Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Saluting Svetlana Bakhmina

Khodorkovsky's lawyer, Svetlana Bakhmina, who was imprisoned on false charges, was finally released.

Even though she signed some sort of vague and meaningless "confession" to enable the Russian system to save face, as far as can be made out she did not give in to either the blandishments or the torture of Putin's henchmen.

She is a modern Russian heroine.

I hope that all my readers will join me in saluting her. People like her give us hope that all is not yet lost for that great country and that the nexus of people which has systematically looted Russia, particularly after 1985, will eventually be brought to book. Sphere: Related Content

The economic impact of the new "Swine 'Flu"

According to well-placed sources, the next 48 hours will be critical in the spread of this particular 'Flu, and we should know within the next 2-3 weeks whether we have succeeded in averting a full-blown medical crisis related to it.

Perhaps it will be as late as October before a vaccine is available against the virus.

Meanwhile, as a general precaution against ALL viruses, please turn to my Medical Blog at and take the traditional Indian recipe against all 'flu type infections indicated there.

From a financial or business perspective, an interesting question is: what will be the economic impact of this 'Flu if it does develop into a full-blown pandemic?

My interlocutor suggests a fall of 1% in global GDP. This is just above the estimate from Moody’s, in a research note on Tuesday, that the global macroeconomic impact of a "mild" flu pandemic could cost 1.4m lives and reduce global gross domestic product by 0.8 per cent or $330bn.

In normal times, I would agree with those sorts of figures.

However, in the present delicate situation for the global is hard to tell if research notes such as from Moody's are of any value.

If there is indeed a pandemic which kills anything like 1.4 million people, Moody's may consider that "mild" but that could deal a blow to the effectiveness of all the current misguided governmental and inter-governmental attempts to counter the present economic crisis - efforts which have nevertheless at least so far kept the global economy from decelerating too quickly.

For all our sakes, but particularly for the sake of the poor in the world, pray hard that the virus is contained. Even a 0.8% further fall in global GDP would come hard on top of the already deplorable situation. Sphere: Related Content

consolidation across industries now starting: the cases of Pepsico and Oracle

I have argued for some years now, that consolidation ACROSS industries is inevitable, and that the failure of attempts such as AOL-TimeWarner and
should be seen in the same light as (earlier) failed attempts to scale Mt. Everest. That is, people will continue to try, some will succeed, and those who succeed will reap the rewards.

In spite of the current economic crisis, or perhaps because of it, we are seeing moves in quite disparate areas that may signal that we are at the Second Attempts to scale this particular mountain, or accomplish this particular sets of consolidations.

First, Pepsico has offerred to take full ownership of its two biggest bottlers. This is, in a sense, simply supply-chain consolidation. But in another sense, it marks an important departure for Pepsico and opens up significant expansion opportunities, should it be able to make a success of these acquisitions and expand further in this sort of direction.

Second, Oracle is now in process of acquiring Sun Microsystems, which of course complements Oracle's software portfolio but also secures hardware customers that typically run Oracle software. The question is: will Oracle keep Sun as a whole? If so, then it will be part of the pattern to watch (in my scenario of cross-industry consolidation). However, if at some stage Oracle sells Sun's hardware part of the business then, we can forget Oracle in terms of my scenario and watch for OTHER "swallows" to see if there really is a "summer" ahead soon. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, April 09, 2009

For German-speakers interested in India

On the basis of his many years of experience btween India and Switzerland, my friend, Mr. Ramraj Bhalla, has decided to bring it all together in a new Royal Gourmet Tour of India, which I warmly recommend (beware: I am a shareholder in the company jointly-sponsoring this - i.e. King's Kurry - and I might even join in!) Sphere: Related Content