Saturday, February 21, 2009

Working in a foreign land

In reference to my last post on February 15, the business week article by Vivek Wadhwa,(Senior Research Associate at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School), is a good read for facts & figures about legal foreign workers on H1-B & other visas in America

Wadhwa quotes research to point that H1 B's have aided innovation and made a significant contribution to patents. But what struck me was the fact that how even the legal migrant workers, even in the so called high skilled category are shortchanged - be it money, quality of work, benefits or promotions. With so many people still keen on coming and continuing to work here, I wonder if tougher immigration laws thus have the reverse effect then i.e, once people get in, they try to stay longer because its difficult to get in. Nevertheless, I am still amazed at people who consider themselves smart and intelligent taking professional discrimination just to stay here. I guess a lot of factors contribute, including personal. A female friend who is married to a migrant gave up a hugely successful career in India to come here. She joined the US operations of her company later, only to find second grade treatment along with the decrease in her responsibilities and stature. She now says that she has given up on career advancement.

Read the article, not just the body but also the comments to get perspective on immigration from both sides

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Banks find accounting tougher than non-profits?

An important take-away, from  last hearing of the congress committee where the nine top bank CEOs presented their case regarding the update on new loans and how the bailout funds were spent, was the banks stand that the money that has been injected into their balance sheets can not be tracked separately.
Have been catching up a little bit on the non-profit space these days. Interestingly this article here article explains that, what banks claim as impossible, non-profits do on an everyday basis. 
Apparently it a basic requirement in non-profit accounting to track the money received for any particular project is spent on that project only. The link here.

The article calls it, soup-kitchen accounting. Interesting right? But hold on before you blame the banks, maybe the never received the money at all. This may sound quirky but another article points that the government has been actually injecting capital into bank holding companies and not banks. With banks barely managing to stand upright, shareholders have non incentive to inject the money into those subsidiaries. Link

Maybe we all have been whipping the wrong poster boy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Making the case for being an open economy

While it may seem counter-intuitive at first, the most profitable imports for any economy are the skills and talents that it gets from other countries. USA has raced ahead as imported talent from all over the world innovated to take the country on the road to development. I remember brain-drain to the developed west and ways to stop it used to a common debate topic in school and college in India

Thomas Friedman makes the case for staying away from the protectionist urges in NY times editorial that quotes two Indians.

“All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”

“If you do this, it will be one of the best things for India and one of the worst for Americans, [because] Indians will be forced to innovate at home,” said Subhash B. Dhar, a member of the executive council that runs Infosys.. , the well-known Indian technology company that sends Indian workers to the U.S. to support a wide range of firms

Link to the Thomas Friedman's article.

The 'threat of protectionism is being recognised across the world with the UK prime minister Gordon Brown advising against it in the Wold Economic Forum at Davos this year & the director general of WTO Pascal Lamay calling for free flow of trade information in this hour of crisis

Unfortunately its difficult not to be populist when your people are hurting and its often difficult to explain how being open to trade, immigration and employment could be the best policy.

Update : Had just finished this post when I saw a new update from marketwatch that the G-7 nations have made a pledge to avoid protectionism amid turmoil. Link