July 31, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Counterfeiting is a crime. Yet movies sometimes need to depict money on screen. Zachary Crockett wrote about what happens when the two clash:
- In the 1900s counterfeit money became a problem and the government banned its use in movies.
- Lucky for movie makers the Mexican revolution ended in 1920 and Mexican currency suddenly became worthless. It could then safely be used in movies.
- When that ran out directors went back to using real money. However as they got better and better at producing it they found that people (inadvertently or otherwise) started trying to spend it.
- The government cracked down, and one prop maker saw nearly $200 million of its fake money destroyed.
- These days movies will show a stack of bills where only the top bill is real currency. The rest is just blank sheets of paper unseen by the audience.
- Or a bank could loan a film the money. Bank guards closely monitor it during filming and it is carefully counted before and after the scene is shot.
- Some small firms also specialize in currency from specific eras. Such money is rented out for short durations to makers of historical films.
Read more and see how realistic movie money got, why the government cracked down on Rush Hour 2, and more over here.
July 30, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Colman Andrews wrote about TastingRoom, a service for the wine drinking generation:
- TastingRoom is like a dating site…but for wine. It uses algorithms to figure out the wine that best suits an individual.
- Users pay $9.95 to get six mini-bottles of wine. They then rate the wine which allows the website to build a profile of the customer’s wine preferences.
- For $59.95 the users can then get a half case of wines tailored specifically to their preferences.
Read more about the service and how it works over here.
Source: The Daily Meal
July 29, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Dan Washburn wrote about what it takes to build a golf course in China:
- Beijing has announced a moratorium on new golf courses. That’s why these days “resorts” and “exercise fields” with golf holes are all the rage.
- Developers will hire local villages as subcontractors. The village head will get about five yuan a day for every village labourer, and this tidy profit will ensure the village’s support in case any land disputes pop up.
- Canny operators will appoint CEOs “Chief Entertainment Officers” whose sole responsibility is to maintain good relationships with government officials by paying for meals and trips, to ensure their support.
- Not that they need to try too hard. Entertainment venues are taxed at an expensive 23.5% in China, which is why local governments are eager to have them set up shop and enrich the local treasury.
Read more about the tips and hacks that developers exploit, what happens when foreign companies try to do the same, and more over here.
July 28, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
This year has seen several tragic air disasters. Keith Bradsher wrote about the airline insurance industry:
- Malaysia Airlines has a $2.25 billion overall liability policy. Airline insurance policies normally come with clauses that limit the amount that is paid out for search and rescue costs – but Malaysia Airlines’ policy does not come with any such clause.
- Given the millions that governments are spending searching for the missing MH370, Malaysia Airlines (and thus its insurers) might be asked to pay for some of the costs.
- The loss of MH370 has triggered a partial insurance payment under the “war risk” policy pending confirmation that the crash was not a result of intentional suicide or criminal action.
- Insurers will sometimes prohibit airlines from flying over dangerous regions but no such directive seems to have been issued on the route MH17 had taken over Ukraine.
- In addition to the loss of two Malaysia Airlines planes, and the crashes in Taiwan and Mali, insurers will also be on the line for planes damaged in the shelling of Libya’s main airport, and the Taliban’s attack on Pakistan’s main airport in Karachi.
- It is estimated that so far this year insurers have paid out $600 million in payments. The industry as a whole collects about $65 million a year in premiums.
Read more over here.
Source: The New York Times
July 27, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Jeremy Anderberg looked at the most popular books going back to 1904, and the number of pages in each one. He found that books have been getting longer:
- In 1904 the average bestseller had 219 pages. In 2013, the last full year for which data is available, the average was 468.
- This might be because with the rise of tablets, people no longer have to lug around heavy books if they want a long read.
- It may also be a result of the Netflix binge culture where people like to lose themselves in an alternate reality for several hours.
- And perhaps customers believe that they are getting more value for their money when they buy longer books.
Find out the granular data about the length of books over the years, why there was a dip between 1954 and 1964, the books that have driven up the average, and some short books that you can enjoy in a day over here.
