Sunday, June 07, 2009


Is there a lesson for Pakistan Railway and not so healthy Pakistan International Airlines?

Yes there is!


INDIAN Railways is among the most high-profile corporate turnaround stories of recent times. Over the past four years it has managed to turn a string of hefty losses into a $5 billion profit—an impressive achievement by anyone’s standards, but even more so when your remit is more than just profitability, responsible as it is for keeping the social, economic, political and cultural fabric of that vast country intact.

Much of this success has been generated through a programme of radical change instituted by the charismatic and, at times, controversial railways minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav. Now, as part of this makeover, the organisation has embarked on an extensive training project for middle and senior managers among its 1.4m workforce. Just as interesting is where they have turned for help to make this project happen: not to one of the country’s top business schools, nor even to the academic corridors of America; rather they’ve gone to France."

Just read on more at Economist here

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ali Cheema's Arrest in Pakistan while protesting against Musharraf's Dictator Ship

One of the leading Economists, Ali Cheema a Cambridge graduate and critic of Musharraf's devolution policies has been arrested in the first wave of protests. Please pray for his health and run a movement free Ali Cheema on blogs.
His profile here

About his arrest, click on BBC news link, scroll down, and read the Anonymous account of protests.

Please link this post on your blog and organize virtual movement against his detention.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Two articles

Two articles that I consider must read for students of South Asian politics and economy.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Blog for Econ Students

This is the first econ blog which is oriented towards principle level students in Economics. I hope it will make learning economics a fun thing. Aplia is the brain child of our very own Economist Paul Romer. The way he talks about New Growth Ideas--Same way he is incorporating new features in to Aplia--a student focused learning-testing-evaluation resource.
News for Econ Students: "Welcome to Aplia's economic news blog, a place to explore current events that relate to your econ classes. "
A few months ago hiring bloggers for academic positions was considered a no! no! in conservative schools: Bloggers need not apply. At some universities bloggers have been in trouble while others have earned better places in acadmia. However, ideas like this will open doors for academic blogging. I already knew about History academic blogging at George Mason University. In economics it will be a exciting new thing.

Economic Growth

Its a matter of choice.
Foreign Affairs - The Ethical Economist - Joseph E. Stiglitz: "Economists have long been a
natural constituency in favor of growth. Since even the richest country has limited resources, the central economic problem is choice: Shall we fund tax cuts for the rich or investment in infrastructure and research and development, war in Iraq or assistance for the poor in developing countries and our own? By providing more total resources, growth should, in theory, make these choices less painful."

US household Debt

Well not only the US household debt has increased but the public debt as well.
As Economy Thrived Under Greenspan, So Did Debt: "Greenspan and his Fed colleagues
agree that part of the growth in household debt and the trade gap is the side effect of policies that helped steady the U.S. economy after the stock bubble burst in 2000. "

A new terror

The micro problem -- that has grown out of proportion to have macro implications.
Why America Has to Be Fat: "You've read the headlines: America's problem with bulging
waistlines has reached pandemic proportions, according to federal health officials, who warn that obesity is becoming society's No. 1 killer. But as doctors wrestle with the problem, economists have been pondering which corporations and industries benefit, and the role that changes in the overall economy have played in making us fat to begin with.
It turns out, economists say, that changes in food technology (producing tasty, easy-to-cook food, such as french fries) and changes in labor (we use to be paid to exercise at work, now we pay to exercise after work)"

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Lack of Data on Women in Poverty

Well! infact when we start working on issues like poverty, discrimination, health gaps, etc. Data is what limits the scope of research and the imagination of an optimistic researcher who believes in unearthing unnerving realities.
U.N. Reports Lack of Data on Women in Poverty - New York Times: "Rock stars, movie actresses and heads of state have shined a bright light on global poverty in the past year, often highlighting the particular burden on women, but a report from the United Nations released this week painstakingly details the huge gaps in data needed to understand how poverty - in all its ugly guises - affects women.
Many poor countries simply do not collect the most basic facts about births, marriages and
deaths by sex and age, or the employment status and wages of men and women. The dearth of information makes it difficult to pinpoint where girls are being married off while they are still children, or where female fetuses are being aborted because boys are preferred, or where girls are dying because they get less food and medical care than boys, says the report, which was released Wednesday.
Its authors, and specialists in the field, say better information is urgently needed if the world is to fashion sensible, effective solutions to reflect conditions that are constantly evolving and vary greatly even within a single country."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Better Neighbor Buddies than Neighbor Hoodies

