Monday Apr 27, 2009

Have you been watching the TED spread?

A picture is worth a 1000 words and it certainly resonates with the economic global meltdown this past year.  A red flag indicator on the economy is the TED spread.  This metric is an indicator of perrceived credit risk in the economy.  The TED spread tracks the difference between interest rates of interbank loans and short term T-Bills (government debt).  The difference is measured in basis points (bps). Unlike the economic recessions of the past, this spread skyrocketed universally across the globe rather than in specific countries.  Historical averages are usually below 50 bps so when the TED spread went over 450 bps in the Fall of 2008 there was no surprise what was happening in the world stock markets.  Click here to see a TED spread quote from Bloomberg.

While the TED spread has dropped in the first part of 2009, there certainly needs to be additional closure of the spread in order to get back to historical averages. This will only happen, in my opinion, when credit flows normally once again.  There has been too many mixed messages on banks lending again (but to whom???) and being able to assign value on toxic assets that the banks are holding.  Until these two items can be cleared out, the one common solution for both is attracting private investors.

Consumer and private investor confidence is at an all time lowGovernment loans and stimulus packages globally all factor into where and what to invest.  Where have all the risk takers gone?  I certainly don't have the stomach to hedge in the current securites environment.  Even governments have retreated to purchasing safe, secure debt for investments so who can blame the private investors to be in a you lead and then I'll follow strategy.

Events got pretty scary last October when the TED spread peaked.  A money market fund defaulted, consumers were running on banks and many financial institution capitalizations were evaporating.  You could literally hear value being sucked out of the market and retreating to liquid assets.  Where did it all go?  It's like we had full balloons in a closed room and suddenly the balloons are all empty... but there is still the same amount of air in the room.  We just cannot find the air to blow the balloons back up again.  Reports have indicated that world banks have written off ~$900B (U.S. dollars) in toxic assets but there remains ~$3.1B still working its way through the system.  The TED spread will be watching...

This is where consumer confidence plays a huge factor. 

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Thursday Oct 18, 2007

Technology, Telecom, Transportation and Tandoori

I recently visited India and personally got to experience a beautiful country transforming itself.  The climate, cuisine and currency (economy) are experienced in various flavors of hot.  For cuisine my favorite is chicken tandoori, a relatively mild dish.  The Bombay SENSEX is boiling like a hot pickled chili.  The BSE has surpassed 19000 and yes it has pulled back some.  In the year 2004 the index was at the 5000 range!  If you take a look at the 30 companies that form the index you will notice that IT, Telecom and Transportation are well represented.  These 3 sectors basically feed each other.  Foreign investments are pouring into India.  Capital is everywhere.  What is driving this surge?  India is transforming itself into an economic pillar.  There is a youthquake (affluent consumers under the age of 25) happening in India.  Job growth is expected to be over 45% this year.  The trend for India college grads is not to go abroad but take a job within India.  Gone are the days of India being only a place to outsource.  The action IS India.  India is quickly addressing the lack of infrastructure that has prevented growth in the past.  Major 8 lane highways, new airports, etc. are being developed as we speak.  Mobile phone service is already throughout India... and pretty cheap as well.  In fact the state government decided to ban mobile phones from school and pre-university college campuses effective Oct 5.  Is technology in the middle of this rapid, massive expansion?  Of course.  Is the term "Going Bollywood" more appropriate now?  Absolutely since "Going Hollywood" is yesterday in some sense.  The government in India has figured out that lowering the VAT actually helps stimulate growth.  Previously the VAT in India was very high... in the double digits.  What did this do?  It actually inhibited tax revenue as most wise people would conduct transactions with dead icons printed on paper (CASH).  Lowering the VAT was a smart move in India as the cash transaction overhead becomes insignificant. Tax revenues actually increase in a growing economy.  Capitalism being embraced for sure.

India is a growth country that does not have to deal with much legacy infrastructure.  This includes legacy technology.  Interoperability issues?  No.  Put in a solution that is a weapon not a burden.  Who are your IT vendors?  Who are your IT partners?  Who is going to help you prevent from getting "locked in" to a vendor? The cost effective approach is to install the latest technology.  Use the technology to help surge the growth.  Don't say your business is relying on India unless you are "IN" India.

There is action in Las Vegas, but it is also in Bangalore too.  What is an indicator?  Technology, Telecom and Transportation are helping fuel a mall-building boom in India.  The retail environment of yesterday is going upscale.  I read in Time that the number one shopping splurge in India is dresses and the American brand coveted to own is Calvin Klein.  Yes India has its challenges as do other developing economies.  Will the infrastructure build out be done properly?  Will the economy eventually level off and when?

It is a world economy today.









The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.


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