Friday, July 30, 2010

Well done India- You will always remain a Tiger on paper

Being an Indian it really saddens to read daily reports about how much corruption is happening in the Commonwealth Games which is supposed to be a show piece to the world. Shame on India and it's politicians.

Wake up my dear prime minister, not enough if you just talk about how much GDP growth happened when the morals of the entire nation is going to the dogs. Get these bad guys and set an example.

Let's try some real change for a change

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Free Phone Service

I presume lot of people have heard of Google Voice which is actually a service from Google which enables you to have a phone number and also use that for receiving/placing calls all for free.

Actually Google bought over a company called Grand Central which had that service.

You need an invite to sign-up for Google Voice. I happen to be a lucky person who got invited to the service and I am really impressed with the functionality. Let's look at the features available with just Google Voice and then we will look at small tweaks which can be made to make the service absolutely free.

1) You register based on the Invite and you get to choose a phone number, you can choose numbers in your dialing area if needed. Currently there is no provision of changing your existing land line number for this.
2) Once you have selected a phone number, you will then set-up a forwarding rule, where you can make that phone ring any of your other phones like your cell phone etc.
3) You can also use that number as a catch all message number with no forwarding where it will directly go to your voice message which can be configured like any other phone.
4) The voice mails and call log can also be accessed online through your Google account, the best part is the voice mail are transcribed to text which you just read instead of listening to an audio file.
6) Google voice advt free calling, but that is actually not true if you are having just your cell phone,the way the call piece works is that on the Google voice site you enter the number you want to call, then Google will place a call to your associated phone first which will be your mobile and once you pick up, it will connect the calling number. But in this process if your associated phone is a cell phone, you will anyway pay for the minutes.

Now the free part

To overcome the problem mentioned above, the workaround can be as follows. There is another service called gizmo5 which actually loads an applet on your PC and the interface is just like Skype. When you sign up ( it is free) and download the applet you will also be given a number by Gizmo5 which is not really important here. What you need to do is to put that number as the associated number in Google Voice.

So let's see what happens.

When you go to Google voice and dial a number, google voice will first call the associated number which will be the Gizmo5 number which will ring on your computer, assuming you have headphones and microphone, you pick up that call and then Google voice will dial your number which you want and then you are connected with the perosn.

It might sound a little complicated, but trust me once set-up it is a no-brainer.

Finally i am going to have free calls and I am going to cut my VOIP soon.

Thanks Google.

Long live free enterprise.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All about Solar


I have started a new blog on one of a my other hobbies which is Solar Energy. Hope you will find it interesting. The same can be accessed at


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tax on Bonus- A perfect disaster in the wings

The frantic passage of the Populist Tax "The Bonus Act" was a new low in the US government's response to this crisis. It just amazes me and confirms to me how clueless are the politicians, and whenever we throw politicians at a problem, this is what you get. Take any country for that matter.It shows just how likely we are to doom ourselves to a decade or more of misery--by choking our markets, closing our borders, turning our banks into tools of social policy, and wrecking what's left of our economy.

Yes I am outraged by AIG people giving bonus to employees, but never in my wild dream would I have thought that congress would act in such a childish way. In the first place they don't do a good job of policing it properly and then to gain some brownie points with the voters ( please remember elections are due next year) they pass this ridiculous bill.

If the "TARP bonus" bill the House passed yesterday becomes law, any of the hundreds of thousands of people who work for Citigroup, Bank of America, AIG, and nine other major US corporations will have to fork over 90 cents of every bonus dollar that puts their household income over $250,000.

That's household income, not individual income. If you're married and filing singly, you'll have to surrender anything over $125,000. Indefinitely.

Is $250,000 per household a lot of money? Sure. But it's not a lot of money for two moderately successful corporate executives. Or a corporate secretary married to a lawyer. (If you're a $40,000 a year telemarketer at a TARP company married to a $210,000 doctor, any bonus will be taxed). So this tax will be felt by a lot more than the handful of execs at AIG and Merrill who ran off with several million dollars apiece.

Believe it or not, hidden inside these companies are thousands of decent, competent people whose households bring in more than $250,000 a year. Many of these folks had NOTHING to do with the gambling addiction that bankrupted their firms. Many of them still have a choice where to work. And now that they've learned that their family's pay will be capped at $250,000 indefinitely, many of them will quickly decide that now is a good time to pursue their careers

To begin with we gave TARP money to these companies so we can bolster their balance sheet and stabilize the market and then we do this. I am sure Banks will stand in a line to return the TARP money because we are not leaving them any option, how do they run a business when good people will not work for a company where the pay is restricted.Remember the saying 'Throw Peanuts and you will only get Monkeys".

The real lesson here, unfortunately, is that it's a disaster for the government to run private companies.

Now just imagine health Insurance also run by the government.

Let's not pretend to be a socialist economy.. we are bad at that.

Your thoughts...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

US is still a power to reckon with

As the world is currently debating what needs to happen to the economy in the G20 summit in Britain, lot of people have been questioning whether US is still a leader in the world economy. the distinction between emerging markets and developed markets have evaporated, in fact the risk premiums are coming closer, the questions people are asking is if a developed economy with so much transparency can have these problems, what can be said about economies like China,India etc which are still very opaque.

The five biggest investment banks in the world i.e Lehman, Bear Sterns have vanished, the 2 biggest mortgage companies namely Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are under government support. The biggest bank Citibank, is depending on the government largess to survive. The biggest auto companies GM, Chrysler,Ford are at the mercy of the govt to survive.