Universities like Penn and Yale have become better Neighbor-Buddies than Neighborhoodies by investing in their neighborhoods to make em safe. And University of Pennsylvania actually has a Westward Ho program and there is an article in today's washington post as well.
Westward Ho by U Penn They say that: By the early 1990s, University City—a once dynamic and gracious community of magnificent Victorian homes and lively diversity—had fallen on hard times. This West Philadelphia neighborhood had grown poorer and more dangerous, with one in five residents living below the poverty level. Crime had risen significantly. Shops and businesses were closing, pedestrian traffic was vanishing, middle- class families were leaving, and more houses were falling prey to abandonment and decay. Three local elementary schools ranked at the bottom in state- administered math and reading tests.
Penn charted a new course toward civic engagement and resolved to work with neighborhood leaders and residents to rebuild a spirit of fellowship and shared purpose and to create a more livable community. By linking its academic and research expertise and its financial commitment with the energy, resources, and inspired commitment of neighborhood residents and businesses, Penn embarked on the civic-reform partnership that would restore and revitalize West Philadelphia.
Because urban neighborhoods form complex ecological systems, we sought to rebuild West
Philadelphia’s social and economic capacity by simultaneously and aggressively acting on five interrelated fronts:
Creating clean and safe streets
Increasing housing and home ownership
Fortifying public education
Fostering economic opportunity
Promoting commercial development
The program has been and continues to serve as a successful agent of change. These positive results did not happen overnight. Rather, the enduring partnership between Penn and its neighbors is a tribute to long-term vision, commitment, and just plain hard work.

Small is beautiful

Interesting! I thought Americans like it big and do not settle for small-is beautiful-that's why companies sell em bigger than 12oz. This is also a cause of American obesity. Corporate US is selling everything in big to consumers at cheaper prices and smaller at larger prices. For consumers it is not only a bang for their buck but also a drive to eat-and-have-more while corporate sector can make more money on top of big things as compared to what they make on small and neat.

Starbucks Economics - Solving the mystery of the elusive "short" cappuccino. By Tim-Harford: "Here's a little secret that Starbucks doesn't want you to know: They will serve you a better, stronger cappuccino if you want one, and they will charge you less for it. Ask for it in any Starbucks and the barista will comply without batting an eye. The puzzle is to work out why. "

From Voodoonomics to Bushonomics

His republican peer earned a name for his economic policies--Voodoo economics and Raganmoics-- and he is following almost same set of policies focused on a short term life support system for the economy. Sigh! I wished his policies were more sustainable in the long run. About Sebastian Mallaby I can say only one thing--When non economists start writing about economics the only thing stop reading and start thinking.
What Democrats Miss in Bushonomics: "Faced with strong growth, full employment and a
productivity miracle, Democrats insist that something is profoundly wrong. Responding to President Bush's economic speech on Friday, the Senate's top Democrat complained that 'the benefits of economic growth still have not reached many hardworking middle-class families.'"

Dish em to world on china dish

This little cutsie is made by Honda on a Chineese plant. Lets see if Chineese vehicle bring another No-Foriegn car syndrome to US. I guess only way to compete these vehicles is that Detriot provides more efficient Hybrid vehicles therefore fuel economy offsets the price of vehicle. Or may be---Outsource car production to China ;)
China's Fast-Moving Vehicles: "Mel Rapton doesn't know how to pronounce the name of the Chinese company whose automobiles he would like to import and perhaps sell at his Honda dealership in Sacramento, Calif. He doesn't know what styles he'll promote, what he'll charge or how exactly he'll persuade Americans to buy a car made in China-one that isn't a Hot Wheels toy, that is."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

When Democracy Died in Wilmington, N.C.

I guess this is how blacks were forced into poverty and destitution otherwise how come a community that was known for hardwork and extraordinary labor on plantations was unable to come out of state of despair.
When Democracy Died in Wilmington, N.C. - New York Times: "This rosy version of Carolina
history turns out to have its bloody side. A draft of a voluminous report commissioned by the North Carolina legislature has recently outlined a grotesquely violent and stridently racist version of state history that rivals anything ever seen in the most troubled parts of the Deep South. The report, by the Wilmington Race Riot Commission, has thrown a klieg light onto a coup and riot that were staged in Wilmington, N.C., in 1898 - and that still have an evident impact on the political landscape of the state."
More can be read at North Carolina Office of Archives and History.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Paul Romer and Economic Growth

