Put The Motley Fool to Work for You
You have a real opportunity here, Fools.
There are several giant variables for U.S. investors that cast a pall of gray over even the best-intentioned assumptions in the brick and mortar of our investment theses. China is the most obvious variable, where debate rages between those utterly convinced (as I am ) by the nation's ability to sustain breakneckd growth in the face of global headwinds, while others rightly point to China's red-hot housing market and lending blitz as potential spoilers to the party of our assumptions. I have found myself wishing several times over the past couple of years that I could just pick up and travel to China to view for myself the conditions on the ground there. For the most part, the reporting from China by financial and investment-related entities has been deplorably insufficient.
Grey spot #2 is also BRIC #2: India. India is a massive variable in the decoupling formula that I laid out for you a few weks ago. I have been reporting the anticipated surge in Indian coal demand for the past two years, and those long-term expectations have not been derailed by the tsunami that slamed into the global economy last year. India's central bank is making the right moves, as we well know. The Tata group is not exactly exactly sitting around waiting for, well, anything. Tata Motors, Tata Steel, and pretty much everything Tata has been back on the move.
I have suggested throughout this crisis that all eyes must be on China, but in truth part of one eye may well belong on fellow Pan-Asian decoupler India. Understanding India is as important to understanding the future of the decoupling phenomenon as understanding China has been to predicting decoupling's resurgence.
I don't know about you Fools, but I was very thankful to have access to first-hand reporting from China by the Motley Fool Global Gains team last summer, and their on-the-ground confirmation of trends I was sensing underfoot removed considerable uncertainty from my assumptions about China's resurgence. Just in time to confirm whether this Pan-Asian decoupling phenomenon has the legs that I think it has, the Global Gains guys are going to india. But here's the kicker ... you Fools have an opportunity to shape their research focus by posting your questions about India and what kinds of information you are interested in.
I have just entered my e-mail address here, so I'm all set to receive their updates as they travel around the country. This will be a lot of fun, and I hope you'll take part. For starters, toss your e-mail address onto their list so you can receive the travel updates too. Then, return here to post your own individual research questions ... which Tim and the guys will review before they leave and select some of our questions to guide their collective inquiries. I think this is exciting ... it's like having our own research team to send out and find answers to our questions from halfway around the world.
Now that you see the opportunity we have here, let me get the ball rolling by posting my own research questions. Please carry on my momentum and post questions of your own. If you have capital allocated globally in any serious way, chances are there is something you are interested in knowing about the Indian economy or investment opportunities there.
TMFSinchiruna's research questions:
1. Public attitides toward gold: We all know India has led the world in retail demand for gold jewellery for eons, but how are those attitudes being shaped by the abrupt rise in gold prices, and where does that trend intersect with the cultural significance of gold adornment both as stores of family wealth and as icons of status. To the extend that the rural poor may be priced out of an ability to procure gold, are there other metals that may fill the void? In China, I know that silver will gain prominance as a replacement for gold once gold is priced beyond the means of the masses, but what traditional role does silver have both within the Indian investment world and within the broader cultural complex.
2. The industrial scene: I can tell more about a country's growth prospects from a snapshot of industrial activity than I can from 1,000 pages of data-crunching economic analysis. What is the pulse of industrial activity? Are the steel mills hiring? Are manufacturers of products intended for sale to domestic markets expanding, stagnant, or contracting?
3. India's thermal coal imports are expected to triple over the coming years to more than 100 million tons. The significance of this forecast upon the outlook for global coal producers is great enough that any confirmation or update on the state of that coal demand would be greatly appreciated by this and many other long-term coal investors.
4. Mumbai experienced such a massive growth spurt prior to the crisis, I wonder whether the city finds many newer developments are empty or whether the city's economy has kept apace. Everywhere I look here in the U.S., I find housing developments or condominium complexes built in the latter stages of the boom stand as ghostly reminders of the excess that prevailed. Does Mumbai exhibit any such ghost town equivalents?
5. The Service Economy: Given the enormous rise of customer-service related outsourcing from companies in the U.S. and elsewhere over recent decades, has that sector felt a major impact from the global downturn as yet, and could you characterize the nation's degree of reliance upon that segment of the economy?
To the Global Gains team, thank you very much in advance for considering my questions and those of my fellow Fools posting their own questions below. I look forward to receiving your e-mail updates during your trip, and to perusing your full research reports in the Global Gains newsletter.
For Fools without a Global Gains subscription, may I gently suggest that this could be a fruitful time to consider a 30-day trial? At the very least, though, get involved with their trip by signing up to receive their e-mails, and decide for yourself whether you value the research they provide. I, for one, am thankful for it!
Okay, Fools, don't be shy ... let's see your questions about India in the comments below!