Anybody who works with numbers knows this. The sheer frustration of looking at PDF sheets of data. The job of turning dumb data into an intelligent one shows up in increasing medical bills to fix your back and neck. And while the physiotherapist chides you for not taking care, you have dark thoughts about those that may have deliberately put out a PDF instead of a usable format.
The entire issue of data disclosure and use fell into place for me during the buzzy breakfast meeting organized byMint last week. Top chief executive officers (CEOs) met with Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago in New Delhi for a conversation. For those who don’t know Thaler, he is known as the co-parent of behavioural economics—the wonderful new field that allows for us to be Captain Kirk and Penny, and not Mr Spock or Sheldon Cooper. In other words, it allows for irrationality in decision making as the standard state of human beings, rather than a perfect utility maximizing economic agent. His book, Nudge, has put the use of choice architecture to good use in policy, regulation and government.
That Narendra Modi is a skilful orator is not news, but to hear him in person and to see him use ground-level common sense to drive home financial lessons to an auditorium full of bankers is quite an experience. The venue was the 80th birthday party of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai. And in case you were wondering, as I did, as to why celebrate 80 years rather than the global norm of 75 or 100, Modi said that 80 years is special to Indians because it marks the sahastra darshan or the 1,000 viewings of the full moon by a person who turns 80.
Last week, the Indian mutual fund association set the cat among pigeons by announcing a number and a date. The circular dated 26 March 2015 put 1 April, that is today, as the day that the mutual fund industry will move to a cost structure that caps the upfront commission (the money that the seller of a mutual fund gets for vending the product) at 1% of the amount invested, and the trail commission (the money the vendor gets at the end of one year as a percentage of the value of the asset a year later) to be either level or decreasing over the years.