувьсгал гарлаа гэж бна. Зарим нь зүгээр л том хэмжээтэй iPhone бна шт, юу нь шинэ байгаан гэцгээж бна. Xүмүүсийн хэрэглээнд хувьсгал гаргасан юм болгон цоо шинэ технологи байсан гэвэл худлаа. Тэгвэл чухам юуг хувьсгал гаргасан гэж хэлэх үү. Ямар нэг байдлаар олны хэрэгцээнд хүрч чадсан байх нь нэн түрүүнд чухал. Энэ нь хүмүүсийн хийдэг зүйлсийг ямар нэг байдлаар хөнгөвчилсөн байх ёстой. Мэдээжээр энэ нь урьд гарч ирсэн зүйлсээс онцлог, илүү үр дүнтэй байхгүй бол өргөн хэрэглээний бараа болгон хувьсгал болж болох нь. Тэгвэл хамгийн сүүлд бас хамгийн чухал нь энэ нь бизнес эдийн засгийн шинэ хөгжил, орчиныг бүрдүүлэхэд түлхэц болсон байх шаардлагатай. Цоо шинэ технелогоор шинэ маягийн тарианы үр гаргаад хувьсгал хийчлээ гэж болохгүй. Харин генийн технологийг ургамалд анх нэвтрүүлэн бүх л бүтэн био үйлдвэрлэлийг хөгжүүлэхэд түлхэц болсон бол хувьсгал гэж болно. Анх удаа гар утасыг интернэттэй маш хялбараар холбон, бичил программын зах зээлийг бий болгож, зар сурталчилгааны цоо шинэ орчинг бүрдүүлэн түүгээрээ дамжуулан хүмүүсийн өдөр тутамын амьдралыг хөнгөвчилсөн iPhone хувьсгал хийсэн гэхэд болно. Харин iPad чадсан уу? Мэдээж энэ асуултанд хариулахад хэт эрт бгаа нь ойлгомжтой. Өөрөөр хэлбэл iPad хэдийгээр долоо хоногт хагас сая орчим зарагдсан ч олны хэрэгцээнд хүрэх цаг арай болоогүй бна. Гэхдээ миний бодлоор iPad хувьсгалын бусад 3н чанарыг хангахад тун ойрхон байгаа гэж хэлэхэд болно. Нэг цэнэглэсэн тохиолдолд 10-с дээш цаг тасралтгүй ажиллаж чаддаг, лаптоп буюу зөөврийн компютерээс овор жингээр хамаагүй бага, мэдээллийг оруулах чадвараараа маш энгийн, хялбар болж чадсанаараа iPad мэдээллийн арвин уурхай болох интернэттэй холбогдоx зөөврийн хамгийн сайн шийдэл болж чаджээ. Зохиогчийн эрх, мэдээллийн үнэ цэнийг хялбараар зохицуулах орчинг бүрдүүлэн сонин, хэвлэл зэрэг мэдээллийн бизнесүүдийг хэрэглэгчидтэй шууд холбох гүүр болсноороо iPad мөн шинэ зах зээлийг хөгжүүлэх гарааг тавьж. Микрософт-н CEO Steve Ballmer саяхан iPad-н талаар ярилцлага өгөхдөө, "Би iPad-г хараад Микрософт үүнийг түрүүлээд хийчихгүй яавдаа гэх бодол ер төрөөгүй" гэжээ. Tүүнээс хойш Микрософт, HP 2-н нийлсэн Slate гэгдэг компютер гарах талаар мэдээ тархсан бөгөөд харамсалтай нь тэр нь iPad-н бараг ижил хуулбар байсан бна.

