Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mumbai :Terror hits where it hurts the most

Adding to the original post I think we can expect the following in the days ahead.
1. The stock market crashes to lows never seen in the past 4 years. One may question why did the market hold up on Friday. The answer is simple. It was propped up by the institutions and the government. If the market had crashed 5%, the terrorist would've won. So basically the brokers traded amongst themselves and squared the deals at the end of the day. On Monday and the weeks ahead we will see massive liquidation by the FII's which will wipe out the most die-hard bull of the Sensex.
2. We may also see a rate cut of 200 basis points and loan interest rates can dip to 10%. Builders will use this cut as an opportunity to tout their ridiculously priced assets. As believers in black-swan theory will observe, the events of 26/11 will be the last straw which breaks the camel's back, be it the Sensex or the mega bubble in Mumbai real estate.
3. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that foreign companies outsourcing work to India will be more cautious and circumspect in their dealings. The binge madness of outsourcing everything to gain arbitrage will now to looked more carefully as to whether it affects critical business functions in times of disruptions.
4. India's date with terror will continue. The folks who commit these crimes have no regret, remorse or a living conscience. They are so blinded by hatred that it will be only time before another attack of a similar magnitude is mounted on Mumbai or some other city. To deal with this situation we need the Army to run security operations in major metro areas. The police is too corrupt and incompetent and pictures of pot-bellied policemen hanging around the Taj as mute spectators are a disgrace.
5. The cocky behavior the many South Mumbai-tes will now be a thing of the past. I distinctly remember a recruting pitch made to me by a just returned US educated individual way back in Jan 1993 when I went to meet him at his apt in Malabar Hill. He said "The tile you are standing on is worth 30000 Rs", effectively telling me that he has deep pockets. That day was an eye-opener to me on the sheer arrogance which was a part and parcel of some people who live on prime real estate.
I can go on and on but I'd like readers to comment on the aftermath of the siege on South Mumbai.
As Mumbaikars assess the extent of the damage to lives and property in the attacks of 26/11, it is the healing of psyche which will be in question. While previous attacks have targeted densely populated areas like railway stations, temples and mosque's these attacks have been focused on the rich and elite in South Mumbai. This affulent area is home to less then a fraction of Mumbai's 13 million population, and now appear to be as vulnerable to the crossfire of terrorism as the average mumbaikar.

Lets hope the government wakes up to this tragedy and shakes up the law and order machinery. If an attack of this magnitude is replicated somewhere else, we will have ourselves to blame. A lone fire engine battling the fire at the Taj hotel speaks volumes of the lack of preparedness to handle emergencies.

I hope all readers and their close ones are safe. Our thoughts are prayers are with the injured and the unfortunate victims of this massive tragedy. MumbaiHelp has more coverage on this issue.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Sound Of Crashing Real Estate (Goldman Sachs)

You mentioned that you were recently laid off from a big construction house. What is your experience like for working for these folks ? What are the inside secrets which you could share for the benefit of all readers.
Goldman Sachs
India: The Sound Of Crashing Real Estate India's property market is poised for a deep correction. This will bring on sizeable knock down effects, with India GDP expect to slide down to a growth of 5.8 per cent in FY10. We estimate prices may need to fall by up to 30% from current levels, with significant knock on effects on the economy.

In particular, it will slow construction activity, which directly accounts for 7.3% of GDP, but has sector linkages which we estimate to be 14% of GDP.
After India's last housing bust in 1996, real property prices fell some 40% over three years, negatively affecting consumption and investment demand.

Mitigating factors-favorable demographics, low mortgage penetration, ongoing infrastructure demand.
India's property market is poised for a deep correction. Property prices have risen dramatically over the past three years, supply exceeds demand in most geographies, and affordability lags prices. Our India Real Estate Team believes that residential property prices in some geographies may need to fall by up to 30% from current levels for affordability to catch up. As elsewhere globally, we think this will have negative effects on the economy.

The imminent slowdown in construction activity can potentially have a big impact on the economy. By using an input-output matrix, we estimate that although the sector directly accounts for 7.3% of GDP, its backward linkages in terms of the sector's usage of iron, steel, cement etc., and forward linkages to other sectors, impacts an estimated 14% of GDP.
Therefore, a slowdown in the construction sector can potentially have large knock-on effects on the economy.
From the demand side, a property downturn, we think, will have negative effects on consumption and investment. As housing forms the largest component of household wealth, consumer demand will be impacted. The fall in collateral will also hurt firms' balance sheets, increase their funding costs, hurt confidence, and reduce investment demand. However,
the impact on demand will be lower than in developed countries.

Lessons from previous housing busts suggest that they tend to be prolonged episodes with considerable macro consequences. After India's last housing bust in 1996, real property prices fell some 40% over three years, and did not recover to their previous peaks for a decade.

Consumption and investment demand were both negatively affected, and growth slowed from an average of 6.8% in the four years prior to the bust to 5.4% in the four years after it. Typically, housing busts in OECD countries have lasted six years with a 30% decline in prices and substantial negative implications for the economy.

Mitigating factors, such as India's favorable demographics, low mortgage penetration, falling interest rates, and ongoing infrastructure demand, in our view, will keep the property downturn from being protracted. However, we believe a sharp slowdown is imminent. We therefore remain negative on the real estate sector, and its supplier industries such as cement, iron, and steel, and reiterate our below consensus estimate of
5.8% GDP growth in FY10.

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Some forward looking statements on projections, estimates, expectations & outlook are included to enable a better comprehension of the Company prospects. Actual results may, however, differ materially from those stated on account of factors such as changes in government regulations,
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