The Best Way To Get Peace? Break A Ceasefire

Stephen Snyder presented some baffling research on ceasefire agreements: The vast majority of ceasef

Why Trump’s Clothes Don’t Quite Fit

The internet has been abuzz recently about Trump’s ill-fitting suits. John McDermott wrote tha

The Economics Of Luxury Watches

All of us have phones that tell the time. Why then do people pay thousands of dollars for watches? S


The Best Way To Get Peace? Break A Ceasefire

October 26, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Stephen Snyder presented some baffling research on ceasefire agreements:

  • The vast majority of ceasefires – about 80% – fail.
  • But the best predictor of if a ceasefire will succeed is a high number of prior failed ceasefires.
  • This seems to be driven by a deeper commitment to secure peace after previous failed attempts.
  • With more experience, negotiators address the weaknesses of previous ceasefire agreements, ensuring more durable attempts in the future.

Read more at PRI.

Why Trump’s Clothes Don’t Quite Fit

October 25, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

The internet has been abuzz recently about Trump’s ill-fitting suits. John McDermott wrote that it’s not all that unusual for politicians to wear badly tailored clothes:

  • Campaigning for President is both physically demanding and full of unhealthy food at luncheons, town halls, and other community events.
  • Thus, a candidate’s weight can dramatically shift from one week to the next. Have a slim-fit suit and the weight fluctuations will become painfully obvious.
  • The hectic schedule also means that candidates run around a lot which leads to wrinkled clothing.
  • And anyway, there’s value to not looking well dressed – it helps candidates to connect with voters.
  • There are a few exceptions. JFK enjoyed looking good and would change his clothes several times a day to look fresh. Obama, too, is rarely caught looking frumpy.
  • Meanwhile as the first female Presidential candidate from a major American party, everything that Clinton does clothing wise is groundbreaking.
  • For the debates Clinton went for the tried and trusted – her clothes across the three debates were red, white, and blue.

Read more about the history of Presidential clothing, and how Reagan and Clinton approached it at Mel Magazine.

The Economics Of Luxury Watches

October 24, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

All of us have phones that tell the time. Why then do people pay thousands of dollars for watches? Simon Garfield delved into the industry:

  • Entry level luxury watches cost about £42,000. Others can cost as much as £1 million.
  • They’re expensive in part because of the complexity of luxury mechanical watches. They can have as many as 1,366 miniscule parts – about six times the number of bones in the human body.
  • Due to the need for precision these parts are expensive. Even the smallest screw can cost $10.
  • And then there are the wages for the few craftsmen that are skilled enough to spend their time meticulously building the watch by hand.
  • One of the reasons demand is high is because for men it is one of the few forms of broadly acceptable jewelry.
  • Watches have also taken on the air, of, well…timelessness. A person’s name can be etched on it, as, say, a wedding gift, and the recipient could conceivably use it for the rest of their life, in a way that would never be true of a luxury smartphone.
  • The purchase process is unique. Flagship stores will take customers back to an earlier era with shops that lack any type of digitization. Clerks are taught calligraphy so that they can create receipts by hand.
  • Private rooms are available for customers to spend time with the watch and get to know it before making the decision to purchase. If they go ahead with it, then they can expect the store to bring them a bottle of champagne to celebrate.
  • The Swiss dominate the market. They sell just 1.7% of the world’s watches, but command 58% of the revenue.
  • Time plays a weird role in the world of watches. Top watches will often have a waiting list as the few craftsmen that can build them usually have a backlog.
  • The industry also plans in advance. One company recently approved designs for its 2028 collection.

The full article talks a lot more about the industry, its history, and much more. Read it at The Guardian.

Luxury Potato Chips

October 23, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Oddity Central wrote about the market for premium potato chips:

  • St. Erik’s, a Swedish micro-brewery, was upset by people enjoying their premium drinks with regular over the counter chips.
  • So they set out to make their own. The luxury chips are packaged in black boxes that hold just five.
  • The boxes cost $56 – or $11 a chip.
  • Each chip is hand-made and has its own flavour. The selection includes a chip made with Matsutake mushrooms found in the wild pine forests of northern Sweden, and another made with Leksand onions grown on the outskirts of a small Swedish town.

Read and see more photos on Oddity Central’s website.

