PC, our phenomenal FM

 I am so glad my friend Suchitra and I have these discussions outside work; discussions about work itself, friends, fun, nations-economies-investments-shares(in our own sweet way), cricket, movies, family and recipes. We agree, disagree, exchange online articles and videos and at the end of the day, its interesting because our chat history turns out to be truly historical !!

Today’s chat history was a milestone because we had this heated discussion about India and America, our economies, politics, culture and almost every other broad aspect we could think of(rather, using every keyword we have come across in our textbooks(i of course used google too)). It got really interesting because we were mostly disagreeing with each other and in the meantime many points came up. And while exchanging all the heat, cold and warmth Suchitra sent me this youtube link – an hour long interview of our Finance Minister, Mr. P Chidambaram by an American interviewer, Charlie Rose interview taken circa 2005.

Its been 6 hours since we ended our discussion and I have already watched this interview thrice, and i wholeheartedly feel it is a must watch for everyone. One hour of time spent on this interview is totally worth it, and i have two points to justify this. But first, watch the interview –

You would probably have guessed by now

point 1 – PC’s communication skills, articulation, confidence, eloquence and clarity

point 2 – the magnitude of content, simplification of economics, relativity of issues, representation of facts and reality

I found it phenomenal! Didnt you?

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Basically, am I making sense?

 

My boredom is taking me to new levels of self realization/destruction. This time it’s my language. As I write this, I am observing my thoughts flowing in English. I decided to put it down exactly the way I would have said it.

“mmm…you know, I guess I’m kinda observing myself a bit too much nowadays and all. I mean like, I guess it’s basically because I don’t have kind of much to do but then, yeah, in fact, actually I really think that I’ve absolutely nothing to do!
I mean, it’s the jobless-jobless kind of situation, you know.
Now come on, something has to be done; this thing is bothering me like anything now.”

I can’t believe this is what a listener gets for having a conversation with me. A load of crap!
These fillers! how do they creep into my conversation? And why in such a way as to spoil the entire meaning of it? Why do we use them in first place ? To replace the ‘umm’s and ‘eh’s? Where do those come from then? Filling in time gaps between mental translation of mother-tongue to foreign language? Is it because we hear them all the time that we end up feeling insecure if we don’t use them when we talk? Or simply because we are not confident of what we say and the way we put it? Why on earth does the person at the other end not say anything about it then? Is it not bothering him? Or is he just used to mentally delete those words while listening? Most of all, is it as easy to get the fillers out of a conversation as it was to bring them in?

Whew.. things to ponder about.

Stock Picking

I had mentioned ‘Technical analysis’ (and my ignorance about it) in my previous post and had promised to do some reading and get back on the topic in my next post.

 

Today, I’m happy that I finally could comprehend the funda in my very first attempt, and sad to think that I couldn’t grasp it during college, in spite of reading multiple times, from multiple books, sitting in multiple locations, both with and without my spectacles.

 

But before we jump into the meaning, let’s understand the context.

If you had Rs.10000 to invest in shares and more than 6000 stocks to choose from, how would you go about it? Let’s look at certain thoughts that would hover while you try to make the right decision –

  

• Why am I looking at this option?
• What is the kind of growth in value I am looking at?
• Am I interested in short term or long term investment in shares?
• Do I have the time or patience for day trading?
• Do I want the facility of ‘no tax on long term capital gains’?
• Am I going to keep in pace with the news that affect my stocks?

  

A person who has no clue as to what is happening in the economy/market/country/world would want to take a look at it before he looks at his investment options. From what I found, literally everything around us has an implication in the stock market. So, keeping oneself reasonably in pace with it becomes necessary for making the right choices.

  

From an economy point of view, taking a look at indices like –

·     growth rate – will tell us whether there is optimism and opportunity in the economy

·     gdp – can tell us what the percentage of income contributed by each sector of our economy is

·     inflation rate – tells us how high the money supply in the economy is
similarly, bank rates, interest rates etc.

 

From a political point of view, budget allocations, government policies, coalitions, foreign policy, support to industry etc.
From an industry point of view, supply and demand levels, tax benefits, raw materials and work force supply, performance of related industries, etc.
From a company point of view, financial position, competitors, marketing strategies, funds available, staff motivation, performance etc.
 

 

Once you have a decent idea about these, you will be in a position to ‘relate’. When it comes to economy and investments, it is very important to be able to relate data to deduce informed opinions. ‘To relate’ would mean – to make out what pattern/news around the globe, in the economy, government, industry, competitor or people can affect a given stock. This is called fundamental analysis.

 

While many people think that fundamental analysis is sufficient to find out if a stock is worth buying, there is another school of thought that believes that whatever conclusion one has made out of a fundamental analysis is already reflected in the price of stock. This school of thought proposes to consider the actual price behaviour of the stock. That is, no matter how many highs and lows a stock price has, it will still follow a particular trend; and this trend helps determine whether the stock will do well in the future. This is called technical analysis.

 

Still confused? I guess this chart will make it clearer –

 

  

While the small dips and rises represent the stock price’s reaction to market news, the overall trend which is in an upward direction, shows that the stock is bound to do well and people would want to buy more shares of this company. The time period on the x axis of the graph can be minutes, hours, days or even years.

While some analysts use technical methods to make decisions others depend on economic factors only; still others use a combination of both.

