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Archive for April, 2010

Fears of German exit from EMU

EU's having a difficult time!

EU's having a difficult time!

weak states cannot easily leave EMU because they would pay a stiff penalty in higher rates, would be stuck with euro debt contracts, and might need controls to stem capital flight. It is a different calculus for Germany, which would see lower rates and might view EMU exit as the only way to ensure monetary stability.”Obviously, we have not reached the end game yet. However, with the latest developments, such a break-up scenario has clearly become more likely. The risk is far from negligible and the consequences for financial markets would be very severe. Investors ignore the break-up risk at their peril,” he said. (via Morgan Stanley fears German exit from EMU – Telegraph).

How many Euro-currencies …

A super-dense, power-currency, union between France, Germany, Italy and UK may have a chance of survival. At least, Joachim Starbatty, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of Tübingen, seriously proposes that Germany withdraw from the EMU. In which case what happens to the Euro? Will it become a 2nd-class currency of the Euro-zone?Will Europe splinter into another 20 currencies?

Idle minds?

Turning the clock back, to recreate a German Deutschmarks, surely the Germans realize, is the last resort. A en flambé Europe  may justify such a last step. Europe is at least a few decades away from such a situation. Unless the gentle decline of Europe gathers significant pace, such thinking will be defeatist. Europe has invested too much and gone too far down the road to turn back. In a stressed financial sector, mandates are difficult and far in between.

One way to draw attention is to give out such reports.

Dollar-Yuan – When the dust settles

April 18, 2010 1 comment

The Dollar-Yuan spat between US and China is actually a 60 year old US foreign-policy mechanism – which 2ndlook has termed as USCAP – US-Client-Acquisition-Program.

Originally published on Wednesday, May 09, 2001 - Cartoon David Horsey - Seattle-PI

Originally published on Wednesday, May 09, 2001 - Cartoon David Horsey; Seattle PI

EU’s trade deficit

The interesting point is how EU manages its trade deficit – without blaming China-Yuan. EU-zone countries like Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, are on the verge of a sovereign default. Euro-zone is upto its gills in debt. The Euro is being called names. And EU is not snivelling about the yuan and China?

Very un-European!

Usually…

USA, EU Trade Balance with Oil Producers (Graphic source and courtesy - www.eurotrib.com). Click for larger image.

USA, EU Trade Balance with Oil Producers (Graphic source and courtesy - http://www.eurotrib.com). Click for larger image.

Europe is at the forefront seeing dangers, damage, affronts, threats, effects, fall-outs et al. The whole she-bang! But in case of China and Yuan, Europe is not doing much of crying about the ‘undervalued’ Yuan. The Euro revaluation is a recent affair. So, not of much consequence. The Yuan undervaluation has been on the US agenda for a few years now – with varying intensities. Euro-trade balance with China is slightly in China’s favour. All in all, good management by the Euro-zone, it appears.

Which in the current scenario is the one-bright-spot on the Euro-horizon!

Good for them.

The US Treasury has been charged by Congress to assess whether China is a ‘currency manipulator’  … the very concept of currency manipulation is flawed: all governments take actions that directly or indirectly affect the exchange rate. Reckless budget deficits can lead to a weak currency ; so can low interest rates. Until the recent crisis in Greece, the US benefited from a weak dollar-euro exchange rate. Should Europeans have accused the US of ‘manipulating’ the exchange rate to expand exports at its expense?

Although US politicians focus on the bilateral trade deficit with China — which is persistently large — what matters is the multilateral balance. When demands for China to adjust its exchange rate began during George W Bush’s administration, its multilateral trade surplus was small. More recently, however, China has been running a large multilateral surplus as well.

Saudi Arabia also has a bilateral and multilateral surplus: Americans want its oil, and Saudis want fewer US products . Even in absolute value, Saudi Arabia’s multilateral merchandise surplus of $212 billion in 2008 dwarfs China’s $175 billion surplus; as a percentage of GDP, Saudi Arabia’s current-account surplus, at 11.5% of GDP, is more than twice that of China. Saudi Arabia’s surplus would be far higher were it not for US armaments exports.

