Sunday, November 30, 2008

Economic Impact of Mumbai Attacks


Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd. has recently rated India as the riskiest of 14 Asian countries, not including Pakistan and Afghanistan, it analyzed for 2009. The Mumbai attacks are likely to worsen India's risk rating, especially if the attacks lead to hostilities with Pakistan and anti-Muslim riots in India. By targeting foreigners and the nation's commercial capital, the terrorists have struck at international links that have supported 9 percent average growth in the $1.3 trillion Indian economy for the past three years. The Mumbai events "couldn't happen at a worse time," Patrick Bennett, a strategist with Société Générale in Hong Kong, told the Wall Street Journal.

With the economic growth already slowing to a multi-year low rate of 7% and the national elections approaching in first half of 2009, these attacks have come at a particularly awkward time for the ruling Congress party. The opposition BJP's leader L.K. Advani has criticized the government's handling of terrorism as “non-serious approach”, according to the Press Trust of India. In response, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has replaced his home minister and vowed to get tough on a "neighboring country", an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Foreign investors have already pulled $13.5 billion out of the India's stock market so far this year, driving the benchmark Sensex index down 57% and hurting the rupee. Liquidity has dried up, economic growth is slowing and consumers and businesses are spending less money, according to Bloomberg.India faces a prolonged downturn that is already forcing companies to cut jobs. Its economy grew 7.6% in the July-September quarter, the slowest pace in almost four years, and down from a 9.3% expansion a year earlier, according to Wall Street Journal.

"There may not be some big countercyclical fiscal stimulus to address a cyclical downturn, but it could be more of a piecemeal approach," says Ramya Suryanarayan, economist at DBS bank in Singapore. The fiscal deficit is running "at between 7% and 8% of gross domestic product, and further expansionary policies will add to the stress."

Given the angry and vengeful public mood in India, it is likely that the hardliners will prevail, forcing significant policy changes that will affect the entire region for a long time to come. For beginners, the warlike Indian posture toward Pakistan will scare investors and tourists away from India. With the emboldened Hindu fundamentalist outfits gaining support, a more serious threat to the Indian economy could come from a repeat of Gujarat 2002 across the entire country. If India decides to "punish" Pakistan by invading it, it will be devastating for both India and Pakistan and set them back by decades as the business and consumer confidence plummets. The BPO and IT businesses will go to more stable regions of the world. Already, the gap between the Chinese and the Indian economies seems to be growing. China's stability under one-party government is more effective in sustaining high growth, Indian Finance Minister Chidambaram said in April of this year, adding "the distance between India and China is in fact increasing, not reducing because China's growth rate is faster." Sustained gap in economic growth between India and China could make India's economy more like Taiwan's in comparison with China's, in spite of India's big population.

India's image as a peaceful and stable nation has helped it build confidence of foreign investors and businesses to set up shops in India and fuel its economic growth. For example, Americans alone brought $13 billion in foreign direct investments in 2007 from large investors and Fortune 500 corporations to India, which helped create jobs and sustain the virtuous cycle of intellectual and economic development. If the actions of Indian politicians shatter this image of peace and stability, it will be very difficult to rebuild it.

Based on a quick review of India's current status and great potential, including its strengths and weaknesses, I strongly believe India can stay on the road to greatness it deserves with its rich heritage as one of the oldest civilizations on earth and the world's largest modern democracy. India's toughest challenge in the 21st century will continue to be in how well it negotiates the obstacles and potholes created by internal strife from growing religious and ethnic fanaticism, homegrown and international terrorism, ongoing regional insurgencies, and increasing economic disparities.

Related Links:

Mumbai Eyewitness Accounts

Mumbai's Slumdog Millionaire

Mumbai's Economic Impact

World Reacts in Horror

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Indian Cricketers Join Major League Baseball


While the Indian Navy is going after the pirates in the Gulf of Aden, two Indian youngsters are joining the Pirates in the United States.

Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel are two 20-year-old pitchers with million dollar arms. Neither had picked up a baseball until earlier this year. Both have now signed free-agent contracts with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the prestigious five-times winners of the Major League Baseball World Series. They were the top finishers in “Million Dollar Arm,” an Indian reality TV show that searched for potential Major League Baseball talent in the country with millions playing cricket. They are believed to be the first athletes from India to sign professional sports contracts outside their country in a sport other than cricket. These contracts open up new and lucrative opportunities for South Asian cricketers beyond India's new cricket leagues.

