Sunday, October 26, 2014

Random thoughts on public companies

Some time ago when I didn't understand Market economics and how public companies worked, I used to believe that if you have a lot of money you are inevitably going to make much more (money attracts money).

I would imagine that worst cast you can just get a lot of interest on that money. Now I see the problems with that thinking.

The companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple etc. have lots of money through public investments in their stocks, but that money isn't very hard to "keep" or "increase" as the investors are very quick to punish you if they don't see growth of your company (their money). 

Turns out just growing doesn't help you have to "beat" expectations which are usually pretty optimistic too. This becomes an issue. These kind of growth expectations usually require companies to either have found a business that is bound to keep growing like Ads or Enterprise or Hardware (with enough efforts for sure) Or keep coming up with new ideas.

The new ideas part is tricky and is basically a big bet. Reading a book on AIG's demise I learned how they came up with certain ideas that basically caused them to go bankrupt when markets crashed in 2007. Tech companies don't usually do something as risky but nonetheless any business is a risk.

So thats the thing, even if you have money you can just sit on it with interest seeking activities, you gotta find ways to grow the money faster than other alternatives which people could instead choice to do with their money themselves. 

Just being a big company with lots of money (through public investments) isn't enough, which also bring another observation previous performance isn't an indication of future.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Indian Elections: The subtle difference between naivety, ignorance and being outright dishonest

I have been meaning to write a post about my view on the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in India. We are in the middle of more than a month long process, so I hoped to give out my thoughts not as a justification of what happened or didn't happen but more about the process of it.

I got compelled to write this post because of many posts by my friends on Facebook/Google+ and various new articles/comments I have been reading. As I figured everyone (including me) has such a strong opinion that arguments didn't really go anywhere, discussions quickly turned in to flamewars and enimity arouse. One of my friend felt so compelled to support his views that on not liking his views he choose to un-friend me. Well good for you.

A quick background on the problem/situation.(skip this and next para if you already know) There is a new party in India called "Aam Admi Party" /AAP (translation: Common man's party) which performed suprizingly well in the State election for state of Delhi, coming out second highest in number and decimating one of the biggest part "Congress" to very low numbers. BJP is the third party which was likely the favorite and did come out to be the largest number party but didn't get enough numbers to form government. So AAP formed the government with help of Congress. This government lasted 49 days after which the Chief Minister Mr. Arvind Kejirwal gave his resignation.

He and his party then started working for a bigger challenge and impact i.e the National elections. Until all this happened it was almost clear that BJP would pretty much win the National elections with big margin because Congress government has done pretty bad over the last few years. Many Indians were looking forward to have Mr. Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister and now with AAP coming into the scene and directly competing against BJP there is a strong rivalry in the supporters of the two party.

Now the disclaimer: Everything I mentioned till now and most things mentioned below will try to factual and not really try to support one party or another but just try to clarify what I feel is wrong information spread by people in the name of intellectual opinions.

Okay, so what is the problem?

As usual many people are expressing their wise thoughts about why Mr. Narendra Modi won't be a good fit. Some of the reasons given:
1) "He favours the rich, gave out cheap land to industrialist etc."
2) "He took land from farmers by force and gave it to industrialist etc."

There are many other reasons but I choose these as they relates to matters which I have done quite a bit of studies our last 2-3 years and feel that they are very complex matters which people seem to have very simple answers to. Just like how every Indian watching a cricket match always knows how each ball should have been played by every player.

People seem to have a very noble notion of helping the poor and common man. When asked for a plan its usually, well these Rich people are so rich why don't we take away some of their money and give it to the poor. Why don't we just tax the rich more. Sell them things (Land/Inputs etc.) at much higher price to make all the money. Seeing these arguments makes me wonder if people are just naive/ignorance or outright dishonest.