Үргэлжлэл бий.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Европоос бичсэн тэмдэглэл

Европын Америкаас ялгарах онцлог нь эдийн засгийн өсөлт, мөнгөнөөс илүү амралт, амьдралын таашаалыг илүү үнэлдэг мөн өгөөмөр нийгмийн хамгааллын системийн ачаар боловсрол, эрүүл мэнд зэргийг бэл бэнчингээс нь үл хамааран хүн болгонд хүргэж чадсан байдагт оршино. Франц, Герман зэрэг баруун Европын оронд ажиллах цагийн хэмжээ, жилд амрах хоногийн тоо Америкаас хавьгүй дээр. Европт өдрийн 8 цагийн ажил, жилд нэг сарын амралт норм байдаг бол эдгээр нь Америкт, ялангуяа хувийн секторт дундажаар 10 цаг, 2 долоо хоног тус тус байх жишээтэй. Европын хооллох соёл бургер, шарсан төмсний эх орон болох Америкаас тэс ондоо. Венецийн захын ресторанд олж болох шинэ загасны зоог, паста, дарсыг бүхэл бүтэн Америкийн хэдхэн хотод л олж болно. Францын энгийн 5 ам бүлтэй айлын оройн зоог доод тал нь 4-н курс, 2-3 шил дарстай бараг 1 цаг 30 минут үргэлжилдэг байхад Америк айл нэг янзын хоолоо устай хагас цагт зооглох нь энгийн үзэгдэл.

Эдийн засгийн хувьд Америк Европоос хөгжил хувьсалын хувьд харьцангуй хурдацтай. Америкт нэг хүнд ногдох ДНБ-н хэмжээ дундажаар $47,000 байхад Англид $36,000, Германд $35,000, Францад $34,000 байдаг. Орлогын татвар Америкт 28%-тай байхад Европт 36-44%. Олон эдийн засагчид Европын өндөр татварын хэмжээ нь тодорхой хэмжээгээр ажиллах урамшуулалт болон баялаг бүтээх чадварыг бууруулдаг гэдэг. Мөн Америкийн xөдөлмөрийн зах зээлийн уян хатан байдал нь бизнест зах зээлийн өөрчлөлттэй зэрэгцэн түргэн хувьсах боломжийг олгодог бөгөөд хөрөнгө оруулагчид болон бизнес эрхлэгчидийн холбоог тогтоосон өндөр хөгжилтэй капитал маркет нь ашигийг юунаас түрүүнд дээдлэх философийг бий болгосон бна. Дэлхийд тэргүүлэх Америк компануудад амжилтыг өндөр үнэлдэг, үр дүн муутай нөхцөлд 2 дахь боломжийг олгодоггүй менежментийн аргачлал тогтсон нь энэрэнгүй нийгэмд хачирхалтай үзэгдэл. Зарим газар нийт ажиллах хүчнийхээ хамгийн муу үр дүнтэй доод талын 10%-г байнга сольдог нь ажилаа алдсан хүний болон ар гэрийнхнийх нь амьдралд яаж тусдаг, цаашилбал нийгмийн ямар хор уршигийг бий болгодогийг тооцоогүй статистикийн хүйтэн дүрэм мэт. Гэвч үүнтэй зэрэгцээд бизнесийн уян хатан байдал, татварын хөнгөлөлт, урамшуулалт зэрэг нь Америкийг Европтой харьцуулахад шинийг санаачлалт /entrepreneurship/, технологийн дэвшилээр илүү хөгжилтэй динамик эдийн засагтай болгосон бна..

Эцэст нь дүгнэхэд техник технологийн өндөр хөгжилийн үр дүнд өнөөдрийн ажилчин 100-н жилийн өмнөх хэдэн арван ажилчидийн хийх хэмжээний ажилийг ганцаараа хийх хэмжээнд хүрсэн бөгөөд энэ дэвшилийг улам их баялаг мөнгөнд зориулах уу эсвэл нэг заяах амьдралаа амралт, таашаалаар дүүрэн байлгахад зориулах уу гэдэг дээр Америк, Европын зөрөө тодрох шиг.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Алт Зэсний Үнэ Унах уу?

Дөнгөж нэг жилийн өмнө 1 тонн зэсийн үнэ $3300 орчим байсан бол одоо бараг $7000 болон өсчээ. Харин унц алтны үнэ энэ хугацаанд $850 орчмоос $1200 болсон бна. Монголын эдийн засгийн хөгжлийг тодорхойлох түүхий эдийн экспортын гол бүтээгдэхүүнүүд болох эдгээр металын үнийн өсөлт бодит эрэлтээр бий болсон тууштай хандлага уу эсвэл удахгүй унах зохиомол үзэгдэл үү гэдэг нь сонирхолтой. Өнгөрсэн 12 сард хямралаас үүдэн зэсийн үнэ хэт унасан байсан нь буцаад өсөх шалтгаан болсон хэдий ч хямралыг далласан жилүүдэд зэсийн үнэ нэлээд өндөрт хүрсэн байсан нь өнгөрсөн жилийн уналтанд нөлөөлсөн нь дамжиггүй. Ямар ч байсан ойрын ирээдүйд зэсийн үнэ хэр байхаас шалтгаалж монголын эдийн засаг хурдтай өсөх, төгрөгийн ханш буцаад чангарах эсэх нь шийдэгдэх байх.