The faster of the pair, Patel has clocked at 91-92 mph pitching speed, significantly slower than Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar's 100.3 mph considered the world's fastest bowling speed in cricket. The pirates see a lot of potential in both Singh and Patel as successful pitchers for their team.

"This is really big news," said JB Bernstein, a promoter and marketing agent who created the "Million Dollar Arm" contest in India that brought attention to the Indian boys. "I think when the boys return to India, that's when it will really reach its crescendo."

Singh and Patel will soon return to India for a 10-day visit. They haven't seen their families since the beginning of May, when both moved to the U.S. to train under University of Southern California pitching coach Tom House.

The signing got special attention from the US ambassador to India and the ambassador called a press conference to talk about it. The Indian media are now covering the story and their return to India is expected to generate a lot of enthusiasm.

It all started with an idea from Bernstein to see what type of baseball talent could be found in India. He developed the idea for a contest for boys and men between the ages of 16 and 21. The parameters were simple: see who could throw a baseball faster than 85 mph and for strikes.

Patel and Singh were among more than 37,000 people to try out, and both quickly emerged as finalists. The winner of the contest was set to receive a $100,000 prize and the opportunity to train with House.

The American Baseball sports agents have long been sourcing talent from Cuba, Dominican Republic and Japan. The inclusion of Indian players appears to be a way to open the vast Indian market for US Major League Baseball. Indian MLB franchise teams could potentially significantly enlarge the current $6b revenue opportunity to the South Asian and international media market. The MLB World Series games have been shown live in many countries of the world, including India. In October of this year, the Major League Baseball International broadcast the Fall Classic in 13 languages to 229 countries and territories around the world.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Will Barack "Barry" Obama Surrender His Blackberry?


Will President-elect Barack Obama be allowed to keep his favorite Blackberry when he takes office on January 20, 2009? This question is being raised in Washington by those who see a conflict between the US law and the use of technology by a US president. The need to answer such a question did not arise because all of the US presidents to date have not been tech savvy. It is alleged that George W. Bush did have an email account prior to becoming president but he gave it up at the insistence of secret service. Pointing out the dangers of presidential isolation, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek puts it as follows: "Bush foolishly listened to the security people who made him give up his e-mail account in 2001. The result was that old friends suddenly found they had no way to get through to the president. More than a few watched in horror as he drove the country over the cliff."

Why the Conflict?
Variously described as Barackberry or Crackberry, president-elect Obama is reportedly addicted to the smart phone he uses for keeping in touch with his friends, supporters and campaign staff and to surf the Internet. The US law, however, imposes several restrictions on the communications of the president of the United States. In addition to email security, there is the Presidential Records Act, which puts all presidential correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review. A laptop might be permissible in the Oval office but it is still uncertain.

Inauspicious Start
If Mr. Obama does surrender his Blackberry, it will represent a rather inauspicious start for America's first "technology" president. Obama understands the difference that online networking technology made in raising record amount of $700m for his campaign, and energizing the young people to get involved as campaign organizers, workers and voters. He must continue to promote and use the online media to reach out to the American people and inspire them to bring real change in America. Obama campaign has talked about appointing a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to oversee US technology policy investments in the incoming Obama administration. The cabinet-level CTO’s mandate would be different from the lower level Cybersecurity czar appointed under the Bush Administration. Bush’s czar helped defend against cyber threats. Obama’s CTO, by contrast, would ensure government officials hold open meetings, broadcast live webcasts of those meetings, arrange President Obama's fireside chats online, and use blogging software, wikis and open comments to communicate policies with Americans, according to the plan. Such broad use of online media by the US government will benefit Silicon Valley high-tech businesses and encourage the use of technology by state and local governments in the US and other parts of the world.

