Monday, January 31, 2011

No Tienanmen Square

That is what Egyptian Military promised and that is a great news. Military’s own credibility in future and tap of American aid, I guess that is what did the trick. In a way Egyptian Military did a favor to its paymaster USA by coming forward to make this statement as Obama Administration had been reluctant to say so emphatically. But at least now Obama Administration is ready to say that ‘aid is conditional’ compared to Hillary’s earlier statements of not questioning Egyptian Aid. No wonder Pawlenty is hammering here Obama Administration and it deserves such shellacking.

Now, the posturing for future Egyptian Government will get into full force. With March of Millions all set, formal countdown of Mubarak regime is a matter of days. It will not be a bad idea for Obama Administration to be anti-Mubarak at least now so as the stridency of Egyptian Opposition is blunted when they would form the new government. That coupled with ‘aid grease’ to Egyptian Military; these are only few leverages left to keep future Egyptian Government not to renege on Israeli Peace Treaty. Otherwise things all look ‘up hill’ here onwards to Israel to the point where some would feel it would have been beneficial to deal with Abbas and Palestine when their hands were not so strong. Israel’s tantrum towards USA are understandable here. Israel Politics going more strident and extreme is also a possibility considering ultra right-wing politicians like Avigdor Lieberman; nothing can be ruled out.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Return on Bush II Investment?

Events unfolding in Egypt and in general Arab World give you an impression that may be the dividend check of investments of all these years in Iraq is finally coming. Anywhere you look in Arab world, America has been essentially on the wrong side of Arab Public sentiment - first for the sake of oil market stability, then for the sake of Israel and in last decade for the opposition to Al Qeda. Naturally common Arab Public would have least regard to reasons of America’s backing to all these non-democratic rulers. What Arab Public is going to remember is America backed all these despotic rulers for decades without giving much attention to well being of common people.

Toppling of Saddam Hussein and inception of Iraqi Democracy as a result of George Bush’s Iraq war, sacrifices of American soldiers and consequent spending by America in Iraq - that is the only bright spot where Arab Public can nod to what America has done (in addition to Kuwait Liberation in 1991).

Hope is that will at least make Arab Public opinion muddied against America instead of outright disgust of America; the later is never going to be cheap for America in any case but unfortunately more likely.

Let us be clear here - this is a case of making lemonade out of lemon. Even now George Bush’s Iraq war is not justified, it has been one reason why America’s Economic decline has been hastened and there were far more effective and less expensive ways to address our security concerns while aligning interests with Arab Public. It is just that now all of Iraq war expenditure (both human and material) has become a ‘sunk cost’, human tendency it to look for silver lining.

Update - President Obama, VP Biden and Sec. Hillary; all have failed miserably in the Egypt debacle as this WaPo Editorial makes it clear. To say Obama Administration is behind the curve is a charitable explanation. I would be more inclined to characterize this as on the verge of ‘colossal failure’ on part of Obama. The president who gives Cairo Speech should not have been so circumspect in his reaction and support to Egyptian Protesters. I also think, this will not play well with his own Progressive Support base. Compare the reaction of Condi Rice and George Bush to Ceder Revolution and even acceptance of Hamas when Bush insisted upon an election in Gaza. Say what, that dumb President Bush II looks far more principled here. Seems like Obama’s tendency to play ‘nuance’ while balancing ‘realists concerns’ in foreign policy are going to land him in a hole. It is shameful that a President who got his Nobel Peace Prize before he deserved refuses to work hard to earn it afterward at least.

If NeoCons and GOP are smart, they should exploit this moment while contrasting Obama response to Rice/Bush foreign policy. But the question is will they be able to over come their ‘fear’ about fundamentalist regime after Mubarak (Muslim Brotherhood, but they are not so prominent in the current uprising) ? Alas each one has their daemons to deal with.

