2008 what's your crisis?

The year draws to an end and there is still so much wrong with the world. It may be a pessimistic outlook but sadly the human race seems to be defined by the crises that befall it. We are naturally cynical towards the good things in life. an uncorrupt government? a war to be won? Equality and universal acceptance? Not all of us would meet these statements with complete optimism. We believe in the weaknesses of the human race. We believe in the age old tome of our lives; 'perfection is impossible', 'nothing is and ever will be perfect' we keep telling ourselves. but are we so far away from perfection as we think? I do not know. But there is hope.

After that somewhat soppy start, let me list out the major crises/ happenings of 2008 that will define the following years as i see them off the top of my head. But pertaining to the cynical nature of the race on Earth, i have referred to any significant event as a 'crisis' so you may think it’s a good thing, but somebody somewhere will suffer because of it, perhaps owing to its imperfect nature.

The War - can it be won? how many of us are really dying in Killinocchi? why are they not allowing reporters in there of everything is going our way? What’s really going on.

The Economy - Both local and global. it shifted the world around. Having worked for a US bank involved specifically in the area of lending to subprime customers, I was privileged to see firsthand what was going on. although I left that place sometime before the crisis hit. Greed and capitalism deregulation and irresponsibility plunged the world into darknessssss...

Nigeria - Here is a country absolutely loaded with oil reserves, wealthy as the wealthiest country in the world potentially, whose people are still suffering without basic living conditions. Corruption has reached astronomical heights and practically all the petrodollars are going into the private coffers of government officials.

What’s sad to see is the international community does not do much about it. They're in cahoots with the government of course; it's all about pillage, plunder and take what you can. The less powerful and helpless the people, the better. Nobody cares about the Nigerian people as long as they can get the oil. They are terrorized. and terror begets terror. Therefore arises the MEND. and they are branded terrorist. Kind of like the

FARC - originally a bunch of helpless Columbian farmers, fighting the industrialization of their forests. The loss of their rivers due to the building of dams. The world tried to run over them and they fought back, and another terrorist group was born.

The Middle East - namely Palestine, I do not know if there have ever been a single race of people so downtrodden and treated unfairly as these. I mean the actually cut off electricity and food supplies to the whole nation because o a political fight. This can only occur when the powerful are so vain and corrupt as the forces that instigated the unfortunate humanitarian crisis in the name of 'democracy'. Ironically, it was in protest of Hamas, who gained rule of the Gaza strip in democratic elections as opposed to their opponents who were more friendly to the West.

Global Warming - It wages on and things seem to be improving really slowly. We are beginning to see a major movement emerge in popular culture in support of the environment. But a part of me is cynical, because there really doesn’t seem t be a significant change happening.

Africa - As opposed to the rest of the world, Africa alone as a continent seem to be going through a lot. Inflation in Zimbabwe is reaching unbelievable levels, one wonders why the economy has not simply crashed apart. Aids is spreading like wildfire, one advice to you i'll give, if you're in Africa, feeling horny, and want to get it on, don't. For the love of sweet life, don't.

Obama - The embodiment of change, an end to Bush who incidentally is probably the worse one man crisis to ever hit the world since Satan himself, Obama seems to embody everything opposite. but his rhetoric draws out the cynic inside, is he really all that? Well, we'll see, but don't expect fire crackers right away.

The Balance of Power - We are finally reaching a point where there are clear signs of the beginnings of decentralization in the world's power base. Russia, Iran and China are in the forefront of the challengers to the US followed by India, Brazil and Sri Lanka (not). But fifty years is a long time to build a power base and the US is still by far the most powerful country on Earth. interesting times ahead.

So thats my list of where the world stands in terms of significant happenings as at the end of 2008. Now I'm curious to hear about yours, and what events of the world impacted your view of this year and the years following immediately afterwards. So unfortunately im gonna tag a few of you thinkers out there to ensure your kind response :D sorry. Indi, Dean, Aufidius, My prerogative, Jack Point, Noorie, LD And the Mathawaada crew you're it.

