Carpe Diem

Outsourcing IN India, Not TO India: IBM #1 Provider

From today’s NY Times Technology section:

India’s IT services market is forecast to grow to US$10.73 billion by 2011, at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 23.2%, as outsourcing emerges as a more favored option for companies in India.

As companies are finding it more difficult to hire and retain staff in their IT departments, they are looking at external service providers as an option, hoping to also cut down costs, and better manage growth in the process. A number of large Indian banks and telecommunications service providers are already outsourcing key IT operations.

IBM, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Wipro together accounted for 26.1% of IT services vendor market share in India last year. IBM was the top vendor, with 11.2% market share. TCS and Wipro occupy the second and third positions with 10.9 and 4.1 percent market shares, respectively.

Isn’t it interesting that:

1. Indian companies are now increasingly outsourcing IT services, TO other Indian (and U.S.-based) companies IN India.

2. U.S.-based IBM is the #1 provider of IT outsourcing services IN India for Indian-based companies.

It’s a flat, flat, flat, flat world.

Carpe Diem

China: 12 Million New Jobs in 2007, 23 Per Minute

China DailyThe national urban and township unemployment rate was reduced to 4 percent last year, thanks to the creation of more than 12 million jobs and despite more people entering the workforce, a top labor official said yesterday.

The number of jobs created exceeded the target of 9 million set at the beginning of last year, Zhai Yanli, vice-minister of Labor and Social Security, said at a press conference.

12 million jobs per year breaks down to:

New jobs created every day: 32,876

New jobs created every hour: 1,369

New jobs created every minute: 23

Carpe Diem

How To Rent A $1,500 Tokyo Apartment? Pay $10K

For a $1,500 per month apartment in Tokyo:

1. New renters have to pay 2 month’s rent in advance = $3,000

2. New renters have to give another 2 month’s rent as a security deposit = $3,000

3. New renters also have to give another 2 month’s rent as a gift to the landlord, which is not refundable = $3,000

4. New renters also have to give another month’s rent as a finder’s fee to the realtor, which is also not refundable = $1,500


Total Cost = $10,500
Read more here.
But as a special bonus, you might get one of these Japanese toilet/sink combos:

Carpe Diem

Dow 15,000 in 2008?

Our model suggests that the market is undervalued by 25% today. With the economy picking up steam in 2008, our forecast is that the Dow moves up as well and our year-end 2008 forecast is 15,000, with the S&P 500 at 1625.

Once recession fears prove unfounded, US equities will soar. Those who maintain their appetite for risk will be richly rewarded sooner than they think.

~An optimistic forecast from economists Brian Wesbury and Robert Stein at First Trust Portfolios

Carpe Diem

Stock Market Investing: Some Words of Wisdom

With all of the turmoil and uncertainty about the stock market, here six good quotes from Warren Buffet:

1. The future is never clear, and you pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus. Uncertainty is the friend of the buyer of long-term values.

2. The most common cause of low prices is pessimism – sometimes pervasive, some times specific to a company or industry. We want to do business in such an environment, not because we like pessimism but because we like the prices it produces. It’s optimism that is the enemy of the rational buyer.

3. Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You can’t buy what is popular and do well.

4. Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.

5. The stock market is designed to transfer money from the active to the patient.

6. If you don’t feel comfortable owning something for 10 years, then don’t own it for 10 minutes.

Carpe Diem

Retail Clinics Outperform MDs for Minor Illnesses

No state has more experience with retail clinics than Minnesota, the birthplace nearly eight years ago of MinuteClinic, which still dominates the field even as competitors crowd in. An independent, nonprofit coalition of doctors, insurers, consumers, and employers called MN Community Measurement annually rates health clinics’ and doctors’ practices statewide.

The most recent report card from the group, based on data from 2006, awarded MinuteClinic the highest marks in Minnesota for treating children 2 to 18 years old for sore throats, giving it a score of 99%. The lowest grade: 26% for a doctors’ group.