In a global economy with deficient aggregate demand, current-account surpluses are a problem. But China’s current-account surplus is actually less than the combined figure for Japan and Germany; as a percentage of GDP, it is 5%, compared to Germany’s 5.2%.

Adjustment in the exchange rate is likely to shift to where the US buys its textiles and apparel: from Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, rather than China . Meanwhile, a rise in the exchange rate is likely to contribute to inequality in China, as its poor farmers face increasing competition from the US’ highly subsidised farms. This is the real trade distortion in the global economy, one in which millions of poor people in developing countries are hurt as the US helps some of the world’s richest farmers.

Since China’s multilateral surplus is the economic issue and many countries are concerned about it, the US should seek a multilateral, rules-based solution … Unfortunately, this global crisis was made in the US, and the country must look inward … (via No time for trade war between US and China: Joseph E Stiglitz-International Business-News-The Economic Times).

View from Lanka (Image source and courtesy - sundaytimes.lk). Click for larger image.

View from Lanka (Image source and courtesy - sundaytimes.lk). Click for larger image.

US trade deficit

Stiglitz, in the post linked above,  does a good job in demolishing American propaganda against the Chinese yuan. He shows how while there is case for yuan revaluation, the logic is not what the Americans are giving.

To de-fang American pressure, China recently reported a trade deficit. Much like Europe, Japan, Asian Tigers had to recalibrate their currencies, China too will have to do it. Dollar gyrations are sinking many smaller economies – like the cartoon above from Sri Lanka represents.

The mystery of the forex basket

Increasing the share of Euro in global forex reserves is a long-term EU objective. Is this European quiet related to:-

1. Keeping China happy,
2. Pushing the Euro proposition to the Chinese
3. Increasing the share of Euro in China’s reserves basket.
4. All at the dollar’s expense.
5. After all, who would like to turn away a creditor who is happy with low-to-zero interest with an excess of US$2.5 trillion sloshing around.
6. This US$2.5 trillion can turn Euro-fortunes!

USCAP

Cartoon from Korea Times - Mad Pakistani Tiger eating itself!

Mad Pakistani Tiger eating itself! (Cartoon from Korea Times).

The US has successfully executed US-Client-Acquisition-Programme (USCAP) – a most out-sized ‘conquest’ in history. By using economic levers, it has successfully created client-states across Europe, SE Asia, Japan, China, etc. Some economies have taken the bait, used US incentives and become ‘successful’ client states.

What is most intriguing is Stiglitz’s choice for US largesse – after China. Sri Lanka or Bangladesh, he says. With Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as US clients, India’s may see itself encircled by Anglo-Saxon client states.

A declining West, riding away into the sunset, somehow seems unreal to me.

India’s Forgotten Tryst With Destiny

April 11, 2010 1 comment
Forgotten heroes - inflated cut outs!

Forgotten heroes - inflated cut outs!

Lal, Bal and Pal Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal who hailed from Punjab, Maharashtra and Bengal, respectively, and adopted Swaraj as the destiny of the nation, could form the subject of yet another pavilion. Tilak’s memorable phrase, “Swaraj is my birthright and i shall have it”, his differences with the more moderate Gopal Krishna Gokhale and the split in the Congress into an ‘aggressive nationalist’ wing under him and a moderate wing under the latter may provide some of the themes for this pavilion. The Partition of Bengal and its reversal forced by the swadeshi movement, the visit of King George V and the Delhi-Lahore conspiracy are some additional events the pavilion could exhibit. (via Another Tryst With Destiny – The Times of India).

Victor’s propaganda

Post-colonial Indian history has been completely swamped by Congress propaganda. Leaders in the vanguard, the leading lights, have been have been cursorily dismissed or their names wiped clean. Those who pursued different directions, disagreed with GNP (Gandhi /Nehru /Patel) were villified, ignored or dismissed. Leaders like Lal, Bal and Pal, are completely forgotten. Subhash Chandra Bose is a vague memory today.

Subhash Chandra Bose with Jawaharlal Nehru (Image source and courtesy - im.rediff.com). Click for larger image.