Any one who has done some basic studies in economics (some may even just get it from common sense) will understand that things are not as easy as said above. Rich people/companies around the world have many many places they can invest their wealth and governments/countries have to compete for these investments by providing incentives in return for hope of boosting local economy by jobs and infrastructure development which brings money to area through taxes and other indirect measures. If government was to just sell the land to people the only money that could be earned was the current cost of land and some possible interest on that amount. So yes if you just want to give away all the land to poor people to build houses that will not take you too far.

The argument of taxing the rich more is similar, if you tax them too high they move else-where, what is better 40% of nothing or 30% of 1 Billion ? So the tax can't just be arbitrary just as the pricing can't be arbitrary or the production goes offshore and you are left with less revenues and less jobs.

I am all for a state that cares about the poor and provides welfare to people in need, but these things need government to have money to provide them, the revenues come from developing resources/infrastructure and getting investments rather than by scaring the people who can invest into your economy.

One thing people need to understand is that when the economy will grow rich will get richer, that shouldn't be a problem as long as people at all levels are ultimately getting the benefit. It won't happen right away but it will happen if the policies are developed properly. Claiming a policy/state/person to be bad because it/he/she helped rich become richer without seeing overall effects of it is again sign of being naive or being dishonest.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bodyboarding at Huntington Beach, Los Angeles

Not spending much time blogging, I will just post some photos from a few trips to Los Angeles, spending times at beaches doing Body Boarding, my new found interest thanks to Mai. 









 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Costa Rica

Costa rica trip started from Arriving in San Jose in the evening of Tuesday after taking a 8.5 hrs bus from Granada, Nicaragua. This was the first time I crossed inter-country border by land so I was both excited and nervous about the Visa handling stuff, nervous because it was a visa on arrival.


Arenal Green, Arenal, Costa Rica


Arenal Green, Arenal, Costa Rica

Arenal Green, Arenal, Costa Rica


Puero Viejo's Playa Negra

Puero Viejo, Playa Negra (Black sand/beach)

The bus stop for Transnica is in the downtown between Ave 3 and Ave 5 on Calle 222.
We had to take a taxi(=2000 colones) from the bus stop to the Best Western Inn. Based on some consulation from the the taxi driver and the hotel personnel we headed to commercial center El Pueblo as the place for Latinos to hangout for reggeaton and other latino music. On arriving El Pueblo we figured it was pretty dead. The place didn't really have any crowd.

A bar which is very audible from outside played the pop music even that bar didn't have more than 10 people mostly a bunch of white guys :) talk about Latinos hangout and latin music. It was clear that the place is no fun on a Tuesday evening. It turns out that most places are good only from Thursday to Saturday evening. We could try that again when we get back to San Jose.

Anyway we decided to eat at the place called "Lukas", the place gives a fine dinning feel from the very start and the food is worth the praise on guidebooks and internet. The waiter and cook pays lot of attention to individual details of the order and veggie food didn't have to suck therefore. Priyam mentioned that the non-veg stuff was pretty good and so were the cocktails.

The trail at Cahuita National Park
Next day as we had planned earlier we left for the Caribbean city of Cahuita, we hadn't preplanned the trip a lot actually and once we were in Nicaragua and heading to Costa Rica we figured our options given number of days(=5). We quickly decided to skip at least one side of the country as the whole transport system was based on the capital San Jose as a hub. So from any city on east to any city in west and vice versa you were traveling inland for about 4 + 6 hrs (to and from San Jose) and most connections won't work late evening. Based on some discussion we decided to see the Caribbean side instead of pacific (turned out to be a good decision).
Beach by the trail at Cahuita National Park

Cahuita city isn't a big one in any way. As the guide book described its pretty much two parallel streets. I was excited to see that it was the "reggae" capital of the area, only later did I realize that Reggae isn't reggaeton and was pretty disappointed. Anyway since we were in the city to see the Cahuita National Park we did that, turned out even the park was nothing but a 1-2 miles trail along the beach. The beach and the scenery are quite beautiful and makeup for the otherwise nothing-worth-visiting part.



