So Much for a Happy Series Finale

May 8, 2009

Moving back to Delhi has meant that I now watch TV that is not Balika Vadhu and Bigg Boss. My mother usually has FRIENDS turned on when I get home. These days, Star World is showing the final season again. And this made me realise…

So FRIENDS wrapped up in 2004, right? And in the last few episodes Chandler and Monica buy a house in the suburbs and move there with two newly adopted infants. Hmmm.

So basically they bought a house in the suburbs at what was almost the peak of the housing bubble. And now the housing bubble has collapsed. It’s possible that their mortgage is underwater and they owe more than the house is worth. Not only that, they have to pay for kids. But even worse than that, look at their jobs. Chandler is in advertising, which is the first thing that gets hit in a recession. And Monica is a chef and relies on people putting discretionary expenditure, which is also just not happening in these harsh times. Unemployment therefore looks very likely. And they live in New York, where health insurance is very much employer-dependent (my uncle is avoiding early retirement for this very reason). So, to summarise:

  • they’re paying much more in EMIs than their house is worth
  • they’re probably unemployed
  • and they have to take care of two small children

Their lives are truly miserable. Which means that there is actually hope for them – they now have a bright chance of getting on to a show on Colors.

Why Am I Bhadra?

October 13, 2008

My incoming links reveal that Chetan is asking why free market fundamentalists are not clamouring about the evil governments of the world looting the maid’s money.

Chetan, I cannot speak for anybody else, but I haven’t written about it yet because the details of the bailouts are unbelievably complex, and it’ll take me intense reading to understand them. I don’t want to write about things which I don’t understand yet. (This is why I have vowed to never write about US Healthcare.)

If you really want uninformed commentary by people who don’t know anything about what they’re talking about, I suggest you watch Indian news channels. Or read Shivam Vij who excels at that sort of thing.

OK, snark done. Serious answer now. Yes, I honestly do not understand the details of the bailout. Yes, I may read up on it more and then write about it seriously. But sleisha job crisis is happening on the personal front, so I may take time.

The only thing I have to say at this time concerns Tyler Cowen’s repeated statements that recapitalisation is a public good. They tie in with my repeated statements that the financial system is infrastructure as much as highways and power distribution are. So the statement is true, but public goods don’t necessarily have to be produced by the public sector.

Dare I Make a Microbrewery Joke?

September 27, 2008

Yesterday, Skimpy forwarded me this link, and immediately changed his tagline to “2 dollars. Why didn’t I bid for Lehman Brothers?”. This sparked the following conversation.

me: Look at it this wat
$2 = 93 rupees
3:26 PM
with that you could buy a hummus and pita bread
and have some change left over
would you be happier owning Lehman?

Karthik: 11 11

me: or having hummus and pita bread

Karthik: hummus

The original inspiration for using Lebanese fast food as a standard store of value came from this profound post by Kunal. Please read it.

Later on in that conversation, I brought up employee buyouts. But things quickly took a scatalogical and American-beer-bashing turn:

me: you know
4:30 PM
at two dollars, why didn’t the employees buy Lehman?

Karthik: agreer
would’ve beenfight to split the cost da
4:31 PM
2K people together put together 2$ => each guy pays 0.1 cent
how do they pay that to each other?

me: in beer
4:32 PM
Karthik: dei you don’t even get half a glass of beer for 2$
so what? each guy contributes a drop or what?

me: or they can deduct it from their PF

Karthik: 11

me: axshully
American beer is piss

Karthik: 11

me: each Lehman Europe banker contributes one drop of piss

Karthik: hahahaha
that’s tough too
just one dro

me: sells it to Dick Fuld as Budweiser

It’s not that tough. They can use droppers or something.

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The Worst is Yet to Come

September 17, 2008

In addition to ITC and UB becoming employers of choice, one further consequence of the investment banking meltdown is that Chetan Bhagat might soon be unemployed.

I can’t decide if this is good or bad. On the one hand, unemployment might mean he would start writing full time, and we would face the horrific prospect of a new Chetan Bhagat book every year. The horror!

On the other hand, it might force him to actually get a real and respectable job, like becoming a traveling salesman for Fair and Louwly in Coastal Andhra and South Andhra. True, he would probably be completely out of his depth at honourable work, but I’m sure even Chetan Bhagat can learn. And if that happened, he would have no time to write, thus sparing us all.

I feel that the pessimistic case is more likely, for the very reason I mentioned yesterday: in a depression, the vice economy does well. There is a lot more pain ahead.