Vietnam

Vietnam is easily one of my favourite countries in Asia. One of the five communist countries in the world, you can still see a lot of things that you cannot in other places. Just to mention a few of them:

Jõgevatreff

1) those cone-shaped hats for women
2) women walking around with portable kitchens on either end of the bamboo-stick on their shoulders
3) Endless swarms of motorbikes, some of them loaded with cargo that you would not be able to fit into a SUV in Europe Continue reading

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Top three failures of common sense in the current credit crisis.

Although in vacation, I’m constantly keeping an eye on eurozone debt crisis. In this posting I’m not going to estimate the recession we all are soon to have, but instead I’ll bring out my opinion in the thinking failures associated with the subject.

1) Eurobonds.
The idea of Eurobonds is that when any eurozone country takes a loan (issues Eurobonds) then all other countries are mutually responsible for buying them back at maturity.

Just take a second to think here: do you really reckon that countries such as Greece and Italy would behave responsibly and take less loans just because they know that in case they are not able to, Germany would have to pay back that loan?!

Well, I don’t think so. Not only would Eurobonds not change the behaviour of irresponsible governments, the whole concept is faulty. It suggests that the solution to debt crisis is enabling troubled countries to take more loans.

2) Rating agencies (S&P, Moody’s, Fitch) and their ratings.
Rating agencies are private companies that rate the trustworthiness of organisations (including countries) to pay back their loans. The highest rating a credit agency (S&P) can give is AAA (virtually impossible for the creditor to default) and the lowest is CCC (virtually impossible that the creditor would pay back).

Now consider this example. You have two friends who want to borrow some money:
– friend A does not earn a lot but it is fairly certain he could pay back your loan on time from his reserves and incoming salary;
– friend B earns more than A, but he is so indebted that the only way he can pay back your loan is to take another, probably bigger, loan from someone else.

Which one you would you rather borrow money to?

If you are somebody with a brain and knowledge how to use it, you would lend your money to A. But the credit agencies think that you should lend to B.

Estonia, maybe the only eurozone country that is able to pay back the loans (6% of GDP) without taking a new one, has a rating of AA-. Eight eurozone countries with the highest AAA ratings have loan levels varying between 48-120% of GDP (let me remind you here that GDP is not government budget, the latter is usually much lower). It takes a lot of ignorance and wishful thinking to even consider that all those countries are worth the highest credit rating. Ratings agencies have plenty of both.

3) What the hell is Greece doing in the eurozone in the first place?!
Once upon a time, the EU spent lot of time and money to devise a set of measurable goals (called Maastricht criteria) a country had to meet to join eurozone. And then they ignored that criteria by letting Greece (that did not nearly oblige them) in. The rest is history.

Bali

I found a new hobby.

When I was planning what to do in Bali, I had two “must-do’s” – trekking and surfing. In the ten days here I managed to do both.

Surfin'

I went surfing yesterday in Legian/Kuta area. I did not want to take an official course because they last for the whole day, so I found a adequate-looking guy the day before to teach me. The lesson was just the way I like it: less conversation, more action. After two minutes of theory we went to the water. The teacher was awesome. His name was Agung and he had been surfing for 17 years and apparently teaching it as self-employed, too. On my second try I was already standing on the board and after some 10-15 minutes enjoying full rides until the beach. Continue reading

The Other Teams, part 2

This post continues the description of the other teams we were together with in Oxygen Accelerator.

Faizan from Seesr

Seesr – Seesr changes the way people interact with videos. They have developed a prototype of a technology which enables to tag objects in a video and then click on them. So if you are watching a scene of James Bond on YouTube and think that it must be his shirt why all the women want him, then you can just pause the video, click on that shirt and be directed to the online store where you can buy it. The store would get revenue, Seesr would get kickback and you’d get that incredible women-taming shirt – everybody’s happy. And then you’d finish watching this Bond movie and learn some cool lines in the process. Continue reading

The Other Teams, part 1

Until the Demo Day, we were not supposed to give out any information about the businesses in Oxygen. Now when this ban is officially lifted, I will take the opportunity to give a short overview on the other teams.

Andy from Barcode Beasties

Barcode Beasties – a game, where you would scan a barcode with your Android (and in the future, your iOs) phone and get a beastie to your phone for that. When you have collected several beasties, you could make them fight against each other. Developed by Afganistan-veteran Richard and his partner Andy, there’s more into that game than you would initially think. Continue reading

Demo Day!!!

Yesterday, we had the Demo Day.

The athmosphere in the office was pretty hectic for days before the Demo Day. Most of the teams were way behind schedule. Just five days before the DD, one of the teams hadn’t even started to write their business plan. Everybody was putting in long hours. When we arrived at the office 9AM in the morning, we would hear somebody snoring in the meeting room and find some other guy sleeping on the bean-bags in weird position. Continue reading