By Jimmy


India’s Sensex index surged 17% a couple days ago, to 14284, after the elections that signaled a brighter future for domestic and foreign investment in the country. The performance was also thought to be fueled by the recent interest rate reduction and signals of economy rebounding. India’s “go-slow” development has made it rather insulated  from the credit crisis, and is now seen as one of the possibilities to bring the world out of the economic downturn. With the good news, the Dow followed with a more-than-200-point increase.

It should be noted that the BRICs are doing really well when compared to other major economies. A year to date, India’s Sensex 30 index has gone up by 48.1%; China’s Shanghai composite is experiencing a 45.7% climb; and Brazil’s Boverpsa with a 37% increase. Japan is making a 2%, while France and Germany barely makes a 1%.

The next assignment for myself: research on BRIC’s economy and try to figure out the opportunities ahead.

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I have been away for a couple of weeks now. After knowing where I’m going in the next two years, I couldn’t help but got pretty excited about arranging housing, looking for roommates and all sorts of other stuff. (In case you are not aware, I’m transferring from a community college this year!) Finally, I am going to get a taste of the aura in a more-than-100-year-old 4-year university. Every changes always comes with certain degree of anxiety and uncertainty. But I believe, people who manage to survive outside of the comfort zone should be able to be well under harsher circumstances as well.

Though I stopped writing in the last couple of weeks, I did keep up with my RSS reader and news subscription. As I read more, I start to realize how challenging it is for someone like me — at this age and with such little knowledge, experience or what-nots — to write something really worth others’ time reading it. I was too naive to think that I am ready to get started to develop “my theory and opinion” on current social and economic issues. In reality, what I can do know is no more than to summarize ideas from a variety of sources and make some rather undeveloped comments on them.

But I understand if I do not physically go through that difficult process, I will never be able to jump through the fire loop. What I am saying here is that, I should adjust the blog’s orientation and position. Rather than expecting to share something intelligent, I should see blogging as a constant practice for me to develop that intelligence. So for now, what matters is how we can improve our thinking and writing, rather than anticipating a great number of viewers visiting our site.

Freedom is not entirely free, at all.

Couple of months ago, I wondered what would happen if we let go of GM. Not necessarily the way we did to Lehman Brothers, but at least we should stop reassuring ourselves that “American Big GM” could remain the top leader in the industry. Hello, we can’t consider all corps TBTF (Too big to fail).

We need to come to realize what has caused the credit crisis. It does not make sense for the federal government to endlessly inject (future generations’) money into companies which have not made endeavors to restructure themselves in the competitive market, while having earned all the big bucks in good times. In a capitalist market, individuals/firms are free to pursue success, but are also responsible for whatever losses they incur.

According to the New York Times, in the near future, GM would shrink down to a size of 38,000 employees, compared to its peak of over 300,000 in the 70’s. However, GM is still facing possible bankruptcy if less than 90% of bondholders agree to accept GM’s $1000-for-225-shares offer.

It would be interesting to watch what’s happening with GM. And how their Good GM/Bad GM plan would turn out.

Reference from Wall Street Journal

[Business & Finance]

Dow:7920 (-138)   NASDAQ 1625   Oil $49   Gold $890 (-$3.8)

Bank stocks fell on fading optimism for the secotr and overall economy.
Retails sales tumbled 1.1% last month. Bernanke, however, is optimistic about the economy’s prospect.

Intel’s computer sales “bottomed out” in Q1, net dropped 55%.

J.P Morgan & Wells Fargo and others are stepping up foreclosures on delinquent home-owners. That could futher depress home prices.

The U.S. is considering announcing the resultes of bank stress test to give investors a clear picture into lender.

Some big U.S. banks are getting around TARP restriction on the hiring of foreign workers by placing recruits in overseas offices.

Drug companies & hospitals are raising prices despite economic slump.

UBS & Ashmore will start a fund to by distressed emerging-maket assets, an example of a private venture to repair the markets.

eBay to spin off its Skype Web-calling business in an IPO (Initial Public Offering, first sale of stock by a private company to the public) next year rather than selling the unit.

