The Economics Of Barnes & Noble

Alex Shephard wrote about Barnes & Noble and what would happen if it went out of business: Barne

The Economics Of Starbucks Cards

Shane Ferro looked at some startling Starbucks numbers: Starbucks has a card system that people can

The Economics Of Political Lawn Ads

Ernie Smith wrote about the use of lawn ads in political campaigns: Political lawn signs are pricey.


The Economics Of Barnes & Noble

June 23, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Barnes n Noble

Alex Shephard wrote about Barnes & Noble and what would happen if it went out of business:

  • Barnes & Noble’s share price is down 40% and its debts are rapidly rising.
  • A lot of its money these days come from selling games, gadgets, and Starbucks fare. Unsurprisingly the amount of floor place devoted to books has fallen.
  • But even this may not be enough and the chain may soon have to shut down, in what would be a blow to publishers and writers.
  • Barnes & Noble is one of the few bookstores that purchases a large initial quantity of new books. Amazon on the other hand makes small orders both to test the market and create demand by saying that it only has 5 copies left of a book.
  • The initial orders that Barnes & Noble puts in provide the upfront cash that publishers need to ensure that they can pay for ads and book tours that then create recognition and induce demand for new books.
  • This will mean that without Barnes & Noble publishers will increasingly have to invest in books that they know will succeed – those, for example, from celebrity authors.
  • There will also be fewer advances paid to authors, meaning that authors will no longer have the time or resources to write a good book.

Read more about what a future without Barnes & Noble would look like over here.

Source: New Republic

The Economics Of Starbucks Cards

June 21, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

starbucks_gold[1]Shane Ferro looked at some startling Starbucks numbers:

  • Starbucks has a card system that people can pre-load money on and use to pay for drinks.
  • Customers have pre-loaded $1.2 billion worth of unspent cash.
  • Assets of that size mean that Starbucks is actually one of the larger banks in the United States.
  • Unlike other banks Starbucks doesn’t have to pay interest to depositors.
  • However it can invest that money in other ventures earning itself a tidy investment return.
  • Customers, in essence, have given Starbucks a $1.2 billion interest fee loan.

Read more here.

Source: Huffington Post

The Economics Of Political Lawn Ads

June 20, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Economics Yard SignsErnie Smith wrote about the use of lawn ads in political campaigns:

  • Political lawn signs are pricey. They cost almost $3 a pop and you need thousands of them.
  • All in all it’s probably just cheaper to run a TV ad campaign – especially if you factor in the propensity for the signs to be stolen or vandalized.
  • One study found that the difference that lawn signs make is small – a voter share increase of about 1.7%.
  • This is unsurprising. A lawn sign only tells you the candidate’s name and nothing about their policy ideas or priorities.
  • Still companies make millions selling the signs to campaigns. The latest tactic is to claim that oddly shaped signs will help draw attention.

Read about the history of political lawn ads, how Facebook is removing the one possible advantage they used to have, and other details here.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Ice Cream And Intelligence

June 19, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Summer is here. You better get your ice cream on writes The Economist:

  • There’s a positive relationship between the amount of ice cream per person a country consumes, and how intelligent children in that country are.
  • Australia, for example, consumes 13 liters of ice cream per person per year and has some of the smartest kids in the world.
  • Even countries with cold climates like Finland, Canada, and Sweden eat a lot of ice cream – and see a corresponding bump in child literacy rates.
  • There are exceptions. Asian kids don’t get offered a lot of ice cream but they do pretty well.

Read more, and look at a fascinating chart which shows how your country compares over here.

Source: The Economist

Chinese Loan Sharks Demanded Nude Photos Of Young Female Lenders

June 17, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Business Insider wrote about an unconventional form of collateral:

  • Young women seeking loans were being asked to provide nude photos of themselves, along with photo ID.
  • If they fail to repay the loan, the lenders threaten to publish those photos on the internet.
  • They may also ask for the contact details of family members or roommates so that they can credibly threaten to send the photos to people the defaulting borrower knows.
  • Fortunately, it seems like the practice has been suspended ever since it has come to light.

