Why Price Gouging During Natural Disasters Might Be A Good Thing

November 20, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Tyler Cowen talked about the lighter side of price gouging:

  • After natural disasters companies that raise the prices of essentials like water suffer massive social media blowback.
  • But if shops don’t do it, the people will simply buy it up and price gouge their neighbors.
  • This then contributes to photos of empty shelves – which can make a crisis seem worse than it is, and drive activities like looting.
  • If companies were able to charge higher prices they would have more of an incentive to increase inventories in the lead up to a disaster in the first place.
  • Supplies of essentials would also increase as neighboring entrepreneurs would migrate to the disaster area with supplies for sale, knowing they can get a good price.
  • The best alternative to price gouging isn’t forcing stores to sell at artificially low prices. It’s rationing, to make sure that people only get what they need in an emergency.

Read more of the argument here.

How Tinder Made The NBA Better

November 17, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Tom Haberstroh wrote about the “Tinderization” of the NBA:

  • In the 80s home teams won 70% of games. Today they win just 57%.
  • Tinder is a big reason why. NBA players on the road now get a lot more sleep as they don’t need to stay up all night drinking at clubs to pick up dates.
  • Instead by texting their date and leaving a key at the front desk, they can have someone in their room waiting for them the moment they return to their hotel.
  • The rise of chartered jets – where coaches can control diet and alcohol intake – has also boosted sleep levels.
  • Social media in general now allows the world to see if players are up late before a game, or in a drunken brawl. To protect their brands and corporate sponsorships players have decided it’s better to just stay in.

Read more on ESPN.

Via: Cracked

Parents Save More To Send Their Boys To College Than Their Girls

November 16, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

It’s been a particularly uncomfortable few weeks when it comes to stark revelations on how society treats women. Abigail Hess added another demerit:

  • Women hold two thirds of America’s student debt, while making up a little more than half of all college students.
  • The primary reason is that just 35% of households with girls save money for college (compared to 50% of households with boys).
  • Parents may be saving this money for a wedding instead.
  • Institutional biases contribute to the problem – the average merit based grant for boys is greater than that for girls – even though girls often outperform boys in school.
  • And then there’s the persistent gender wage gap which makes it more difficult for women to pay back their loans.

Read more on CNBC.

How Mapmakers Dealt With The Discovery Of Vast Oceans

November 15, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Genevieve Carlton wrote about maps:

  • Voyagers like Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci found distant continents – and in the process forced European mapmakers to deal with the vastness of the oceans.
  • Often they would shrink the size of the Atlantic ocean – making the new world seem much closer than it really was.
  • Some were outraged by the scarcity of land in the southern hemisphere – and reasoned that there must be an undiscovered continent in the south, which they called “Terra Australis Nondum Cognita” – southern land not yet known (see image above)
  • When Europeans ran into Australia they assumed that this was the fabled southern mega-continent, thus explaining how Australia got its name.
  • The oceans could be used for branding purposes. Mapmaker André Thévet, for example, names a series of non-existent islands after himself in the ocean.
  • One Venetian nationalist littered the vast oceans with Venetian galleys – entirely unsuited for trans-oceanic travel, but propagating what was, by that point, the myth of Venice’s pre-eminence.

Read more and see the visual evolution of maps on Atlas Obscura here.

The Economics Of Amazon’s Decision To Create A Lord Of The Rings TV Show

November 14, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Amazon struck a deal to create a series of prequels for Lord of the Rings. Derek Thompson looked at the staggering economics of the deal:

  • Amazon is thought to have paid $250 million just to acquire the rights to create a show.
  • Actually producing one will cost hundreds of millions more, and then there’s marketing costs.
  • Amazon might wind up spending half a billion dollars on creating a show – that most people will just stream as part of their existing Amazon subscription.
  • Still, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies made $6 billion across six films, so maybe the economics will work out well.
  • And adding more content to a well-explored universe has proven to be lucrative for others. Disney, after all, has essentially been making the same Marvel movie repeatedly for over a decade now.
  • People like the familiar. Despite all the money spent on original content, people are most likely to watch back catalogues of old favourites on streaming services.
  • And it makes sense for Amazon to bet big on a few headline shows. The rewards of having one great show can be exponentially better than having several good ones.