Via: Marginal Revolution

The Economics Of The Blaze

October 20, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

There’s been talk recently about the formation of a new conservative news outlet. There might be room in the industry given the downfall of the most recent entrant, as Michelle Fields wrote:

  • Glenn Beck launched The Blaze, a conservative news site, in 2010. It did incredibly well and by October 2014 it had 32 million unique visitors a month.
  • Today though it manages just 8 million a month.
  • The website’s New York newsroom has been shut down and staff are being asked to work from home.
  • In fact, they’re being asked to make sure they don’t leave home. Travel and phone stipends have been eliminated.
  • What happened after such a promising start? It seems to be failure of senior management. The infant company has already been through four CEOs – managing to go through two of them in one particularly bleak six month period.
  • One of the former CEOs is currently fighting off a lawsuit alleging fraud and mismanagement.
  • There has also been infighting about editorial independence versus aiding the conservative cause.

The Huffington Post goes into details about what the website is doing to try to turn things around in the full article.

The Future Of Internet Is Light

October 19, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

The Economist wrote that your desk lamp could become a powerful communications device:

  • Lights can be made to turn on and off at a frequency that makes the flicking imperceptible to the human eye.
  • This can thus be used to transmit information. It’s like Wi-Fi except instead of radio waves to encode 1s and 0s, waves of light are used instead.
  • The main drawback of using it to replace Wi-Fi is also the technology’s main feature. Light can’t penetrate walls so you can’t ensure reliable internet across a home. But many businesses wish they could keep the internet within their walls for security reasons.
  • Light might also be the best way to transmit information wirelessly on aircraft or in hospitals. While the effect is marginal, traditional wi-fi still has the tendency to interfere with the signals generated by sophisticated equipment.
  • Since airplanes come with reading lights anyway, cabins could re-purpose them to save on the weight of cables and bring down fuel costs.
  • Currently mainstream tablets and phones don’t have the technology to transfer information via light. But a simple USB dongle can enable the functionality. And it’s possible that smartphone cameras can be used for the task.
  • The technology might even be embedded in street lamps to provide internet connectivity across a city.

The Economist has many more details about the technology.

The Economics Of Stand Up Comedy

October 18, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Lindsay Goldwert wrote about the stand up comedy world:

  • Amateur comedians actually have to pay to perform – and hope that they build their name or maybe get some tips at the end.
  • But even the world’s top comedians will perform for free. They’ll do it to test out new jokes before releasing it to a more serious paying audience.
  • A topical joke – say about something that one of the Presidential candidates said – can be told for about six months, but loses potency soon after.
  • Jokes also follow the laws of supply and demand. If there are multiple comedians making jokes about Donald Trump’s hair, then the audience will soon tire and stop laughing.

Read the full article, which goes onto talk about stolen jokes in the age of social media, on Quartz.

The Economics Of Inheritances

October 17, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Richard Davies wrote about inherited wealth:

  • One study found that parents with more transferrable wealth – such as housing or bonds – received more visits from their children.
  • The best way to get attention from children was to be sick, wealthy, and to have multiple offspring that might be competing for a prime spot on the will.
  • Parents respond to incentives too. In some farming communities it is the youngest that inherits the family’s lands. This ensures that older children leave the home and make something of themselves. But there’s still a strapping young child around to take care of the parents in their old age.
  • Today the wealthy struggle with structuring inheritances so that the next generation can’t blow it on booze and other distractions.
  • One popular method for doing so is an “incentive trust”. This ties inheritances payments to the achievements of certain milestones – like graduating college. Or it might incentivize hard work by agreeing to match a scion’s salary – rather than replace it entirely.

Read more about inter-generational wealth transfers on 1843.

Colouring Books For Adults Are Surprisingly Popular

October 16, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Joshua Gans wrote about an oddly popular product:

  • In 2015, three of the best-selling books of the year were colouring books targeted at adults.
  • Fans say that they are calming and help them return to a simpler time.
  • They might be popular with retailers because they have zero resale value. Once they are coloured in, they can’t be re-gifted to someone else.
  • Brick and mortar stores might be trying to push them because they’re the rare type of book that don’t work well as e-books.
  • And gift-givers might just like giving these away because they’re safe and are unlikely to offend anyone.

Read more musings about the popularity of colouring books and what this says about economists at Digitopoly.

Via: Marginal Revolution

The Economics Of Going Back To School

October 14, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Hayley Glatter looked into what the start of a school year means for children in the United States, where uniforms are not the norm:

  • The average American household spends $674 on back to school shopping.
  • More than a third of that is spent on clothing – including the clothes that the student will wear on the first day back.
  • The trend for splurging on back to school merchandise seems to have started in the 1960s, as post-war consumerism began to take off.
  • Spending has surged since then. In an era of social media and Facebook likes, image seems more important than ever, and students are responding by putting ever more thought into their dress.

Read more at The Atlantic