Why investors behave like football goalkeepers and how that hurts

goalkeeperVivek Kaul  
A very good friend of mine recently decided to take a sabbatical. But two weeks into it he started getting fidgety. The prospect of not doing anything was turning out to be too hot to handle for him. So, one morning he called up his boss and told him that this decision to go on a sabbatical was not the right one, and given this, he wanted to get back to work.
My friend’s boss, had taken a sabbatical last year, and understood the value of a big break away from work. Given this, he refused to let my friend get back to work so soon, and suggested that he continue with the sabbatical, now that he had decided to take one.
One more week into the sabbatical, my friend simply couldn’t handle it. One day he simply landed up at work, without consulting his boss. And thus ended his sabbatical.
The point in sharing this story is that it is difficult “do nothing”, even though at times it might be the most important thing to do.
In a recent interview to Wisden, the former Australian cricketer Dean Jones, pointed out that two thirds of Sachin Tendulkar’s game was based around forward defence, back-foot defence and leaving the ball, without trying to play it. As Amay Hattangadi and Swanand Kelkar write in a research eport titled The Value of Doing Nothing and dated February 2014 “As any coach would vouch, letting the ball go is possibly as important as hitting good shots in the career of a batsman.”
In fact, not doing anything is a very important part of successful investing. But the investment industry is not structured liked that. They have to ensure that their customers keep trading, even if it is detrimental for the them. As Arthur Levitt, a former Chairman of the Securities Exchange Commission, the stock market regulator in the United States, writes in 
Take on the Street – How to Fight for Your Financial Future “Brokers may seem like clever financial experts, but they are first and foremost salespeople. Many brokers are paid a commission, or a service fee, on every transaction in accounts they manage. They want you to buy stocks you don’t own and sell the ones you do., because that’s how they make money for themselves and their firms. They earn commissions even when you lose money.”
The brokers only make money when investors keep buying and selling through them. This is also true about insurance and mutual fund agents, who make bigger commissions at the time investors invest and then lower commissions as the investors stay invested.
As Adam Smith (not the famous economist) writes in 
The Money Game “They could put you in some stock that would go up ten times, but then they would starve to death. They only get commissions when you buy and sell. So they keep you moving.”
Levitt proves this point by taking the example of Warren Buffett to make his point. “Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc and one of the smartest investors I’ve ever met, knows all about broker conflicts. He likes to point that any broker who recommended buying and holding Berkshire Hathaway stock from 1965 to now would have made his clients fabulously wealthy. A single share of Berkshire Hathaway purchased for $12 in 1965 would be worth $71,000 as of April 2002. But, any broker who did that would have starved to death.”
Hence, it is important for stock brokers, insurance and mutual fund agents to get their investors to keep moving from one investment to another.
But how do stock brokers manage to do this all the time? 
Andy Kessler has an excellent explanation for this in Wall Street Meat. As he writes “The market opens for trading five days a week… Companies report earnings once every quarter. But stocks trade about 250 days a year. Something has to make them move up or down the other 246 days [250 days – the four days on which companies declare quarterly results]. Analysts fill that role. They recommend stocks, change recommendations, change earnings estimates, pound the table—whatever it takes for a sales force to go out with a story so someone will trade with the firm and generate commissions.”
But why are these analysts taken seriously more often than not? As John Kenneth Galbraith writes in The Economics of Innocent Fraud “ And there is no easy denial of an expert’s foresight. Past accidental success and an ample display of charts, equations and self-confidence depth of perception. Thus the fraud. Correction awaits.”
This has led to a situation where investors are buying and selling all the time. As Hattangadi and Kelkar point out “In fact, the median holding period of the top 100 stocks by market capitalisation in the U.S. has shrunk to a third from about 600 days to 200 days over the last two decades.” Now contrast this data point with the fact that almost any and every stock market expert likes to tell us that stocks are for the long term.
This also happens because an inherent 
action bias is built into human beings. An interesting example of this phenomenon comes from football. “In an interesting research paper, Michael Bar-Eli2 et al analysed 286 penalty kicks in top soccer leagues and championships worldwide. In a penalty kick, the ball takes approximately 0.2 seconds to reach the goal leaving no time for the goalkeeper to clearly see the direction the ball is kicked. He has to decide whether to jump to one of the sides or to stay in the centre at about the same time as the kicker chooses where to direct the ball. About 80% of penalty kicks resulted in a goal being scored, which emphasises the importance a penalty kick has to determine the outcome of a game. Interestingly, the data revealed that the optimal strategy for the goalkeeper is to stay in the centre of the goal. However, almost always they jumped left or right,” write Hattangadi and Kelkar.
Albert Edwards of Societe Generale discusses this example in greater detail. As he writes “When a goalkeeper tries to save a penalty, he almost invariably dives either to the right or the left. He will stay in the centre only 6.3% of the time. However, the penalty taker is just as likely (28.7% of the time) to blast the ball straight in front of him as to hit it to the right or left. Thus goalkeepers, to play the percentages, should stay where they are about a third of the time. They would make more saves.”
But the goalkeeper doesn’t do that. And there is a good reason for it. As Hattangadi and Kelkar write “ The goalkeepers choose action (jumping to one of the sides) rather than inaction (staying in the centre). If the goalkeeper stays in the centre and a goal is scored, it looks as if he did not do anything to stop the ball. The goalkeeper clearly feels lesser regret, and risk to his career, if he jumps on either side, even though it may result in a goal being scored.”
Investors also behave like football goalkeepers and that hurts them.