Outreach via Technology
The use of technology will keep a lot of young people, who were energized by Obama, engaged in discussion and help solve major national issues. "Obama understood the intersection of demographics and technology and promised engagement and interaction," Don Tapscott, best-selling author and researcher, said in an interview recently. "But if he now says to young people, 'Thanks, now go passive for four years until my re-election,' there will be outrage. It will make the reaction of the 1960s generation look like kid stuff." The technology exists for Mr. Obama to improve government transparency and pursue the online relationships with his under-thirty supporters. However, Mr. Obama will have to make sure that people he surrounds himself with in the White House can take advantage of it and the laws are suitably amended to make the White House technology friendly.

Obama's Change Agenda
If Obama does manage to use the modern online technology and social media applications to maintain close contact with supporters just as he did during his highly effective campaign, he can potentially go over the heads of the established legacy media, the powerful Washington lobbyists and the obstructionist US Congressmen to energize and sustain support for his ambitious agenda of change.

Here is a video clip of Obama's speech on technology at Googleplex in Mountain View, CA:

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Modern India: 21st Century's Economic Power House


The pre-British, early 19th century Moghul India, described as caste-ridden, feudalistic and unmodern, was economically ahead of the rest of the world,including Britain and the US, according to S. Gururmurthy, a popular Indian columnist. The Indian economy contributed 19 per cent of the world GDP in 1830, and 18 per cent of global trade, when the share of Britain was 8 per cent in production and 9 per cent in trade, and that of US, 2 per cent in production and 1 per cent in trade. India had hundreds of thousands of village schools and had a functional literacy rate of over 30 per cent. In contrast, when the British left, India’s share of world production and trade declined to less than 1 per cent and its literacy was down to 17 per cent. And yet, in 1947, India had large Sterling reserves, no foreign debt, and Indians still had an effective presence in such trade centers as Singapore, Hong Kong, Penang, Rangoon and Colombo.

For decades after independence, however, the Indian economy remained moribund. While Nehru's Congress party government made significant investments in higher education under Education Minister Maulana Azad by establishing institutions of higher learning such as IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), the pervasive License Raj hampered the entrepreneurial spirit of India. Fortunately, that began to change with the reforms initiated in 1991 by then Indian prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao and his finance minister Manmohan Singh (now prime minister) in response to a balance-of-payments crisis. These reforms limited the scope of the License Raj (investment, industrial and import licensing) and ended many public monopolies, allowing automatic approval of foreign direct investment in many sectors. Subsequent governments of both major parties sustained and extended the reform process and accelerated India's economic growth.

Early investments by Nehru administration are now beginning to pay dividends. India has a large pool of English speaking college graduates. The nation is second only to the United States in production of doctors, engineers, and PhDs. Many of the world's top CEOs and business leaders are alumni of India's prestigious institutes of technology and management. With the large presence of IIT graduates in places such as Silicon Valley, India has become a highly respected brand name as a source of top talent around the world. What began as the massive but temporary Y2K work for India around the turn of the century, the country has now become a preferred destination for high-tech and business process outsourcing from the United States and Europe.

The economic reforms in India have unleashed the talent and the energies of its people at home and abroad to help build its economy and restore its place in the world as a major force. Many entrepreneurs of Indian origin (NRIs) are now setting up shops in India to do heavy-duty research and development as well as some manufacturing. With them, they are bringing US foreign direct investments ($13b in 2007 and growing) from large investors and Fortune 500 corporations to their home country, which helps create jobs and sustain the virtuous cycle of intellectual and economic development. Last year, the Indian GDP grew 9% and it is expected to grow another 7% this year, in spite of the current global economic crisis.

A recent Indian government advertisement in Fortune magazine explains the reason why India's economy has remained relatively unscathed by the global economic crisis. It says: India has taken a generally conservative approach to globalization, moving slowly to open its markets to the rest of the world. Moreover, the domestic Indian market has remained strong. The ad quotes Ron somers, president of US-India Business Council, as saying, "India's internal market is so massive that it can sustain shocks better than many countries." The fact is that India's economy does not depend much on exports to the rest of the world. It is, therefore, relatively less connected to the problems in the developed world. In fact, it stands to benefit from a dramatic reduction in commodity prices, such as oil, due to the world-wide economic slowdown.