Метал болон бусад түүхий эдийн үнийн огцом өсөлтүүдийн ард хэд хэдэн шалтгаан байгаа бөгөөд үүнд долларын ханшны уналт, дэлхийн улс төр эдийн засгийн хүчний тэнхлэгийг эргүүлэх болсон BRIC-н улсууд буюу Бразил, Орос, Энэтхэг, Хятадын эдийн засгийн тэлэлт, мөн харьцангуй ихсэх болсон түүхий эдээр барьцаалагдсан хөрөнгө оруулалтын хэрэгсэлүүдийг нэрлэж болно. Хэдийгээр долларын ханшны уналт түүхийн эдийн үнийг өсөхөд тодорхой нөлөө үзүүлсэн ч энэ нь харьцангуй бага хэмжээтэй бсан бна. Тухайлбал долларын ханш өнгөрсөн жилд евротой харьцуулахад 8% төдий л унасан байхад алт зэсний үнэ даруй 200%, 40%-р өсчээ. Тэгэхээр дээр дурдсан бусад шалтгаанууд металийн үнийн өсөлттэй илүү ач холбогдолтой байгаа нь ойлгомжтой.

BRIC-н улсуудаас дэлхийн тэр тусмаа монголын эдийн засагт хамгийн их ач холбогдолтой нь Хятад бөгөөд хямралаас болон уналтанд орсон барууны эрэлт хэрэгцээг өөрийн зах зээлдээ бий болгохоор 600 гаруй тэрбүм долларын дотоодын хөрөнгө оруулалтыг дэд бүтэцээр тэргүүлсэн олон салбарт хийн түүхий эдийн зах зээлийн үнийг тодорхойлж байгаа гэхэд болно. Хятадын өнгөрсөн 9 сарын худалдааны мэдээллээс харахад төмрийн хүдэр, зэс, никел зэрэг түүхий эдийн импорт хамгийн их өссөн бөгөөд зэсийн импорт өнгөрсөн оны мөн үеээс даруй 90% өсөн 2.6 сая тоннд хүрсэн бна.

Гэвч Хятадын эдийн засаг төрийн оролцоотойгоор явагдаж байгаа хөрөнгө оруулалтаар сэргэж байгаа бөгөөд зэсийн импортын хэт өсөлтөд суурь эрэлтийн бус харин үнийн огцом өсөлт болон мөнгөний сул бодлогоос үүдэн асар их хэмжээний зэс худалдан авах болсон хөрөнгө оруулагчдын нөлөө илүү байж болзошгүй юм. Өөрөөр хэлбэл их хэмжээний мөнгө эсвэл зээлийн эх үүсвэртэй металийн чээнжүүд зэсийн импортыг хиймлээр дэвэргэж бна гэсэн үг. Саяхан Bloomberg-р Хятадын металийн импортын ихэнхийг эзэлдэг худалдааны татваргүй агуулахууд дахь зэсийн хэмжээ 350,000 тонн гарсан мөн 7-н сараас хойш тус улсын дотоодын зах зээл дэхь цэвэр зэсний үнэ Лондонгийн биржийн үнээс бага байгаа нь ирэх жил зэсийг эргээд экспортлох магадлалтай болгож бна гэж мэдээлжээ. Түүнчлэн JP Morgan Security-н Лондон дэхь захирал Martin Squires төрийн бус байгууллагуудын зэсийн нөөц 600-700 мянтан тонн хүрсэн байж болзошгүй бөгөөд энэ нь зэсийн эрэлт болон импортыг ирэх жилээс буулгах хандлагатай гэсэн бна.