The article originally appeared on www.firstbiz.com on February 8, 2014
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)  

‘The choice is between democracy and the gold standard’

vivek 2Author Vivek Kaul tells Sanjitha Rao Chaini that his book ‘Easy Money’ is an outcome of how money and the financial system have evolved over a very long period of time.

Why this book? How did the idea of writing this book come to you? 

The book was essentially an evolution of the writing that I do to make a living. I first started writing on the financial crisis after the investment bank Lehman Brothers went bust. The idea was to explain to the readers what is happening in the world. The Indian media (or even the world media) at that point of time had turned into a jargon spewing monster. Terms like sub-prime, securitization, Alt-A, CDOs etc were being bandied around. So, I started writing a series of pieces explaining these terms and the impact they were having on the world at large.

Over a period of time I came to the realization that what is happening now is not just because of things that have happened over the last few years or even decades. It is an outcome of how money and the financial system have evolved over a very long period of time. It has all come together to cause the current financial crisis. Easy Money was an outcome of that realization.

What kind of research did you put into this book?

The research has been extensive. Even before I decided to write the book I had read some 75-80 books on money and the financial system as they had evolved. As I wrote, I read a lot of research papers and historical documents that were written over the past 300 years. These research papers were a storehouse of information. Interestingly, with the advent of the internet a lot of historical material is available at the click of a button. What also helped was the fact that websites like Infibeam.com source second hand books, which are not easily available otherwise, from the United States. I don’t think I would have managed to write the book that I have, 10 years back, sitting in Mumbai. I would have probably managed to do if I had access to a library at a good American university.

You write… “as we have seen throughout history money printing has never ended well. But the same mistake continues to be made.” Why do you think that we haven’t learnt the lesson?

I wish I had an answer for that. I can only make a guess. In every era people who make economic decisions feel that “this time it’s different”. The tragedy is that it is never really different. And hence, the lessons are never really learnt. The same mistakes are made. Money printing never ends well that is a something that the world refuses to learn.

Do you think we would have been better off in any way if we had stuck to the gold standard as a store of value of money?

When I started writing Easy Money , in late 2011, I thought that the gold standard is the answer. During the process of writing the book that idea evolved. The thing with the gold standard is that it limits the amount of money that can be put into the financial system. Ultimately, it becomes a function of the amount of gold being dug up from the earth and that is what makes it work as well. But this is something that no politician is comfortable with. And politicians are essential for democracy.

In fact, I spoke to Russell Napier, a financial historian who works for CLSA, sometime in 2012. And he made a very important point which changed my thinking on the gold standard. “The history of the paper currency system or the fiat currency system is really the history of democracy,” he told me during the conversation. “Within the metal currency there was very limited ability for the elected governments to manipulate that currency. And I know this is why people with savings and people with money like the gold standard. They like it because it reduces the ability of politicians to play around with the quantity of money. But we have to remember that most people don’t have savings. They don’t have capital. And that’s why we got the paper currency in the first place. It was to allow the democracies. Democracy will always turn towards paper currency and unless you see the destruction of democracy in the developed world and I do not see that we will stay with paper currencies and not return to metallic currencies or metallic based currencies,” he added.