Update II - Now it is possible that Washington is trying to work out the logistics of the situation and paving a way for post-Mubarak ear; publicly keeping quiet until all things are lined up. That is what some of these posts are indicating. Well, one hopes so and expects that would free White House to come more forcefully in support of Egyptian Protesters and show leadership in laying foundations for democratic and peaceful post-Mubarak ear. One has to remember, every Arab country which is transformed into a democratic system is a move away from dictatorial Super Power of Tomorrow - China and stranglehold of Communist Party in that country. Every time any country in the world chooses a path of Democracy and rule of people, one more opportunity is lost for Chinese Communist Party and it’s Oligarchy to spread it’s influence in the world. Nothing can be better than that for USA, West and Democratic Countries of the world.

Update III - Marc Lynch has been undertaking some incisive analysis of the fast unfolding situation. Here he makes a case for Obama Administration, but not sure whether all of this ‘caution’ on part of Obama is finally going to deliver a genuine post-Mubarak peaceful era. Unless some more concrete things happen as scripted by Washington, the danger of America losing out to awaken sentiments of Arab Population is serious.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grand Scheme of Things

No I am not talking the speech by Prime Minister, sorry President, Barack Obama on Tuesday in House Chamber. I am talking about the grand scheme of things getting played at the highest level, poker at the highest level – essentially staking out creditworthiness of America and stability of American Economy & Global Economy in order to permanently remove entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security (at least in their current form) from Federal Budget. It is old school politics of ‘starve the beast’ with vengeance.

There is no other way to understand Republican stupidity in keep coming on measures which will control Medical costs to Federal Government and at the same time to starve it from any debt ceiling increase. While Obama attempts to make some reasonable efforts to ensure that all this mountain of debt which we create every year is at least going to right places like innovation, education & infrastructure; Republicans still want to keep spending this borrowed money on misguided priorities like tax cuts.

How on earth any nation is going to balance the budget when it is reluctant to invest to grow economy (and hence more tax receipts) while control bleeding of costs? Republicans know this ‘madness’. The only reason they want to do this is by this way they will exasperate the fiscal crisis of America and in that way it will force Americans to abandon entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security once and for all. S&P downgrading Japan debt rating is a good news on this path while conveniently ignoring dangers of UK double dip possibly caused by ‘misguided / pre-mature austerity’ measures.

GOP madness is picking up ‘pace’ to take us to the destination of fiscal crisis as fast as possible. Our lawmakers are working hard!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jobs and American Competitiveness

Finally Americans are waking up to the reality that like any other nation, America also would have to compete in today's global economy and American Economic Supremacy is not something God given and simply repeating American Exceptionalism is not going to take America anywhere. (Tom Friedman should be glad since he has been one of those guys urging to make 'competitiveness' as the political agenda.)

Germany is the only real example of an OECD country which has been able to retain it's competitiveness despite being a high cost economy; the one comparable to USA. Adoption of common currency Euro definitely provided a ready market for German goods for a while; though Germany is paying the price now for 'popping up European Economies' for so long. So now Germany is trying to reach out to China Market as European Demand gets curtailed. Domestically German Corporations adopted a different approach than American ways of 'slash and cut jobs' during recession, on prodding of German Politicians and that kind of held the domestic side of the demand. We do not do like that in America - sharing pains among employees; instead we prefer cutting jobs ruthlessly. Neither new business friendly Obama wants to open these skeletons of American Corporations nor Republicans in Congress would entertain any such sensible ideas. German jobs were retained but German Labor still lost during the decade of 2001-10 nothing better than American Labor except for having a job in hand. In any case, the policy of 'sharing pains instead of direct job losses' is water under the bridge, more relevant for the next recession rather than current recovery and 'take off' stage. Apart from that, both Germany and America are going to get saddled with high cost economy due to increased 'retiree burdens'; finding difficult to compete in global economy.

Series of stimulus measures - Stimulus act, TARP, Tax Cut Deal and QE2 - would prop up American Economy only so far. All this is reflected in the budget deficit and weaker Dollar. As long as America runs huge budget deficit and carries weaker Dollar; it is clear that America has not entered in the 'sustainable state of Economy'. Obama's and America's challenge is to reach that sustainable state while improving the employment and then we know the magnitude of serious political battles to be fought.