I have never seen such a beautiful essay on economic growth that explains such a complex process in a concise manner in just two paragraphs.
Paul Romer on economic Growth--"Economic growth occurs whenever people take resources and rearrange them in ways that are more valuable. A useful metaphor for production in an economy comes from the kitchen. To create valuable final products, we mix inexpensive ingredients together according to a recipe. The cooking one can do is limited by the supply of ingredients, and most cooking in the economy produces undesirable side effects. If economic growth could be achieved only by doing more and more of the same kind of cooking, we would eventually run out of raw materials and suffer from unacceptable levels of pollution and nuisance. Human history teaches us, however, that economic growth springs from better recipes, not just from more cooking. New recipes generally produce fewer unpleasant side effects and generate more economic value per unit of raw material.
Take one small example. In most coffee shops, you can now use the same size lid for small, medium, and large cups of coffee. That wasn't true as recently as 1995. That small change in the geometry of the cups means that a coffee shop can serve customers at lower cost. Store owners need to manage the inventory for only one type of lid. Employees can replenish supplies more quickly throughout the day. Customers can get their coffee just a bit faster. Such big discoveries as the transistor, antibiotics, and the electric motor attract most of the attention, but it takes millions of little discoveries like the new design for the cup and lid to double average income in a nation."
You can read entire essay here

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Google Cube

By the way it is just speculation and no truth.
The latest in News is that Google sponsored Under $100 laptop per child program at MIT and now the rumor is that the next big thing they are hoping is to provide $200 pc to everyone. People are asking questions if it will be economically feasible. I would say yes. It will be difinately a China thing.
Google's next trick ...: "Speculation is mounting that Google will this week unveil a no-frills personal computer costing as little as $200 " In a briefing note, Bear Stearns analyst Robert Peck said the US online giant would launch Google Cubes - simple network-based boxes that could link and control home entertainment, computer and automation systems.
From: E Mullah الیکٹرونک مُلا: Google Cube

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

MIT Media Lab: $100 Laptop

This is truly an amazing invention. I would say that bigger companies like Dell, IBM, and Apple should have thought about this. And above all Bill and Melinda Gate's (Microsoft) charity is not enough until they come up with something really affordable in terms of computing products that are affordable to students in developing countries. Otherwise all the charity is an EyeWash.
MIT Media Lab: $100 Laptop: "The MIT Media Lab has launched a new research initiative to develop a $100 laptop-a technology that could revolutionize how we educate the world's children. To achieve this goal, a new, non-profit association, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), has been created. The initiative was first announced by Nicholas Negroponte, Lab chairman and co-founder, at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland in January 2005."

Monday, January 02, 2006

India on way to progress

In India, Engineering Success: "The classroom of the future will feature electronic white boards. The teachers of the future will write equations on these boards with electronic pens. And the students of the future won't have to choose between concentrating on the teacher and scribbling the equations into notebooks. They will devote all their energy to listening, then download the equations straight into the laptops they've plugged into their desks.
Okay, that isn't quite right. The classroom I'm describing is not some figment of the future. It's the reality I visited a month ago at the Vellore Institute of Technology."

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lean and mean but powerful muscle

Wow! The European Union Farmer's have a powerful Muscle although they are just 5% of the total population in Europe. That is the economics of interest groups.
Lean and mean, but not very popular THESE days, farmers account
for only about 5% of the population of Europe. Yet they manage to cause an astonishing amount of trouble. Few can boast of dismantling a McDonald’s and dumping the rubble in front of the town hall, as José Bové, a French farmer, famously did in 1999. But as a group, those who work the land have nearly succeeded in derailing the World Trade Organisation’s latest round of
negotiations. These have all but ground to a halt over the European Union’s refusal to consider deeper cuts to its lavish farm subsidies. And as the EU heads into an important summit next week, Tony Blair, Britain's prime minister, will try to keep Europe's farmers from taking the Union’s budget to pieces as well.

The new mkt place

Everything has a market. Gift cards have found a niche too. Interesting
Unwanted Presents Find Homes In the Online Gift-Card Marketplace: "It has the air of a mini
stock market: On yesterday, a $200 Best Buy gift card was going for $175 with less than a minute left to bid. Meanwhile, another user was looking to trade a $25 Gap card for one from eBay, Marshall's, Target, clothing store Guess or home furnishings store Tuesday Morning."

Nanotechnology and New Perils

The nanotechnology is amazing so are it's perils. Negative Externalities!

Nanotechnology Regulation Needed, Critics Say: "And a California team working with
laboratory-grown cells showed that carbon nanotubes specifically activate 'cell suicide genes.'
'Cell growth was retarded, and there was a doubling of cell deaths,' said study leader Fanqing Frank Chen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Chen said factory exposures should be 'a big concern,' and added that many nanospheres are very stable and not likely to break down in the environment."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pakistan Earthquake Damage Report

"First consolidated report has arrived from Asian Development Bank."

Where are Externalities? RIM vs NTP

I think RIM is being punished because they are Canadians. The ruling in RIM's case has failed to incorporate the idea of monopoly regulation and externalities and public goods criterion. Text messaging is a public service, lot of emergency response personals have been using it. I think RIM's technology is more advanced as compared to NTP. The decision has a weakness as well. It has not given enough time to people and firms to adopt PLAN B. You don't make a decision which has negative welfare consequences for the society.

