November 11, 2015 § 2 Comments
- Retirement in India: not a great idea
- An Indian startup which wants to be Uber for private jets
- If you are a commodities trader, one of best bets is to buy gold in August and sell it in March the next year. Reason? Diwali and Indian weddings
- Indian Railways‘ slow march away from the bureaucracy
Around the world
- El Nino is causing mayhem
- Your favourite Thai dish was an invention meant to calm cultural tensions
- Why the Myanmar elections are such a big deal
Business and Tech
- Just 10 years ago, many were dismissive of the Wikipedia “experiment”
- The freakiness of Facebook’s new AI engine: M
- Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular social networks among teens
- Regression analysis: a refresher on the bedrock of statistics
- Processed meat are cancerous? History shows consumers don’t care much about such studies
- India finally has a butterfly catalogue
- Product-by-product valuation of the new James Bond movie. Also, How do you make the best James Bond movie?
- Watch: Why Michael Jackson’s Thriller is one of the greatest album
October 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
How about we just cut up the big states? We’d get better governance at least
Farmer suicides: depression is bigger reason than debt
Profiling the thieves of India. Dacoities have come down significantly. Wonder what happened to the “Chaddi and Banyan Gang”
Around the world
- Watch: War in Syria – who is fighting whom
- What does it take to eradicate a disease
- The world will have to add 600 million jobs in the next decade
Business and Tech
- Self-driving cars could avoid about 90% of the current road accident deaths. That’s about 300,000 lives saved per decade in the US alone
- Domino’s with a bold move: launches its first outlet in Italy
- Playboy will no longer have nudes in their magazines. The economics and business strategy behind the decision
- Yet another milestone for solar and wind energy: they now have negligible lifetime cost difference with non-renewables
The origin of the 140 character limit on Twitter
How many hours will your phone charge last if it was powered by AA battery
- Be careful when you use Google: it has removed “Don’t be evil” from its Code of Conduct
- Psy’s “Gangnam Style” was first video to hit billion views on Youtube in 2012. Since then nine more music videos have hit billion views
- Raising VC money can be a very bad decision for a start-up
- Forget the unicorns, hail the cockroaches
- What does the barcode on flight boarding pass tells about you
- Watch costing bloody $815,000. And they are justifying it!
- The origins of “Nankhatai“
- The “Bechdel Test” used for films originated from a comic strip
- Biggest disruptive technology from the 20th century were refrigerators. Reminds me of this another article about how far behind India is the world average in terms of fridge ownership. White goods can be catalyst for social and economic revolution in India.
October 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
- Tamil Nadu has been successfully running a Make in India model for about twenty years
- Money into the sea: Mumbai’s coastal road is expensive and bad urban planning
- Watch: Nandan Nilekani talks about financial disruption in India
- The sorry state of the private healthcare in India
- India is no longer as dependent on the monsoon as it used to be
- At current pace, district courts in India will take at least 10 years to clear out pending cases
Around the world
- China’s status in the world, explained in charts
- What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
- There was a lot of heated debate when two weeks ago when a US pharma company raised prices of a cancer drug by 50 times to about $750. That same drug is available in India for about 3 cents. The US drug has returned to its original price now
- A stampede at Mina near Hajj killed nearly 700 people. The crowd problem is a combination of sociology and fluid dynamics
Business and Tech
- WhatsApp has only 50 engineers to serve its 900 million users
- People are going “retro” by preferring paper books over ebooks
- Scariest moments of the 2009 financial crisis
- Millennials will buy any shit you sell them
- Apple wants to kill Google at its monotonous advertising game
- Reason we haven’t any alien communication so far? They might be using advanced encryption technology
- How many years before you die?
- Are you an engineer? 13% chance that you’d marry another engineer
- Do you highlight when you study? Sorry, but that is not necessarily a helpful activity
- What does probability mean in your profession?
- Sad? Call a service which sends hot men to wipe out your tears
September 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
- Disabled population are grossly underestimated in India, showing a disappointing social behaviour
- Osama bin Laden made the most successful stock market speculation till date
- The worry of IIT / IIM grads: their kids aren’t having it that good
- Why is Indian print media still going strong
- How idea adoption works among consumers
- India is fastest growing world economy, but still can’t get over water and power cuts
- How good is your basic science knowledge?
- There are little over three trillion trees in the world. But we are losing them at fast pace (video)
- Playing tactical video games can make better strategists. My time spent on AoE clearly helping me
- Restaurant that serves food without any human touch
- Machines have always been taking away human jobs
- Watch: How was the legendary Super Mario Bros. first level was designed
- Chinese state media thinks beer is awesome
- Bees are dying, won’t someone do something about it?!