In international trade, Dollar will need to be kept low for long time to come. China and rest of the world have demonstrated that they are not ready to go away from the 'mercantile approach' to international trade and Obama and America need to stick with their position of weak Dollar. Meaning QE2 or any other easing Fed needs to do as well as to keep interest rates low; all that policy should be continued regardless of criticism of rest of the world. If it results in exporting inflation to those countries, that is their problem. (Both China and India, as well as host of other nations, are going to have this serious problem.) It seems American Establishment and particularly Treasury Secretary Geithner, are doing a good job here.

Next on international side is pressuring restricted markets to open if people want to sell into America. With Hu visit, that is what Obama has started and he needs build on this one with many other markets in rest of the world like India, Brazil, Turkey and Middle East etc. Beyond that continuing the pace of more free trade is the right approach Obama has to pursue. There are encouraging signs and with GOP firmly backing this policy, the wind is with White House in this regard. In all of this the political battle is to withstand the pressure of traditional Labor and Democrats in Congress. Obama has the best opportunity to ruffle feathers with American Labor only in 2011 when GOP will continue to back him. Come 2012, GOP will find harder and harder to compromise with Obama as well as Obama would find harder to shove anti-labor deals down the throat of Democrats. All in all American Establishment is indeed moving in a right direction here and that is bound to result in helping American Export, Competitiveness and would generate jobs even though some job losses are inevitable when free trade pacts are agreed upon.

It is on the domestic side where the 'grid-lock' of American System as well as unwillingness of American Politicians to go beyond 'sound bites' is going to hurt. First, of the necessary condition for innovation is spending on education, research and infrastructure. GOP is again not supporting that and it is a question how far Obama will be able to proceed there. Next, making 'theater' of debt limit increase is fine; but Market is unlikely to be fooled by some minor adjustments in discretionary spending only while allowing the elephant in the room untouched - entitlement spending. On top of it, GOP is all interested in even stymieing modest efforts of ObamaCare to control costs. International bond buyers are ready to lend money to America for possibly next few years only until the cataclysmic event of bottom felling off American Bonds occur. Question is while that window of opportunity is there - is American Political Class ready to use that money to fund 'what matters most' (the one which increases competitiveness of America) or just going to waste that money on misguided tax cuts, unrestricted entitlement spending and ultra expensive ideology driven military engagements. So far there are no promising signs either from Obama or GOP. Trying to bring State level entitlement expenses on radar and limiting Fed's responsibility there is only a step in right direction; but unlikely to be of sufficiency (provided any such bill does not go overboard in tripping Muni/State Bond Market). These 'cuts' need to happen simultaneously at Fed and State level. In absence of all these hard choices, any positive momentum on global economy and trade front will not stop collapse of American Economy.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

China Hype

It is hard to find any alternating view points as China Hype reaches crescendo on the eve of legacy cementing visit by Chinese President Hu. Some of the hype is clearly applicable, but here are two articles, both in NYT, which provide some reality check.

Based on these, few of my observations are:

1. I suppose Chinese President's office must be collecting all purchase orders from Chinese companies for a while to consolidate into 'shock and awe' of Chinese Purchasing of American goods during the visit. This is just a starter. I suppose anything less than $10B purchase orders from China to American companies will be considered as poor returns for Obama's investment into this Hu visit. $25B should be a good respectable number and $50B will dazzle Americans given our dire state in 2011. Question is will American Establishment 'see through' this Purchase Order Diplomacy.

2. As and when indeed someone sees through it, one is likely to find that 'State Owned Mega Corporation Capitalism' is all that there is and the weak leader President Hu can only throw some money as neither he has political wherewithal to continue the core Financial Reforms and Regulations nor he has political mechanisms to argue his case against Company Satraps and recalcitrant Generals. What has happened in China over decades is legacy of People's Liberation Army is receding from Public's mind and this loss of the umbilical chord between Politicians and Army is actually making Generals loose to run their own show. Add to that these new 'money bags' - CEO's of Mega Chinese Corporations flush with new IPO money - are sitting at the table in addition to Politicians and General in 'running China'. It is crowded at the decision making table with lack of clear 'accountability lines' adding to confusion resulting into weaker politicians.