So, in a way, the choice is between democracy and the gold standard. In fact, the era of the classical gold standard which started in the 1870s and survived till around the time of the First World War, was an era of limited democracy even in most of what is now known as the developed world.

There are contrary views on usage of bitcoins. Recently RBI even said it has no plans to regulate Bitcoins. Do you see a hard-landing for bitcoins? Do you think that central bankers will be able to regulate, and if not, what are the concerns?

That is a very difficult question to answer. One school of thought is that the Federal Reserve regularly lends out its gold to bullion banks, so that they can short-sell it and ensure that the price of gold does not rise beyond a point. Whether they will be able to crack the bitcoin system as well, in the days to come, I really don’t know.

How can policymakers make use of this book?

Policy makers don’t need any books. They do what they feel like doing. Given that, I don’t think this book or any book can be of much help to them. As the German philosopher Georg Hegel once said “What experience and history teach is this —that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” And why should this time be any different?

What are you reading at the moment?

I have this habit of reading multiple books at the same time. So I read a few pages, drop that book and move onto something else. This loop keeps repeating. Right now I am reading Alan S Blinder’s After the Music Stopped. Blinder is a professor of economics at the Princeton University. He was also the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve of United States, between 1994 and 1996, under Alan Greenspan. His book is by far the best book I have read on the current the financial crisis. Excellent research presented in very simple English.

I am also reading The Bankers’ New Clothes by Anant Admati and Martin Hellwig. The fundamental point they make in their book is that if we need to make the financial system safer, banks need to have much more capital on their books than they currently have. This is one of the points I make in Easy Money as well. As Walter Bagehot, the great editor of The Economist once said more than 100 years back, “the main source of profitableness of established banking is the smallness of requisite capital.” This is something that needs to be set right.
As far as fiction goes I am currently reading a Swedish thriller titled Never Screw Up by Jens Lapidus. It is a sequel to a book which was also titled Easy Money. Ruskin Bond’s Tales of Fosterganj has just arrived and that is what I am looking forward to reading next weekend.

E-books or paper format ?

Paper totally. And there is a practical reason for it. I keep making notes on the edges (horrible habit some might say) as I read. This is a great help when one wants to write something and needs to revisit a book. You don’t have to bang your head against the wall at that point of time, thinking, where did I read that? So this ‘bad’ habit ensures that research and reading happen at the same time.

When and where do you write? And what’s the hardest thing about being a writer? 

Living in Mumbai means that one really does not have much choice about where to write. Also, having worked in extremely noisy newspaper offices, I can write almost anywhere. The place doesn’t really matter, as long as I have a computer and an internet connection.

Most of my writing happens between 11AM to 5PM. Having said that, some of my best writing has happened post midnight. The one time I hate writing is early in the morning between 7 to 10 AM.
I recently finished reading this book titled The Infatuations by the Spanish author Javier Marias. In this book Marias writes “You have to be slightly abnormal to sit down and work on something without being told to.” That is the toughest thing about being a writer. It needs a lot of self discipline and self motivation, knowing fully well that the money you make from your writing will most likely never compensate you for the opportunity cost that comes with it.

What next?

Easy Money is a trilogy. The first book ends around the time of the First World War. The second book starts from there and goes on till the time of the dot-com bubble burst. The third one deals with the current financial crisis. I have just finished the final edit of the second book, which should be out very soon. In about a week’s time I will get back to the third book. I had last looked at it in January 2013. So to give the readers a complete perspective the third book needs to be updated because a lot has happened in the last one year.