Fearful Messagers Cross Their Thumbs: "everyone's taken notice; the word on the street is that
BlackBerry is in a jam,' said Bob Egan, director of emerging technology at Tower Group, a market analysis firm. He said he spoke with several financial and investment firms that are considering moving their e-mail computer servers to Canada, RIM's home country, in an attempt to avert the U.S shutdown. But no one has figured out if that would work, he said.
Wireless carriers that offer BlackBerry service declined to comment yesterday on their plans for handling customers if BlackBerry goes dark."

After four years of litigation, RIM suffered another legal defeat Wednesday when the judge denied its request to further delay a permanent injunction. RIM could be forced to shut down service to almost all 3.65 million U.S. customers, except the 10 percent who are government or emergency-service users. It could avoid that fate by settling with NTP, which analysts have predicted could cost as much as $2 billion.

By the way there is greed involved and the loss in business is not to RIM but to millions of people.
A Virginia court ruled Wednesday that a $450 million preliminary settlement between RIM and NTP Inc., which was signed in March, isn't binding.
NTP is now expected to seek an injunction preventing U.S. Blackberry sales and service, which could force RIM to pay more to settle.

Canadian economy may benefit as many firms may plan to move part of their IT offices to Canada as the news report suggests.

Amazing advancements in science

Though ethical questions need to be resolved yet these are amazing advancements in science. We expect a huge socio-economic research in this area as well.

Doctors perform first partial face transplant - More Health News - "LYON, France - Doctors in France said they had performed the world's first partial face transplant, forging the way into a risky medical frontier by operating on a woman disfigured by a dog bite."

Dubernard led teams that performed a hand transplant in 1998 and the world’s first double forearm transplant in January 2000.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bush Without Economists

Hot waters for Bush as fewer good Economists are willing to join the administration.

Help Wanted: Academic Economists, Pro-Bush - New York Times: "IT'S no secret that hurricanes and wars have swamped the economic agenda that George W. Bush planned for his second
term. In the commotion, however, one fact has gone largely unnoticed: much of Washington's expert economic team has disappeared.
The chairmanship of the Council of Economic Advisers will soon be vacant, and two spots on the Federal Reserve Board that were recently filled by academic economists already are. There is no assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax policy, and the director's chair at the Congressional Budget Office, currently occupied by Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, will soon be empty, too.
The White House and Congress need as many as five academic economists of high caliber, and it's not obvious where they will come from. The Republican Party may be facing something
of a shallow bench.
'Bush's reputation in at least the academic community is about as low as you can imagine,' said William A. Niskanen, who was a member of the council during President Ronald Reagan's first term and is now chairman of the Cato Institute, a libertarian research group. 'A lot of people would not be willing to give up a good tenured position for a position in the White House.'"

"It has been true, typically speaking, that Republican administrations have found it harder to find senior, more prominent academic economists for the C.E.A. members and chairman than have Democratic administrations," said Michael L. Mussa, a senior fellow at the Institute for
International Economics, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, who was a member of the council during President Reagan's second term.
Mr. Mussa explained that the problem was partly one of specializations. "In the economics
profession, on the microeconomic and regulatory side, there you find a substantial number of Republicans," he said, "but macroeconomists tend to lean a bit more to the Democratic side, on average."

Quite a few economists might have a hard time acting as the president's mouthpiece today. Plenty of academics, even some who have supported Republicans in the past, have condemned the White House's current policies. In particular, the enormous federal deficit has elicited ire from both left and right.
"There are a number of Republicans, both the right-wingers and the moderates, who are very uncomfortable about the deficits, and particularly about the spending that we saw in the first four years," Mr. Mussa said.
Dismay about the war in Iraq could also prompt many academics to turn down the White House on principle, Mr. Niskanen said.
Well! open up doors for foriegn Economists and see how many you get by relaxing the condition about Citizenship.

Monday, November 21, 2005

U.S. Backs Squeezing Oil From a Stone - Los Angeles Times

I will put my bang for bucks in "Fuel Cell" technology. General motors (GM) that has been sinking my find a relief in this new tech.
U.S. Backs Squeezing Oil From a Stone - Los Angeles Times: "Tucked into a ravine and hidden
behind ridges standing like stony sentinels is the site of Shell Oil Co.'s ultra-experimental, highly anticipated 30-year project to unlock oil from vast underground beds of rock.

Here, on this sweeping plateau in western Colorado, the Bush administration has fixed its hopes for the next big energy boom: oil shale, which the U.S. Department of the Interior praises as an 'energy resource with staggering potential.' Members of Congress have described the region as the Saudi Arabia of oil shale."

