March 5, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Even as fast food has suffered declining sales, pizza chains are seeing astonishing growth. The Economist explained why:
- Pizza became popular in America after World War 2 when soldiers returned from Italy and spread it to the masses.
- People (mistakenly) assume that pizza is healthier than other fast food as it contains what is seen as a good balance of meats, veggies, dairy, and grains.
- After the financial crisis people stopped going out to eat, but ordering a pizza at home still seemed relatively cheap.
- There is also innovation: from bacon stuffed crusts to pizza in a cone there are countless chains that offer a different take on the traditional pizza experience.
- This keeps consumers coming back – and since many of these innovations are difficult to replicate at home, it also means that pizza chains offer an experience that people can’t get anywhere else.
Read more about the dominance of pizza here.
Source: The Economist
March 4, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
On the “explain like I’m five” subreddit, redditors explained why auctioneers speak the way they do:
- Auctioneers speak fast in part to create pressure on bidders so that they don’t have time to think and are lured into impulse purchases.
- Auctions generally move a lot of goods and auctioneers try to sell one item a minute, requiring them to speak quickly.
- Those leading auctions usually say the price that something is being sold at over and over again, before declaring that it is sold, to help ensure that the person recording the sale notes down the right amount.
- It’s such an art that the National Auctioneers Association holds an annual competition where clarity, timing, originality and presence are ranked by judges.
Read the full discussion and find out more details here.
March 3, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Back in 2007, Popular Science reported on a fascinating study:
- In a study exotic dancers made $70 an hour in tips when they were at their most fertile.
- This was double the $35 an hour they made when they were menstruating – or at their least fertile.
- Researchers suggested that this was because women were more flirtatious at peak fertility.
- Those who took birth control averaged $37 an hour, and didn’t see variations in their wages.
- This led researchers to lament the thousands of dollars that strippers on birth control lost every year.
- The scientists also recommended that girls in the industry schedule more shifts around specific times in the calendar.
Read more here.
Source: Popular Science
March 2, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Poor countries are usually encouraged to keep taxes low to attract business and drive up spending in the hopes of boosting growth. The Economist reported on a paper that indicated that this may lead to more corruption:
- Poor countries levy taxes equivalent to about 17% of GDP. In contrast the EU takes in 40% of GDP.
- The difference is often made up through foreign aid with Africa receiving $51 billion in 2012.
- The theory of loss aversion posits that people hate losing something they have more than they enjoy gaining something of equal value.
- Applied to economic development, it could lead to greater corruption in poor countries, since corrupt politicians are stealing foreign aid money rather than citizens’ hard earned taxes.
- If instead taxes were high and people saw their own money being wasted away, civic engagement may increase, and citizens may demand more accountability.
Read how this theory fared in a small scale experiment, and other details here.
Source: The Economist
March 1, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Yesterday the Indian government announced its budget for the year. Ellen Barry took a look at what goes into it in the days leading up to its release:
- For 9 days and nights about 100 government workers proofread, print, and bind 10,000 copied of the budget document.
- The workers are put behind locked doors, sealed by wax, and have all communication devices confiscated.
- Food is bought in and has to be taste tested to ensure that there’s little chance of food poisoning.
- If somebody were to get sick, they would be moved to a government hospital where they would be monitored by an intelligence agent.
- The measures date back to the time of colonization when the British would control the budget lest leaks about tax policy lead to the hoarding or dumping of goods such as tea and spices.
- The measures are successful. The budget has never been leaked.
Read about why one man was granted permission to leave the room – and why he returned the next day – stories from those who have been through the process, and much more over here.
Source: The New York Times
February 27, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
The comedic geniuses over at Cracked explained why winning a second Presidential term in America isn’t all that great:
- Being President is so physically demanding that those who lose re-election live longer. Most of the longest living Presidents in history led one-term administrations.
- The second term President’s party does badly which means a difficult Presidential term. For reasons that are unclear Americans vote against the President’s party in mid-terms during their second year, making it harder to get legislation passed.
- It hurts the chances of the President’s favoured successor. After a two term President leaves the White Office somebody from another party is usually voted in.
- The scandals begin to pile up and leak out. Watergate, Iran-Contra and Monica Lewinsky were all scandals that began to emerge during the second terms of administrations.
Read the full list of reasons, and the humour that makes articles from Cracked so entertaining over here.
February 26, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Reuters reported that South Korean condom companies are cheering over a court ruling:
- South Korea’s highest court overturned a 1953 law that used to make adultery illegal.
- As a result shares in one condom company rose by 15%. Investors were so excited trading had to be suspended.
- 892 South Koreans were indicted on adultery charges in 2014.
Read more over here.
February 25, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Japan has a few companies that have existed for over a thousand years. Joe Pinsker took a look at the secrets to their success:
- The oldest businesses are in industries that don’t go out of style: making food, shipping goods, and constructing buildings.
- The country is flexible about passing businesses down a generation. If a family felt that their own child wasn’t worthy enough to run the family business, they would “adopt” a more suitable heir.
- This explains why while in most of the world those adopted are usually children, in Japan 98% of adoptees are 25-30 year old men.
- For a long time Japanese banks were expected to help out all struggling companies. As a result, according to one estimate, between 1955 and 1990 less than a hundred companies went out of business.
- Things are changing though. In 2007 a 1,429 temple construction business ran out of money. Soon after a 533 year old company, and a 465 year old company went out of business.
- This is in part because a change in the law meant that it was difficult for struggling businesses to get help from banks.
- Younger Japanese consumers also care less about a company’s history.
Read about some of the older companies still operating in Japan, the 10 foot 17th century scroll that traced a company’s owners, some fascinating statistics, and much more over here.
Source: The Atlantic
February 24, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals have cautiously been hailed a success with several being met ahead of target. Now the United Nations is working on a set of “Sustainable Development Goals” and one economist analyzed the goals that will likely lead to the most development:
- Air pollution kills 7 million people a year. Changing how people cook would save lives and generate $10 for every dollar spent.
- Activists could also try to upgrade people to more high tech stoves that generate less smoke but that would create only $2 of value for every dollar spent.
- The most beneficial policy would be to reduce barriers to trade. According to one estimate this would generate $3,426 for developing countries, for every $1 spent.
- Other ideas that would generate high returns per dollar include providing reproductive-health services ($120), increasing nursery school enrollment ($33), and broadband penetration ($17).
- Some argue that the UN should focus on “data for development” but the act of monitoring is expensive and will take away the money available for actual development.
Read what this methodology has to say about the return on combating climate change, what other economists think, and much more over here.
Source: The Economist
February 23, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
In the North East of the United States and freezing? Matthew Yglesias has, what many will consider, cold words of comfort. Cold days are better than hot days for the economy:
- Temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius reduce America’s economic productivity.
- This effect is only seen on weekdays, where a temperature above 30 degrees Celsius is expected to cost a country $20 per person.
- This is due to the heat’s effect on agriculture and because employees just don’t seem to like working when it’s warm out – even with air conditioning.
- If America could control the weather and optimize it for economic development then income growth could be boosted by 1.7% a year.
- This could explain why countries in the colder north – such as many European ones – are richer than countries in the warmer south.
- This also has implications for what climate change could do to economic growth.
See some charts, read additional details, and find more over here.