Petrol

for one hundred bucks a few months ago may have seemed like a dream to many, well i know it was dream to me. now, thanks to lanka IOC at least, the dream seems to have materialized again.

Now here's the deal though. petrol prices still haven't 'officially' been reduced to one hundred bucks, and IOC controlling only one third of the petrol market, will soon begin to feel the demand pressure with the full market force focused on it. Since no one in their right minds would buy petrol from CPC at 122 when they could guzzle it down at 100 bucks at IOC.

This is going to put a definite strain on their operations. Also, if CPC as the only wholesale supplier of petrol to the local market, refuse to reduce their wholesale price in compliance with the SC order, then that’s going to put a tough constraints on margins.

So they've got reduced margins, but increased demand, by almost 200 percent as a matter of fact. Assuming constant supply of oil, will this still be a profitable formula for IOC? they'll definitely bring in tons of new revenue but will their cost model be able to hold it up.

They've probably thought about all this. And maybe they know something about the political situation that I don't. One thing’s for sure this was a pretty good marketing ploy. Remember back in the day when IOC had a bad reputation because of perceived exploitative motives in the SL petroleum market? They hadn't quite untarnished their image as yet but hell, this hundred bucks thing will definitely put them in the public's affectionate eye.

Going on like this while the official price remains at 122 will not last though. if they keep at it and absorb reserves from India to cover up losses made through giving oil at 100 bucks, they could completely destroy the image, market share and business of CPC's retail division and hell man I’m all for that. Not too sure of they'll be able to get away with such anti competitive practices, but the possibility definitely exists.

If they can't then they'll simply switch back to 122 bucks a liter in a little while. But there is still hope that our block headed cabinet will actually move and reduce the prices. What’s the point of law if the government doesn't adhere to it?

Dictator Rising

Watch out people. If we're not too careful soon this island could turn into a dictatorship. I am not saying it is now, neither am I saying it is definitely heading that way but look at the signs.

A quick look at the ingredients for a healthy dictatorship.

1) Consolidated power base - Gee, I don't know, like maybe family members holding almost all the positions of real power in the government

2) Winning the war - One thing's for sure, if the war is won when Our beloved President (OBP) is in power, that will be the final and most impactful element he'd use to secure;

3) The Army - Win the war and you've got a highly loyal army standing around doing nothing. Easy peacy job it'll be to use them to counter any public uprisings and to ensure a,

4) Trounced opposition- Ranil is old news man. the masses don't like him anyway. The opposition needs to be vamped up, but they're fast losing power as it is and have done next to nothing to stop the existing government from doing exactly what it wants..

5) Support of the masses - things were different when the presidential elections were held. Ranil almost won that and most say that if it wasn't for the North-East voting block he'd have been the next president but no matter, the war is going good and public sentiment is strongly in favor of it, therefore we can safely say that the support of the masses at least by a lean majority, lies with OBP. When the war is won, he'll have them eating out of his hand.

6) Disrespect for the law - Supreme court anyone? or the suspension of the constitution? I mean it's only the effing constitution after all.

And finally and most importantly

7) A Passive People - we don't give a shit as long as our bellies are full yeah? we're not going to take to the streets if we can just as comfortably sit on our couches and watch other people do it. Like I said, the masses will be taken care of, and if the masses are not angry enough, the revolution wont happen.


Mix it all together with a generous dose of lies and treachery and viola! instant dictatorship. Pretty soon you and me will find ourselves done with the 'war on terror' and fighting a war for democracy. Bon appétit.

This whole hedging thing

Basically Its a form of security, or insurance if you may. The government took out security against the prices of oil increasing and opted for a zero collar hedging base (where there is a sort of a ceiling and a floor to the price of oil, with a gap in between). So if the prices of oil increases above the ceiling or the highest set limit the bank doing the hedging would pay the difference to the government. Meaning that the maximum we'd ever essentially have to pay for oil would be that set price ceiling, no matter how high the prices rose.

Now, at the time the government ventured into this deal prices were skyrocketing and there was talk of $200 oil. So no regrets there right? We were all on the fast track saving a lot of money while the banks bore the burden. But the moment the price of oil started falling and kept falling past the price ceiling, the gap in between and the price floor? It became pretty apparent that the government would have to pay a significant premium on a barrel of oil that was going dirt cheap and getting cheaper by the day.