The interview originally appeared in the Business World

Tyranny of choice: What I learnt while trying to buy a new mobile phone

SmartphoneVivek Kaul  
Recently I dropped my mobile phone into a bucket of water. The phone worked for a while and then stopped working. Given that, I had been using the phone for nearly two years now, I thought its time to buy a new one. And this is where my problems started.
I have managed to stay away from using smart phones till now. For the last five years I have been using a dual SIM model from Samsung. Given a choice, I would have wanted to buy the same phone all over again, like I had done two years back. But sadly Samsung doesn’t make that model any more ( at least I couldn’t find it anywhere on the web).
Thus, started the journey to figure out which mobile phone to buy. Gradually, recommendations started coming in. The people around me took it upon themselves to make sure that I bought the right mobile phone.
But looking at the choice that was available I ended up being all confused. First and foremost one needed to decide on the price range. Then on the company. Then on the right model. And how did one do that?
With every phone having so many features, how does one figure out which one was the better phone? In fact, feature creep is a huge problem with modern day products. As Geoffrey Miller, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of New Mexico in the United States in his book 
Spent – Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behaviour “This [i.e. feature creep] is driven partly by the need to make each new product model different from last year’s, but also partly by the consumer’s unconscious desire for a product that is right at the limit of his cognitive ability, and one that therefore functions as a credible cognitive display. The male buying them thinks those features can be talked about in ways that will display my general intelligence to potential mates and friends, who will bow down before my godlike techno-powers.”
The question is what about those people who just want to use a phone like a phone (i.e. make calls, send smses and probably take a picture or two once in a while). How should they go about choosing the right phone? And ultimately human beings have limited cognitive ability. It is simply not possible for them to analyse a product on every dimension and then make a purchasing decision. As Stefan Thomke, an authority in the management of innovation
 told me in an interview I did for Forbes India “We have been in many meetings where the entire meeting is dedicated to discussing more and more features. There seems to be an assumption that we are basically done when we can no longer squeeze more features into a product. Presumably assuming that the more features a product has, the customer actually sits there and counts the features, and that somehow drives our ability to price it.”
The consumers tend to simplify this problem by trying to look at one or two dimensions, which they think are important. Take the case of computers. Here people rely on the processor speed of the chip to make a purchasing decision. But is it the right criteria on which a purchasing decision should be based.
As Niraj Dawar writes in 
Tilt – Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers “Like any summary measure of a complex system, speed has its limitations: two computers with the same processor speed on their chips may perform very differently depending on the software loaded on the computer, the transfer speed of inflation to and from memory, its connectivity to the network, and many other variables. But most buyers leave these intricacies to experts and rely instead on the simple summary measure of speed.”
This is how consumer simplify the purchasing decision by looking at an irrelevant criteria. And what true about computers is also true about a lot of other products. As Dawar points out “For example, consumers evaluate digital cameras using the simple summary measures of megapixels, when in fact the megapixel has little to do with the quality of pictures taken by the camera. It is the size of the light sensor rather than the megapixel count that determines picture quality. Similarly, automobile buyers often rely on horsepower as a measure of the muscle of the car, when it is actually torque they are looking for, as torque determines acceleration, which is the sensation that drivers seek. Customers rely on threat count when buying synthetic bed sheets, but threat count is irrelevant in synthetic fabrics—it only provides a measure of quality for natural fibers such as cotton.”
Given these reasons I started looking for an irrelevant criteria using which I could figure out which mobile phone to buy. My search is still on. And as soon as I find one, I will go ahead and buy a new mobile phone. Meanwhile, I did the smart thing. I paid Rs 300 and got my mobile phone repaired. To conclude, let me quote what Thomke of Havard Business School: “We often talk about it as a quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. To make things simpler is very hard because that requires you to have a very deep understanding of what the user really wants. And once you have that deep understanding, you have the confidence. Mark Twain once said, if I had more time I would write a short letter.”
The article first appeared on www.firstbiz.com on February 7, 2014 

 (Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek) 