While the Indian advertisement and government leaders present a very rosy picture of India's prospects, it is important for Indians and others to understand that there are significant risks in India. For example, the extreme Hindu Nationalists are continuing to stir up trouble in many parts of India. According to All India Christian Council, the 2008 violence has affected 14 districts out of of 30 and 300 Villages in the Indian state of Orissa, 4,400 houses burnt, 50,000 homeless, 59 killed including at least 2 pastors, 10 priests/pastors/nuns injured, 18,000 men, women, children injured, 2 women gang-raped including a nun, 151 churches destroyed and 13 schools and colleges damaged. The violence targeted Christians in 310 villages, with 4,104 homes torched. More than 18,000 were injured and 50,000 displaced and homes continued to burn in many villages. Another report said that around 11,000 people are still living in refugee camps.

People like Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, BJP leader L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narender Modi represent the ugly underbelly of Indian democracy and a threat to India's secular constitution. Modi is currently in power in Gujarat, in spite of overwhelming evidence of his participation in 2002 anti-Muslim riots resulting in the massacre of thousands of Muslims. Mr. Advani has been held responsible for the destruction of Babri mosque and subsequent anti-Muslim riots. Mr. Thackeray is considered responsible for major anti-Muslim riots in Mumbai and continues to terrorize any one who disagrees with him.

The BBC reported yesterday on the "Hindu Terrorist" plot involving Indian military officers, a female priest and a little-known Hindu outfit called Abhinav Bharat (Young India).

The report said: It was in the aftermath of the 29 September bomb blast in the predominantly Muslim town of Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra that the term "Hindu terrorism" or "saffron terrorism" came to be used widely. That was because the state police's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested 10 Hindus following the blasts and has said that it wants to arrest several more.

One of those detained was a female priest, Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, aged 38, who has been accused by the ATS of being involved in the Malegaon blast. Her detention shocked members of the faith. So too did the arrest of a serving Indian army officer, Lt-Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, who the ATS says is the prime accused in the case.


According to an Indian writer Yoginder Sikand, some in India's Muslim minority have been radicalized by the actions of the Hindutva groups and their allies in the state and local governments. America's 'global war on terror' has provided a convenient cover to these Hindu groups and to fiercely anti-Muslim elements within the Indian state machinery to launch a concerted campaign of terror against Muslims. Large numbers of Muslims in various parts of India continue to languish in jails on trumped-up terror charges, suffering brutal torture as well as routine insults to their religion by police officials.

A rudimentary study of world history suggests that if the Indian political system can not find a way to marginalize and isolate Thackeray, Advani, Modi and other fanatics like them, India will continue to face threats to its secular constitution, its political stability, and its economic growth.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself has called the Maoist insurgency emanating from the state of Chhattisgarh the biggest internal security threat to India since independence. The Maoists, however, are confined to rural areas; their bold tactics haven't rattled Indian middle-class confidence in recent years as much as the bomb attacks in major cities have. These attacks are routinely blamed on Muslim militants. How long will Maoists remain confined to the rural areas will depend on the response of the Indian government to the insurgents who exploit huge and growing economic disparities in Indian society.

In 2006 a commission appointed by the government revealed that Muslims in India are worse educated and less likely to find employment than low-caste Hindus. Muslim isolation and despair is compounded by what B Raman, a hawkish security analyst, was moved after the most recent attacks to describe as the "inherent unfairness of the Indian criminal justice system".

According to Pankaj Mishra, the author of Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond, the names of the politicians, businessmen, officials and policemen who colluded in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 are widely known. Some of them were caught on video, in a sting carried out last year by the weekly magazine Tehelka, proudly recalling how they murdered and raped Muslims. But, as Amnesty International pointed out in a recent report, justice continues to evade most victims and survivors of the violence. Tens of thousands still languish in refugee camps, too afraid to return to their homes.

Based on a quick review of India's current status and great potential, including its strengths and weaknesses, I strongly believe India is clearly on the road to greatness it deserves with its rich heritage as one of the oldest civilizations on earth and the world's largest modern democracy. India's challenge will continue to be in how well it negotiates the obstacles and potholes created by internal strife from growing religious and ethnic fanaticism, ongoing regional insurgencies, and increasing economic disparity.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Fraudulent Mortgages in US Triggered International Financial Crisis

An Indian-American investor and producer of Bollywood movies has been convicted of mortgage fraud in the United States. How did he scam US banks and investors? How did US mortgage money end up funding Bollywood? To answer these questions, let's look at the broader story of US mortgage fraud and its impact on the international financial markets and the world economy.