Oil shale is immature rock that, left alone, would require millions of years of natural heating to produce oil. Modern techniques greatly accelerate that process by cooking underground rock. But some experts warn that the process could use more energy than it yields, and conservationists and many local residents point to the massive amounts of water it will consume and to the disturbances to land, wildlife habitat and the lives of rural people.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

So who owns the internet?

I remember one student recently posted on his dorm window
USA! we own the world.
Well! I don't have much to say but! go fix Katrina.

Internet hegemony and the digital divide "Many countries had wanted
to relieve America of its unilateral role in the governance of the internet and hand power to a new body under the auspices of the UN's International Telecommunication Union. Brazil, China and Saudi Arabia had called for a new intergovernmental forum with real powers and a policy-making mechanism for the internet. America had contended that this should be little more than a talking shop, devoid of formal powers, since existing mechanisms to co-ordinate the underlying infrastructure of the internet's addressing system are sufficient."

Fuel-Cell Technology

I want one too to because they are economical and environment friendly too.

GM's Fuel-Cell Pickup - MSN Autos: "GM has invested more than $1 billion in fuel-cell vehicle research and development in the last several years. While the automaker isn't saying that fuel cells will blow away the piston engine anytime soon, it is standing by its commitment to deliver hydrogen fueled vehicles by the end of this decade. In a June speech given at Northwestern University, Larry Burns, GM's vice president for research, development and planning, indicated that by 2010 the company would have at least five vehicles available to consumers. They would range from the HydroGen 3 minivan priced near $30,000 to a crossover SUV under $60,000. When asked if one of the other three vehicles would be a Chevrolet pickup similar to one based at Ft. Belvoir, GM officials are mum. If it is, Chevy might want to consider adopting the Army's stylish paint scheme for a special edition truck. "

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Said Sheri Orlowitz who sued Tyco for environmental maulpractices

Bravo girl!

Memo to Tyco: I Won't Back Down - New York Times: "'I try to live a principled life with adherence to basic values of truth, responsibility and integrity,' she said. 'We would never do this for the money.' "

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Europe's Blackhole

Hopeful signs across the Balkans: The diplomats’ big idea is to absorb into the EU the whole of the western Balkans—ie, all of what used to be Yugoslavia plus Albania (the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia is already a member). EU citizens’ concerns about enlargement aside, this is a long-term project. But you
need only look at the map to see why the diplomats think it necessary. Once Bulgaria and Romania join the Union, probably in 2007, the whole region will, in effect, be an awkward enclave surrounded by EU countries. This “black hole”, say the strategists, is a recipe for disaster. Better to have the former troublemakers inside the tent rather than outside.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bush Selects White House Economist Bernanke to Replace Greenspan

He was on the cards for long and I was already expecting that. Well reputed Economist also some people think him as enforcer of Republican agenda. However as far as monetary theory and policy is considered he has earned a good reputition. I hope he will get a good response from both republicans and democrats.

Bush Selects White House Economist Bernanke to Replace Greenspan: "In making the announcement at the White House, Bush hailed Bernanke's 'reputation for intellectual rigor and integrity' and said he 'commands deep respect in the global financial community.'"

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

GM for Pakistan?

Sounds Like a neat car. I wonder if GM can think about exloring market in neighboring country Pakistan. I am sure it meets the every need of Pakistani market. It's cheap too.

G.M. Thrives in China With Small, Thrifty Vans - New York Times: "LIUZHOU, China - In this obscure corner of southern China, General Motors seems to have hit on a hot new formula: $5,000 minivans that get 43 miles to the gallon in city driving. That combination of advantages has captivated Chinese buyers, propelling G.M. into the leading spot in this nascent car market. "

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tsk! Tsk! Demise of Capitalism

Where are the principle of Capitalism? Is caiptalism so protective that it will not allow lucrative bids by China's state owned companies. It will not help China to open up itself for Capitalism.

Bogus fears send the Chinese packing FU CHENGYU, chairman and chief executive of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), did all he could to make his firm appear like a western, commercially-minded enterprise in its pursuit of Unocal. But on Tuesday August 2nd, Mr Fu pulled the plug on CNOOC’s $18.5 billion bid for America’s eighth-largest oil firm. This leaves the way open for Chevron, America’s second-largest oil company, to pursue its own $17 billion offer for Unocal.

Despite its reputation as one of China’s best-managed companies and the presence on its board of two respected non-Chinese businessmen—Evert Henkes, formerly of Shell, and Kenneth Courtis of Goldman Sachs—CNOOC’s bid for Unocal met with considerable hostility from American politicians. Indeed, in explaining the decision to abandon its bid, the Chinese company said that it had “given active consideration to further improving the terms of its offer, and would have done so but for the political environment in the US.”

