Monday, February 13, 2006

Investing - India vs China

In an article titled India vs. China: Where to Invest?, Jeremy Seigel points out the pros and cons of investing in India v/s China. A key point that caught my eye apart from all the Tiger and Dragon references and the usual democracy issues is the value of the stocks. He says
The price-to-earnings ratio on this index has reached 21, while Chinese stocks on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are selling for only 15 times earnings. Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific Strategy recently indicated that it thinks valuation has turned the tide toward China.
The rate of growth on the BSE Sensex has made a lot of people quite rich, but also has doomsday predictions looming - referring to an impending to an imminent market crash, one that will hurt investors for a long time to come. Yet, I think that its atleast a year away, considering that the influx of foreign capital is not so much on promise (like the dot-com era in the 1990s), but backed up by solid performances by a lot of the companies. So while I am no economist, it seems like this growth will stay for a little bit - for atleast a year, if not more, as more and more FIIs continue to invest in the Indian markets. But Siegelman's points on risk, and diversification across the globe are certainly well taken.

One statement that particularly caught my attention was about corruption in India:
For India, these social networks and corruption are less of a problem. To be sure, dishonesty still exists in government service, but high level corruption is being vigorously rooted out by a free press that is absent in China.
I am not sure how accurate this statement is - while its not completely inaccurate either, there is a big leap of faith involved in making such a generalization. One Tehelka or Operation Duryodhan the basis of such a statement?

But by and large, an interesting quick read for someone thinking of investing in Indian/Chinese markets. And fairly accurate too, for the most part. Check it out

go steelers ...

its more than a week since the superbowl, but after all the posts i had leading up to it, i had to have atleast one celebrating their win in SuperBowl XL (a waste of a game, but the outcome was good!!) ...

does not matter if this post was a week late ... 'One for the thumb' was more 25 years overdue :)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Outstanding contributions

Sunil talks about outstanding research contributions that did not get rewarded with a Nobel Prize. He lists some memorable scientific achievements that were unlucky to miss out on a Nobel - including Einstein's work on relativity, and Pauling's contributions on elucidating the nature of alpha helices in proteins. Considering that only one Nobel prize is awarded per discipline every year, its no surprise that a ton of outstanding contributions got left out of the awards list.

This post reminded me of an article in The Scientist that talked about seven outstanding technological advances that have revolutionized life sciences research. The same issue also gives a popular science description of these technologies, alongwith an excellent chronological listing of major breakthroughs leading to the development and maturation of the technology. These seven big achievements are:

1. The automated DNA sequencer - starting with the first one from Applied Biosystems in 1986 that enabled the success of the Human Genome Project
2. The BLAST algorithm - stands for Basic Local Alignment Search Tool - and remains the workhorse bioinformatics tool for navigating through the immense amount of sequencing data that poured out
3. The DNA microarray - that lead to the formation of Affymetrix, today a $2.5B corporation
4. The yeast two-hybrid assay - for identifying protein-protein interactions.
5. The MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer - to quantify the relative abundance of thousands of proteins in a cell lysate - the foundation for proteomics.
6. The lab-on-a-chip - certainly an area of interest for me these past 3-4 years - microfluidics has allowed the incorporation of analytical methods on microfabricated chips, the resulting miniaturization ushering in a new age of rapid, high throughput analysis of tiny samples.
7. The optical trap – sophisticated optical tweezers to manipulate cells.

These advances in technology have evolved over many years, with key contributions by a number of eminent scientists and engineers, several of whom could have been recipient of Nobel prizes. Yet, in the long run, the legacy of a scientist is not measured by the number of Nobels, but by the impact of his scientific contributions, so I dont think Einstein would have been so upset about not getting the Nobel for his work in relativity .... he would have been satisfied seeing the E=mc2 actually works to generates nuclear energy for this planet