So we shat in our nappies and started beating our feet on the ground kicking up a fuss crying 'corruption!' at the top of our lungs. It's pathetic really. They got themselves a scapegoat, and no matter what I may have said about Fowzie sacking him was not exactly solving the problem. Its just another example of the bullshit the government resorts to, to try and cover its own ass. If the hedging thing was a bad idea in the first place, then the blame should be on everyone involved, Cabraal, the Chairman and the freaking cabinet. Oh yeah, they've all forgotten about who actually approved of the whole thing.

This Central Bank press statement sheds some light on how the whole thing started off, as well as some basic information on hedging itself.

Specific figures relating to the whole things are suspiciously unavailable so I don’t know as to the exact date when this was implemented and how much of our import volumes were actually hedged. Also no idea as to the price ceiling or the floor that was taken up (please let me know anywhere where some numbers can be found), and why exactly these buggers didn’t complain about corruption when they were getting cheaper oil when it was trading $150 per barrel.

And in the meanwhile, screw the credit ratings and investor confidence. We can probably win them back with our natural charm and a cup of white tea yeah? Long live the Banana Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Will Dialog kick the bucket?

There is, surprisingly (?) an overwhelming level of confidence within the company it will survive through the oncoming onslaught. So far all it's been is a war of hype.

Like a playground bully threatening unbelievable physical damage if the lunch box is not handed over, but never really having to go through with it due to the fear induced in his victims, the mere news of Airtel, biggest player in India, massively profitable, phenomenally experienced etc entering the market has succeeded in turning the telecom sector upside down over the past few months. rates have dropped to hitherto unheard of levels. Dialog's revenues have dropped, share prices have dropped further and they reported a loss for Q3 2008 for the first time ever after 40 quarters of operations.

Truth be told, Mobitel would have played a much bigger role in bringing down Dialog's profits than threats of new entrants. Propelled by big capital infusions, great marketing campaigns and technological innovations Mobitel had started gaining a substantial chunk of Dialog's market share by the time the giant actually woke up to realize that Jack was out the door and fast on the way to the beanstalk already.

Also, major reasons for cuts in revenue are attributed to diversification strategies that are yet to turn into cash cows which require a substantial amount of group revenues to maintain. DTV, CDMA and Broadband segments are performing well, and there is expectation that they will soon break even and yield profits.

Some would say the timing is bad, that Dialog needed all its financial clout to focus on a suddenly volatile market. Time will tell if it was a stupid move or a brilliant one. And now is the time that the mettle of Dialog's charismatic leaders Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya and Nushad Perera will be really tested and proven. Anyone can lead when cruising, but real leaders shine out during a crisis.

There is however, a lot of readjustment required. Dialog suffers from a bureaucratic and heavily process driven culture and some may say that it's already too big for its own good. Airtel, on the other hand is rumored to sport and extremely lean operation outsourcing everything from customer service to engineering and are said to be entering the local market with around 200 direct staff vs. Dialog's 4000 or so. They operate in India with 2000, for a customer base of 80 million or so.

Heavy reorganization started taking place inside Dialog Telekom more than a year ago, but a fully operational smooth internal culture is yet to emerge.

So if you chaps are licking your lips waiting for December's end when Airtel is finally supposed to launch with a massive event including Shah - Rukh Kahn and A.R. Rahman and think they'll sweep the floor with the existing players with one blow, wait and see, and I will join you. These are interesting times indeed for those working in the telco sector.

Bring the violence, insignificant.

Violence seems to have taken over the world man. We as human beings have an amazing capacity for evil. Inside each one of us there's a Ripper waiting to break out. We're not born this way. It's our lives and how we live it that shape us, so next time you look in the mirror, know that there's a devil inside just waiting to jump out.

I was just watching this jarring video clip. What makes ordinary university students act so brutally? probably a petty territorial dispute? The e-mail warned 'not for the faint of heart!' so i'll simply transmit that message to you. Please share any insight below.


video