Тэгвэл мөнгөний сул бодлогын уршигаар Хятадад бодит хөрөнгийн болон үнэт цаасны bubble буюу үнийн хий хөөрөгдөлт болж байгаа нь 90-д оны Японы банк санхүүгийн хямралыг давтахад хүргэж болзошгүй юм. Энэ тохиолдолд эдийн засгийн өсөлт огцом удааширч хувийн бизнесүүдийн зээлжих чадвар алга болж улмаар бодит хөрөнгө, үнэт цаас, түүхий эд зэргийн үнэ унаж Хятадын эдийн засаг нэг ёсны дефляцад орно гэсэн үг. Financial Times-т мэдээлснээр энэ жилийн эхний 9 сард Хятадын засгийн газар банкуудаар дамжуулан 1260 орчим тэрбүм долларын зээлийг олгосон бөгөөд энэ нь өнгөрсөн жилийнхээс даруй 149% өссөн байгаа нь эдийн засгийг хэт халааж Хятадын засгийн газрыг мөнгөний бодлогыг аажмаар чангатгаж эхлүүлэхэд хүргэж бна гэжээ.

Нөгөө талаас алтны үнэ сүүлийн 5 жил тасралтгүй маш ихээр өссөн нь төв банкуудын долларт итгэх итгэл багассан, бизнес болон хувь хүмүүс алтыг шууд худалдан авч хөрөнгө оруулах хэрэгсэл мэтээр ашиглах болсон, мөн дилерүүдийн алтны үнийн зөрүүнээс ашиг олох арилжаа хэт ихэссэн зэргээс болсон байх. Энэ талаар Ганзориг сонирхолтой нийтлэл бичсэнийг эндээс уншиж болно. Миний бодлоор одоог хүртэл доллар, евро, иен зэрэг тэргүүлэх валютуудын хүүгийн хэмжээ маш бага байгаа нь энэ байдлыг хэт дэвэргэхэд хүргэсэн бөгөөд ямар ч байсан 12 сараас хойш алтны үнэ унах хандлага ажиглагдсан нь түүний үнэ зах зээлийн бодит үнэнээс тун дээгүүр гарсан байсныг илтгэж бна.

Хэрэглэсэн материалууд:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Books: "An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness" by Kay Redfield Jamison

Very dramatic and intriguing memoir of Kay Redfield Jamison presents the dark and yet mysterious workings of human mind as related to mood disorders. As a patient who’s suffering from manic depressive illness (a.k.a bipolar syndrome) and as a mood disorder expert in the leading academic institution her account is vivid and enlightening for all who is interested in the subject matter.

The book is chronologically written, morphing from a simple and wondering perspectives of a young girl in a happy military family into a complicated at times disastrous journey to manage one of the most severe mental illnesses and finally to a relative calmness found through acceptance of lithium treatment.

In the early stages of her illness Kay refuses to acknowledge her condition as medical disorder and without proper treatments submits to its perversities such as multiple days of work with no sleep and uncontrolled shopping spree. She describes these in her own words, “There is particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption in friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against – you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.

Eventually Kay admits the heavy tolls of the illness having on her life and her relationships and she finally finds psychiatrist and prescribes to both the psychotherapy and the lithium. She writes, “At this point in my existence, I cannot imagine leading a normal life without both taking lithium and having had the benefits of psychotherapy. Lithium prevents my seductive but disastrous highs, diminishes my depressions, clears out the wool and webbing from my disordered thinking, slows me down, gentles me out, keeps me from ruining my career and relationships, keeps me out of a hospital, alive, and makes psychotherapy possible. But ineffably, psychotherapy heals. It makes some sense of the confusion, reins in the terrifying thoughts and feelings, returns some control and hope and possibility of learning from it all. Pills cannot, do not, ease one back into reality; they only bring one back headlong, careening, and faster than can be endured at times. Psychotherapy is a sanctuary; it is a battleground; it is a placeI have been psychotic, neurotic, elated, confused, and despairing beyond belief. But, always, it is where I have believed – or have learned to believe – that I might someday be able to contend with all of this. No pill can help me deal with the problem of not wanting to take pills; likewise, no amount of psychotherapy alone can prevent my manias and depressions. I need both. It is an odd thing, owing life to pills, one’s own quirks and tenacities, and this unique, strange, and ultimately profound relationship called psychotherapy.” In her psychiatrist’s vivid accounts of the effects of depression in her life it is noted: “Patient intermittently suicidal. Wishes to jump from the top of hospital stairwell”; “Patient continues to be a significant suicide risk. Hospitalization is totally unacceptable to her”; “Despairs for the future; fears recurrence and fears having to deal with the facts that she has felt what she has felt”; “Patient feels very embarrassed about feelings she has and takes attitude that regardless of the course of her depression is such an intolerable burden on others”; “Afraid to leave my office. Hasn’t slept in days. Desperate.”