Subhash Chandra Bose with Jawaharlal Nehru (Image source and courtesy - im.rediff.com). Click for larger image.

Contributions of leaders like SC Bose was ignored or the importance of the February 1946 joint action by the Indian Armed Forces against the colonial forces, was minimized to the ‘Naval Ratings Mutiny.’ Leaders like VD Savarkar (the first to write a non-colonial history of the War of 1857), or Madan Mohan Malaviya, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (the founder of the Jana Sangh-BJP) was dismissed as fascism.

A ‘victorious’ Congress, ruling for most of the 60 years of post-colonial India, had three clear propaganda imperatives. One – There is no alternative to the Congress. Two – If you don’t have an enemy create one . Like Pakistan. Three – Gain Western approval.

The threads of Indian independence

The myth of non-violent Indian freedom movement, served both colonial and Congress interests. It showed the British as ‘civilized’ colonialists – and the Congress as ‘enlightened’ leadership. Just like most Western literature caricatures African-American characters as hard-working, humble, docile, placid, obedient, gentle! Fact is, that Britain was bankrupt and could not hold onto India. Congress decided to re-write history and take all credit for the departure of the British colonialists.

Apart from the War of 1857, there were more than 75 battles, skirmishes, revolts, mutinies, involving thousands, up to lakhs of Indians, across India. And more than double that many conspiracies, plots, hold-ups, explosions, bombings, which were not organized. These more than 200 violent actions have been completely glossed over by post-colonial India’s historians. Obviously, more than 200 incidents of violent opposition to British misrule over 150 years (1800-1947) deserves better treatment by official historians. Especially, the people who were ‘behind’ this.

Fact is, that Britain was bankrupt and could not hold onto India.

On Jain /Indian food taboos …

April 8, 2010 5 comments
Rich man's food sampler across India

Rich man's food sampler across India

Some years back my grandmother employed a cook called Mary … a good cook … also fond of eating … particularly … non-vegetarian food … my grandmother … would give Mary a little extra money to buy meat or fish for herself … knowing my interest in food, she asked Mary to let me taste what she had cooked for herself that day.

Mary … wondering … brought out a small bowl of what looked like chopped long beans, but whitish, and in a rich brown gravy. They were goats’ intestines she said, waiting for me to refuse them. But, of course, I didn’t and it was delicious — the slight chewiness was more than made up by the rich, savoury gravy, which had a slight jelly-like thickness. I knew … that some organ meats like liver and brain are eaten for their own unique texture, but others are more valued for the rich savour of their juices, and these intestines were like that.

Once she knew I was interested in her food, Mary would happily serve me some, always the really cheap meats she bought. Another time she cooked salt fish curry, and again it was delicious, with a tang that you never get with fresh fish. It was the sort of dish you would never find in a restaurant, partly from genuine constraints — the Taj Group’s Chef Ananda Solomon told me wistfully he would love to serve the Mangalorean salt fish dishes of his childhood at his Konkan Cafe, but doesn’t dare for fear of the smell penetrating and lingering through his hotel kitchen — but also because most customers would not order what they saw as poor people’s food.

I thought of Mary’s food when I read that the Dalit poet and activist Namdeo Dhasal has started a restaurant … due to the financial problems … and it sounds like a regular place serving North Indian style kebabs and curries, but … he also plans to serve lesser known dishes like a curry of harandodi flowers and vazri, which is intestines and tripe (the stomachs of ruminants). These are dishes typically associated with Dalits … generally, the poor who could not afford other foods … one has to be careful in talking about Dalit food … For most of their history the basic fact of Dalit lives was hunger … there is another side to the food of Dalits, or just the really poor, who were forced into eating things that the rich upper castes would not touch … quite often there is real value in such food, and tripe is a good example.  There are also regional Indian dishes for tripe and intestines, like Kashmiri chuste, for which the first ingredient … is, vividly, “3 feet of intestines.” But as with salt fish, restaurants are too squeamish to serve such dishes, and I am guessing that it is also disappearing from home kitchens for that reason, and also because of the labour involved in making them. One of the reasons we value ingredients like chicken breast is because so little effort is involved in making  it, whereas salt fish must be soaked and tripe cleaned many times before it can be used. The reward is their great taste, as compared to the lack of any for broiler chicken breasts, but perhaps we are also uncomfortable with such deep, complex flavours these days.

