Fatigued cash flow & towering graveyards

Dubai witnessed one of the craziest cash runs into it’s economy. Most of it went into real estate. Outlay out-dreamed demand. Reality mattered little when it came to realty. Desert, a place with nothing but land of sand with oil beneath and a 360 degree horizon, was being transformed into a Manhattan or Shanghai. In the past a large water body attracted settlements in deserts. Now it’s structures of steel, concrete and glimmering glass facades. Even desert land was shamed by this appetite. Sea was claimed, tamed and landscaped. “If you build it, he will come” was the premise of the Hollywood film Field of Dreams. An Iowa farmer hears voices instructing to build a baseball field in his farm to invite ghosts of legends past to play. The film ends happily for it can choose to end where it wants. Dubai has to endure the 2008 credit market crash.

Field of Dreams
If you build it, they will come.

Mumbai beaches are a repugnant sight after high tide. The receding sea litters the beach with another sea of rubbish. The waves of cash crashing into the Dubai economy has left behind a similar metaphorical litter on it’s exit trail. The facade is still pretty but the skeletons of unfinished and forgotten highrises will perhaps be preserved for ages as monuments to our era of excesses. History had Pharaohs and their pyramids, we have our politician-financier nexus and their highrises.

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Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural speech

Although many have compared the current recession caused by unregulated trading of credit (and it’s many derivatives) with the Great Depression of the 1930’s it is only an insincere soul who would in fact believe it. We are in a much better position in terms of food security, healthcare, access to information and all other essential services, etc. Even during this recession most Americans are still living a luxurious life compared to the rest of the world. It’s almost impossible for anybody living outside of US to summon any pity for folks who chose to dig and delve in an ever deeper credit hole. It’s probably not fair to use the word chose in this context. After all, it was the market created by the banking industry who connived effectively under the Federal government’s eyes-only-for-homeland-security to create this economic morass. Nonetheless, the comparison of our current times to the Great Depression years seems juvenile.

A recession does not only mean a loss in earning potential, loss in opportunities or even a drastic reduction in one’s standard of living, back then it also meant a very real threat of loosing one’s life, one’s family and access to even the very essential of human necessities. Large families were forced to split and fend individually. Families migrated in hordes to different pastures, fuelled only by hope. Loosing a dear one to illness was a real and present threat. With a feeble social safety net to speak of, the falling had little hopes.

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Understanding inflation through papaya

Among all the fruits available in Mumbai markets, papaya is unarguably the most value for money. At Rs.20/kg, it is also the cheapest in market. Cheaper than most vegetables too. Tomato’s are Rs.24/kg, Carrots Rs. 40/kg and Capsicum (bell pepper) Rs.38/kg. It’s not just the price that makes papaya a good value for money though. Among fruits, papaya has managed to maintain a healthy hit-miss ratio when it comes to taste. My experience has been that 6 out of 10 papayas tend to be exceptional in quality, 3 tend to be average and 1 below average. I have never had a bad papaya in a few years now.

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