What goes around, comes around

26/12/2008

During the past few years till 2007, the economy of almost every country has witnessed significant growth. According to data from the International Monetary Fund, global GDP grew from around US$51 trillion in 2004 to around US$65 trillion in 2007 – more than 25% in 3 years. The GDP growth rate in 2007 was 5%, which is considered to be a good rate. The economies of developed countries, such as tthe US, Japan and those  of the European Union, grew by 2- 3% in 2007. This is solid given the large base of these countries. In the case of developing countries, such as India and China, growth rates of 7-10% are considered solid given their low base. These  countries have registered such growth rates over the past 4-5 years.

GDP growth rates peaked in most countries during 2007 and since then there has been slower growth. It is important to note that most countries are witnessing a decline in growth rate, not negative growth. The decline is expected to last for the next 2-3 years before the trend is reversed. The Indian economy registered a growth rate of over 9% in 2007 and despite news of an economic crisis,  the economy is expected to grow at around 7% in 2008. The US economy grew 2.2% in 2007 is expected to decelerate to less than 2% in 2008. In 2009, even if the growth rate is less than that in 2008, it should not be cause for alarm. For a large , developed economy, even a 1% growth rate is positive considering population growth is less than 1%. So in this perspective, the current economic situation is less of a crisis and more a slowdown. The sensational news stories of  economic meltdown are exactly that, sensational. The actual concern should be on the future and how growth rates develop over the next few years.

The stock market situation is somewhat similar in its lack of fundamental change. Take for example the Bombay Stock Exchange in India; its Sensex benchmark rose from around 10,000 in early 2006 to over 20,000 in early 2008, doubling in 2 years. Naturally, such an increase motivates initial investors to take profit by selling their shares. The Sensex is again around the 10,000 level. I expect investors, both new and old, to start entering the market at this level. We have to remember that since 1978-79 when the Sensex  was at 100, the index has reached to 10,000 in 2008, a 100-fold increase in 30 years. The price of gold has increased only by 20 times in the same period.

I believe that both the global economy and stock markets will face pressure in the short term, with industry being hit. However, with prudent intervention, I believe long term trends are positive.

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Helping God, no thank you!

23/12/2008

There are different forms of terrorism. In countries like the UK and Spain, terrorist activities have been linked to demand for separate homelands for certain demographics. In some Indian states, terrorism has been a crude tool for protesting economic disparity (e.g. Naxalites.) The most severe form of terrorism is based on religion and this is the major concern in today’s world.

It is possible to extrapolate a common thread among the major religions of the world – service to God. Followers adopt several ways to serve God. Some worship once a week, others many times a day and some others only when they feel like it. While frequency of worship is a personal choice for serving God, the complication arises when proselytism becomes that choice.

There is inherent conflict in serving God through proselytism – while one side thinks converting others is service, the other side thinks resisting conversions is service. Furthermore, while some adopt peaceful means for conversion, there are others who adopt extreme measures. The latter are the terrorists the world must defeat.

In the midst of discussing service to God, it is surprising to note that atheists offer some lucidity on the issue. Atheists wonder why God, whom followers believe to be omnipotent, would require service from mere mortals in the first place. Atheists  question whether service from humans would actually matter to God. They find it puzzling to understand why God would require people to fight on His behalf when God could handle things on His own.

So it seems that those who do not believe in God, offer a practical prescription those who do believe – let God take care of Himself.


Calling for Decisive Action

11/12/2008

Recently, the world has been wrecked by financial and terrorism shocks. The fundamental cause for these shocks is the lack of regulations and security oversight. The world needs decisive action and now.