3. Ultimately it is a question like if American System where Public exerts pressure on Politicians via elections and Politicians as well utilize the 'oxygen of mandate' to regulate Capitalism in the end failed to avoid Financial Collapse of 2008; how can we expect 'power of easy' money to be regulated in China? One can see this tension when how 'export lobby' of Chinese companies do not allow Politicians to heed the advice of Chinese Central bankers in allowing Yuan to appreciate and in the process make whole China to suffer by sharper inflation. No wonder Treasury Secretary says 'no matter what time is on America's side' as the heat of inflation in the end would force China System to face the reality. Inability of President Hu to resolve these types of tensions is what reveal him as a weak leader.

4. In the end, it can be as simple as like 'curse of Capitalism' - greed of few and winnings of some create conditions for regulatory failures - which is the greatest danger for the Chinese System. Having Democracy is not panacea as brittle regulatory framework and entrenched corruption reveal that even India is not immune to decadence of Capitalism.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Indispensable Presidency

It is a different matter that President Barack Obama seems to have threaded the needle, but it is clear like day light that neither America mourns nor heals without Presidency. Centrality of Presidency is manifest when one of the incompetent presidents has his highest approval rating moment after 9/11 speech at Ground Zero and in the end essentially whose presidency got finished by missing the 'presidential moment' in Katrina. So when Ezra Klein argues that 'party matters' in American Political System, it is not much convincing.

Given this, it is no surprise when Ramesh Ponnure argues that it should be President Obama who needs to take an initiative in tackling America's real threat - uncontrolled growth of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security. It is a different matter that Ramesh's contention does not hold when he himself mentions the failed initiative of President George Bush II to privatize Social Security in which case Congress simply refused to come on board (including Republicans, so much for 'party matters'). Politically it might be a good advice to GOP from Ramesh, but it clearly shows how American Political System simply does not work without Presidency.

What do the current President do in this situation when Americans can be potentially happy that they have Barack Obama as their President? Practically to heed the advice of Ramesh Ponnure and propose some serious longer term deficit reduction proposals. Social Security Reforms - that is actually a low hanging fruit. The real deal is about the unmanageable Medical Costs (Medicare and Medicaid). May be the best bet there is to defend ObamaCare. Will Dems do that? They should when Prof. Eichengreen says essentially America has only 4 to 5 years to stop the avoidable collapse of America's Fiscal Situation. After two huge stimulus packages - one Democratic where they threw money to States without any conditions to control Pension and Retiree Medical Benefit burdens of States and another Republican where the money was thrown to rich who do not need - what is left for President Obama is to collect 'pieces' after this wild party.

But fortune and well being of 300 + million Americans should not be simply reduced to a single person. It is necessary and required that American Congress in the end takes initiatives and ownership to solve our problems. After all that is why we elect them. They are there in Washington DC to solve our problems and not to hide behind Presidency.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reasons for Civility

David Brooks exactly writes what a columnist 'should write and can write' to continue America's discourse about Civility in Public Life. It is more of a short classic philosophy essay in tradition of American Pragmatism than a news paper column. But then, well, there are no 'news papers' anymore; there are only 'news and public discourse web sites' and some of them like NYT are great.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tale of Two Speeches

One speech had been nothing but a combative effort to 'clear one's name' with no regards to help rest of the country in either dialing down the hyper partisan political tone or rejecting any liberty for lose minds to read violent motives in strong partisan utterances. Sarah Palin may have ambitions to lead this nation, but today at least in her speech there was no regard to duties of that leadership - to try to help nation while keeping aside individual grievances. While criticizing Media, she was simply part of it (merely making money off that) rather than showing any willingness to belong to leadership. But even then as a decent private citizen, warning to not misinterpret exercises of one's cherished freedom of speech would have gone a long way. To say those warnings would not have portrayed any culpability, unless of course you are so insecure mentally that urge to play to gallery and to hurl 'red meat for your supporters' trump any need to step forward as a leader.