But these are flavours that Dhasal would know well. His father worked in a Muslim butcher’s shop in Mumbai, and one of the perks was to take home whatever scraps of meat were left over at the end of day, which would definitely have included offal meats. His mother would cook them all into one sustaining stew, and perhaps it is this that he plans to serve in his restaurant. The harandodi flowers sound like they come from another food tradition of the poor — the wild leaves and flowers foraged in the countryside.

The Deccan Development Society, an Andhra Pradesh-based organisation that works with predominantly Dalit women in rural areas has catalogued the amazing variety of foraged greens they know of, many of them with vital nutritional and health values. Not all make for good eating, but some definitely do, and this would be a welcome vegetarian addition to such a restaurant.

There are also the fish and shellfish which Urmila Pawar writes about in Aaydan, her autobiography  … notable for capturing not just the many miseries of Dalit women’s lives, but also their small, fleeting pleasures. For example … collection of shellfish — backbreaking work, and dangerous too, since the tide could suddenly rise and drown you. Yet one of the pleasures was the oysters that could be found under the further rocks, and “once on shore, they would spread the oyster shells on it, cover these with dry leaves and twigs and bake the oysters.”

Another dish that Pawar remembers is katyacha motla, made from small river fish, “cleaned and covered with a paste made of amsul, turmeric, oil and salt. Next they would be wrapped in leaves of the kumbhi tree and tied with thin long strips cut from the stems of wild creepers. The packet was kept in the stove under hot ash, sometimes even for eight days… This was a very tasty dish and while it lasted our mouths kept watering all the time.” One thing also worth noting about such dishes is their nutritional and environmental value. Since rice was too expensive … most Dalits had to eat millets like jowar and bajra; yet it these millets which are being extolled today for their environmental value in requiring far less water than wheat or rice, and also for their exceptional nutritional qualities, which results in them being sold in health food shops in cities at prices that would boggle the minds of the poor who ate them from lack of choice. As I said, it is hardly surprising that when they do have a choice, many spurn them, yet there is some sense in preserving such traditions, and someone with the influence of Dhasal, is ideally placed to do so in his restaurant. (via The poor man’s palate:On My Plate :Vikram Doctor’s blog-The Economic Times).

Curious tales

This post from Vikram Doctor, unraveled to me, a part of Indian cuisine, that was long a mystery. A tribe in Bihar specializes in diet limited to rats – the mushahaaris. Why don’t Jains eat anything that grows underground – potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, et al. Similarly, Agarwals-Marwaris also have taboos against onions and garlic.

These taboos are covered by a patina of a folk-religion and tales. Onions and garlic were cursed by Shiva, for instance. There are no references in any classical texts for such a curse by Shiva. Then there are thin moral explanations, surrounding the taboos and preferences in Indian communities. Onion and garlic ‘contaminate’ the mind with ‘dirty’ thoughts – and increase ‘sexual desire’.

Not a good idea, you will agree!

A study in parallels

The Indian food conundrum!

The Indian food conundrum!

Looking at how property, gold, trade and commerce were historically organized in India – so was food. In a non-competitive manner.

Everyone could and did invest in gold. Property was every peasant’s right – till the Desert Bloc started the Great Indian Land Grab, 800 years ago. Like how trade were reserved for certain communities – which later ossified into an exclusive, caste system.

Similarly, the food system seems to have evolved. The rich did not compete with the poor for cheaper foods. Roots and tubers – like onions, garlic, carrots, are all low-cost vegetables. And rich traders (like Jains /Agrawals-Marwaris) did not compete with the poor for the same items.

Could this be the logic?