Yahoo to cut a significant numbers of jobs as its new CEO Bartz seeks to turn the company around.

Chrysler Financial raised some of its lending rates to vehicle buyers more than 1%.

[World-wide]

N. Korea vowed to pull out of disarmament talks.

White House leaning toward keeping secret details allowed in CIA interrogations, despite calls to make the information public.

Pirates attacked three more cargo ships off the horn of Africa.

Reference from Wall Street Journal

[Business & Finance]

Dow Jones: 8083 Nasdaq: 1652 Oil: $52 Gold: $894

Banking institutions bolstered by capital infusions from government face intensified scrutiny from TARP’s oversight committee.

AIG’s financial products head said employee bonus may make wind-down of the unit more costly to taxpayers

Goldman Sachs is wrapping up $5.5b in commitment for a new fund to buy private-equity investments on the secondary market.

General Motors‘s plan for a brief stay in bankruptcy is likely to get challenged by bondholders who fear getting streamrolled.

Financial markets tied to environment have had mixed success. A market tied to greenhouse-gas emissions has doen better than one that rewards cuts in electricity.

Euro & US Dollar face volatility this week.

[World-wide]

US ship Captain Phillip was rescued from the pirates.

Thai protesters clashed with troops in Bangkok amid a state of emergecy and after ex-leader Thaksin threatened to lead a revolution.

UN Security Council to approve a statement condemining N.Korea’s recent rocket launch and enforcing sactions.

China pledged $25b to aid Southeast Asian economies, including an infrastructure fund, loans and credits.

Obama plans to tell Western hemispheres that US is willing to discuss how to improve relations with Cuba but with stipulations.

Pope Benedict XVI said in an Easter message reconciliations is the only way to resolve Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Election (1999) is a wonderful movie by Alexander Payne, adapted from the novel written by Tom Perotta. To be honest, I’m having a pretty good time with my Intro to Film class. If you get a chance to take one, I encourage you to do so. Not only does it help you to get familiar with some classics movies that people talk about all the time, all these great movies are popular for a reason – they are telling you something important, about life and how we should look at them.

There are a couple of major themes in the movie. Tracy Flick, who is an overachiever and tries to get as much attention as she can possibly get by taking up leadership roles in every possible clubs and organizations in her high school, strikes me the most. From time to time, we see such kind of person who tends to make everything perfect, works super-duper hard for her dreams and seems to be enjoying life a lot more than her counterparts. But what’s deep down there in their heart? The irony for Tracy is that, despite her active involvement in various activities and achievement in every field, she does not have real friends, and nobody signs on her yearbook, even though she is the editor creating the souvenir for the class. Achievers like her are lonely, because, on one hand, they tend to have some dictatorship tendencies and underestimate the values of slowing down and looking around the world. On the other hand, they don’t find it important to build a friendship/constructive relationship with others since they don’t share a common interest/ambition anyways. Tracy see little value in friends to help in her success. In other words, friends are only used as means to an end.

Let’s think about the “shining stars” in the entertainment industry or on Wall Street. Many are having a “great life” and earning big bucks. But among them, how many are truly enjoying themselves and not the slaves of a “golden handcuff” or materialism? What about us? What do we want to achieve? Where we are going? And most importantly, WHY? Is it going to do us good, or are we simply chasing an imagery oasis in a desert where we’ve already lost our way?

The idea just came back to me when I was taking a shower.

A couple of weeks ago, when Derek and I were pulling all-nighter for our POLI 3 final  (an International Relations class), we had such a good time just sitting there discussing history, politics, economics and all kinds of interesting topics. We could not help ourselves but keep talking about stuff that are not related to the exam for hours and hours – from human rights to Chinese history, from Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Finally we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great that we sit down every now and then and do something like this again!”

I thought even further that we could keep track of the topics that we cover in our discussions, create a blog to put them all together and share it with the world, if anyone is interested to looking at it. That’s a good way for us to keep going and to have some incentives to practice our writing.

Let’s see how far we get this time 🙂