President Obama was much more constructive for America in his speech. I liked his relatively 'easy and free of unnecessary weight' demeanor in the speech. What he said was nothing dramatic - not to use this occasion to turn on each other, to find inspiration in this occasion to do better at private and public level and finally to undertake all efforts to make future of this country worthy of what any child like Christina Green deserves. Simple, straight forward, non-dramatic but in the end something useful for all Americans to build on.

Hopefully America builds on the latter speech and shows graciousness to forget the nastiness of the first speech.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

But why not any caution?

WSJ Editorial is taking Liberals to task by accusing that Liberals are jumping ahead in assigning political motives to the violence of yesterday. Fair enough, no one should read in between the lines.

But the newspaper which justified going to Iraq war as a precaution in conducting 'war on terror' is conveniently forgetting right demand of Americans when they demand Politicians be civil and not to use any violent language as a precaution in conducting our democracy. That is double standard and that is the real problem here, not Americans who are asking things to cool down.

Dick Armey - Embracing Knowledge Selectively

"If we really want to understand deviance and danger in this country, we should apply the correct field of study, the correct disciplines and tools of understanding with rigor and responsibility, not just exercising pop sociology out of our hip pocket," Armey added.

- Where was Dick Armey when President George Bush threw away caution and systematic intelligence to wind while invading Iraq as a response to 9/11?

- Why is Dick Armey systematically rejecting studies after studies which show that Tax Cuts are not the best way to improve our Economy and stimulate growth?

- Why is Dick Armey selectively using CBO studies to criticize Democrats for their proposed Health Care Reforms whereas conveniently ignoring all the warnings CBO is currently issuing about the 'repeal of ObamaCare'?

- Why does Dick Armey continue to lead his supporters to believe that our deficit can be addressed without managing Health Care Cost, Social Security and Defense costs by simply reducing 'discretionary spending'?

Where is Dick Armey's scientific mind in all other America's challenges?

These guys must be living on some another planet to have gumption to talk all this non-sense.

The problem is unless we have folks in America who can 'assail' this non-sense of Dick Armey, we are fated to see more of what happened yesterday.

Our nightmare has only started...

In the aftermath of yesterday's violence, there is right discussion starting in American Politics about where do we go from here. Ezra Klein is trying to put things in perspective. But I am pessimistic here and share sentiments espoused in this post by David Rothkopf. I do not see much chances of America adopting a wiser course here.

Gun control would not have directly stopped this incidence or anyone who is really interested in killing. But just consider this - we are around 300 Millions in USA and there are 250 Million fire arms! Look at the 'jock photo' of Giffords political opponent of GOP. The guy is with fully loaded automatic rifle with spread legs trying to bring attention to his manhood. And his supporters were going to get an opportunity to fire loaded fire arms with the candidate. Yes, you can find such photos and behavior of Democrats too who support gun / NRA too. (Hint - look for those in West Virginia.) Point is where are we going with this culture of 'touting guns' in our Politics? Those rowdy militia touting their guns in Africa's endless wars - how different our politicians are from those third world power brokers or Afghan war lords? And now think - what is going to change in America's gun culture after this incidence. Anything? I doubt.

Half of this country is enamored with some extreme and selective reading / interpretation of Constitution. We do not understand how much damage 'intellectually empty political discourse of Sarah Palin, Glen Beck, Tea Party' is doing to this country (and Democrats are doing by not fighting it back). No, we are not done with the path of self inflicted damage on which we are going. Collectively, I just don't see any signs that we will be stopping any such bad/sad incidences in future as well as stopping the negative effects which Ezra's post talks about.

We have lost an entire decade in improving lives of we Americans just because we did not have collective emotional maturity to handle 9/11. Half of America's people and their leaders do not consider 'increasing inequality' as any problem or impeding danger of the same. Economists do not have much credibility but collectively all of them see the path on which we are.

It is depressing, it is dark and more and more wounds are going to unfold in front of us. The fratricide between early White European settlers and later immigrants like Hispanics, Asians and other people along with Blacks and other minorities is not going away and it is likely to explode further. The class war between Robber Baron Capitalists and exploited, beggars of jobs is not resolved and unlikely to be resolved. When even after worst of recession causing behavior of Bankers we have strong caucus of Congress Members who want to loosen up any constraints on Bankers; there cannot be any hope in this country. Hey, the very word 'hope' is totally discredited now with that satire of 'hopy thingy'.