Bhutto’s folk Islam

 This handout picture from the Press Information Department dated December 31, 1974, shows former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressing a gathering in Patan. — AFP Photo

This handout picture from the Press Information Department dated December 31, 1974, shows former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto addressing a gathering in Patan. — AFP Photo

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) became the first Pakistani political party to set the tone of its rhetoric according to the populist imagery of “folk” Islam, in the process managing to attract the urban working classes and the rural peasantry towards its social-democratic programme.

Not only did the PPP chairman, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB), become one of the first major Pakistani political figures to start being seen indulging in rituals associated with “folk” Islam (such as visiting Sufi shrines), PPP rallies too started radiating an aura of the colourful activity found at many Sufi shrines. The 1970s in Pakistan thus became an era of populist extroversion.

With “folk” Islam adopted as a populist political expression by the ruling PPP, this form of expression eventually became the tool that culturally connected the country’s secular political parties with the spiritual and political moorings of the working classes and the peasants.

The cultural synthesis emerging from such a connection was one of the reasons behind Bhutto’s image, graduating from being that of a “brave patriot” (1967-68), to becoming a people’s messiah (1970s) and the embodiment of a Sufi saint posthumously. (via Bhutto’s folk Islam | The Dawn, Pakistan).

The tragedy of the Pakistani people

Interesting approach to the Pakistani conundrum. Wonder if this theory holds water.

Between the US and Pakistani military establishment, lies the responsibility of Pakistan’s descent into its current morass. A bewildered Pakistani nation, watches helplessly as feudal landlords (of whom Bhutto was one), dysfunctional polity and a power-hungry military, vie for power over a impoverished Pakistan.

It is time that India reminded Pakistan – and the world, that India agreed to a Pakistan, based on some claims made by an insistent Muslim leadership, backed by their British overlords. The most significant promise made by the then Muslim leadership was a better deal to Indian Muslims. After more than 60 years, it is time that Pakistan is put on notice.

And Pakistani-occupied Kashmir is the first step.

Af-Pak strategy in smithereens?

April 7, 2010 1 comment
Are we missing something here?

Are we missing something here?

After the US-Pakistan “strategic bonhomie” in Washington last month … India finds itself placed on the historical “backburner” again, a situation similar to 1947. The additional American aid and military hardware promised to Pakistan recently is really a tactical move by the US to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2011, leaving Pakistan and the “good Taliban” to supervise the return of religious fundamentalism in AfPak, which will then export terror globally. The increased numbers of Pakistani troops along India’s borders in end March, and daily gun battles with the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba in Kashmir, are indicators of the things to come.

US President Barack Obama, who got his healthcare bill passed on March 21, 2010, and reached an agreement on the 30 per cent nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia on March 26, now has only three more items on his list to ensure that he gets re-elected as President in 2012: withdrawal of American forces from the disastrous war in Afghanistan; revitalising the American economy; and “firm action” against Iran. The $750 billion US defence budget could then be reduced by $300 billion and this “saving” could be ploughed back into the ailing US economy, while leaving a couple of billions to pay Pakistan annually, to “police” AfPak.

In January 2010, Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani gave a 62-slide power-point presentation at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) headquarters in Brussels, which convinced the audience that he could help get Nato out of Afghanistan, provided Pakistan’s strategic concerns are met. On January 28, 2010, at the London Conference, Britain and America supported Gen. Kayani’s theory that “Pakistan needs to be the lead player in the Taliban reconciliation process”. (via Is PM up for some plainspeak? | Deccan Chronicle).

Connecting dots

It may not be so easy for Iran to get away!

It may not be so easy for Iran to get away!

Vice-Admiral Arun Kumar Singh (Retd. Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief – Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam) captures this interesting snap-shot of the current impasse that India may have painted itself into. The threat of India-Pakistan re-hyphenation, the rise of Pakistan in Afghanistan are all viable propositions. More than that,

The Obama administration seems to have taken India for granted, while giving Pakistan the opportunity to have cordial relationships with three competing nations viz. US, China and Iran. After the expected Nato withdrawal from Afghanistan, China (which has invested $3.5 billion in a copper mine there) will need Pakistan-backed Taliban’s assistance to “pacify” Afghanistan, to ensure that it gets unhindered access to that nation’s mineral wealth. Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s recent backing of the “good Taliban” and Beijing visit is an indication of China’s growing role in the region. In essence, Pakistan, in addition to getting “strategic depth”, financial aid and military gifts, will now be “re-hyphenated” with India, while China sits on the high “G2 table” with the US, and Iran benefits from its gas exports to Pakistan.