Next to Cahuita is the city of Puerto Viejo where we had decided to stay overnight instead of Cahuita based on the guidebook (fortunately), I can't believe I was actually planning to visit Cahuita for the night-life until I figured the difference between Reggae and Reggaeton. So we were at Puerto Viejo
Bob Marley is every where in the Carribe side of Costa Rica
pretty close to the bus terminal stop at a restaurant looking for a place to sleep for that evening. The confidence we had in the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican restaurant for providing free wifi access was showing up and it kept up all the time.

At Cahuita National Park
We figured a place nearby called Maritza hotel, went and looked at the place which offered both Dorms and Private rooms for reasonable prices (6$ and 30$ respectively) and ended up taking the private rooms which were pretty comfortable. Talking to keeper I came to know about the Bar in front offering Salsa lessons and dancing on Wednesday i.e that night, wow finally, I was going to be able to dance Salsa. So I did, the number of people was small but the music was great, they even had reggaeton, cumbia, merengue and bachata along with some unavoidable hip hop/pop music. After dancing there for couple of hours we all headed to the place called "Johny's". This is a great nightclub right next to the ocean, great music, lot of people. Though in sometime I figured the social dancing scene wasn't that big and eventually I decide to head back to hotel.

Cahuita National Park
Next day we were going to try Scuba diving or Snorkeling based on whatever was possible/good. Turned out the water was not good enough for diving (poor visibility) and the guy suggested we instead try surfing. We did. We were able to get surfing lessons from the friend of this guy for about 50$ per person for 2 hours. In short the lessons were just amazing. In 2 hrs we were actually able to stand surf with little guidance and high success rate at the end. (In case you want to try the same, we got the referral from the PADI certified dive center by the Johny's place IIRC the guy's name was Rony.)
The famous Playa Negra at Puerto Veijo


We took the afternoon bus to San Jose.  In short El pueblo was bad even on Thursday night. Anyway as planed we headed to Arenal next morning. The bus ride quite scenic and hilly is about 3 hrs with a change needed at La fortuna (IIRC).
Puerto Viejo

At Arenal we stayed at Arenal green, which is slightly away from the city center but had good room and reasonable prices ~62$. Being home of the famous live volcano makes this city hotels very pricey. So its suggested to stay slightly away from city center and pay taxi charges which aren't that bad plus most tours provide pickup and drop-off anyway. In Arenal we did Ziplining which was my first time. It was good stuff definitely recommended. The zipline tour we had a surprise thing called Tarjan jump which was definitely the best part :)
Dos Pasos Restaurant in Puero Viejo

We came back to San Jose on Saturday evening, this evening I was able to visit the place called Fiesta Latino in El Pueblo which was a big dance floor with rotating latin music. Here came to know Costa Rican Cumbia which I am now a big fan of. Here is a illustrative dance video of the same to finish the post:




If you come across some good Costa Rican cumbia music, please drop by a comment.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Nicaragua

So after quite a big break from traveling since my last trip to Sydney, well about 3 months. I went on a trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica for my thanksgiving vacation + 3 days of leave making 9 days of vacation time.


As usual people asked why Nicaragua or Costa Rica well, the answer was simple we looked at tickets to places where we don't need visa and which are nearby Nicaragua and Costa rica came out to be good candidates. Other option could have been Mexico + Havana(Cuba) or Puerto Rico but Cuba was dropped because of legal issues involved and Puerto Rico was too costly and kinda far.

Managua Night.
So we arrived in Managua the capital of Nicaragua on Saturday evening around 9 PM. We already asked Holiday Inn to arrange for a pickup which they agreed to at cost of 5$ (initially quoting 6$, yeah bargaining in developing countries :)). Later we realized we didn't have to pay, don't know why.

The cab played a mix of reggeaton and other latin music but the best part was the remix of "Kabhi to Najar Milao" with a Bachata song, which immediately put a big smile on my face. I sure was in Latin America and would have great music for next few days.