Our nightmare has only started and we do not know what destructive end is awaiting for us.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Congresswoman Shot

That is what reports are saying. It is hard to imagine how she would survive if Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in her head at a distance of 4 feet. It is not clear whether the suspect was simply motivated by some unexplained hatred of people or whether it was an act of political violence considering Rep. Giffords supported Obama Health Care. It is early to know and it will be wrong to subscribe political motives without knowing all details.

Couple of things probably should happen though:

- Sarah Palin needs to come out and needs to give an emphatic statement condemning this attack as well as make it clear to her supporters that any interpretation of her statements as a call for violence is wrong and she does not accept that. America needs an equivocal statement from Palin. If ever she entertains any ambition for a Presidential bid, next few hours will determine that. This is because SarahPAC had Rep. Giffords seat in the 'cross hair' - to be flipped to GOP.

- Speaker Boehner needs to postpone the 'repeal of Health Care Act' from the next week because all that vote is doing is potentially inflame public's opinions. Every politician needs to do whatever is needed to avoid blood shed. This should be simply as a precaution. Speaker Boehner, if wanted, can clarify that the Tucson violence should not be interpreted to have any political motivation until we know all details. But the fact is a member of his 'people's House' is shot, emotions are likely to run high and now is the time for him to show the leadership.

As like most folks, I do not have details and facts. But the thing is, this does not bode well for America and the gut feeling is something is terribly going wrong here. We do not know what dark future is to be unfolded for all Americans and American Democracy.

Update - Seems like chances of Rep. Giffords pulling through are high and that is a good news. Meanwhile Sarah Palin has issued a statement as well as Speaker Boehner, though both fall short of what needs to happen eventually here.

Update II - Rep. Eric Cantor has pulled out next week vote on Health Care Repeal. That is good and glad that GOP is showing some sense here. They will understand that politically there is nothing to loose here and by doing this they all are going to gain. Good for Republicans and good for America.

Friday, January 07, 2011

America's Debt Ceiling

Liberals had been worried that come March 2011, GOP House would create fracas of increasing America's Debt Ceiling and current murmurs are indeed confirming to those fears; at least that is what many Liberals would think. In fact Ezra Klein had been on record advocating commitment to increase 'debt ceiling' as a part of Tax Cut Compromise in Lame Duck Congress for the fear of what Republicans would do.

I had strongly held that Dems should never bother about Debt Ceiling and fortunately President Obama did not trade anything for that sucker in Tax Cut Compromise. The argument is, business friends and business constituency of GOP would never allow this non-sense to happen and recalcitrant GOP will be 'automatically brought into the line' by its wealthy backers.

While Ezra did not get it then and another of Liberal Brain Jonathan Chait is only getting now, Matt Yeglesias got it right straight out of the gate - that there is simply no need for President Obama or Dems to trade anything for increasing debt ceiling. Dare Republicans to take American Economy over the brink. Obviously GOP is going to be 'chicken' there and that is what is happening. This is happening because there is complete Truth in America's Debt Default inflicting permanent damage to American Economy, well-being of Americans and America's power projection in the world at large.

The point is not about my gloating. The point is about 'how far behind' our Liberal Brains are when it comes to playing 'hardball politics'. One of my blogger friends commented to me once - Politics even at the best of times is nothing but 'hard ball' and that is what President Obama and Dems are forgetting in this totally acrimonious political environment.

Looks like at least President Obama is catching up, now one hopes that Liberal Brains and rest of Congressional Democratic Caucus follow the President.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

England's Ashes Triumph

It was not a 'white wash', but just consider some historical perspective which will make it clear that essentially this is the 'nadir' of Australian Test Cricket:

- This is the first time in Australia's Cricketing History that it has lost 3 matches with innings defeats in a single series against a same opponent.

