Tag Archives: outsourced

Am I going to be outsourced to Mumbai? Thomson Reuters sells BarBri and buys Pangea3

I think I am safe for now, but we will see!

Here are the players: Thomson Reuters is a large legal publisher. They own the dominant "Westlaw" computerized legal research program. They print lots of materials used by lawyers such as guides and manuals and annotated code books.

BarBri charges money to help new law graduates pass the bar exam to get a legal practice license. I took a BarBri course for about $500 or so (maybe it was $750, can’t remember precisely) back in June and July 1993. It worked. I passed all portions of the bar exam on the first try!

Pangea3 is a company that has lots of lawyers in Mumbai. Some companies like American Express, GE, Sony, Yahoo! and Netflix have used Pangea3’s Mumbai based legal staff for some routine document review and tasks with repetitive elements.

The Economist December 18, 2010 article "Offshoring your lawyer" page 132, reports that some large companies are approaching their lawyer’s directly and demanding that the American based law firm work with Pangea3’s Mumbai based staff.

Legal outsourcing to India is still small. Of the estimated $180 billion spent on lawyers each year by Americans, only about $1 billion goes to outsources, but it is growing at the rate of 20-30% per year according to The Economist.

It is reported that big law firms’ hourly rates have jumped by 65% per hour between 1998 and 2009.

Commercial Real Estate: Looming crisis or are fears overblown? – the John Hancock Tower deal vs. Stuyvesant/Peter Cooper. One worked, one failed.

Boston’s John Hancock Tower, a 62 story glass skyscraper in Boston’s Back Bay was one of the first commercial real estate trophies to run into trouble when the speculative property boom abruptly ended some two years ago or so, according to the NY Times, December 30, 2010, article "A Real Estate Trophy In Boston is Sold", by Charles V. Bagli.

Bought at foreclosure sale 18 months ago for some $660.6 million, it was just recently sold for $930 million.

Commercial buildings have recovered some value.

In 2009, the owner had defaulted on 472.1 million in secondary loans, but the first mortgage remained current. The secondary loans were bought for about 30 cents on the dollar.

At the foreclosure, Normandy/Five Mile were the sole bidders on the second mortgage, paying about $20 million and taking on the senior mortgage.

The Hancock Tower had been valued at $1.35 billion in a 2006 purchase, more than double the 2003 valuation incident to a then sale, at $639 million. 82% of the purchase price was debt in the 2006 purchase.

Not all commercial properties have recovered so well. A similar attempted workout of Manhattan high rise apartments known as Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village failed, and the properties are now controlled by senior lenders through CW Capital. William A. Ackman of Persing Square Capital Management and Michael L. Ashner of Winthrop Realty Trust failed to gain control of the large complex, after investing $300 million in secondary debt for $45 million.

Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream – The Economist reviews C. Whalen’s book on American Finance

The Economist reviewed Mr. Whalen’s book, "Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream", in the December 18, 2010 edition.

Here are some sobering thoughts, taken from the Economist review:

America’s financial history is a losing battle against the "twin demons" of debt and inflation.

The gold rush created an alternative to the Puritan notion of hard worka nd saving that had generally characterized the nation’s early days.

The legal-tender act under Abraham Lincoln paved the way for deficit spending by the government.

in the 1920s acceptable mores of financial policy grew looser with an explosion of consumer finance tied to the age of the automobile and speculative debt-fueled investment.

Credit boom and bust cycles have followed one after another.

The instability (and political power) of banks and the fiscal recklessness of individual states is a given.

The state and federal governments refuse to raise enough tax to cover public demand for services and entitlements.

Allowing the public debt to grow faster than the economy dates back to the time of Alexander Hamilton.

Bankruptcy became a "robber baron" means to advance a private agenda in the late 19th century, just as it was used to further political agendas with the recent General Motors and Chrysler bankruptcies.

The huge monetary expansion since 2008 mirors the money printing recklessness of the 1930s.

The Federal Reserve serves the White House and big banks before it serves the needs of individuals under the guise of "stabilizing" financial markets.

By the late 1970s housing had begun to replace defence as America’s engine of growth. Before long, the myth that you could never have enough of the stuff had taken hold.

The author ponders and wonders how the economy will cope without a buoyant and growing property/housing market.

According to Mr. WHalen, the US needs a dollar devaluation to bring down external deficits and stimulate exports.

The US dollar serving as the worlds only significant reserve currency gives America a "free ride" to be less responsible on fiscal discipline.

This would be, he says, a 21st Century Marshall Plan in reverse.

Wow, I think I am going to pick up this book!