September 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
- Why do Chinese drivers make sure they purposely kill the people they hit in an accident?
- ISIS’ strategy in destroying historical sites
- Health, and especially children’s health, is largely neglected in India
- The impact of GST: instant coffee at home would get cheaper and Starbucks will become expensive
- What should you remember when you get into an argument
- Would you buy a bathtub converted into a car?
- Indian women are getting more educated, but less employed
- The debate on new GDP method rages on
- Ratan Tata’s retirement plan: become the the most active angel investor (he’s already no. 2)
- Google’s new logo and the outrage
- Are we naturally lazy, or do we need to rethink what we are working on?
July 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
- Maruti Suzuki is bigger than Suzuki: first of its kind milestone for an Indian MNC subsidiary
- Indian Railways’ top two revenue generating stations: CST and Dadar. Also worth reading on why increasing railways productivity is losing to political desires
- Abolish Maximum Retail Price in India. It’s a remnant of the socialistic past and against best trade and consumer practices
- Limca: a 44 year old brand
- Nestle’s Maggi problems making food companies to run to insurers
- Do workers really prefer being full-time employees rather than contractors?
- How much is an average Indian life worth?
- People’s attempt to ship themselves. Quite adventurous.
- Are there any scientifically proven benefits of Yoga?
- And if you come across any science deniers. here’s something you can tell them
- Venture capital and the tropes start-up founders have to go through
- When your car speed upgrade is just a software update away. Of course, this could also mean that someone might hack your car leaving you helpless
- Marijuana: from psychotropic drug to health food
July 26, 2015 § Leave a comment
If you were looking for a simple economic explanation for why a state’s desire to affect markets through a deliberate adventure is unadvised, see this blogpost by Ajay Shah:
Suppose a government is unhappy at the price or quality of wrist watches that are being made in the private sector. Should the government indulge in muscular interventions into the free market’s outcome?
The standard thinking of public economics runs in three steps: (1) What’s the market failure? (2) What’s the proposed intervention; does it attack the market failure at the lowest possible cost and (3) Do we have the State capacity to pull off this intervention?
So in the decades of planned “self-sufficiency”, these are the sort of interventions that Indian government undertook. For example, giving Hindustan Machine Tools, or HMT, the exclusive right to produce and sell wrist watches. HMT closed down earlier this year, and has been largely pointless as a corporation for a few decades. One would think that in the semi-liberal era, the government would not make the same mistakes again. But it has done that, multiple times. The one I want to take the example of is Aakash Tablet.
Case of fixing a market failure: Five years ago, the argument that affordable devices for students were needed and that no “greedy” private corporation will ever innovate in this area and be accommodative of the perceived requirement of the market while supposedly forgoing profits. So essentially, it failed to understand both the demand and supply trends.
“Lowest possible cost”: The government subsidised/funded the development and production of the Aakash tablet. In doing so, it created a product with “minimum” acceptable hardware and facilities. It bombed, unsurprisingly. It failed the basic product principle that minimum acceptable > minimum viable
State capacity: The government had neither the resources nor the focus necessary to develop a quality product. It pawned it off to IIT Bombay which wasn’t able to create a commercially strong product and to a Canadian company which did not have the experience or the capacity to deliver the product. the one time there was some demand. IIT has now called it quits on the program, ending the farce. Let’s hope somebody takes an account of how much did this misadventure cost the taxpayer.
Referring back to Shah’s post on the diagnosis:
The problems with such interventions run at three levels. First, the free market works pretty well, and even well meaning politicians and officials have little value to add (other than addressing market failures). Second, politicians and officials may not be well meaning uncles, they are regular guys and chase their own selfish objectives. Third, even if the right objectives are established, implementation is very hard; scarce resources (money and time of top management) will be used up in doing extraneous things which comes at the cost of those resources being applied to the core business of government, i.e. addressing market failures.
Shah also provides a segue way into current interventions by India in its currency market and China in its stock market.
A government says that stock prices won’t be allowed to go down? This changes the behaviour of investors who think it’s a one way bet and pile on massively. When INR was a “managed appreciation” with small predictable appreciations week after week, this kicked off a surge of capital coming into the country. Risk taking is higher when there is “the Greenspan put”.
A government says that exchange rate volatility will be kept down? This changes the behaviour of private participants who feel safe and don’t hedge currency exposure. News breaks; INR should have depreciated; government props it up; capital flight by locals and non-residents benefits from a red carpet in the form of a more attractive exchange rate.
Read the whole article by Ajay Shah here.