About the influence of the illness and the eventual treatment on her relationships with the loved ones, she writes, “No amount of love can cure madness or unblacken one’s dark moods. Love can help, it can make the pain more tolerable, but, always, one is beholden to medication that may or may not work and may or may not be bearable. Madness on the other hand, most certainly can, and often does, kill love through its mistrustfulness, unrelenting pessimism, discontents, erratic behavior, and, especially, through its savage moods. The sadder, sleepier, slower, and less volatile depressions are more intuitively understood and more easily taken in stride. A quiet melancholy is neither threatening nor beyond ordinary comprehension; an angry, violent, vexatious despair is both.”

Books: "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" by Mohsin Hamid

In this one of the most critically acclaimed 9/11 novels the author describes the story of a young man who would be considered as the example of American dream in the making who nevertheless through several indirect and direct factors caused by uncontrollable events in and around his life abandons the successful yet unfulfilling life for a path that is seen by many as the way of extremism.

The story starts as Changes the main character of the novel who by this time has returned to his home country, Pakistan, met a stranger in an old district of city named Lahore. He correctly recognizes the stranger to by an American, not because of his complexion or his dress but because of his “bearing”. I think this “bearing” which defines an American and of which Changes speaks of refers to several qualities that shape “American” such as sense of entitlement, crude and slightly unrespectful manner, and lack of cultural senses et cetera.

Changez’ family is one of old aristocrats of the Punjab tradition yet is on the decline with depreciating wealth. One of the drives for Changes’ success is his hunger or desire to restore his family’s fortune and maintain their social status. He excelled in his studies in Pakistan and was admitted to the Princeton University on full scholarship.

On one occasion during a vacation in Greece with his graduating class from Princeton Changez jokes about his wish being the president of the nuclear armed Muslim state. Except for Erica, a rich socialite girl from NYC, no one thought the joke was funny, because of their predisposition about association between Muslims and the terrorists.

Although throughout the novel Changez shares his story, the stranger in turn does not talk about himself at all. Through Changez’ observations the reader learns about the American as reserved, mistrustful of his environment, arrogant and attentive listener.

Changez meets Jim, an executive at Underwood Samson, who comes to like him, because of his hunger and tenacity. Jim grew up in the 70s during which great American industrial decline have caused his dad to lose his job and through which Jim learns to identify opportunities and thrive during difficult periods. Jim has an exceptional ability to judge people and he sees in Changez what made him successful.

Upon arriving in NYC Changez immediately feels at home. Sprawling urban districts, Pakistani cab drivers and Punjabi eateries combined with the wide spectrum of ethnicities have made it easier for Changez to effortlessly blend in with the city. He finds himself to be a natural New Yorker although he never felt to be an American. In fact throughout the novel Changez finds himself to dislike America, dislike how she rose to the top within last two centuries while ancient civilizations were hopelessly left behind, dislike how her policies affect the very well being of his own family back in Pakistan, and how her people seamlessly live on without regard for the reverberations she imposes on people of far away.

When Changez sees the destruction of the World Trade Centers in NYC by terrorists he smiles unconsciously. He was remarkably pleased! He wasn’t gratified with the suffering of the innocents, nor was he compelled with terrorists’ schemes but he was pleased at the symbolism of it all - how someone brought down America to her knees. It was unexpected that Changez who was educated American and who was living an American dream was pleased at America’s downfall. It was the turning point of the novel where Changez began to doubt in the course of his life, and started realizing money and success alone did not make him fulfilled.

After 9/11 Changez takes a short trip home in Pakistan. He chooses not to shave his beard upon his return even though he was well aware of the implications that it would have at the immigration and later among his colleagues. His motivations for beard could have been a form of personal protest, or symbol of one’s identity, or a simple reminder of what he left behind in Pakistan.