The French stock market triggered worldwide shares selloff in August 2007 after BNP Paribas, the largest publicly traded bank in France, suspended investors’ ability to remove money from three funds that had invested in American mortgage securities. The bank said it had become temporarily unable to place a value on the funds, which have turned sour as increasing numbers of homeowners have defaulted on their loans.

The news came as a shock to many who mistakenly believed the damage from the US mortgage crisis was limited to the US financial markets. How did this happen? The answer lies in how the mortgage business has changed over the last decade. Until the 1980s, the mortgage lenders kept the loans on their own books and assumed full risk of default. The loan officers either knew the borrowers or checked them out carefully before approving the loans. All of this changed with the advent of securitization of debt that allowed the original lenders to offload their loans and pass the risk on to investors, including large foreign institutions such as BNP Paribas, who bought US mortgage-backed securities as investments. The rating agencies jumped into the opportunity to make money by giving AA and AAA investor grade ratings to some of the riskiest of securities backed at least partially by shaky or sub-prime mortgages issued to less credit-worthy, even fraudulent, customers. Others such as AIG created the appearance of lower risk to investors by issuing credit default swaps to ensure such securities.

Many of the subprime loans were issued to unsuspecting borrowers lured by dishonest mortgage brokers. These loans were based on false information such as exaggerated claims of income, inflated property appraisals, and given at very low teaser rates. Some of the borrowers knowingly took advantage of easy credit by falsifying information on their applications. Mortgages brokers and banks made enormous profits by issuing such mortgages which were then sold as securitized debt to investors. Needless to say, many of the borrowers started to default as soon as their rates and payments increased after the initial period of teaser rates.

Last month, I actually met a technician in Silicon Valley who came to do some work at my newly-purchased home. He asked me if I had bought my home through short sale or foreclosure. I said no. Then he proceeded to tell me that he had had two of his homes foreclosed recently. When I said I am sorry to hear that, he said it's no big deal. It turns out that he had borrowed 125% of the value on each of those homes at low teaser rates and pocketed the extra cash after paying for the homes. He rented the homes and then used the cash to buy two brand new cars and took a vacation. When the rates increased, he did not keep up with the payments and lost both homes. But he kept the cars, enjoyed his vacation and the kept leftover cash.

What this technician's story represents is only the tip of the huge mortgage default mess and massive investor losses. Yesterday's Washington Post reports that Vijay K. Taneja, a well-known Bollywood investor, has admitted to mortgage fraud in Virginia. Taneja pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to a fraud enterprise that cost banks at least $33 million, the largest mortgage fraud case in Virginia in almost 20 years and among the largest nationally. Prosecutors said he created bogus mortgage loans, sold legitimate loans to more than one buyer and pocketed the proceeds of refinancings.

Taneja's recent movie, "Aap Ka Suroor" featuring Himesh Reshammiya, was released in June of this year. His concert "Incredibles" , featuring big Bollywood stars, toured the US earlier this year.

According to Washington Post, prosecutors told the judge that Taneja invested millions of his mortgage proceeds in Indian films and theatrical productions through one of his companies, Elite Entertainment, and that they are still trying to untangle the financial web. "He has millions of dollars unaccounted for," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Learned said as he asked Hilton to order Taneja to be electronically monitored to ensure that he doesn't flee before sentencing. "There's so much money, and it's difficult to figure out where it all went."

The above two examples are just the beginning of the anecdotal evidence of fraudulent mortgages that are at least partly responsible for the international financial crisis we find ourselves in. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating 19 major corporate fraud cases related to the mortgage crisis. The targets of most of those investigations have not been disclosed. In addition, the F.B.I. has 1,380 small mortgage fraud investigations now open in field offices around the country, a sharp increase over previous years, according to FBI officials. Other culprits include inadequacy of the risk models, lack of regulation of financially engineered products, and the actions of the US rating agencies. The US origins and the global nature of the problem requires concerted international investigation of the current crisis to develop a new regulatory regime and enforcement mechanisms that cover financially-engineered products such as securitized debt and credit default swaps and better oversight of the rating agencies.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama Technology Policy and Impact on South Asia


Technology will likely get significant attention by President-elect Barack H. Obama, in spite of the more urgent issues of two wars, a sputtering economy and ballooning US national debt. While there will be the usual rush by various special interest groups in the high tech world to try and influence US technology policy to favor their particular sectors or products, it is important for the new administration to see each technology in the broader context of national challenges such as government transparency, climate change, energy independence, delivering cost-effective healthcare broadly, and overcoming major national economic challenges.