We were recommended the "Moods" club by the cab guy and I did a basic search but didn't find enough and we decided to give Moods a shot and may be return  to Chaman or XS (excess) if it didn't work fine. 

Moods is kinda far (costed 7$ in cab), the entry was 10$ per head. As soon as we entered I was sure I was in right place. They had good Reggeaton music good is understatement :). Over time they played pretty much all genre of Latin music Reggeaton, Salsa, Merengue and then Rock music and even some Pop songs. The pattern was to play 5-10 songs of each category in a row so everyone can have great time as long as they like some music :).

The drinks were about 4$ or 81 Cordobas each. The bartender made a Mojito with some thing additional (IIRC called bueno something) and it was super good.

As we had to travel to Granada next day we left by about 2:30 AM, the party is meant to go all night but by this time there were only about a forth of the people as were when we entered.



 Day 2: Granada
Managua to Granada is about 45 KM and has bus about every 15-20 minutes, the bus takes about 1:20.
The fare was 14 Cordobas. The taxi would have costed about 40$.

The guy who dropped us to the bus terminal have told us that the Granada was a more tranquila city. And it was indeed so. Granada feels much more calm and laid back from the minute you enter the city. Small streets, not too many cars, quiet a few bicycles everywhere.




We stayed at Casa Vivaldi which is about 5 minutes walk from the Parque Central, the original citycenter. The city itself is not too big therefore the downtown is pretty small too. You can walk across the same in about 10-15 minutes. 

The afternoon we ate the "Nuestra mundo" place after looking around a bit for something smaller but failing to find anything. The place is a multicuisine restaurant just the kind that a food explorer should avoid :) Anyway for me that kinda good. I found Fajitas con tortilas, that was not enough so I also got another Veg fried rice which tasted exactly like Indian fried rice.






After food we walked to some of the recommended locations, the San Francisco Monastery mueseum (12$ entry). The Monastary is nothing special and we were done very soon. We visited Iglesias la merced which gives a panoramic view of the city for just 2$ which was totally worth it. They play the bell at about every 1/2 hr in case that interests you, its not any chorus though.

The churches I visited didn't look as rich in art as I was expecting. I mentioned on my visit to Roma (Rome) how beautiful the there churches were and how magnificent art was demonstrated on the walls and ceiling, these Spanish churces were very different, very very plain.








We also took a free Cigar making tour at Mumbacho Cigar factory right on the downtown street.



In the evening I wanted to go to El Club but we figured it was nothing special on Monday-Thursday so didn't we bother, instead deciding that we will go to Cesar the next evening.

Next day we went to Masaya, Volcano masaya, which has a  live volcano called volcan Nindiri. The volcano is surrounded by a national park called Parque National Volcan Masaya, The distance from the main road to the mountain is about 5 KM, being short of time we took the jeep ride which costed just 50 Cordobas each way per person.




Next to live volcano Nandiri is the volcano masaya which is a dead volcano, of course nothing much interesting after watching a live one :)


We then headed to laguna de Apoyo which is among the clearest lake in the world you can also take a dip in the same, we did. We went to Mercado Nuevo (new market) which is a pretty big market to buy any kind of souvenirs you can imagine, we bought Hamocks, magnets, hats and some other stuff. Note that you can bargain quite a bit here.



The night the hotel ownered graciously offered us ride to Cesar's, which was closing so he took us to El Club which was closed and the caffe opposite was dead in activity as per the gatekeeper. Finally we ended up going to "High Bar" which was close to the Parque central and had some music beats audible on the road. I ended up dancing a few songs there. The place even though had good music was pretty dead with only 4 rich old guys with 4 young girls (for obvious reasons) making a pretty dull dancing scene overall.

Fortunately after few minutes of wait couple of girls showed up and we ended up dancing a few songs, Bachata, Merengue and Salsa. Impressed by our dancing I and the girl got a complimentary drink each from one of the guys :)

Next day we headed to Costa Rica by the Transitica bus.