Read more analysis on The Atlantic.

Hollywood’s Real Life Loopers

November 13, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Susan Stamberg wrote about Loopers who, turns out, are background voice artists, not contracted time travelling assassins:

  • Loopers provide ambient human voices for public scenes such as those set in restaurants.
  • Producers will ask the actors to educate themselves on the location they’re shooting for – they should talk about local sports teams or weather – even if the dialogue is typically inaudible.
  • A silent film reel will play on a screen and loopers will mill about a giant microphone speaking as if they were off-screen extras.
  • Television shows will usually have around six layers of looper tracks to add real depth to a scene – major motion pictures will have many more.
  • Loopers don’t always provide human voices. In Happy Feet and its sequel, loopers were asked to emit the noise that krill – small loud crustaceans – make.
  • The most fun looper roles typically involve bloodcurdling screams.

Read more on NPR.

Forbes’ 400 Billionaires List Is Probably All Wrong

November 9, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Forbes has a list of the world’s 400 wealthiest people. You can’t trust it, wrote Preeti Varathan and Max de Haldevang:

  • Wilbur Ross, the US Secretary of Commerce was found to have successfully tricked Forbes into putting his name on the billionaires list – even though he was a hundred millionaire at best.
  • There is evidence that Donald Trump similarly never quite made it to the billionaire’s club. But he convinced Forbes that he was one…and that probably helped him become President of the United States.
  • One trick is to argue for an impossibly high valuation, thus convincing Forbes that when they come up with a valuation that’s just implausibly high, they’re being conservative.
  • Entrepreneurs try to boost estimates of their wealth because it lends them an air of credibility that makes business deals easier to negotiate.
  • Meanwhile those that inherit their wealth typically try to lower estimates of their net worth to prevent solicitation from charities, or friends and family.

Read more on Quartz.

Ladies, The World’s Last Male Northern White Rhino Is On Tinder

November 8, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Desperate times call for desperate measures when it comes to ensuring a future for Northern White Rhinos, wrote Thomas Page:

  • There are three Northern White Rhinos left in the world – two females, one male.
  • The one male seems to have given up on his species – he has been reluctant to procreate.
  • And so he joined Tinder.
  • It is part of a publicity stunt to raise the $10 million needed for invitro fertilization, to preserve the line of rhinos.
  • His Tinder profile includes the statement “I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me” – those that swipe right can then donate.
  • His general disinterest in procreation seems to appeal to the Tinder crowd. So many people swiped right on his profile that the donation website crashed soon after he made his Tinder debut.

Read more on CNN.

You can donate to the project here.

You can find the rest of Centives’ coverage on rhinos here.

Principles Of Behavioural Economics In Supermarket Design

November 7, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Cracked put together a list of psychological tricks that supermarkets use to boost sales. Highlights include:

  • The mascots on breakfast cereals often look downwards – to catch the eyes of children.
  • The aisles with the highest margin items sometimes have smaller floor tiles to slow down shopping carts, increasing time spent at the store.
  • Flowers are typically sold at the entrance of supermarkets to prime customers into thinking about freshness.
  • Removing dollar signs from prices – so that it reads 9.99 instead of $9.99 – makes the money seem more abstract, and purchases more likely.
  • Scents can affect spending – a coconut fragrance in the swimwear aisle increases sales.
  • Supermarkets don’t want shoppers to settle into a routine – they will shuffle around inventory, so more time is spent looking for staple buys.

Read the full list on Cracked.

New Birthday Party Idea: Go To Court

November 6, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Daniel L. Chen and Arnaud Philippe looked into the compassionate side of judges:

  • Judges are more likely to give lenient sentences to defendants if they are sentenced on their birthday.
  • Judges reduce the length of prison sentences by 2% if it’s the defendant’s birthday on the day of the sentencing.
  • If the defendant takes time out of their birthday to show up in person, they can expect their sentence to go down almost 3%.

Read the entire study here.

Via: Marginal Revolution