Leaving India licking their lips.

Iran – India’s options

After making some important points, the post ends on disquieting note. Maybe semantic quibbling, or may be a reflection of current mental position that establishment maybe into. Singh states,

stepping into an unfamiliar strategic environment where great powers (eg. China and US) only respect a decisive nuclear weapons power which displays a combination of strategic vision, political will, economic power and military capability. It is time for India to stand tall. Good relations with China and US should be achieved without appearing to kneel.

The operating phrase here is that India should not be “appearing” to kneel. You can kneel – but make sure that no one sees you kneel.

Is that what you are saying, Shri Singh?

Mixed signals – US Housing Market

The climb is steep, the load is heavy and the climbers are nervous!

The climb is steep, the load is heavy and the climbers are nervous!

Fannie Mae, the largest provider of funding for U.S. home mortgages … said its mortgage investment portfolio shrank in February, while delinquencies on loans it guarantees accelerated.

The portfolio decreased by an annualized 14.2 percent to $725.9 billion in February from $735.2 billion in January … Year-to-date the portfolio has decreased by an annualized 31.2 percent. In February 2009, the portfolio was $784.7 billion.

Delinquencies on loans in Fannie Mae’s single-family guarantee business rose by 0.14 percentage point to 5.52 percent in January — the most recent data available. A year earlier it was 2.77 percent.

The government has been relying heavily on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in its efforts to stimulate the battered U.S. housing market by buying more mortgage loans, easing refinancing and helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Fannie Mae last month reported a loss of $16.3 billion for the 2009 fourth quarter and said it requested $15.3 billion from the U.S. Treasury to keep its net worth in positive territory.

The company said it would need additional taxpayer funds in the future to continue operations. (via Fannie Mae Feb. portfolio down, delinquencies jump).

Mixed signals … crossed wires

Total delinquency rate of Fannie Mae portfolio

Total delinquency rate of Fannie Mae portfolio

Three conflicting developments show just how fragile the US Housing Market is. One – Fannie Mae reported a record increase in delinquencies. This is making the whole housing markets very jittery. Second – The Boston Globe reports,

The number of Massachusetts single-family homes put under agreement in March was up 27 percent over the same time last year, while condominiums were up 38 percent, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors said.

March was the ninth straight month that pending sales gone up when compared to the same month a year ago, the association said.

According to the association, pending sales can be a leading indicator of where the local housing is heading. A better measure, of course, is completed sales. March figures for completed sales are set to be released later this month.

Tumbling records … fragile recovery

The saga continues ...

The saga continues ...

Before that sales growth of 8.2% in February was best since the record October 2001 month. The third element is that on April 30, the $8000 first time Federal Home Buyer Tax Credit ends.

This US$8000 credit was the proverbial carrot in front of the buyers. After this Federal incentive, home prices adjusted by US$8000. When (and if) it expires on April 30th, prices are expected to drop by US$8000.

The story does not end here. As they usually don’t! A recent survey by Fannie Mae found,

found that two-thirds of survey respondents prefer owning a home to renting — even in the face of economic challenge and the downturn in housing prices — the mentality of strategic default is spreading. A contagion effect within communities is leading borrowers to consider default as an acceptable option in the face of financial hardship … Despite a growing acceptance of strategic default on the community level, thinking about walking away and actually walking away are separate events.

A Hindi idiom phrase captures this situation. Paraphrased, it says, “one does not know which side the camel will rest”. क्या पता ऊंट कौनसी करवट बैठेगा.

I am not betting. Not in this case.

‘Rationalist’ faces arrest for making bets on blind faith

April 6, 2010 1 comment
Snakes, magicians, rope trick - That is India for West! But if Indians cannot see beyond this it is a problem ...

