Showing posts from May, 2013

Ramamritham infiltrates Al Qaeda

I think we have found the way to destroy Al Qaeda, or for that matter, any terrorist organisation. Don't send the Navy Seals or the National Security Guard or Special Forces. Send in Ramamritham instead !
This post has no place in what is ostensibly a business blog, but this writer could not miss the opportunity to ridicule Ramamritham anywhere and everywhere. So , with apologies , here's the story.
When the French forces recently retook much of Mali from terrorists, the press who followed them found a detailed letter and a number of documents in a building which was a base or Al Qaeda. The letter was to a thug and hoodlum called Moktar Belmoktar. It throws light on how Ramamritham has wormed his way even into Al Qaeda.
The letter was a "warning letter" to the said terrorist castigating him for not filing expense statements !!! It also was expressing displeasure at his skipping meetings which he was to attend !! He was also castigated for pricing below Head Office instr…

The Business May 29th 2013: The WFMYou Really Wanna Be Here Edition


Tax evasion is a crime. Tax avoidance is a .... ?

In the good old days, this was an easy cliche. Tax evasion (breaking the law) was a crime. Tax avoidance (minimising paying the tax within the law) was something you were duty bound to do. Whether you are an individual, company, whatever. Period. Now it isn't so clear cut an answer.  And that says something about our times.
Witness the case of Apple. It does aggressive tax planning (all within the law). It has a big subsidiary in Ireland and has done a deal with the government there for a low tax rate. It does not bring overseas profits into the US, because it is double taxed then; so it leaves all its overseas profits overseas. All very legitimate. And yet there has been a huge outcry and a Congressional hearing where Apple is accused of not paying "its fair share of taxes".
Similar accusations are levied on Amazon, Google and Starbucks in the UK and indeed in many other countries. Nowhere are the authorities claiming they broke the law. They are just angry that these com…
How my husband feels about his post-MBA retirement:

The Business May 22nd 2013: The Dynamic Duo Edition


NYRA's Financials: Turning the Corner

The latest financial results for the New York Racing Association (NYRA) show that, after years of financial travail and uncertainty, the nation’s leading racing circuit has achieved some much-needed financial stability. While nothing in horse racing is certain, that’s very good news for New York horsemen and the thousands of people they employ, for race fans, for the thoroughbred industry as a whole and, not least, for the State of New York.
NYRA’s audited financial report for the year ended December 31, 2012 (full report available here and summarized in the Daily Racing Form here) is the first annual NYRA financial report that includes a full year of “video lottery terminal” (a.k.a. slot machine) revenue, and the first produced under the auspices of the “new NYRA” legislation passed at New York Governor’s Andrew Cuomo’s urging last fall. Under that legislation, NYRA has become, as the notes to the financial statement point out, “a governmental entity engaged only in business-type acti…

The economics of spot fixing

Yeah Yeah, I am that sort of a nerd. While much of India is agog with the spot fixing scandal that broke yesterday, this blogger ruminates on the economics of it. Yes, he is a weirdo !
Having got that out of the way, a few words on the scandal, for the 3 million non Indian readers this blog gets :)  There is a nonsensical game (anybody who suggests the word cricket in this connection will be personally bashed up by me) in which there is a cash machine called the Indian Premier League. Yesterday three players were caught, allegedly  hand in glove with bookies, manipulating results. That's all you really need to know.
What is baffling me is the economics of it. There are all sorts of reports, but I think it is safe to say that at least Rs 20 lakhs (some $40,000) was allegedly paid to the players to give away a minimum number of runs in an over. Let us say, for this to be profitable to the crooks who are betting on it, they must wager at least an equivalent amount at odds of say 5:1, o…

Everybody bashes the Taxman

If you have been following the news in the US, you might have noticed an almighty hullabaloo over the the IRS (their tax man) having targeted Tea Party and Conservative groups. Much hot air and righteous indignation is being spouted and Obama has fired the IRS chief yesterday. Almost everybody on earth loves to bash the taxman (rightfully so !) and this is all good fun.
Except that I believe that in this case the bashing is wrong. Or at least much exaggerated.
What happened is this. The IRS admits that it subjected groups which bore the name tea party, or patriot to extra scrutiny. The fact that such groups are exclusively Republican and that the President is a Democrat seems to indicate political targeting. That is, of course, against the law. Hence all this noise.
But why did the IRS do this - after all, they are not fools. If you try and answer this question, a different picture emerges.
The problem all started with, in my view,  the appalling judgement by the US Supreme Court in the C…

The Business May 15th, 2013: The “HOBO YOU DIDN’T” Edition

On graduation day, I was totally like:
This one was definitely worth a re-post in honor of graduation.
How I feel about the other partners:

How I feel about most of my boyfriends female classmates:
(exceptions, you know who you are)

Thou shall be subsidised whether you want it or not

The law is an ass. Governments are a bigger ass. Ramamritham is the chief ass. But even by those standards this takes the cake.
Those familiar with India knows that this poor country indulges in wasteful expenditure of the worst sort. Free colour TVs, grinders, etc have made the news. But the criminal, inexcusable and worst sort of government waste is the subsidy on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). If there was a word stronger than criminal, I would use it.
LPG  is supplied to all and sundry at a subsidy. It is sold at roughly half the cost - the government is supposed to pay the balance half to the oil companies , but it does so as and when it feels like it, or not at all. It is actually quite difficult to estimate how much the total subsidy is as the government hides this in different pockets but my estimate is that this monstrosity costs us some Rs 30,000 crores.
The really poor don't use any cooking fuel at all - maybe firewood. The poor use kerosene. Only the relatively rich use L…

The Business May 8th, 2013: The Imaginary Edition