US presidential polls: The Democrats push back

The Democrats convention seems to have given them a bump up in the polls and for the first time in four months they beat the Republicans in fund raising. At present they seem ahead but just by a nose. They now must build on the momentum

A week after the Republicans convened in Tampa, Florida to anoint Mitt Romney as the Republican challenger in the presidential race, the Democrats had their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. North Carolina is a reliably Republican state through President Barrack Obama captured it in the last election by 14,000 votes and the Democrats clearly have their eyes set on it in this election, though they were trailing in the polls till the convention began.

As soon as the convention got under the way the advantages of going second were clearly evident. The Democratic performance could be now benchmarked against the Republican performance and the Democrats who had heard the case made against them by the Republicans could answer back, if need be point by point. That role was taken up by former President Bill Clinton, who on the second day of the convention, gave a master class by demolishing Paul Ryan’s speech point by point and urging Democrats and Americans at large to stay the course and keep the faith with President Obama. This was particularly ironic because four years ago President Obama had defeated Hillary Clinton to take the Democratic nomination.
But President Obama in a shrewd political move had co-opted Hillary Clinton in his presidency and made her the secretary of state a role which she carried off with aplomb. He had also mended his fences with the former president who now returned the favour. It was said that President Clinton had one eye on a run for the Presidency in 2016 by Hillary Clinton.

The highlight of the first day was the speech of Michelle Obama who gave a testimonial to the President. Beautifully attired, she started by recalling the days when they had begun dating, stating that Barrack Obama would take her out in a car where she could see the road on which they were driving and said as to how the President had not changed in the last four years despite his being in the White House. Her speech was a testimonial to Barrack Obama being a regular guy miles away from Mitt Romney. She remembered as to how every day the president had dinner with her and the girls at six-thirty in the evening. Her speech was a little different from Ann Romney’s speech, whose role had been to introduce her husband Mitt Romney to the public at large as a husband. Much more is known about Barrack Obama but a wife’s testimonial can never really hurt and it was particularly crucial in the year when the Democrats are heavily relying on the women vote to see them through.

President Clinton had been scheduled to speak as the last speaker on the second day, a role generally given to the keynote speaker, and as President Clinton gave his master class on recent American politics, it was clearly evident that this was a move that paid off spectacularly. The former president said that President Obama had inherited a mess from President George Bush and had a clean-up job on hand of mammoth proportions which was not yet complete. He urged the Americans to stick with President Obama for four more years. He then attacked the stonewalling of the Republicans in the congress and described as to how the Republicans had blocked several of the President’s initiatives in congress.
Then he crucially spoke of his days as president and as to how he had converted a deficit into a surplus, which is the last surplus that Americans have seen. He said there was only one word to describe it and that was MATHAMATICS—implying that the Republican proposals did not add up. If I remember correctly he said the word three times and then he turned his attention to healthcare and said as to how to how it was important to Americans.

Then he did the ultimate demolition job. He took apart Paul Ryan’s plan brick by brick and said memorably that Paul Ryan has plenty of brass to attack President Obama for taking $760 billion off the medicare budget and put it in Obama care when his plan exactly did the same thing. This is an election which is now going to boil down to trust because the narratives on the two sides are so different that the American people will have to take that final leap as to who they are going to vote for based on trust and I believe Bill Clinton did a lot in drawing the Americans towards the Democrats. He spoke to each and every American as if he was speaking to him or her personally and explained the nuts and bolts of policy. As the Americans love to say he levelled with them. But that is why he is the Great Bubba, the larger than life former president and at 66 has lost none of his charisma.

President Obama spoke on the last day. He had done something crucial before he came on to the podium. The words God and Jerusalem which had vanished from the Democratic manifesto were back and that was at the president’s insistence. The president spoke as smoothly and eloquently as he generally does. He said that Americans had a choice; they had clearly two paths before them. One was his path the other was Mitt Romney’s path which would take them back to the failed policies of the Bush years.

