Major international indices since the beginning of 2000

Here is an interesting little chart that compares some of the world’s major indices since the beginning of 2000 till date.

I looked at the green worm go, and thought that it looked like India, and so it was too.  It’d be interesting to see how EPS for these countries grew over this time period; I’ll see if  I can put something together.


Courtesy dshort via Big Picture

How to update formulas in a Word document?

Last week I wrote a post about using formulas in Word, and reader Rajesh wrote to me telling me that the formulas don’t auto – update when you change the values. I hadn’t noticed this before, so I tried it and found that you have to manually update the formulas, and this doesn’t quite behave as it does in Excel.

The good news is that it isn’t  that hard to update a value, – you can just place your cursor on the cell with the formula, right click, and hit “Update Field” if you have just one formula.

If you have more than one, then it will be easier to select the entire document using Ctrl + A, and hitting F9.

That will update all values in the Word document.

Thanks to Rajesh for pointing that out!

I am posting the rest of the earlier post (which describes how to enter a formula) below in case you haven’t seen it. No need to read further if you have already seen that post.

I discovered a neat little feature in MS Word today which has been around for quite some time now, and can come quite handy if you have to perform calculations within a Word document, or create a template with calculations that others will use later on.

You can perform calculations in a MS Word table much in the same way you perform them in MS Excel. Say you have a table with Regions, and Sales like the one below.


If you want to find average sales then place your cursor on the cell that you want to show the number at – click Layout –> Formula, and then type =AVERAGE(ABOVE), and hit enter. Word will calculate the average for you, and show the number on the cell.

You can even reference the cells like B2, B3, B4 etc., and then perform more complex calculations too.

Here is an example: Say you have tele-densities from a few states, and want to see the difference between the maximum and minimum.

You can write a formula by referencing the cells like you do in Excel, and calculate the result. Here is how that would look like:


This works in MS Word 2007 and 2010, and can come quite handy if you have to do calculations for a report, or create a template or some other stuff that needs some light calculations.

A new way to set up SIP in ETF

Systematic Investment Plans or SIPs are really popular with Indian investors, and provide a way to invest regularly in mutual funds.

In the past there have been some discussion about how someone can set up a SIP with ETFs, and a lot of people have shown interest in setting up a SIP in ETFs or more specifically in gold ETFs.

I had a post on the topic with several roundabout ways of doing this, and before I tell you about the new way I discovered last week, let me recap them from my earlier post for you:

1. Kotak’s Auto Invest: Kotak has a plan called “AutoInvest” that in an online trading account based on systematic investment planning  in Gold ETFs, equities and mutual funds.

2. Set up reminders with your offline broker: If you trade using an offline broker – you can tell them to remind you by giving you a call at a certain day of the month, and remind you to place the trade.

3. Set up reminders in Outlook or Gmail: You can set up reminders using Outlook, Gmail or any other tool that reminds you to invest at a certain day of the month.

4. Buy a fund of funds that owns ETFs: As stated in the comment in yesterday’s post – you can set up an SIP for a fund of funds that invests in a particular ETF you are interested in – and that gives you an indirect way of getting into a SIP for an ETF.

5. Value Averaging Investment Plan (VIP) from Benchmark funds: This is an idea given by another commenter on the earlier post. This product from Benchmark is akin to set up an ETF – I am not sure how effective this is because I haven’t used it myself or done any great deal of research on it, but it does give another option to investors.

Now, you can add ICICI Direct to this list. Last week I saw that they have a new option called “Equity SIP” that lets you set up a systematic investment plan in a list of given stocks. These stocks include some ETFs also like the Benchmark Gold ETF or Benchmark S&P CNX 500 Fund.


Investors have been asking for this option since a long time, and it is great that they have one more way of setting up SIPs in ETFs. If you know of more ways than are listed here, then please do leave a comment, and I will update my post to include those options as well.

A look at where USA and India get their oil from?

I was looking at data about India’s import partners – the countries from which India imports from, and thought it would be interesting to see how this compares with America’s import partners.

I came up with this visualization comparing India and America’s import data in 2009.

The similarity of course is how big China’s share is, but everyone knows that. The next thing that struck me was the size of the Canadian and Mexican circles, and it clearly shows how much they benefit from being America’s neighbors. After looking at this for some time – I noticed how the Middle East was littered with huge bubbles in India’s map, but they were missing in America’s maps. Looking at this in a little more detail shows that America imports quite a lot of oil from its neighbors while India relies on the Middle East quite heavily. Part of this is politics, and part of it is geographical proximity. It is quite interesting to see this next viz which shows the countries from where India and America import their oil.
Continue reading “A look at where USA and India get their oil from?”

How much money do you need to retire?

Reader Gaurav wrote in some time ago with a question about retirement investment options and plans, and I have been thinking about them for some time now. But every time I think about investment options, my mind wanders to the question of how much do you really need to retire?

To answer that you need to think about the following questions:

1. How much money will you spend per annum ?

2. How many years do you have till retirement?

3. Number of years you need the money after retirement.

4. Annual Inflation

5. Expected return

Take a look at this Retirement Calculator from Bank Rate. It lets you plug in the numbers, and tells you how much money you will need at the time of retirement to last the rest of your life.

It also tells you how much money you need to invest today to get to that number on your retirement age.

I suggest you play with this calculator alone because you don’t want people hear you yelling obscenities when this thing throws up the number you need today (not that it happened with me).

But I am not really interested in the number that I need today – I am interested in the number that I need when I retire, so my next instinct was to try and plug these numbers into a Systematic Investment Plan calculator to see how much money I need to invest per month to get to the final amount at my retirement age.

Now, the thing with this is that you need a SIP calculator that allows you to increase contributions every year because you are on a really long time horizon, and if you say you are going to invest 15,000 every month – that might be big now, but in 15 years time, it will probably just buy you a movie and popcorn.

Use this increasing SIP calculator to  plug in the numbers and find out how much you need to save today to get enough for your final retirement plan.

Using this calculator brought me close to a reasonable but significant number, and I must say this has been a really good exercise for me to see how much I need for retirement, and then back calculate to see what I have today. The numbers seem a bit daunting today, but I am much better off because now I am not shooting in the dark, and have some sense of what I am looking at.

Play with the calculators, and be careful about your assumptions, that will make a lot of difference. Hopefully you will come up with a number that will be the beginning of a solid retirement plan.

India registers first quarter GDP growth of 8.8%

The big news today has been the strong first quarter GDP growth logged by the Indian economy. At 8.8% over last year, this has been quite a good quarter, and the major contributors were manufacturing and trade, hotels, transport and communications.

This is how the data breaks out (green is this year’s).


Agriculture is a bit slow, but given the good monsoons this sector should do well in the rest of the year.

As far as the contribution of private or government sector is concerned there wasn’t much change, though the change of capital formation which indicates capital investments in the economy slowed down a bit. Here is how that looks:


While the low base has helped the GDP growth number rise a bit, this has been a good performance, and hopefully India can clock a healthy GDP growth number this year with inflation in check.