Thursday, June 28, 2007

Had we known earlier....

Politicians like tennis more because it’s a game that lets one get the second serve in. In most other games, there's no second chance. By seeming a lot like their business of law making, the sporty metaphor gives them something to lean on. First make a stupid law that defies all logic for some self-serving reason and unleash the damage on the masses. When the goals are met (or emphatically unmet, like a first serve gone wide), try and make amends.

Earlier this year, the Indian Government worried about rising inflation denting its image before the Uttar Pradesh (U.P) elections, banned exports of sugar in a year of bumper production (sugar has a higher weightage in the inflation index). Incidentally U.P also has a large area under sugar cultivation and is home to a number of sugar mills. The move flooded the commodity in the domestic markets and prices slumped. Revenues and stock prices of sugar companies that were star performers suddenly nose-dived and their market capitalization went down almost by 70-80%. Not surprisingly, the UPA candidates were trounced by Mayawati’s BSP at the U.P assembly polls.

Elections over, it was time for the Government to review the wreck and rollback. Here’s the latest “had-we-known-earlier” – for sugar industry. The sense of timing was immaculate - the industry as a whole and its investor community has had hemorrhage already.

Recently I met my friend Rahul, who tracks sugar industry for a living at a leading brokerage. The guy looked a lot younger than his usual plump, flabby self. Asked him what had worked – the Gym or the diet.

He gave a smile and said, “I really didn’t have to go that far. I get enough exercise just pushing my luck.” I believed him.

No comments: