Intellectual Thoughts by Sanjay Panda: November 2008

How many more?????????- Terror in India

A terrorist attack every month through 2008. The scale gets bigger, and bolder. The response from the security agencies so far..??????. The country needs to see much more being done. A demand of an anti-terror law was pushed to a corner under the pretext that laws have been misused. A home minister who has been in a state of denial all these years has now found his government announcing yesterday the creation of a federal investigation agency.

LeT, whose cadres are known to be funded and trained by the Pakistan army's ISI are found to be involved once again , it means that India should not harbour any illusions about Pakistan's intentions. The induction of a civilian government in Pakistan has changed nothing. India must act with this knowledge, and put the maximum international pressure to make Pakistan pay the price for its misadventures.

Will Indian politician will rise to this occasion or its business usual. ( I hope all of them are not carrying the several sets of prepared speech in their pocket and waiting for the next round of such tragic terror to happen. If it happens then they are ready to deliver the instantaneous speech to address the nation with their crocodile tears. ( Politicians should be the best Actors. AB, SRK et al, Are you all wondering why it is not happening so far?????)

So far its clear, winning of the trust vote by Mr. Singh in the parliaments seems to be mandate for militants/ terrorists winning the trust & confidence of striking any where with in India with out any obstacle and fear. ( If you follow the stats)

Energy CTL Technology - Tough Choice

Companies are sparring for the maiden coal to liquids (CTL) project, which is expected to produce 80,000 barrels of oil a day . As the government is zeroing in on a private player who would offer the best technology, the Tatas have written to the government about “technology risks” associated with the technology adopted by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL).

RIL has technological partnership with US-based Headwaters Energy services, while Tatas have a tie up with Sasol, the South African company that pioneered the CTL concept way back in 1955.

While Headwaters uses its proprietary direct coal liquefaction process, Sasol adopts the indirect coal liquefaction method using the ‘Fischer-Tropsch’ process. In the former approach, the coal is dissolved in a solvent at high temperature and pressure, the latter gasifies the coal and then condenses it to form petroleum products. Nothing is clear though about which is the best and proven method.

CTL technology is still not proven on a large scale, but there is vigorous R&D going on globally in this area. India is considering using Headwaters’ technology, but Sasol seems to have an edge after Tatas mentioned in their letter that China has recently pulled out of a deal with Headwaters.


Euro economy to barely grow in 2009

The European Commission said the region's economy probably entered a recession this year and will stagnate in 2009.Economic growth in the euro area will slump to 0.1 percent next year, the worst performance since 1993, It also estimated that gross domestic product will shrink for three consecutive quarters this year and cut its forecast for full-year 2008 growth to 1.2 percent from 1.3 percent previously. Manufacturing contracted at a record pace in October and faster than initially estimated.

In addition to flooding markets with cash, central banks across the world have also begun slashing interest rates to limit the economic impact of the financial crisis. The European Central Bank is set to cut its benchmark rate this week for the second time in less than a month after the U.S. Federal Reserve lowered its rate to match the lowest level in a half-century. Policy makers in Japan, India and Norway have also cut borrowing costs.

The Irish, Spanish and U.K. economies will all contract next year, while Germany, Europe's largest economy, France and Italy will stagnate. For 2010, the EU sees the overall euro-area economy expanding by 0.9 percent.

Tough time awaits for Indian INC - debt burden

Indian companies have to redeem around $44.57 billion of overseas debt between now and December 2009 in an economic environment where money has become scarce and costly. This debt funded for their domestic expansion and overseas acquisitions.

This is a pretty big issue, as the cost of borrowing could remain high for some time to come.To be sure, some of the companies, such as Hindustan Zinc, say they have repaid their loans ahead of schedule.Most companies, however, usually pay their debts only when they are due or, if the foreign currency is appreciating, replace foreign debt with local borrowings. This means Indian firms will find it difficult to roll over their old debt and raise new debt. This will affect their expansion plans as bankers do not expect the scenario to change anytime soon. Apart from the cost of borrowings, Indian firms also need to take forward cover for their overseas loans to hedge the currency fluctuation risk when they pay back their loans by buying dollars from the market. The local currency has lost at least 20% against the greenback this year.

When the Libor rose sharply—reflecting the rise in credit risk in London—the rates at which the Indian firms had borrowed went up. Beyond the rise in debt servicing, Indian firms and banks also saw the cost of rolling over their maturity debt rise sharply as the money market in London dried up. As the costs of rolling over debt rose sharply, Indian firms borrowing in London found themselves structurally short of dollars. They responded by borrowing in the Indian short-term money market, converting the funds into dollars, using the proceeds to meet external debt obligations.