He talked about the middle-class and how the Republicans’ tax policies would increase the burden on the middle-class and favour the rich. He talked about things getting better over the next few years. He said that the Republicans would co-operate more. He said that the hard work had been done and better times lay ahead. He spoke of global warming and how green jobs had been created and what he would do for global warming. He told him about what he would do within the next four years.

The Democrats convention seems to have given them a bump up in the polls and for the first time in four months they beat the Republicans in fund raising. At present they seem ahead but just by a nose. They now must build on the momentum.

(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier's College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master's in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)


Rubbish to riches: Can Bangalore move back from being Garbage City to Garden City

Most Indian cities have problems in disposing their waste but some have managed to benefit from it by setting power plants and bio-gas plants. When will the planners of Bangalore wake up?
Frustrated by the inaction and at most times by inadequate clearing methods, Bangalore, the Silicon capital of India has degenerated into a garbage city from its premier position as the
Garden City of India, said, MLA, Ramalinga Reddy while addressing a large crowd of irate denizens of Bangalore in front of the Total Mall recently.
The Bruhat Bangalore Mananagara Palike, also known popularly as BBMP, is responsible for the collection and disposal of the city’s garbage, estimated to be around 5,000 tonnes per day!
This waste comes in various forms and shapes. It consists of wet waste (kitchen waste like vegetable peals, stems, etc and left-over food; dry waste covers paper, plastic and other items of metal, unusable scrap; electronic waste appears in the form of batteries, CDs, cartridges, etc while bio-medical waste comes mostly from hospitals but includes items like diapers, sanitary napkins, blades, torn clothes, etc.
The city has been divided into 198 wards, each having a counsellor. A garbage contactor employs sweepers to collect the rubbish and sweep the roads, leaving the materials in suitable locations for the BBMP trucks to collect. The BBMP has some 18,000 pournakarmikas (staff!) to load and carry the same to drop them off in assigned landfills, located away from the city, at such places like Mavallipura, Mandur and Terra Firma in Doddaballapur.
The problem recently became acute due to the protests by residents in the landfill areas who blocked the routes to the locations, thus forcing the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to order closure of the site. And, the result was uncollected garbage lying all over the city, making Bangalore a stinking metropolis!
Discussions with experts, officials and environment specialists reveal that up to 50% of the daily household waste can be identified as “wet waste” that needs to be separated and can be processed into organic manure. Careless residents tend to mix up the wet waste with others making  disposal of the garbage unmanageable, resulting in bad odour, stray dog nuisance and fertile ground for germs to grow, including mosquito menace, and the root cause for all sorts of seasonal diseases. If rains fall it creates a further mess.
It may recalled that India had received hundreds of container cargo, supposedly carrying scrap, but which turned out to be actually bringing in highly toxic materials into the country! It took quite a while before the government machinery could stop this nefarious practice, as shippers were simply untraceable.
Now, let us take a look at how the daily waste is disposed elsewhere in the country.  It is estimated that India generates around 70 million tonnes of waste every day, but, we have still not got around to converting this into a usable media for power generation.
In Delhi, by the end of this year, the second waste-to-energy plant generating electricity will go on  stream. These plants use most modern technology and the electricity produced at the Timarpur Okla plant is 16MW, while at Ghazipur the capacity is 10-12 MW. These plants generate power by burning the waste, while environmentalists argue and suggest that better ways would be to convert wet waste to compost for ecological reasons, thus benefiting by this method. But tackling this needs inherent cooperation from each and every household to take pains to separate wet and dry waste, and a good, organized collection agency is able to take care of it every day.
 Despite the establishment of several solid waste-treatment plants in Kerala, protests by residents in the areas have made the working difficult. Yet, six biogas plants have managed to function but the waste management crisis in the state has become a major development issue.
Chennai has an estimated 4,000 tonnes per day garbage for disposal, which continue to be dumped at assigned landfills, though, recently, couple of multinational companies have proposed to set up a modular plant with a10,000 tonnes per day capacity. Several community-oriented past moves by Exnora International, Neel Metal Fanalch, and finally by Ramky Enviro Engineers, who have started working in January this year hope to keep the city as clean as possible.
Finally, in Pune, it has recently been reported, that Pune Municipal Corporation has been able to rope in Corcord Blue Technology to handle about 1,400 tonnes of garbage that the city generates, and when the project is completed, it will be able to generate 10 MW of power every hour.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)


Price war among stock exchanges to break out soon?