Quoted from today’s Boston Globe article “Upbeat Diagnosis for Clinics,” following up on the controversy in Massachusetts about CVS planning to open dozens of medical clinics. More here:
Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston and other critics have warned of inferior care driven by an unquenchable profit motive. He and others predicted that in the name of convenience, patients would sacrifice an ongoing relationship with a doctor.
But interviews with a dozen independent researchers, insurers, and regulators in other states painted a far more positive portrait. Increasing evidence, they said, suggests that when patients are treated for sore throats and other minor illnesses at retail clinics, the care may actually be as good as – if not better than – in more traditional doctor offices.
Carpe Diem

Forget Election-Inspired Makeshift Rebate Goodies

From today’s San Diego Tribune, “New Incentives, Not Fiscal Stimulus, Are the Best Way to Bolster a Slowing Economy”:

The bottom line on fiscal stimulus to stave off or ameliorate a recession is this: None is needed for that purpose that wouldn’t be good policy under more normal circumstances. Low marginal tax rates on income, capital gains and dividends are always good policy and largely pay for themselves by stimulating economic activity. They need to be lower, but the first urgent priority is to avoid making them higher by letting the Bush tax cuts expire and to make that clear as soon as possible to end the uncertainty.

Corporate tax rates should be lowered at least to the level of those of our trading partners and lower still if we can get our minds around the fact that corporations don’t pay taxes, people do.

Eastern European countries are way ahead of us in fundamental tax reform as they implement flat, low income taxes. Do we have to sink to their previous levels before we have the courage to implement fundamental reform? When will we learn that what is taxed is destroyed; so taxes on consumption that exempt saving is key to continued dynamic income expansion. We don’t need election-inspired makeshift rebate goodies from Washington under the guise of economic stimulus. We need to get real with fundamental reform worthy of this great nation.

~Bob McTeer, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Carpe Diem

Government Policy Got Us Into the Subprime Mess

From Walter Williams’ column today “Subprime Bailout“:

As with most economic problems, we find the hand of government. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, whose provisions were strengthened during the Clinton administration, is a federal law that mandates lenders to offer credit throughout their entire market and discourages them from restricting their credit services to high-income markets, a practice known as redlining. In other words, the Community Reinvestment Act encourages banks and thrifts to make loans to riskier customers.

The Bush bailout plan for the subprime crisis is a wealth transfer from creditworthy people and taxpayers to those who made ill-advised credit decisions, and that includes banks as well as borrowers. According to Temple University professor of economics William Dunkelberg, 96% of all mortgages are being paid on time. Thirty percent of American homeowners have no mortgage. Delinquency rates were higher in the 1980s than they are today. Only 2 to 3 percent of all mortgages are in foreclosure. The government bailout helps a few people at a huge cost to the rest of the economy.

Government policy got us into the subprime mess and government’s measure to fix the mess is going to create more mess.

Carpe Diem

Milton Friedman vs. Hillary Clinton

From Thomas Kuper at Human Events: “I thought it would be interesting to do a compare and contrast between a champion of the free market (Milton Friedman) versus a champion of government (Hillary Clinton).” Here are a few examples:

“The unfettered free market has been the most radically destructive force in American life in the last generation.”

~First Lady Hillary Clinton in 1996 stating her troubles with the free market

“What most people really object to when they object to a free market is that it is so hard for them to shape it to their own will. The market gives people what the people want instead of what other people think they ought to want. At the bottom of many criticisms of the market economy is really lack of belief in freedom itself.”

~Milton Friedman, Wall Street Journal, May 18, 1961

“Too many people have made too much money.”

~First Lady Hillary Clinton condemns the insurance industry, feeling it’s not fair that certain businesses are making ‘too much money’

“‘Fair’ is in the eye of the beholder; free is the verdict of the market. The word ‘free’ is used three times in the Declaration of Independence and once in the First Amendment to the Constitution, along with ‘freedom.’ The word ‘fair’ is not used in either of our founding documents.”

~Milton Friedman, WSJ, Mar. 7, 1996

Carpe Diem

Has the Dollar Bottomed Out?


From the International Herald Tribune: “Has the dollar bottomed out?”

“Foreigners are buying American assets at cut-rate prices. To make their purchases, foreigners need dollars; more demand for dollars pushes the exchange rate higher. And, according to some important measures of the dollar’s value, the greenback may have hit bottom over two months ago.”

More evidence: The USD is now selling at a one-year forward premium against almost two dozen currencies, see chart above, including almost a 2% forward premium vs. the British Pound, and almost a 1% premium vs. the Euro.