 

My stock market crush

If only I knew, that two years later I would be betting on shares, I would certainly have worked harder on my finance papers in college.

The subject was so interesting, that I looked forward to enrolling for the paper and paid perfect attention in the first few classes. Then one day, came along Chapter 5 – Technical Analysis. I never understood the funda of doing a technical analysis on a stock to find out whether it was worth buying. After all, I was nothing but an average commerce student and anything technical or anything that captured the interest of my engineering background classmates was (bound to be) scary for the likes of me. I think it is from that point on, that I lost total focus on learning further, because all of it went way beyond my highest level of understanding. I spent the rest of my classes looking at the cardio-scan like graphs, wondering how many more classes were left for the course to end.

I always had a fascination for stock markets, but my afore mentioned lack of academic confidence pulled me away from it. Thanks to sufficient enthusiasm from my present boss and more than enough pushing from my better half, I decided to take a look at it once again. This time, the hard way.

Practical experience seemed much better.  But slowly, I felt the need to look at some theory and realized that academics is nothing but a compilation of practical knowledge. I started out learning about some basic terms that are used in the trade; things like stock, shares, quote, scrips, broker, gain, loss, market, sensex, nifty, bulls, bears, booking, sell, buy, short sell, limit order and so on. Then I moved on to understanding how a transaction takes place, who are the people involved, how are all the money and shares transferred, etc. Gradually, I got this idea of playing a virtual game of investment before taking the plunge. I registered at www.moneybhai.moneycontrol.com, in which, as a user I am virtually allotted a total corpus of 25lacs and allowed to trade on real stocks during the market hours. I played this for a couple of months; it was turning out to be a good experience, because, I knew I had to keep pace with what’s happening from the economy, market, industry and company points of view. The motivation was to be the top gainer and get a Rs.10,000 cash prize, but the actual reward is that it has kept my tempo going. It gave me the confidence to venture into the real market.
I no longer look at moneybhai, but since then, I’ve made it a point to keep myself fairly updated with what’s happening around me.

(Frankly, I still don’t know what technical analysis precisely means 🙂 but I vow to find out and write about it in my next article.) 

 

If I wrote a book..

I dont think I will ever be good enough for it, but if  somebody ever, ever pointed a gun to my head and told me to write a book, I would call it “Survival among the fittest”.

With this book I would be rephrasing Darwin’s theory of existence to fit my own condition; I am married into a family of super achievers, a family that endows a tradition of brilliance and versatility. Tell me, what else can a complete misfit name her book of survival?  😉

The GPS guided tour

tomtom.jpg

We are just back from a vacation in Florida. The sunshine state really pampered us and so did our hosts. Florida is one of the hottest destinations during Christmas, not only for its sunshine, but also for the numerous attractions it has to offer. Looked like all kids in America had come down to spend Christmas with Mickey and folks! For us it was a great break, away from all the chill in Boise. We spent almost a week there, and a lot of our time was spent in the car with a new mate, our friend, philosopher and guide, the GPS.

I have read in my textbooks about the system, but never knew its capabilities were this amazing. Thanks to our cousin in Florida, who lent this device to help us drive around the busy roads of Orlando, where paying for toll roads would itself cost a fortune! I had in mind that I must write about this when I get back.

“The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a U.S. space-based radionavigation system that provides reliable positioning, navigation, and timing services to civilian users on a continuous worldwide basis — freely available to all.

How it works — The GPS is made up of three parts: satellites orbiting the Earth; control and monitoring stations on Earth; and the GPS receivers owned by users. GPS satellites broadcast signals from space that are picked up and identified by GPS receivers. Each GPS receiver then provides three-dimensional location (latitude, longitude, and altitude) plus the time.”

The handset comes in different brands and would cost around $250-350 based on the features offered. The one we used was a tomtom gps device. Basically, the system tells you your current location and time; on your request to navigate you to any location, the tomtom plans a route, asks you whether you want to take the shortest route with tolls or longest route without them. 🙂 The best part is that if you take a wrong turn(how many ever times), tomtom doesnt yell at you. It patiently prepares a whole new route and gets you going on the right track again(see, enough to avoid an argument between a couple!). Apart from a graphical view of the route,  there is a navigator’s voice that guides you all along, tells you well in advance about the next turn, reminds you again when you get there and warns you about any wrong action. The system lets you change settings of the navigator, that is, if you dont like Richard from UK, you can switch to sweet Mandy from US (unfortunately, no Sams or Johns from India this time). You can also set the system to show public utility or emergency services you would need on your route, like, ATMs, gas stations, hospitals, restaurants, police stations etc.

Coming to the flaws, you cant get way too specific with the system, like, you cant say navigate to parking lot of universal studios; if you key in the address, it takes you only to that address. GPS also doesnt get updates about roads that are under construction. So, with the device on your windshield, you are like a blind man being pulled by his dog, with not much effort in navigating by yourself and observing your surroundings. I cant really think of any more major flaws. The system is so beautifully designed and is of great use in western countries like the US where you cant stop by the panwala to ask him which way to go! In fact i have heard that gps has been introduced in Delhi, without major success as the system steered people to roads where the tar has still not been laid!

I hope people read more about this technology; wikipedia is a good start, you can also check sites like

·     http://www8.garmin.com/aboutGPS/

·     http://www.gps.gov/

for simpler and better understanding.