With MCX-SX pricing its charges most competitively for brokers, what would be the reaction of other exchanges? NSE, the most expensive, but the richest exchange is yet to react. If it does, a bloody price war would break out

With MCX Stock Exchange’s (MCX-SX) announcement to begin its operations around Diwali, its ‘attractive’ transaction fee structure for members trading in equity cash, futures and options segments, is out. The comparative analysis of charges of the three exchanges show that the overall costs for brokers at MCX-SX are nearly 50% lower than that of BSE and NSE.

Comparative transaction charges in Equity Cash Segment


In the cash segment, while NSE’s price is on the higher side, BSE and MCX-SX seem to be on par. BSE’s charges are uniform across value segments, and even more for active orders. Remember, BSE offers add-on incentives for trading higher volumes. Data collected by Moneylife in August 2012 indicated an incentivised trading volume of Rs3,420 crore by broker members of BSE.


Comparative transaction charges in Equity Futures Segment

In the equity futures segment, MCX-SX’s charges are sharply lower than that of NSE.

Comparative transaction charges in Equity Options Segment


Interestingly, it is in the options segment that MCX-SX has decided not to compete hard; it is the most expensive. It may be recalled that BSE has been trying to promote its volumes in the options segment. BSE is by far the cheapest but applies that rate to active orders only. BSE incentivises brokers for trading volume, open interest, quoting obligations and overall transactions. According to Joseph Massey, MD and CEO of MCX-SX, the exchange has kept its transactions charges lower in order to create a deeper market penetration. According to Mr Massey, the lower transaction fee allows members to enjoy the additional, notional capital released, that would otherwise be blocked.

Moneylife had earlier written about how BSE has sharply reduced its charges in order to attract volumes ( ), and pointed out that BSE’s strategy of introducing lower costs as having a dual advantage. One, that BSE would take away business from the NSE in case the latter did not reduce charges. On the other hand, if NSE did, its huge profitability would suffer. In addition to that, BSE’s significantly lower charge structure was designed to raise entry the barrier for MCX-SX. But MCX-SX has now countered this with the most competitive charges in the market, except in the options segment where it has chosen to be expensive.

While BSE provides its brokers with incentives based on daily average trading volumes, MCX-SX, as of now, does not want to follow this strategy, said an MCX-SX spokesperson. MCX-SX has, however, decided to widen its membership reach. It has extended its membership offer to different categories of people, including rural entrepreneurs, which it claims, is expected to work towards financial inclusion.

A price war among the exchanges is brewing. It will be a matter of time before NSE reacts to MCX-SX’s pricing. It will impact the bottomline of all three players directly, mainly MCX-SX which is losing money from the currency options segment—all at a time when the business volumes are down and equities are widely seen to be unattractive.




5 years ago

The entry of another exchange will no doubt bring a price war out.But lets see just how much the retail is able to benefit from this .Currently the taxes on every transaction take away a substantial amount on every trade .Even though a cut in brokerage would be welcome by the trader community ,a cut on STT would go a long way in reducing costs per transaction.The fact is with reduced costs retail investors should use this and try to make some beneficial wealth for the short term as well.

K G Krupal

5 years ago

IF THE NEW STOCK EXCHANGE ALSO FOCUSES ON THE VOLUME IN LIEU OF QUALITY then it will add up for evaporation of Wealth and Investment cult, which will make markets more unstable.

When SEBI is thinking of demerging the DEBT Market from the existing Stock Exchanges and making a Separate Stock Exchange, new Stock Exchange can focus on this and try to spread the tentacles into the rural area and develop equity cult INVESTMENT.

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