Source: Book Riot
Via: Marginal Revolution
July 26, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Insurance is typically bought to protect against catastrophes such as a natural disaster or the loss of the primary breadwinner in the family. Alex Mayyasi wrote about an instance where individuals purchase insurance in case of good fortune:
- Golfers around the world are increasingly buying insurance policies that will pay out if the buyer scores a hole in one.
- Players get insurance because traditionally the scorer of a hole in one has to buy everyone drinks, and this can be an expensive proposition.
- Premiums can be as little as $3, and can cover several hundred dollars’ worth of drinks for all in one celebration parties.
- Golf clubs might also purchase the insurance then offer a special prize for any member who scores a hole in one. If some lucky player makes it, the insurance company has to pay, not the club.
- The practice of buying drinks after scoring a hole in one might have been started by clubs hoping to discourage members from making false claims about their playing prowess – many clubs will offer gold plaques to scorers of hole in ones.
- Clubs also, of course, have the incentive of encouraging players to splurge on their drinks.
Read more about the practice, the countries where it’s most prevalent, the club that requires the buying of drinks as policy, and more over here.
July 25, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
The Economist wrote about how global markets respond to what many consider to be the pariahs of the international political order:
- Russian stocks are valued at just 5.2 times their annual earnings.
- The average in emerging markets is 12.5. If Russian stocks traded at this ratio then their valuation would more than double, or increase by close to a trillion dollars, to $1.77 trillion.
- The reason why shares trade at such low values is likely due to its government led by President Vladimir Putin, which has jailed those who advocate for good corporate governance and anti-corruption efforts.
- All in all this is making each Russian citizen about $7,000 poorer.
- This phenomenon is known as the “Discount for Obnoxious Governments” (DOG) phenomenon.
- The stock market valuations of Argentina and Iran are also about half what they should be, making the countries billions of dollars poorer.
- It’s not just DOG that makes financials difficult for governments. Leaders also have to pay far more in interest to borrow funds.
Read more about DOG, how it is calculated, why citizens of the countries don’t necessarily notice the impact it’s having on their lives, and more over here.
Source: The Economist
July 23, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Emily Badger looked at some data that suggests that Uber might be reducing DUIs:
- Services such as Uber are particularly popular with younger individuals that are more likely to go to bars.
- While these individuals could always have taken cabs, there is some evidence that indicates that Uber users aren’t just using it in lieu of cab rides – they’re actively expanding the market for them.
- Uber claims that its arrival in Seattle helped reduce DUIs by about 10%.
- Data from San Francisco also indicates that DUIs trended downwards after Uber and other quasi-taxi services were launched.
Read about the caveats of the numbers, the role that the recession might have played in boosting DUIs, and more over here.
Source: The Washington Post
July 22, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Christine DiGangi wrote about a survey of the amount paid to the child labourers that American parents keep on their payrolls:
- The average child up to the age of 10 makes about $1,360 a year.
- This includes allowances, bribes, rewards, and gifts.
- 55% of parents pay bribes to make their children behave better, and 44% pay underage labour below market rates to do chores.
- 65% of parents would like to cut their payroll costs but are unable to because a fair number feel they’re competing with other parents.
Read more about the findings of the survey, and what it might mean for the finances of families over here.
Source: Credit Blog
July 21, 2014 in Daily Bulletin
Douglas A. McIntyre put together a list of brands that won’t survive to see the next American President take office:
- Its been several years since Zynga, the maker of Farmville, scored a hit, and the ending of its “special relationship” with Facebook has shrunk its marketing reach.
- Research in Motion made the list last year, and the prediction was technically correct – the company was renamed Blackberry – but continued failures in a competitive mobile space probably mean it’ll soon be sold.
- Russell Stover, known for assorted chocolates, makes about $600 million in revenue, but its managers have put it on the market. Hershey is a leading contender to take it for a price tag that could reach $1 billion.
- Teens seem to prefer cheaper clothes these days, and that’s causing Aeropostale’s sales to tank. Abercrombie & Fitch may soon follow.
Read the full list of brands you should enjoy while you can over here.
Source: 24/7 Wall Street