Obama understands the difference that online networking technology made in raising record amount of $700m for his campaign, and energizing the young people to get involved as campaign organizers, workers and voters. It can be expected that Obama will continue to promote and use the online media to reach out to the American people and inspire them to bring real change in America. Obama campaign has talked about appointing a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to oversee US technology policy investments in the incoming Obama administration. The CTO’s mandate would be different from the Cybersecurity czar appointed under the Bush Administration. Bush’s czar helped defend against cyber threats. Obama’s CTO, by contrast, would ensure government officials hold open meetings, broadcast live webcasts of those meetings, and use blogging software, wikis and open comments to communicate policies with Americans, according to the plan. Such broad use of online media by the US government will benefit Silicon Valley high-tech businesses and encourage the use of technology by state and local governments in the US and other parts of the world. It'll also keep a lot of young people, who were energized by Obama, engaged in discussion and help solve major national issues. "Obama understood the intersection of demographics and technology and promised engagement and interaction," Don Tapscott, best-selling author and researcher, said in an interview recently. "But if he now says to young people, 'Thanks, now go passive for four years until my re-election,' there will be outrage. It will make the reaction of the 1960s generation look like kid stuff." The technology exists for Mr. Obama to improve government transparency and pursue the online relationships with his under-thirty supporters. However, Mr. Obama will have to make sure that people he surrounds himself with in the White House can take advantage of it.

Matt Marshall of Venture Beat has published details of Obama’s new technology policy and plans, which cover everything from providing new subsidies for internet broadband access to increased permanent visas for immigrants needed by the high-tech industry.

The president-elect has often talked about energy policy and dealing with its impact on climate change as a priority. He wants to create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future. Transformation in the way people and businesses use technology could reduce annual man-made global emissions by 15 per cent by 2020 and deliver energy efficiency savings to global businesses of over $ 800 billion, according to a new report published by independent non-profit The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). The choice of the CTO by Obama must reflect this priority. In addition to the CTO, the Obama administration should seriously consider appointing Nobel laureate Al Gore as a high-profile and high-powered ambassador to inspire and lead a global green revolution.

During his campaign, Obama has displayed protectionist tendencies in response to the middle class concerns for well-paying jobs being moved to countries such as India. In his speech to the Democratic National Convention, Obama pledged to halt tax sops to companies that ship jobs overseas. If Obama sticks to this promise, it will mean trouble ahead for India's IT industry. India's software and services exports stood at about $40 billion during the financial year 2008, a growth of 29%, with US as its largest market. Can Obama really curb outsourcing? It seems unlikely.

As the emerging economies in Brazil, Russia, India, China and the rest of the world try and emulate the US pattern of production and consumption, it is clear that this development model will not be sustainable for long. What is needed is a fundamental change in how we produce, market, distribute and consume various products and services. An accelerated change away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is absolutely urgent. Such a fundamental change in architecture of our industrialized society will require a significant focus and commitment of human intellectual capital by the US.

Changing the economic incentives and transforming the industrial architecture will not be easy. The powerful lobbies of auto, steel, industrial equipment, farmers, financial services and information technology industries will likely resist any major changes that affect how they do business. Each of them will use their power and influence in Washington to get a larger share of funds in terms of tax credits or corporate welfare for themselves, at the expense of dealing with the larger national challenges. If Obama can inspire and lead such an effort to change how people produce, consume and live, the rewards are potentially very large in terms of creating millions of new jobs, enabling a healthier environment, persuading and supporting the emerging economies to limit carbon emissions, and saving the earth and the human race from total destruction.

Here's a November 2007 video clip of Obama talking about technology, Pakistan, Middle East, Africa, war and peace and other matters:

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