Not even CNOOC’s promise to preserve American jobs could prevent a wave of criticism across Washington, which centred on the perceived threat to national security of placing precious energy reserves (albeit located largely in Asia) in the hands of a firm that, despite its semblance of westernisation, is still linked to China’s communist government. The political resistance to CNOOC’s bid culminated in the insertion into an energy bill of a clause requiring a four-month study of China’s energy policy before the bid could continue—a move that would, in effect, force CNOOC to raise its offer to compensate investors for the delay. But the company insisted it would not countenance paying more “just because we’re Chinese”. The final nail in the coffin may have been the decision by Institutional Shareholder Services, an influential advisory group, to recommend Chevron’s lower offer, citing the opposition to CNOOC’s bid and the risks associated with it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

China revalued its currency

Lets see what happens next. A small shock can generate big disturbance. Although it is considered a small step but it has lot of implications. There is always a time lag involved before we can really see something.

The revaluation of the yuan "China has revalued its currency, the yuan, and linked it to a basket of currencies. By itself, this will do little to slow the economy, but it may ease trade tensions"

Saturday, July 16, 2005

An update on

What Dickens Knew That Geldof Doesn't

Let us Africans do the talking - Editorials & Commentary - International Herald Tribune: "YAOUNDE, Cameroon Live 8, that extraordinary media event that some people of good intentions in the West just orchestrated, would have left us Africans indifferent if we hadn't realized that it was an insult both to us and to common sense. "

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Death Penalty for Hackers, Really ?

JOHN TIERNEY of New York Times writes Worse Than Death Published: July 12, 2005 and he says that a good punishment for a hacker woud be

Make the hacker spend 16 hours a day fielding help-desk inquiries in an AOL chat room for computer novices. Force him to do this with a user name at least as uncool as KoolDude and to work on a vintage IBM PC with a 2400-baud dial-up connection. Most painful of all for any geek, make him use Windows 95 for the rest of his life. I realize that this may not be enough. If you have any better ideas, send them along.

in contrast to Mr. Steven Landsburg's Death Wish for Hackers.

Professor Landsburg, an economist at the University of Rochester, has calculated the relative value to society of executing murderers and hackers. By using studies estimating the deterrent value of capital punishment, he figures that executing one murderer yields at most $100 million
in social benefits. The benefits of executing a hacker would be greater, he argues, because the social costs of hacking are estimated to be so much higher: $50 billion per year.

Well the best thing hackers are doing is keeping many people employed in software security firms by exposing vulnerabilities of lousy Microsoft Systems. This in turn gaurantess more competition and better products. I am sure Professor Landsburg has not calculated that benefit into his system of equations because the benefit of having better and superior products would overrun the cost. In that situation even JOHN TIERNEY's suggested punishement would be higher. I think the suggestion mentioned in his article
Convicted hackers like Mr. Jaschan could be sentenced to a lifetime of removing worms and viruses, but the computer experts I consulted said there would be too big a risk that the hackers would enjoy the job. After all, Mr. Jaschan is now doing just that for a software security firm.

is much better. Give them something they start enjoying and become useful for society because they are definitely better than those programmers who left loopholes for them and did not notice their mistakes until these softworm lovers came into action.

Read more in Worse Than Death - New York Times:

Last year a German teenager named Sven Jaschan released the Sasser worm, one of the costliest acts of sabotage in the history of the Internet. It crippled computers around the world, closing businesses, halting trains and grounding airplanes. Which of these punishments does he deserve?

A) A 21-month suspended sentence and 30 hours of community service.
B) Two years in prison.
C) A five-year ban on using computers.
D) Death.
E) Something worse.
"If you answered A, you must be the German judge who gave him that sentence last week.

If you answered B or C, you're confusing him with other hackers who have been sent to prison and banned from using computers or the Internet. But those punishments don't seem to have deterred hackers like Mr. Jaschan from taking their place.
I'm tempted to say that the correct answer is D, and not just because of the man-years I've spent running virus scans and reformatting hard drives. I'm almost convinced by
Steven Landsburg's cost-benefit analysis showing that the spreaders of computer viruses and worms are more logical candidates for capital punishment than murderers are." Professor Landsburg, an economist at the University of Rochester, has calculated the relative value to society of executing murderers and hackers. By using studies estimating the deterrent value of capital punishment, he figures that executing one murderer yields at most $100 million in social benefits. The benefits of executing a hacker would be greater, he argues, because the social costs of hacking are estimated to be so much higher: $50 billion per year. Deterring a mere one-fifth of 1 percent of those crimes - one in 500 hackers - would save society $100 million. And Professor Landsburg believes that a lot more than one in 500 hackers would be deterred by the sight of a colleague on death row.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What Dickens Knew That Geldof Doesn't

Good stuff found on Roubini's RGE originally published in LA Times

What Dickens Knew That Geldof Doesn't: No one should deprecate Geldof's sincerity, nor the seriousness of Africa's plight. It is indeed a scandal that millions of Africans live at or below the subsistence line, prey to hunger and disease. But the question is whether the modern-day Jellybys who congregated Saturday can really do anything about it.

