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Straight from the Specialists

India Markets Weekahead – It’s a no trade zone for now

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Indian markets were in a narrow Nifty band of 5550-5650 last week but volatility kept market participants on tenterhooks.

The winter session of parliament, as expected, opened with retail FDI being opposed by the Bharatiya Janata Party and other opposition parties. The logjam is expected to continue for some time as the Congress-led government seemed too strong-willed to be cowed by the threat to the passage of several financial bills.

Unless the government is able to convince its allies and some fringe parties, the FDI vote could shake investor confidence. The 2010 winter session of parliament was the worst in terms of productivity, followed by this year’s monsoon session. It remains  to be seen whether the ongoing session also enters the hall of shame. An all-party meeting on Monday should provide further clues.

Yet another infructuous parliament session?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Thomson Reuters)

The last session of parliament was a washout. The present one looks to be no different going by its chaotic start.

Kasab execution is reminder of Pakistani foot-dragging

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Nearly four years after the horrific Mumbai attacks that left over 160 dead, including six Americans, India put to death the lone surviving gunman, Pakistani citizen Ajmal Kasab.

Kasab hanging a resolute and prudent decision

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

By C. Uday Bhaskar

Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman among the perpetrators of the Nov. 26, 2008 attacks on Mumbai was executed by hanging at Pune’s Yerwada prison on Wednesday, bringing to judicial closure a high-profile case that had generated both anger and anguish in India.

Why online is the right way forward in life insurance

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Insurance in India is divided into two broad categories — life insurance and non-life insurance (also called general insurance). For the record, most retail non-life products such as health insurance, car insurance and travel insurance are already sold completely online by most insurers.

The year ahead: expectations and apprehensions

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The economy is presently under stress and there are no indications that recovery is underway in spite of recent reforms announced by the government. India is not alone in under-performance. But it has fared too badly for its own reasons.

Xi Jinping at the helm in Beijing, responsibility looms large

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The carefully orchestrated and much awaited leadership transition in Beijing was formally concluded on Thursday with the elevation of Xi Jinping as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China.

Is finance too competitive?

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The opinions expressed are his own

Many economists are advocating for regulation that would make banking “boring” and uncompetitive once again. After a crisis, it is not uncommon to hear calls to limit competition. During the Great Depression, the head of the United States National Recovery Administration argued that employers were being forced to lay off workers as a result of “the murderous doctrine of savage and wolfish competition, [of] dog-eat-dog and devil take the hindmost.” He appealed for a more collusive business environment, with the profits made from consumers to be shared between employers and workers.

Concerns about the deleterious effects of competition have always existed, even among those who are not persuaded that government diktat can replace markets, or that intrinsic human goodness is a more powerful motivator than monetary reward and punishment. Where the debate has been most heated, however, concerns the effects of competition on incentives to innovate.

Exit Afghanistan?

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The opinions expressed are his own

In his victory speech to a rapturous crowd in Chicago following his re-election, President Barack Obama affirmed that America’s “decade-long conflict” in Afghanistan will now end. The line was greeted with prolonged applause — and understandably so. In fact, this ill-advised war — launched on the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution — has been grinding on for 11 years, making it the longest in American history.

At the beginning, the war was aimed at eliminating Al Qaeda, vanquishing the Taliban, and transforming Afghanistan into something resembling a Western-style nation-state. With none of these goals fully achieved, America’s intervention — like every other intervention in Afghanistan’s history — is ending unsatisfactorily.

US-India strategic partnership set to grow in second Obama administration

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The re-election of President Barack Obama is likely to be more promising and fruitful for the growing strategic partnership between India and the United States. During the second Obama administration, his India policies are expected to be upgraded further and there would possibly be more tangible outcomes from policy pronouncements made in the last four years.

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