In Pragati

June 4, 2008

I have an article on how finance is actually infrastructure and financial sector reforms out in this month’s edition of Pragati. The link to the article gives you an excerpt and you’ll have to download the PDF version (slightly less than 2 MB) to read the full thing.

The article had a checkered history. I had almost finished researching it when I suddenly had to dash to Delhi. When I returned to Bangalore I fell sick and told Ravikiran and Nitin I wouldn’t be able to write it after all. The fact that I had no furniture in this point and writing would have to be done propped up against a wall may have contributed. Then I came to Bombay where I had a guesthouse with a dsek, and called up and offered to write it after all.

By this time I was five days over deadline and had to write it in a mad rush between ten and two in the morning at my guesthouse. The next day I had to check out of the guesthouse and didn’t have a new one to shift to, so I finished the article between noon and three in the afternoon while squatting in an unoccupied cabin next to an FX dealing room. Sadly, I had finished the bit about currency markets and was writing about financial inclusion and regulation by then.

Anyway, the result of all this was that I wrote the article in practically stream-of-consciousness style. As a result, not only was it a week over deadline, it was 1200 words over the word limit. It is a tribute to Ravikiran’s mad editing skillz that the article is now within the limit and still readable.

Beer Arbitrage

June 4, 2008

Via Skimpy‘s Google Reader Shared Items, I have discovered this wonderful website: It’s the wikipedia of beer prices. Users e-mail in the price of a pint of beer wherever they live or travel, and the data are updated down to city level. The listed price of a pint in Bombay, for instance, is USD 1.82 – which is accurate enough.

The website also lists the ten cheapest, and the ten most expensive countries in the world for a beer. What’s really interesting is that in Rwanda, a pint is only 0.32 GBP, while in neighbouring Burundi, it’s at least three times more – 0.94 GBP in Bujumbura, and a whopping GBP 5.51 in Burundi City.

Imagine the arbitrage opportunity at the border! This, I feel, is the future of finance – FX traders carrying yen will be replaced by beer traders carrying Urgwagwa.