How did these happen in a developed economy?

But before we pass any judgement, I feel that even though there are problems with US Capitalism, it still is the best we have.

The most vocal critics of US capitalism are sinking too and fast, For example look at Venezuela,Bolivia,Ecuador,Russia,Iran. For all their socialist rhetoric, they are all practically bankrupt states. One IMF estimates talks about Venezuela and Iran needing oil prices to be in the $90-95/barrel to balance the budgets.

The Russian economy soared along with oil prices, is also now in shatters. In the Russian model, the president and friends own all the natural resources and were printing money sometime back. The Russian stock market has fallen more than any other . Russia has spent one-third of it's for ex reserves to defend the ruble, which is down anyway.

It is no accident that so many critics of western capitalism are petro-states. A market economy succeeds by providing incentives for raising productivity and incomes. A state-controlled system is lousy at providing the right incentives, and so is bad for productivity. But a petro-state thrives simply on the geographical accident of mineral wealth, not great enterprise or efficiency.

Socialists bemoan the capitalist emphasis on profit and growth, and focus on distributing wealth instead. This would be fine if money dropped from up there , and the only task of governments was to distribute it. But if you have to produce the wealth in the first place, markets do it much better.

In this context the biggest critics of the US model are in fact pathetically dependent on it. When capitalist economies decline, so do the supposedly rival models. Clearly, they are not rival models at all but dependants of the capitalist model.

The true strength of a system is revealed in times of adversity. Today, despite US economic travails, the world views the dollar as a safe haven. The US system has a thousand flaws, but others are no better, and sometimes worse. Certainly the world economic system urgently needs major reform, and the G-20 meeting in Britain needs to kick-start the process. But the reforms must aim at a safer, gentler capitalism, not hardheaded socialism.

Your thoughts

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Protectionism and America do not go together

Recently there has lot of news on policy makers talking about keeping foreigners out and provide job to local citizens. How unfortunate that politicians make such narrow statements without really understanding what made USA the country it is today. I wanted to discuss this topic in depth as I am also considered so called Foreigner who came to this country on an H1 Visa worked hard in a foreign country and then became a Permanent Resident. In fact after 10 years I can say I feel more American than the local citizen.

I feel terribly pained when people talk about these issues without really understanding that this actually aids the country in many way, let's look at some of things I can think of, I am sure there are many more reasons.

1) The first and most important is US retaining and attracting global talent, I am sure everyone agrees that the next century is going to be decided by brain power rather than muscle power, If US does not attract the best people from all over the world, someone else will do it and that is definitely a loss for US. For example recently UK has started a program for making it easy for professional to work, same is the case with Canada.

2) One survey I was reading was mentioning that almost 50% of the students in various top colleges are from outside the country, and I know for sure many of these people get the scholarship from the schools, well then what is happening is that US is training it's competitors, how will it sound if we say that Ford gets people, train then on the best technology and then these guys go and work for Toyota. Well that is exactly what is happening and we call it reverse brain drain.

3) People who come here to work on visa actually contribute to all the social network which is there in US like the Tax system, Social Security, Medicare. You name it and they contribute to everything out here, but many people go back after the stipulated time say 6 years and they do not take any benefits out of the system, so in a way they are contributing to our country.

4) Out of the top 5 companies getting people on H1b, 4 are Indian companies. SO this means that the restriction on the cap will affect only foreign companies anyway so these companies will stop sending people out, anyway these H1s never really displaced American workers.

Supporters say this law will help US born workers and stimulate the economy, but this is just plain wrong. The economy is not of fixed size in which more foreign-born workers necessarily mean fewer US workers. Productive foreign born workers can help create more jobs here. Keeping them out damages us.

Protectionist measures such as the ‘Buy America’ clause and the H-1B legislation suggested by the US government will not have any impact on other countries, but in fact, the measures will hurt the US economy.

Your thoughts

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Recently I came across an article which was talking about how this depression is different from the one in 1929 from a information availability perspective. What will happen if we say stop watching the news, reading newspaper and stop hearing anything about the economy. Let's say we go on a long vacation of say 4 weeks to a deserted island and then come back.

I feel that the media is putting unnecessary fear in the minds of people which in turn makes people very cautious which in turn affects the economy. It is very well know fact that 80% of our GDP is based on consumer spending and that consumer spending was aided by easily available credit, now since the credit markets have almost frozen, it is becoming difficult to spent.

But there are many indicators that in the past couple of weeks, the credit markets have thawed and credit is flowing if not at the old levels, but much better than what we were in Nov-Dec of last year.

It is very tempting at these times, to look towards the govt for help, which in turn will lead to more regulations by the govt in the private sector which will not go away when the times are good. Heavy government role in the economy is never a good thing, long term for a capitalist economy. Government should only be involved in defining the rules of the game and ensuring that the rules are followed not actually play the game. The problems we see today is not because govt was not playing the game, but not doing a good job of defining rules and managing them.

I hear a lot of fuzz about the salaries of CEO on Wall street and how people talk about caps on the same, all that is just political rhetoric, will just go aways in a year or two when the economy is good. Caps never helped anyone, every person has the right to earn what he/she can earn in a honest way. I do agree some of the acts of some people on Wall street was questionable, but that happens everywhere, you are going to have some bad apples in any scenario. To blame and put CAP on everyone is just a short sighted approach. The basic rule of capitalism is that market defines what it can pay or not. This is surest way of making talent go away. Remember the saying 'If you throw peanuts, you will only get monkeys'. We don't any more monkeys

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