Changez asserts to the American that according to post 9/11 political and military leaders ofAmerica, terrorists were simply politically motivated murderers of innocent people who wore no uniforms. It is evident that his assertion implies that the American leaders through their military campaigns wreaked havoc on civilians of other nationalities without being branded as terrorists.

During a project in Santiago, Chile, Juan-Bautista, head of the publishing company befriends Changez and tells him a story about janissaries, Christian soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, who fought ferociously alongside Ottoman soldiers to erase their own civilizations so they had nothing else to turn to. Changez feels that he’s being a modern day janissary by serving America when she invades a country with a kinship to his.

Relationship between Erica and Changez grows during his time in NYC and they come to be deeply attracted to each other. Erica is attracted to Changez, because of his extremely polite and respectful bearing. However, Erica, whose long time friend and boyfriend died of cancer, has never recovered from her loss and is somewhat detached from the reality. Such predisposition for emotional breakdown exasperated by the events of the 9/11 causes Erica to fall back into her loneliness where she finds time with her deceased boyfriend. Erica eventually convinces Changez that she is of someone and that it will be better for him to move on with life without her. Changez, who in his desperation attempted not once to change the fate of his love only to see the problem getting bad to worse, finally decides to leave her and everything that he had in America behind.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Books: "Bad Money" by Kevin Phillips

The book's premise is that the 80s can be identified as the launching pad of a decisive financial sector takeover of the US economy, consummated by turbocharged, relentless expansion of financial debt and eventual extension of mortgage credit to subprime and unqualified buyers. Austrian school of economics taught that every boom comes from extraordinary credit expansion out of proportion to real economic growth. Forced economic deleveraging of a two decade buildup of debt and liquidity is imminent.

Political Factors

In 1960s Keynesian and progressive economics were losing credibility in the US, because of soaring government spending, inflation, and fiscal mismanagement of Vietnam War. Milton Friedman, a conservative economist whose work combined emphasis on nation’s money supply as the key to inflation with a staunch belief in the market as self-correcting mechanism, successfully sold his position within the Republican Party.

With the emergence of conservative leaning governments on both sides of the Atlantic – Margaret Thatcher in 1979 in UK and Ronald Reagan in 1980 in the US – unbridled free market ideas returned power to the finance and its allies. Contrary to the Keynesian demand-side economics Reaganites picked up 19th century Jean-Baptiste Say’s thesis that supply created its own demand by unleashing capital through tax cuts. Resulting economic growth that lasted till the mid 90s enabled the capital build-up of US military, and stock market gain that is coupled with venture capitalism and entrepreneurship. However, critics complained that tax reductions disproportionately benefited corporations, commercial real estate, stock owners, and so-called paper entrepreneurs – the designers and promoters of mergers, asset shuffling, corporate takeovers, or debt fueled corporate leveraged buyouts.

Economic Factors

As Milton Friedman’s doctrine received general acceptance in the field of economics, efficient market hypothesis (EMH) gains hold in the business schools, banks, and investment houses. With EMH high profitability finance ascended as a result of following preconditions:
1. Persistent economic deregulation
2. Debt dependent mergers, takeovers, and leveraged buy-outs
3. Economic utility of speculation
4. Usefulness and facilitation of markets provided by derivatives

Between 1987 and 2007 debt – in all flavors, from credit card and mortgage to staid
U.S. treasury and exotic Wall Street – roughly quadrupled from $11 trillion to $48 trillion. From 2001 through 2007 alone mortgage debt, financial debt, and the current account deficit all nearly rose 100%. Consequently with the increased liquidity provided by these massive debts, financial assets and homeowners’ real estate were over stimulated and similarly bond and equity markets were artificially elevated to new heights. By 2006, financial services represented 20-21% of GDP, whereas manufacturing just 12-13%.

The debt the US has been accumulating in the past few years has provided only 30-40% as much stimulus per dollar to the national economy as did the debt added 25-40 years ago, because money borrowed in the 70s or early 80s were spent on factories, jet aircrafts, teachers, or highways whereas money borrowed today were used by hedge funds to double the leverage of their various self-serving speculations.