Like Mrs. Jellyby, Live 8 supporters not only want to Do Good; they want to Feel Good while doing it. She got her kicks by dictating sanctimonious letters to public bodies. They think they can "stop 30,000 children dying every single day of extreme poverty" by chanting along with Coldplay.

Why, you may ask, should philanthropy not be fun? No reason — as long as it's also effective. Unfortunately, Live 8 will not be.

It may come as a surprise to Live 8 fans, but the top three reasons why most African countries are economic basket cases are not lack of aid, excessive debt service payments and protectionism by developed countries. The real culprits are chronic misgovernment, recurrent civil war and the high incidence of diseases such as malaria and AIDS.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Poverty Alleviation and G-8

News: "Jeffrey Sachs: 'Don't let the G8 leaders leave Scotland without a serious plan for ending poverty'
The Monday Interview: Economist
By Johann Hari
20 June 2005
Jeffrey Sachs has a simple message for the people of Britain. 'Don't let the leaders [of the G8 countries] leave Scotland without offering serious plans for ending poverty and climate change. They are not going to Gleneagles for a game, or for a little vacation, not for photo-ops, not for smiles. They are there to set us on a real path to ending extreme poverty. Give them a serious warning - don't leave here without doing your work. Don't leave here without putting in place solutions to these problems.'

Article Length: 1206 words (approx.)"

New standards in fuel efficiency

The sanetors who opposed tougher standard of fuel efficiency for American car makers should rethink.

Toyota, Honda given green light for fuel-cell cars - Yahoo! News: "Toyota, Honda given green light for fuel-cell cars "

TOKYO (AFP) - Toyota and Honda were given the the go-ahead from Japan's transport authorities to market certain types of fuel-cell cars without limitation. The two Japanese carmakers said they would aim to lease the environmentally friendly no-emission compact vehicles while stepping up efforts to lower costs for mass production in the future.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

She is selling her Masters Thesis to pay off her loan- Buy my MASTERS THESIS & help me pay off student loans!!

eBay item 5589456397 (Ends Jun-19-05 00:54:41 PDT) - Buy my MASTERS THESIS & help me pay off student loans!!

Oh Boy! She is asking for $200 max. I just wonder would that be enough to pay off her loans. Well! She may think of keep auctioning off copies of her thesis and may be able to generate more money. I would say a $50 starting price would be good. As is it is not published, yet some people may be interested in her thesis for reference purposes.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Money makes Microsoft's Mare Go

Microsoft joins hands with Yahoo!, Google to censor China's web - Yahoo! News: Mon Jun 13, 3:57 AM ET
BEIJING (AFP) - Users of Microsoft's new China-based Internet portal have been blocked from using the words "democracy", "freedom" and "human rights" in an apparent move by the US software giant to appease Beijing.

Other words that could not be used on Microsoft's free online blog service MSN Spaces include "Taiwan independence" and "demonstration". Bloggers who enter such words or other politically charged or pornographic content are prompted with a message that reads: "This item should not contain forbidden speech such as profanity. Please enter a different word for this item". Officials at Microsoft's Beijing offices refused to comment.

When microsoft finally said it will support GL bill, I thought they are trying to project themselves as sponsors of free speech but from the above news it has just turned out that everything they do is for profit.

"Money makes the mare go"

Dull at Any Speed > Print Edition > Sunday Outlook Dull at Any Speed: GM Never Learned to Shift Gears
By Maryann N. Keller Sunday, June 12, 2005; Page B01

In a Detroit suburb in the late 1980s, General Motors established a large technical facility it called the Mona Lisa center, where its engineers disassembled Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys in a desperate search for the secret of their Japanese competitors' success. They analyzed the smallest pieces trying to figure out the best attributes to include in future GM models. The reasons for GM's decline could have been found there on the floor of the Mona Lisa center, but not among the parts. It was the whole approach. Taking apart existing cars is a backward-looking exercise; it doesn't tell you what's going to sell four or five years down the road. So while GM was staring in its rearview mirror, its competitors were zipping ahead."

Maryann it sounds like you did find the right problem. Reverse engineering is for those who want to build something from scratch not for thsoe who are already producing something. GM should have tried to find out what will make their car sell.

As a consumer I can tell what average consumer says when it comes buying to a car.
1. Their car consumes more gas
2. The transmission dies out at less than 100,000 miles while Japanese on average last more than 200,000 miles.
3. GM cars may give you more comfort inside but how much time do we spend in our car on an average work day?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Is there going to be another belly landing for the economy?