Why Priyanka Chopra was seen posing on the bonnet of a Range Rover

Priyanka Chopra at the Delhi Auto Expo

Vivek Kaul
The most enduring image to have come out of the Auto Expo 2014 until now has been that of the actress Priyanka Chopra posing sexily on top of the Jaguar Land Rover’s Range Rover LWB, during its launch. The actress even tweeted about it and said “Just unveiled the stunning Land Rover LWB…What a beauty she is-sleek & powerful!check it out.”
The picture got several of my friends on Facebook and Twitter talking about this sports utility vehicle (SUV). The question I asked them was why would anyone want to buy a gas guzzling and difficult to park and manoeuvre SUV ( I meant any SUV here and not just the one that Piggy Chops unveiled).
“She is a real beauty,” said one friend. “SUVs show a passion for design and give the feel of power while driving,” said another.
But there is more to why men love SUVs, than just great design and power.
Geoffrey Miller, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of New Mexico in the United States, writes about this in his book
Spent – Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behaviour.
Miller asks “Why would the world’s most intelligent primate buy a Hummer H1 Alpha sport utility vehicle for $139,771? It is not a practical mode of transport. It seats only four, needs fifty one-feet in which to turn around, burns a gallon of gas every ten miles, dawdles from 0 to 60mph in 13.5 seconds and has poor reliability.”
But despite being not so high on performance (or what we Indians like to call
kitna deti hai?) and environmentally unfriendly, the male of the human species simply love SUVs. Why is that? “Biology offers an answer. Humans evolved in small social groups in which image and status were all-important, not only for survival but for attracting mates, impressing friends, and rearing children. Many products are products are signals first and material objects later,” explains Miller.
This tendency of men to send signals through products is referred to as the “peacock syndrome” in
reference to the tendency of peacocks displaying their plumage in an effort to impress the peahens or the female of their species. In fact research carried out by Dr Michael Dunn at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff showed that women rated a man higher if he drove a “fancy motor rather than in an old banger”.
“It appears that the stereotype of women being positively influenced by a man’s status is true and, evolutionarily speaking, this makes sense,” Dunn told
www.telegraph.co.uk. In a similar research, researchers at the University of Texas studied this phenomenon and concluded that: “although showy spending is often perceived as wasteful, frivolous and even narcissistic, an evolutionary perspective suggests that blatant displays of resources may serve an important function, namely as a communication strategy designed to gain reproductive rewards.”
Dr Jill Sundie who led this research was very direct when he said “This research suggests that conspicuous products, such as Porsches, can serve the same function for some men that large and brilliant feathers serve for peacocks.”
Evolutionarily, the best strategy for a man is to be promiscuous and attract as many women as he can. As Richard F. Taflinger in Y
ou and Me, Babe: Sex and Advertising “The more women with which he mates, the greater number of children containing his genes are possible… Thus, a man’s biological criteria can be simple: 1) she must be healthy; 2) she must be young; 3) she must be receptive; 4) and she must be impregnable.”
For women things work a little differently. Condoms, birth control pills and other birth prevent measures are relatively recent inventions and given this, historically, women could not be promiscuous like a man could be. This was because sex with a man could result in a pregnancy of nine months. Hence, women needed to be choosy.
As Taflinger puts it “Women…have a far greater physical, physiological and temporal stake in producing children. This means she must be highly selective in her choice of men if she wishes to produce the highest quality children in her reproductive lifetime.”
This is something that Dunn of University of Wales in Cardiff agrees with. As he puts it “Females focus on questions of wealth and status because if the male possesses those, that male would be in a better condition to rear healthy offspring.”
And driving an SUV is a clear symbol of that. As Geoffrey Miller writes in
The Mating Mind – How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature “The metaphor seems apt because SUVs make such a show of their rugged utility, all-terrain capability, enormous power, and absurd size…Their huge size demonstrates the ability to incur a high initial cost, and their large engine demonstrates the ability to incur high running costs due to poor mileage. Although capable of transporting six adults across a mountain range, they are often used for nothing more demanding than driving one’s toddler to and from day-care, through leafy suburbia…Principally, their size is a wealth-indicator.”
Hence, a man driving an SUV sends out the right kind of signal to women.
Of course, men cannot be as promiscuous as they want to be because they live in a society. And in any society there are societal pressures. But even with this, there is subconscious need among men to be promiscuous. Marketers play on this and use women to advertise all kinds of products.
Most deodorant ads run on just one formula, where women swoon over a man after he has applied the deodorant being advertised. In fact, in India even underwear ads have been targeted at the promiscuous nature of men.
Given this, it is not a surprise that Priyanka “Piggy Chops” Chopra was seen posing sexily on top of a Range Rover at the Auto Expo in Delhi yesterday. The idea was to tell the prospective customers that anyone driving this car would attract women as sexy and beautiful as Priyanka Chopra. Some marketing formulas never fail.