Snakes, magicians, rope trick - That is India for West! But if Indians cannot see beyond this it is a problem ...

A Hyderabad-based rationalist faces an arrest warrant from a Kangeyam court in western Tamil Nadu for allegedly going back on his promise of Rs 5 crore reward to a vaastu consultant there for proving that vaastu is effective and scientific.

When the case comes up on Thursday (April 8), vaastu expert M. Palanisamy hopes to see the police get T.V. Rao of the Vaasthu Nija Nirtharana Vethika Committee of Hyderabad to the court for going back on his promise of reward made before the media in Coimbatore five years ago. (via Arrest warrant on anti-vaastu AP man | Deccan Chronicle).

Western perceptions is their problem

If Randi knows nothing about Vaastu – it is not such a shame. Of course, Randi is betting that the only race that knows anything about science is the West. And Indians did not even know the Indian Rope Trick.

But it is plain bad news if an Indian shuts his eyes, closes his minds to Indic systems – but is willing to accept any garbage from the West.

Price Collection/From ''The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick'' The Indian rope trick performed by Karachi (Arthur Derby), 1935. (Courtesy - nyt.com)

Price Collection/From ''The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick'' The Indian rope trick performed by Karachi (Arthur Derby), 1935. (Courtesy - nyt.com)

If more than 1000 cities (of the Indus-Saraswati Basin) were built on Vaastu logic, it takes  a certain amount of brazen ignorance to dismiss this knowledge. To take a bet after that, based on Randi’s assertions and ignorance, is downright stupid. The man, TV Rao, is a loser.

Let it be!

Europe ain’t crying about the Yuan

April 5, 2010 5 comments

Euro-zone is not sniffling? What is the secret?

Euro-zone is not sniffling? What is the secret?

No-one shouts louder than American politicians over the value of China’s currency. But other countries may be ready to speak up too. Five G20 leaders this week called for a more “consistent” approach to exchange rates — with fingers implicitly pointing at China. The yuan is a matter of global concern. But widening the debate might not help the US cause.The euro zone is China’s largest trading partner and the yuan is pegged to the dollar, so euro companies should have more reasons to complain than their American competitors. One dollar, and thus one yuan, is worth quarter less in euros now than in November 2008. (via Group-think needed).

Europe ain’t complaining about the Yuan

Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, are on the verge of a sovereign default. Eurozone is upto its gills in debt. The Euro is being called names. And they are not snivelling about the Yuan and China.

Very un-European!

US economy hits the bottom

US economy hits the bottom

US economy hits the bottom

Beijing let the yuan rise 21 percent against the U.S. dollar between July 2005 and July 2008 before effectively repegging the currency, also called the renminbi, near 6.83 to the dollar to help the economy through the financial crisis.

The United States’ deficit in trade with China fell to $227 billion in 2009 from a record $268 billion in 2008,. but the Obama administration is keen to lift exports and employment.

Wu Xiaoling, a Chinese lawmaker and former central bank vice governor quoted by the People’s Daily international edition, said the root of the problem was not a cheap yuan, but the relatively low cost of labor and resources in China.

“That people feel the renminbi is undervalued is in fact because many price factors in China, including resources and labor, have not reached international levels,” she said.  (via China economist sees “room for talk” on currency row; Updated on Monday, April 05, 2010, 20:40)

You scratch … I scratch

An experienced US stalks China, waiting behind high walls of US$2500 billion foreign exchange reserves. There will be much too and fro. Much will said and retracted. Much will showbiz. In the end, it may be as,

Li Daokui, another new member of the advisory body, said China should scrap its peg to the dollar before September.

“One way of relieving pressures on the renminbi exchange rate is to make an adjustment on China’s own initiative,” Li, an economist at Tsinghua University, was quoted by Caijing magazine as saying.

Li singled out September as a deadline so that political debate over the yuan does not boil over in the run-up to U.S. mid-term elections in November.

In a cover story, Caijing cited unidentified sources as saying that Beijing was studying the option of dropping the yuan’s peg as soon as next month.

Curiouser and curiouser, said the Cat to Alice.

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