Author Archives: Jayant Bhandari

     

 

 

Shooting from the Hip

[ed. note: the tweets linked below mainly show videos from various lockdown phases]

 

Reminiscent of his demonetization effort in 2016, on 24th March 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared on TV and declared an immediate nationwide curfew. No one was to be allowed to leave wherever he or she happened to be. All flights, trains (after 167 years of continual operation) and road transportation came to a complete, shrieking halt.

 

Stranded in India… [PT]

 

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Value Traps and Economic Ignorance

A financial analyst is often, or at least should be, more of a psychologist than a financial expert. There are companies that I knew fifteen years ago that had inherent value a multiple of what their stocks were trading at. Today, there continues to be similar upside, except that upside targets and share prices are lower. What went wrong?

 

A problem reaches the far North faster than climate change can melt all the ice. [PT]

 

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Sticking it to the Man

A certain Reddit group has recently become very popular. For many people, the group has emerged as the savior of humanity. With their collective might, this group has brought a few hedge-funds close to bankruptcy.

 

GME daily, log and linear view – a brief surge, but quite a painful one for hedge funds that were  short the stock in size. [PT]

 

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Deep-Seated Racism and Happy-Smiley Hypocrites

In Delhi, people of the northeastern part of India, who have mongoloid features, are derogatorily called “chinky.” It is not unusual for men in Delhi to stop their cars to proposition a random girl from the northeast for a sexual encounter, assuming her to be “loose.”

Indians’ ignorance about the geography of their own country, their irrationality, superstitions and bigotry have been fertile ground in these days of Covid-19. People from the northeast have faced massive problems based on the assumption that they are carriers of the virus. They have been refused services at shops and have been thrown out by landlords.

 

Indians from the northeast being denied entry into a shop

 

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A Failure to Integrate Values

The only region in the world that has proactively tried to incorporate western culture in its societies is East Asia — Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. China, which was a grotesquely oppressed, poor, Third World country not too far in the past, notwithstanding its many struggles today, has furiously tried to copy the West.

 

Famous Greek philosophers: their thoughts are a cornerstone of Western culture. [PT]

 

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Freedom Rock

Hong Kong ranks among the freest societies in the world. Not only economically, but socially it is a very liberal place. It was marinated in British ways until 1997, much longer than Singapore and other colonies. Then China took it over as a special administered region, which according to the agreement with the UK meant that it was only nominally to be under Chinese control for the next 50 years. It was possibly the only colony in which a vast majority of citizens did not want the British to go.

 

Hong Kong skyline at night [PT]

Photo credit: Timon Studler

 

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Threats of Nuclear War

On February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force, for the first time since 1971, conducted a raid inside Pakistan, and allegedly hit a terrorist training camp, killing more than 250 terrorists. Pakistan showed photographs of damage to a tree or two. According to Pakistani officials, no one died and no infrastructure was damaged.

 

Mirage 2000 warplane of the Indian Air Force in medias res. [PT]

Photo credit: hindustantimes.com

 

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Exciting Visions of a Bright Future

Fund Managers, economists and politicians agree on the exciting future they see in the Third World. According to them, the engine of the world’s economic growth has moved from the West to what were once the poverty-stricken societies of the Third World. They feel mushy about the rapid increase in the size of the Middle Class in the Third World, and how poverty is becoming history.

 

GDP of India vs. UK in 2016 – crossing over.

 

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Extracting Meaning from PPP

 

“An alternative exchange rate – the purchasing power parity (PPP) conversion factor – is preferred because it reflects differences in price levels for both tradable and non-tradable goods and services and therefore provides a more meaningful comparison of real output.” – the World Bank

 

Headquarters of the World Bank in Washington. We have it on good authority that the business of ending poverty is quite lucrative for its practitioners (not least because employees of multilateral organizations such as the IMF and the World bank have to pay no taxes whatsoever on their income – and the perks certainly don’t end there). A number of long-serving employees of the institution we have met over time have struck us as quite cynical and not particularly convinced that their efforts in developing countries were achieving much (and it was not for lack of trying). That is of course not the official line and merely represents anecdotal evidence based on a limited sample size. Experience tells us though that we should not dismiss such evidence out of hand – especially not if it rings true. The agency’s views on PPP are a sign that its economists probably don’t get out much. [PT]

Photo credit: Simone D. McCourte

 

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Known for Being Terrible

For the past few decades, Japan has been known for its stagnant economy, falling stock market, and most importantly its terrible demographics.

 

 

A chart of Japan’s much-bewailed demographic horror-show. Most people consider a declining population to be a bad thing due to the implications for assorted state-run pay-as-you-go Ponzi schemes, primarily those related to retirement. It is hard to be sympathetic, since it would have been possible to do something completely different from the outset. Even with respect to existing schemes, we don’t recall that anyone forced politicians to direct funds designated for funding social security claims to alternative uses at the time when these schemes still enjoyed a surfeit of revenues. Of course one has to be sympathetic to the future victims – those who paid in during their working lives and will end up getting stiffed. However, this is a problem that could be easily resolved by simply winding up the State in orderly insolvency proceedings prior to abolishing it. Most nation states have large amounts of assets at their disposal (e.g., they are often the by far largest land owners in the territories they control), which should suffice to cover the claims of creditors and to pay out the NPV of accumulated pension claims in lump sums. There is one way in which a declining population still has to be regarded as a drawback though. The market will so to speak have to function with fewer network nodes as the population shrinks. There will inevitably be a concomitant decline in distributed knowledge. Thus fewer ideas will occur to people and will be pursued; markets will become less efficient, the division of labor in the broadest sense will suffer a setback. Consider in this context that the market is the opposite of central economic planning in every way – the larger the network of people included in it, the better it will work for everyone. [PT] – click to enlarge.

 

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Political Correctness Hampers Honest Debate

What would the world be like today had Europeans never colonized Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, and South Asia?

 

Jayant speaks about Democracy, Welfare and Migration: The West’s March to Self-Destruction [PT]

 

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A Vulnerable System

Parliamentary democracy is vulnerable to the extremely dangerous possibility that someone with very little voter support can rise to the top layer of government. All one apparently has to do is to be enough of a populist to get elected by ghetto dwellers.

 

Economist and philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe dissects democracy in his book Democracy, the God that Failed, which shines a light on the system’s grave deficiencies with respect to guarding liberty. As Hoppe puts it: “Democracy has nothing to do with freedom. Democracy is a soft variant of communism, and rarely in the history of ideas has it been taken for anything else.” At first glance this may strike many people as an exaggeration, but considering the trends that have emerged over the past several decades, it seems difficult to refute this assertion. Particularly since the beginning of the so-called “war on terrorism”, individual liberty has suffered numerous setbacks in Western democracies, while the power of the State has grown to almost unheard of proportions. In a democracy everybody is in theory free to join the psychopathic competition for power (in contrast to the largely rigid power structures prevailing in feudal societies), but all things considered, that is a highly questionable advantage. In fact, in many ways it isn’t an advantage at all. [PT]

 

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