Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Osama bin Laden’s ideology thriving a year after his death

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

One year after the elimination of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces in the daring Abbottabad operation of May 2, 2011, it is evident that while the terror group has been considerably weakened, it has been consolidating over the last few months and the ideology that bin Laden espoused is thriving in the Af-Pak region.

The appointment of Farman Ali Shinwari, a resident of the Khyber tribal region, as the new chief of the al Qaeda in Pakistan on the eve of the first death anniversary of bin Laden is indicative of this consolidation.

Furthermore, the fact that Shinwari is deemed to be among the more computer savvy of his compatriots would suggest that the al Qaeda is likely to enhance its outreach through the use of computers and cyberspace.

Is the economy drifting towards a crisis?

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

Standard & Poor’s India outlook downgrade was expected. What is disturbing — the government managed to do that in less than two years. It was in March 2010 that India was upgraded to ‘stable’ — and now it’s down to ‘negative’. It was not because the government took a wrong step but because it did not take any step at all. And if this continues, the economy will be confronted with a crisis.

India Market Weekahead – Time to “sell in May and go away”?

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

Markets were jolted this week by news that Standard & Poor’s cut India’s long-term rating outlook to negative from stable, citing slowing growth and a ballooning current account deficit. The negative outlook signals at least a one-in-three likelihood of the downgrade of India’s sovereign rating within the next 24 months.

The U.S. must move cautiously on Taliban reconciliation

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

The Obama Administration is seeking to negotiate with the Taliban as it continues a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Following recent setbacks for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan — including nationwide protests sparked by the accidental burning of Korans and a U.S. staff sergeant’s shooting rampage that killed 17 Afghan civilians — the Taliban suspended negotiations with the U.S. Some observers had touted the Taliban’s earlier willingness to open a political office in Qatar as a major breakthrough for a political process.

Will the rate cut boost auto sales?

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

Last week, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut its lending rate by 50 basis points. This came as welcome relief for automakers as well as consumers since the domestic market was particularly sluggish last year, owing to high interest rates and an increase in raw material and fuel prices.

U.S.-Afghan agreement: Issues to be addressed

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

The draft strategic partnership agreement between the U.S. and Kabul to address their relationship after the completion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdrawal in 2014 has been arrived at after negotiations. The draft addresses the issues for ten years beyond 2014. A scrutiny of Afghan forces and the challenges they face highlights issues that merit inclusion in the agreement.

Investors shouldn’t read too much into repo rate cut

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

The last time the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) surprised the markets was when it announced a 75 bps cut in cash reserve ration (CRR) days before its mid-quarter review of monetary policy on March 15. It did so again in its annual monetary policy meeting on April 17, with a 50 bps repo rate cut when the markets were either expecting no rate cut or a 25 bps rate cut at best.

RBI rate cut — too little, too late?

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

The RBI Governor cut the repo rate on April 17 quite reluctantly, even hinting there wouldn’t be another cut soon. Perhaps, he was under pressure from elsewhere, compelling him to look beyond inflation which had been his sole criterion in raising the repo rate.

India hiding from its own ‘crap’

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By C. Uday Bhaskar

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

India, to put it euphemistically, is awash in its own ‘crap’ — a word derived from old Dutch to mean excrement. While accurate to an alarming degree, coming soon after the euphoria over the Agni missile tests, the discomfiture is evident.

India Market Weekahead – Volatile market within a narrow range

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

A sharper-than-expected cut of 50 basis points in the repo rate boosted the benchmark indices early during the week. However, as expected, the Nifty could not gain higher than 5350 as apprehensions about the limited scope of further rate cuts suppressed sentiment.

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