Bond Market Baffles Many Observers - Yahoo! News: NEW YORK - Bond prices are rising and yields have plunged to levels not seen in more than a year — and all this is happening as the
Federal Reserve has tripled short-term interest rates over the last 12 months.

The situation has baffled many market-watchers, who had forecast just the opposite would happen. Even Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan says he is puzzled by what is going on here and elsewhere around the world where bond yields are generally falling.
. . . .
That may help make sense of the recent bond-market moves — which Greenspan himself said this week are "clearly without recent precedent." In February he called the situation a "conundrum."

Just listen to what he had to say this week about all the confusion.

In remarks to the International Monetary Conference, he talked about how the plunging yields could be a sign that the economy's growth is slowing down. But he then backed away from that argument when he said that "periodic signs of buoyancy" in some parts of the world have not stopped the retraction in the yield.

He also said that should the yield curve become inverted — which happens when short-term yields exceed long-term yields — that won't necessarily be a "forward indicator for softening economic activity" as it has been before. "We would not automatically assume that it would mean what it meant in the past," he said.

Friday, May 13, 2005

My Wife Graduated with a Phd in Economics

My wife finally graduated from Kansas State University with a PhD degree in Economics today. I am planning for Augsut 2005

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Just been busy in research

Just been busy and trying to finsih my PhD research. I have however updated my other blog (about Pakistan)

As soon as my PhD research work load reduces I will start updating my weblogs regularly.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Tiger and Bull Story (Can microsoft's bull beat Apple's tiger?)

Apple is bringging out its bombproof operationg system Mac OS X 10.4 code name Tiger by mid 2005. Microsft's much awaited Long Horn is far from reality. It was supposed to be released in 2003 and now defered to 2006. The tiger runs faster than bull and Apple's Steve Jobs is all set to prove it. I am fascinated by the preview of the tiger and already thinking about switching my Dell machine. The price is the key and Steve is bent to prove it that he will make it affordable so that people who have been waiting for an alternative operating system don't stand and wait until they are completely frustrated with Windows. The OS X Panther is already selling at an afordable price of $129 for single user and $199 family pack (a price for which you will get single user XP pro upgrade only, $299 for full version) and mini mac is selling for just $499 only 2" in height. What else you need? Tiger: smart, sleek, and light weight on budget will sprint faster; Long Horn Bull, bulky is heavy on budget and nerves due to security breakdowns. let's see how fast it runs against Tiger. Would it become bearish in long run in front of Tiger's leap and pace? Bull is just snoring in the stable and is not out yet.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Wage differentials and sex discrimination

I blogged about Harvard University's Presidents controversial remarks about women's appointment in teaching, research and scientific achievements. Here is an interesting article that highlights same issue with a different angle.

The endogenous growth theory also looks specifically at the contribution of gender and fertility towards economic growth. A list of readings can be found at Jonathan Temple's Economic Growth web site

Who Says A Woman Can't Be Einstein?

At least I wont say that. My wife is an aspiring economist and she will be finishing her PhD in May 2005. May be a semester earlier than me. By the way she started a year later than I started my PhD. I will tell you inside story some other time.

At this moment just enjoy the Time magazines' story.
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2005

There was something self-destructive about Harvard University President Larry Summers' speech on gender disparities in January. In his first sentence, he said his goal was "provocation" (rarely a wise strategy at a diversity conference). He called for "rigorous and careful" thinking to explain the gender gap among top-tier tenured science professors. But he described his pet theory with something less than prudence. The most likely explanations, he said, are that 1) women are just not so interested as men in making the sacrifices required by high-powered jobs, 2) men may have more "intrinsic aptitude" for high-level science and 3) women may be victims of old-fashioned discrimination. "In my own view, their importance probably ranks in exactly the order that I just described," he announced.

It's always perilous to use science to resolve festering public debates. Everyone sees something different—like 100 people finding shapes in clouds. By the time they make up their minds, the clouds have drifted beyond the horizon..... "The brain is a sex organ," says Sandra Witelson, a neuroscientist who became famous in the 1990s for her study of Albert Einstein's brain. "In the last dozen years, there has been an exponential increase in the number of studies that have found differences in the brain. It's very exciting."

But that's just the beginning of the conversation. Read the rest at

Lawrence Summers comments though controversial but sucessful in initiating more research

Summers is a notable economist. Development economists talk about him often especially when they use famous Summer-Heston cross country data set for their research. In my personal unbaised opinion! He did a good job in generating a controversy as he was expected to do so by the NBER conference organizers. We will owe him all the research initiatives on gender and productivity issues which will follow his remarks in coming years.
Probably the gender gap has been one of the most neglected area among economist doing research on growth and productivity. Not any more! The time magazine has responded to the hottest debate in its most recent issue. It is interesting to see how times magzine looks inside the brain of a man and woman and gender disparities in science.