- It was more than 20 years back when the great West Indian batsman captain Vivian Richards and his best ever pace attack defeated Australia in Australia by the margin of 3-1. That was in 1988-89 and Australia was led by Allen Border then. For West Indies one of their great pace bowler gangs of Malcom Marshall, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh was bowling whereas I think those were pre-Warne, pre-McGrath days for Australian bowling.

- Last time the nadir of Indian Test Cricket was attained when Clive Lloyd's team inflicted devastating defeat on Indians on their home turf in 1983. Below is the comparison of 'that nadir' with Australia's loss to England in the latest Ashes Series.

West Indies in India, 1983England in Australia, 2010-2011

Number of Test Matches65
WinnerWest IndiesEngland
Result3 - 03 - 1
Innings Victory23

Losing Team InningsIndiaAustralia
Number of all out innings 99
Number of incomplete innings 21
Number of innings all out for less than 1001 (90 at Calcutta)1 (98 at Melbourne)
Number of innings with 300+ runs02
Number of innings with 400+ runs31
Number of wickets lost95 out of 120 possible
91 out of 100 possible

Winning Team InningsWest IndiesEngland
Number of all out innings75
Number of incomplete innings32
Number of innings with 300+ runs40
Number of innings with 400+ runs12
Number of innings with 600+ runs02
Number of wickets lost77 out of 120 possible
56 out of 100 possible
(England never has as formidable record as like Indians and Australians at home. So it is kind of hard to characterize English losses in England of the scale of 4-1, the one which Steve Waugh inflicted on England in the summer of 2001, as the 'nadir of English' cricket.)

- All this means practically collapse of Australian bowling in this series. Equally it is the case that English bowling is on tear, top of the game.

- It was absolutely right time for Collingwood to declare his retirement from Test Cricket. It makes sense as so many English players are knocking the door and Collingwood then can fully concentrate on lucrative form of Cricket - one day and 20-20.

Clearly this series was for History Books, forcing Australian Cricket Board to go back to drawing boards to evaluate everything from scratch. Hopefully ACB does that as Australian Test Cricket Team is the critical component for the survival and thriving of this glorious form of Cricket - Test Match Series.

Note - Meanwhile on South African campaign, Indians could not achieve their Test Series Win in South Africa. I think it was Jacques Kallis who single handedly stopped Indians. Great Cricketing by Kallis.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Dot Com Bubble Back?

Looks so, if one goes through this article by Felix Salmon. All tell tell signs are there:
- exorbitant valuation of enterprises (latest Facebook number is $50B before, I guess, it climbs further which is pretty much ingrained by current transactions),
- key players getting enormous publicity (Social Network movie and Person of the Year honor to Mark Zuckerberg),
- that famous entity - Goldman Sachs - is back and at the center again (GS was there for the original Dot Com Bubble though Credit Suisse First Boston was the leading player with con magicians like Frank Quattrone at the helm, next GS was with CDOs of Housing Bubble though again it was the Bank of America which was the leading edge there, and now with Web 2.0 companies GS is back);
- and finally distinct post Dot Com, post CDO bubbles style of making money by 'private equity trade' is flourishing.
Facebook is supposedly making $2B in sales per year, but obviously consistent profit making seems like bit away few quarters in future. As a result clearly Facebook is delaying its public listing. But meanwhile this waiting period provides enormous opportunities to mint money and hence the flourishing 'private trade' in non-listed equity of Facebook.

There are few consequences of how things are shaping up in Silicon Valley in last few years:
- Chip making, networking and system companies (HW plus embedded system SW); all are fading fast from Silicon Valley.
- Alternative Energy and non-carbon based automotive industry (Tesla, Fiskar etc.) are not likely to be shining again for a while.
- Bio Industry will remain steady but unlikely to sizzle big time, that is just the nature of business there.
- Web 2.0 is roaring back very, very strongly. Battle lines are drawn between Google, Apple and Facebook. Twitter, Zinga and host of other Web 2.0 companies are making rest of the pack following these leaders.
- Oracle with Sun under its belt, HP, Intel and Cisco will be remaining big Iron Tech companies in traditional sense; moving more and more into Cloud Computing Infrastructure while battling with VMware and EMC.
- With PHP based implementation of Facebook having the gravitational pull of $50B valuation, commitment of Oracle / Larry Ellison for Java always under suspect while Google perusing it's own Technologies and Apple going in its own ways; Java and J2EE have clearly missed the opportunity to become the de-facto standard of Web Technologies, especially backend / Middleware. RedHat under JBoss will continue to be the leading force for Java and J2EE, but with Oracle gutting Java; all these equations change dramatically and seems like Java/J2EE is past its peak unless it pulls of one more rabbit from its hat.