In 2006 Bank for International Settlements in Basel declared that we have shifted from a cash-flow constrained to an asset backed economy and further issued a warning in 2007 pointing to quartet of troubling indicators: issuance of huge scale of complicated new credit instruments, reckless tolerance for risk, unprecedented household debt level, and major imbalances in the world currency system.

Consumer Price Index and Statistical Debasement:

Until 90s CPI measured the cost of a fixed basket of goods using prevailing market prices. This was changed in late 90s:

  1. Geometric weighting of now flexible basket of goods – items going up received less weight and items going down received more weight, both having reductive effect in the CPI
  2. Use of “hedonics” in order to moderate prices by reducing them for the increased satisfaction a consumer derives from some improvement
  3. Housing represents 40% of CPI but it is measured using “owners’ equivalent rent” which fails to take account for the increased expenditures of home owners such as insurance, property tax, etc.

If the old method was to be used to measure the CPI between 2005 and 2007, then the inflation would register between 5 to 7% instead of 2-4%. Statistically such difference would have dropped the US economy into recession or to its borderline.

Financial Factors

Banks and savings and loans associations gave way to mutual funds, nonbank lenders, hedge funds, federally related mortgage entities, issuers of ABS, security brokers and dealers and others. Unlike banks these latter day inventions of the financial heyday were minimally regulated by the government and yet as large as or even larger than the traditional banking institutions.

Securitization is what financial industry discovered in response to the question of whether or not if wealth can be created without manufacturing anything. Securitization as a business included two product categories – asset backed securities (ABS) and mortgage backed securities (MBS). Two products of the former that are often mentioned these days are collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and home equity loans (HELs). From $400 billion in 1995 securitization increased in size to $4 trillion by 2003. Lenders applauded the new method to sell the loans quickly, to spread the institutional risk, and to receive upfront payment so that they can issue even more loans. Wall Street jumped on the securitization issuance to make enormous profits both locally and internationally. By 2005 80% of the total securitization issuance was in US hands.

By 2006 total mortgage origination was about $2.5 trillion of which ¾ were securitized into MBSs. Home equity loan which represented about 35% of all ABS in 2002 ballooned to 65-70% by 2006. US banks held record amount of mortgage related assets in their books and any housing recession combined with massive mortgage defaults would completely cripple them. By 2007 foreigners held 28% of ABS and nearly 40% of MBS of US issuance.

With the burst of the bubble CDOs and mortgage backed securities were radioactive in spreading fear among the financial institutions with prime suspect being money market funds. By mid Aug of 2007 commercial paper markets were all but frozen. President of Bundesbank stated that the Aug crisis was just like the classical bank-runs except that it was taking place in non-bank financial system.

Peak Oil

Since the emergence of Modern Europe in the wake of the Renaissance and the rise of capitalism, idiosyncratic energy regimes have been important in making the three successive world economic power: wind and water to the 17th century Dutch, coal to late 18th century Britain, and oil to the US.

In 1974, three years after the dollar lost its small tie to gold Saudis agreed that the international sale of oil would take place in dollar and further to recycle the dollar through purchases of US treasury bonds and notes.

It was generally accepted by the end of 2006 that the American attempt to open up Iraqi oil fields to drive down oil price and break the power of OPEC and its state owned companies has practically failed. During the five years after the Iraqi invasion oil price increased from $25 barrel to $100 range. Dollars long standing role as oil currency declined with the Washington’s lost credibility. As of 2007 80% of the petroleum reserves were in the hands of state owned oil companies.

Goldman Sachs posits that since 2001 $3 trillion more has been transferred to OPEC producers than would have been if the oil stayed at $20 per barrel with main beneficiaries being Russia and larger Middle East. This comes on top of late 20th century wealth transfer occasioned by surge in manufacturing export, information technology outsourcing, and huge trade surpluses China, India and Southeast Asia. The principal loser was American dollar as foreigners who sent their money to US saw sharp decline in dollars’ purchasing power of oil, metals, and other commodities. It was calculated that dollars 10% drop against other currencies would translate into some 5% drop in purchasing power of OPEC’s Persian Gulf members.

Among the major threats to dollar as a result of oil problems were: first, diversification by foreign central banks their reserve currency out of dollar into stronger currencies; second, reversal of formerly dollar pegged currencies such as those of China and Gulf countries; third, potential reversal of dollar denominated oil sale; fourth, monetary mercantilism or the reserve of huge amount of dollar by foreign central banks; fifth, vulnerability of the institutional firepower of the sovereign wealth funds being put into commission.