Read more here.

Source: Business Insider

The Celery Puzzle

June 16, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Natalie Jacewicz wrote that it’s kind of weird that celery is even a thing:

  • Celery is an awful source of calories and is largely tasteless which doesn’t really explain why farmers in the past bothered to cultivate it.
  • Moreover, most of the family of vegetables that celery belongs to is incredibly poisonous, making it a big risk for unclear gain.
  • Its appeal may, in part, have been its aroma.
  • In countries like Egypt, Rome, and China people also came to believe that it could be used to help cure hangovers, or as an aphrodisiac.
  • Its distinctive…leafiness may also have been a draw. In Tutankhamun’s tomb a wreath made of celery was found.
  • And it could have been an effective garnish to make otherwise simple meals seem bigger and fancier.
  • Celery also produces a very satisfying crunch that might have drawn early farmers.

Read other musings about celery here.

Source: NPR

Bookings At Trump Hotels Are Down

June 15, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Priceonomics wrote about the effect that Trump’s rise has had on bookings at Trump’s hotels:

  • According to one travel website bookings at Trump hotels have decreased by 59% year over year.
  • In cities such as New York and Las Vegas bookings have decreased by over 70%.
  • Even in Atlantic City – long Trump’s stronghold – bookings are down by 17%.
  • Of course, if Trump goes onto win the Presidency, his hotels will probably do well in the long run since there’d be some novelty to staying at a hotel branded with an American President’s name.
  • If he should lose though it’s possible the damage to his brand will be permanent.

Read caveats about the data, and other information here.

Source: Priceonomics

Morning After Maids

June 14, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Eleanor Ainge Ray wrote about a rapidly growing business in New Zealand:

  • Morning After Maids will come to a house the night after a party and help out.
  • They’ll clean, make breakfast, and go out and buy painkillers, depending on what people need.
  • The business has exploded and individuals in countries across the world have expressed interest in franchising the start up.

Read more about the service here.

Source: The Guardian

The Life Of A Presidential Pooch

June 10, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Darlene Superville wrote about Bo and Sunny, the first pets of the White House:

  • The pets are celebrities in their own right and have schedules that are emailed to them (well, their handlers anyway) every month.
  • Engagements can include anything from greeting White House visitors to cheering wounded soldiers.
  • With celebrity comes danger, of course. In January a man was arrested for coming to the capital with the intent of dognapping one of the pets.
  • Presidential pets have a storied history at the White House – George H.W. Bush’s pet dog, Millie, even published a book while in the White House titled, simply, “Millie’s Book”. It became a best-seller.

Read about the responsibilities that the Obama dogs have taken on, and the lives of other Presidential pets over here. And read our series on Pet Perks here.

Source: AP

A Hospital That Guarantees Patient Satisfaction – Or Your Money Back!

June 9, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Lena H. Sun wrote about an incredible program that has met with a fair amount of success at the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania:

  • The hospital system will give patients a refund if they’re unhappy with the care they received.
  • This can include anything from having to spend too much time in waiting rooms, to hospital food being subpar.
  • This has driven a substantial improvement in patient satisfaction.
  • Only co-payments and deductibles are eligible for reimbursement. Over a six-month period $80,000 was refunded.
  • Which sounds like a lot, but you’d have to pay a health care consultant a lot more to improve patient satisfaction.
  • All of this can be done through an easy to use app which cuts down paperwork.
  • Hospital workers have also been empowered with freebies like dinner vouchers, parking passes, and certificates for the hospital gift shop for any on the spot grievances.
  • The backers of the program point out that the system gives them real-time feedback on what customer pain points are, and the areas where funding should be focused.
  • The creators of the program has a history of innovative medical thinking. They previously launched an initiative which offered patients a 90-day warranty on their surgeries.
  • While the program was initially dismissed by others in the industry as unrealistic, other hospitals are now considering similar programs of their own.

The details and history of the program are outstanding. You should read about it here.

Source: The Washington Post

Via: Marginal Revolution