Why one fears for another bubble is valuation of Facebook looks quite speculative and sensitive to willingness of people to share their personal information. If misuse of personal information happens on a big scale, if related law suits get filled or Congress itself starts putting stricter privacy laws for Web 2.0 or people simply get discouraged by sharing all that information on Web; oxygen for Dollars floating in Facebook Ecology starts eroding. Unless Facebook popularizes 'gated communities with exposure of information of commercial interest without personal data'; commercial potential on Facebook Market is directly proportional to how much information one is willing to expose. The more you get 'naked' on the Facebook platform, more is your value to Facebook Market and to sellers. Questions arise because one is not sure how long 'Facebook as a beach front to drop cloths' view will remain prevalent with public, especially American Public.

But outside of America, there may be willingness among Facebook and in general Web 2.0 users to share more information. That is where clearly the growth is. No wonder American Investment Bankers like what they are seeing with American Web 2.0 companies - without getting into cross-hairs of local authorities, these Web 2.0 gadgets are likely to rake in bundles with international market. Facebook is unlikely to face issues as like Google faced for its Search with Chinese Authorities. Hence the seduction of Web 2.0 companies like Facebook and Apple. That is what is driving this new incoming bubble and chances are that it will proceed unabated for a while for sure.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Are Liberals Getting It?

No, I am not talking WSJ variety 'revelation' to Liberals. That is too crass needing any attention.

I am thinking, does this article in NYT a kind of antidote to so far 'behind the curve' thinking by NYT when it comes to Pensions of Public Employees? It at least sounds like that. Here are the money quotes:

“The mantra is that the problem is the unions, the unions, the unions.”

“We [meaning public sector employees] really should not receive benefits any better than the people we serve,”

"Better to endorse a wage freeze, they say, than to argue that teachers should be held harmless against the economic storm."

"...a narrow plurality of respondents in the state in favor of ditching the pensions for a
401(k)-type program." [The state referred in the quote is New Jersey.]

"Public pensions, however, run the gamut, from modest (the average local government pensioner makes less than $20,000 a year while teachers draw about $46,000) to the gilded variety for police and firefighters, some of whom collect six figures. And then there’s the political class, which has made an art form of pension collection." [All this in the state of New Jersey, but is it any different in states like California and Illinois?]

"Blue-collar public workers make more money than their private sector counterparts. For such jobs, public unions have established a higher wage floor."

"The sense that public workers enjoy certain advantages is not a mirage. Public employees pay into their pension funds, but health benefits often come at a fraction of the cost of most private sector packages. Government employment also tends to be more secure. When the economy crashed, federal stimulus dollars safeguarded many public jobs."

I cannot believe that NYT publishes this reality. In that sense indeed its 'reporting staff' is much more nearer to truth than their Ivory Tower resident Editorial staff, the surrogate of Liberalism in contemporary America.

Solution to the problem seems far away, but this can be a good first step.

We do not know whether bond vigilante would make America's life miserable in 2011 or Muni Bond market in USA will tank in 2011. But what we know for sure is:

- Public Sector employees are not insulated from the larger Economy and in the end compensation to Public Sector Employees cannot run ahead of what Public at large is willing to pay in taxes; and
- exposing and solving Public Sector Employee Pension burden may not be the 'whole part' of solving America's budgetary crisis; but politically it is 'juicy' enough that it very well be exposed in year or two.

All this means unless Liberals have a better answer to these challenges, their annihilation on this issue is fairly certain.