Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hard times ahead !!!

So finally, double-digit inflation is here to stay. And while it was expected to some extent because of the fuel price hike, but no-one expected it to touch 11%, as was announced on Friday. Certainly not the markets, which had factored a 10% figure. And when lightning struck, the indices took a big beating and ended well below the crucial 15000/4400 levels. And this time, not many analysts are taking a call on the next 'support' levels. What that means is that how long and deep the market falls is anyone's guess. Now with Ms. Behenji withdrawing support to the UPA, the stage might be set for another tumble at the markets this week.

But for the common man who is more concerned about how much one kg of onions cost rather than how much the Reliance share fell, things are becoming increasingly difficult. With the fuel price already hiked (and once oil crosses $150 by July, as is widely expected, one can expect further pressure on the government), most essential commodities are likely to go up sooner or later. And rest assured, you can expect public transport to be dearer as well. This will lead to decreased consumer spending and hence falling demand for a variety of goods, thereby hurting many a company's bottomlines and, in turn, their investors, many of whom are the same consumers that are not spending !!! So it ends up at a double whammy, the common man/retail investor has not only to deal with higher spending on what is essential for him, but on the other hand he also is witness to falling returns from his various investments !!

And the sad part is, no-one is sure how long will this last. Till then, one can only wait and watch...


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Clinging on for dear life !!

A sad story in today's DNA (read here) about a woman who fell off a running suburban train in Mumbai and died subsequently. While many people would think it is possibly the freakiest way to lose your life, in Mumbai it is reality of everyday life and commuting. It is estimated that nearly 8-10 people slip off running trains every day and some of them never rise again. Just that Swati's case got highlighted (as was the case of Naseeruddin Shah's son a few months, though thankfully he was saved). And having travelled in Mumbai local trains for quite a few years now (and in the so-called 'peak flow direction' from the suburbs to the city every morning) I can testify as to how risky it is. I remember one day about a year back when I was in almost the same condition as Swati. With only my fingers and the front part of the feet touching the train and the remaining part about a foot outside the door with no-one behind for support, I was in an awkward ")" position. And boy, did I cling on to dear life !! From the time I 'boarded' the train at Goregoan till Andheri (where a few people got off from the opposite door and I was able to get more of a foothold), I was actually praying for my life. One push or shove from the people inside and I would not be typing this today. It was definitely one of the most terrifiying experiences that I ever had. From that day, I swore never to board any train unless there was somebody behind me for support, and definitely no hanging business. But to think that there are people who take these risks on a regular basis really shudders me. I can only pray to God to guard their lives !!!!