Surfing the Wave: Globalization

The Economist June 2st 2013

Ship of Knaves

The Billionaire’s Apprentice:  The Rise of the Indian-American Elite and the Fall of the Galleon Hedge Fund, by Anita Raghavan

“Anita Raghavan’s new book, The Billionaire’s Apprentice, purports to chronicle ‘the rise of the Indian-American elite.’  It does not.  Rather, it describes the rise and fall of two members of that elite:  Raj Rajaratnam, a hedge-fund boss, ane Rajat Gupta, a former head of McKinsey, the world’s most prestigious consultancy.’

Mr. Rajaratnam…is the money man; Mr. Gupta, his apprentice…

He (Mr Rajaratnam) cultivated a broad network of tipsters inside large companies who, for generous fees, slipped him nuggets that had not yet been made public…Mr. Rajaratnam ended up in prison.

He (Mr. Gupta) joined McKinsey and rose up the ranks through hard work, intelligence and a reputation for integrity…He became the consultancy’s first foreign boss, at a time when the business was globalising.  He saw how cheaper communications would make it possible to outsource various types of work to India, and made sure that McKinsey surfed that wave.  He became one of the most respected Indian businessmen in the world.”

Mr. Gupta fed Mr. Rajaratnam “inside information about Goldman Sachs, a bank on whose board Mr. Gupta sat.  He was convicted last year and sentenced to two years behind bars.  He remains free while he appeals against the verdict…

Some day, someone will write a great book about the rise of Indian-Americans.  In the meantime, this is a rollicking story of hubris and the suffering it brings.”

Surfed that wave,” surfing the wave” are surfing idioms.  If one caught the globalisation wave and rode it correctly, it would have been a really good ride on a fantastic wave.  I use it for friends who surfed the dot.com wave and the California wave;  they saw the potential in Silicon Valley business and the California ethos.  It was a good wave, also.  Of course, surfers can crash, too.

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