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Cina, il nuovo impero digitale

Sebbene la Cina sia considerata ancora da molti come uno dei mercati emergenti in molti settori, non si può dire lo stesso per quanto riguarda Internet e il web.

Secondo uno studio effettuato dal Boston Consulting group (sulla base di dati provenienti da svariate fonti, tra le quali il China Internet Network Information Center) infatti, entro il 2015 si aggiungeranno altri 200 Milioni di utenti alla già impressionante  cifra di 700 Milioni di navigatori cinesi. Circa il doppio degli utenti di Stati Uniti e Giappone messi insieme. Cifre che fanno sicuramente girare la testa, se si pensa anche che il paese potrebbe quasi sicuramente diventare il mercato online di vendita al dettaglio più grande al mondo da qui a pochi anni.

Già, perché gli utenti cinesi non si limitano più a navigare per puro intrattenimento personale,  ascoltando la musica o guardando video sulle controparti orientali di Youtube (Tudou e Youku), come facevano nei primi anni di sviluppo di Internet dalla loro parti, ma si sono evoluti. Il loro livello di confort è cresciuto e adesso si interessano a una serie di attività più vasta tra le quali la più importante è l’e-commerce. Read More…

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What is Credit Rating: meaning and why it’s so important

rating a+

Rating (def.) is a synthetic evalutation made by an external independent subject, on the ability and will of a borrower, to face the payment of the capital and interests, related to an emission of debt securities, placed or to be placed, as stated in the contractual obligation.

To be more simple it consists of an alphanumerical symbol that can be easily understood and interpreted by anyone, and it’s useful because with just a letter or a number you can compare different emission with ease.

But probably you are wondering why rating and rating agencies wear such an important role in markets, and why their decision can influence investors so much.

That’s simple.. Rating is a very important cognitive element in determination of  the interest rate payed by the borrower. The interest rate is in fact composed by 2 elements:

  • the benchmark (fixed): that is the distinctive rate for securities with the same duration and structure, and express the needs of units in deficit (borrowers).
  • spread (variable): that express the needs of units in surplus (investors), and changes based on the perception of risk of the issuer.
So, the lower the rating is the higher is the spread the issuer must pay to the investors.
Rating is also useful because it determines if a security is of investment grade or non investment grade (speculative), and this distinction is important too because some subjects, for example pension funds, cannot invest in a financial instrument that’s not of investment grade.
For a slightly clear view of this distinction check the table below.
"Rating Score Table"

What is Quantitative Easing

There’re a lot of talks about quantitative easing in this period, both from the ECB than from the FED. For those of you who doesn’t know what the news are talking about here is a short and clear video that explains the maneuver.

Basically this is done to lower the interests ratios, but too much of it could cause inflation, and that’s what the ECB prefers not to do, a high inflation indeed could cause even a worse scenario of the actual one. And that is why the ECB said that this measure could not be considered as a long-term solution to the problems of Europe and Italy in particular.

Italian government and Italy need to do something more structural to enforce the growth of the country and sanitize the balance.

the Cloud

Cloud and virtualization are two topics that are really exploding, they are really interesting both for developers and companies because they can make you build a solid and efficient infrastructure, that meets your needs and it’s more importantly cost effective because of the scalability of these two services.

I will go deeper in these the next time as I’m planning to do some four-hands posts. There’s a lot to say about it and I will try to focus on the economic and more “management side” of it, that few underlines, leaving the technical advices to my dear friend Mirko. By now I leave here a video as a brief introduction to the cloud, and a slideshare presentation made by Simone Brunozzi (AWS Technology Evangelist) for the more techies of you.

Architecting for the Cloud: demo and best practices, by Simone Brunozzi

Italy and innovation

In the last times I am wondering what is the situation of Italian companies and which is the future of their economy, taking in consideration the steps that are being taken in innovation, research and development from both the government and the companies themselves.

From my point of view they are really awful, I mean, there’s no doubt that we are in an difficult phase for our economy and this bad economic conjuncture effects are lasting for more than expected, but, when I say awful I’m saying that we are navigating in bad waters more than we notice or think.

Of course there are big multinationals that are investing a lot in R&D or online customer relationship or whatever strategy that uses the power of IT [there’s one in particular near where I live (Brembo), that has even created a park for scientific development and it’s going to be huge], but most of the small and mid firms don’t even know the potential of some simple yet cheap instruments that internet offers to them.  For example, few of them has a simple facebook page and updates it regularly, or use a twitter account for interating with their customers, very few industrial companies use a voip client to keep in contact with their supply chain, and even fewer take advantage the virtualization to empower the production line and their control system.

Problem is that those small companies are the real engine of the Italian economy, and if they don’t wake up , they will be literally eaten by the asian competitors.

Besides this, let’s assume that a company has the ideas to implement an “online” strategy, which are the investments of the government for creating a solid infrastructure to sustain those business? None.

The possibilities to have a really high speed connection, like in fiber, are remote or the costs are prohibitive. Italians copper lines are too old and the pairs are always overloaded. There are no economic district where to do some joint venture. We are now (now!) investing in the high speed trains, and there’s still someone that does not understand the importance of them. We are years back.

We keep sustaining old big companies just to not lose our face internationally (it’s too late Italians!), and keep giving subsidies to the banks. Gosh.. If they cannot stand up with their own legs or they don’t  fall within the european requirement, it means that there’s something that doesn’t work!! We have people to the power that only look to their interests, and I’m not biasing saying this.

Even a lot of  young students are blind in front of this disastrous country, and most of them are even contributing to it by wasting their relatives’ money enrolling to university just because they don’t want to go to work.

Maybe, fortunately, not everything is lost, we have some young talented people that are creating some great startups, don’t make them escape abroad.

Programming and stock exchange – HFT

At first I want to do a small introduction on how markets work: once upon a time, operators could make some money through the inefficency of the market just with a telephone, by buying from a market and selling a few minutes later in another market to an higher price and gain from the price difference, this was possible because stock exchanges were not integrated as today with a computerized system, and before differences in prices could adjust from a place to another it would have taken a few minutes.

Nowadays this is not as much possible to take advantage of this inefficency, because prices are the same all over the world, and for example,  if you are looking for a stock price on a screen, it would be the same whether you were in Hong Kong or in New York.

This is possible because of information technology that, as everyone know, is becoming always more important by making the world to become smaller and smaller. Connecting one place to another in just a fraction of a second.

This is the point. Fraction of a second

The prices, as I said, adjust quite instantly all over the world, so that a human could not notice or profit by this small amount of time. Thing is, it is too fast! even if you tap continuously on a button.. and you couldn’t even determine if the price in that blink has raised or decreased.

Here it comes algorithmic trading or robo-trading, and in particular a special class of algorithmic trading which is called “high-frequency trading” (HFT), “in which computers make elaborate decisions to initiate orders based on information that is received electronically, before human traders are capable of processing the information they observe“. Wiki

We are talking of very small amount of time, nanoseconds, that just a machine could use. And if a developer could create an algorithm that is both efficient and fast enough to beat the competition it could become very rich.

Literally, this is a “millions dollars affair”, indeed some societies such as banks, hedge funds and main investors, are already developing their own systems to make million dollars profits a year. A great opportunity of job and profit for both investors and developers, in a branch that will be on the daily agenda of the next (not so far) future.

Algorithm will be the new trading operators.