The article originally appeared on www.firstbiz.com on February 6, 2014
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek) 

The Indian consumer does not get any subsidy on petroleum products

 light-diesel-oil-250x250Vivek Kaul  

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas released the under-recovery numbers on the sale of diesel, cooking gas and kerosene, on February 3, 2014.
The under-recovery for cooking gas as on February 1, 2014, stood at Rs 655.96 per cylinder, whereas the under-recovery on diesel and kerosene stood at Rs 7.39 per litre and Rs 35.77 per litre.
The price that oil marketing companies charge dealers who sell diesel is referred to as the realised price or the depot price. If this realised price that is fixed by the government is lower than the import price, then there is an under-recovery. Having said that under-recoveries are different from losses and at best can be defined as notional losses. (For those interested in a detailed treatment of this point,
 can click here).
These under-recoveries are typically referred to as subsidies (both in the media as well as by politicians) that the government is providing to the citizens of this country. But the question is it fair to call this a subsidy? A criterion that t
he International Energy Agency uses for defining something as a subsidy is whether it “lowers the price paid by energy consumers.”
A Citizens’ Guide to Energy Securityin India points out “consumer subsidies, as the name implies, support the consumption of energy, by lowering prices at which energy products are sold.” That is clearly not the case in India. As Surya P Sethi writes in an article titled Analysing the Parikh Committee Report on Pricing of Petroleum Products“It is clear that Indian consumers are paying the highest price for lower quality petrol and more for lower quality diesel when compared to the US and Japan – the two most vociferous proponents of removing fuel subsidies. Also, Japan and the UK and, indeed, several other countries tax diesel at a lower rate.”
A large portion of the price that consumers pay for buying petrol, cooking gas and diesel is passed onto the state governments and the central government in the form of various taxes. Excise duty collected by the central government and the sales tax collected by the state governments are the two major taxes. (In 2012-2013, the central government collected Rs 62,920 crore as excise duty. On the other hand state governments collected Rs 1,10,875 crore as sales tax.) Hence, the oil marketing companies (OMCs i.e. IOC, BP and HP) are not being adequately compensated for selling petroleum products (this does not include petrol), despite the high price. The government, in turn, compensates them for these under-recoveries.
Let’s throw in some numbers here. Data from the Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell, a part of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, shows that in 2012-2013 that the various state governments and the central government collected Rs 2,43,939 crore as taxes on the sale of various petroleum products. A small part of this income was also in the form of dividends.
Against this, the total under-recoveries on the sale of diesel, cooking gas and kerosene came in at Rs 1,61,029 crore. As is well known the central government did not pay this entire amount to the OMCs from its own pocket. It got the upstream oil companies like Oil India Ltd and ONGC to contribute towards the same as well.
The broader point is that the governments collected Rs 2,43,939 crore as taxes even though under-recoveries were at Rs 1,61,029 crore. This is a difference of more than Rs 80,000 crore here. In 2011-2012 this difference was more than Rs 90,000 crore. So the question is who is subsidising whom? It is clear that the end consumer is not being subsidised.
As the article titled 
The Political Economy of Oil Prices in India points out “The total contribution of the oil sector to the exchequer has been higher than the sum of under recoveries of the OMCs and direct subsidies on petroleum products for all the years since fiscal 2004…Even the sum of duties (customs and excise) and (sales) taxes on petroleum products, which is only a fraction of the total contribution of the oil sector to the exchequer, has exceeded the sum of under recoveries of the OMCs and direct subsidies in all the years since 2004-05. The inescapable conclusion…is that there is a negative net subsidy on petroleum products in India. Another way of saying the same thing is that the government extracts a net positive tax revenue from petroleum products in India. The oft-repeated assertion that petroleum products are subsidized in India is simply not true.”
Over the years, the governments in India, both at the state and the central level, have been spending more than they have been earning. Tax revenues from petroleum products remain a major source of income for the governments. While the expenditure of the governments has gone up dramatically, their income clearly hasn’t. And that is what they should be trying to address, instead of trying to tell us time and again that petroleum products are being subsidised. They clearly are not.

 The article originally appeared on www.firstbiz.com on February 5, 2014

(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)