As a result of dollar valuation of oil, major oil exporters faced several negative effects due to depreciating dollar: reduced actual income from the oil export, increased price for imported goods from Asia and Europe, and inflationary pressure for those who pegged their currency to the dollar. In fact strong dollar pegs of Gulf countries and crawling peg of China are self trapping, because they expose their respective economies to stimulative US economic policy instead of dealing with overheating economies and rising inflation.

Keywords

Derivative – Financial instrument that is derived from some other asset, index, event, value, or condition (known as the underlying)

Security – Fungible, negotiable instrument representing financial value
Debt security – banknotes, bonds
Equity security – common stocks, derivative contracts

ABS (asset-backed security) – A security whose value and income payments are derived from and collateralized by a specified pool of underlying assets.

CDO (collateralized debt obligation) – A type of structured ABS whose value and payments are derived from a portfolio of fixed income underlying assets. Usually assigned different risk classes, or tranches.

Monetary Mercantilism – The rise of sovereign wealth funds in China, Russia, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and ballooning currency reserves by their respective countries but also Japan, Taiwan, and Korea and their ability to defend their own currency or attack some other.

Energy Mercantilism – Practice of some nations – China, Russian, India, Angola, Sudan, and others – of bypassing the global marketplace and cutting oil and gas deals directly with other nations.

Financial Mercantilism – Government business collaboration calculated to suspend or stymie market forces: Washington and US financial sector seek to minimize certain unwanted marketplace forces by massive bailouts. It can also describe nation’s favoritism to its own exports through subsidies or easy financing.

Efficient Market Hypothesis – In rebuttal to Keynesian assumption that the markets were unstable, EMH held market to be inherently rational and efficient thus the fair market valuation of the shares over the long term.

Modern Portfolio Theory – It teaches that the risk is minimized by investment in whole varieties of stocks rather than in one by one basis.

Books: "The Alchemist" by Paul Coelho

The theme of the book is centered on personal legend which is the calling by the “writer” of the universe for everyone that upon following the true happiness of life can be experienced without regard for difficulties and temporary gratitude on the way. One hears this calling through his heart which knows the “language” of the universe and which is part of everything representing the oneness of everything. To ignore this calling is to deny yourself the very purpose of your existence on this earth which unfortunately is the fate of most people. However, to heed this calling makes everything in the universe to conspire together through signs and omens as to guide the person on his way toward accomplishing his personal legend.

Keywords:

The personal legend – the purpose and ultimate calling of everyone

Heart – Entity which connects us with the rest of the universe through which the writer of the universe communicates with an individual.

Alchemy (The Art of Transformation) – Paul Coelho tells that alchemy is a pursuit of spiritual quest in the physical world. Wikipedia defines alchemy as both philosophy and practice with the aim of achieving ultimate wisdom as well as immortality, involving the improvement of the alchemist as well as the making of several substances with unusual properties.

Love – The greatest and eternal alchemy of all

Beginner’s luck – Everyone experiences signs and omens as one chooses to follow his personal legend. It is as if the whole world conspires together to make his journey easy for him only if he chooses to follow his personal legend.

Soul of the Universe – The essence of the oneness of the universe revealed through the connection between everyone and everything including the nature and all natural phenomena.

Universal Language – Language that everyone and everything understands. One can communicate with the desert, with the flying falcons, with the sun, and with the strangers through this language. This is the language that is manifestation of the oneness of the universe.

Urim and Thummim – White and black stones signifying No and Yes respectively. They were given to the boy by the king of Salem to help him on his journey.

People:

The crystal merchant – A man who prefers to dream rather than to pursue his dream, because of the fear of failure or of disappointment.

Englishman – Passionate for knowledge of the alchemy he is ready to sacrifice anything to reach his goal, another character in the book who is following his personal legend. However, instead of listening to his heart and following the signs and omens, and connecting with the soul of the universe he chooses to do it alone. Result is very hard and painful journey that at the end results in success.

Fatima – A woman with whom Santiago met along the journey and falls in love instantly. She encourages Santiago to pursue his personal legend and promises to wait for him.