March 30, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Anne D’Innocenzio writes that jeans are fading against the yoga pant juggernaut:
- Last year sales of jeans declined by 6% while sales of yoga pants, leggings, sweatpants, and other active wear rose by 7%.
- This is in part because these clothes offer greater comfort but don’t require a compromise on style.
- There has also been little innovation in jeans over the past few years, making them seem dated.
- Jean makers are responding to the threat. Levi’s is working on jeans that are stretchier, making them more like yoga pants.
- But it’s possible that this is the end of the era of jeans. They were popular in part because they used to be anti-establishment. Now that they’re the norm they seem less daring.
Read more about other periods of perceived jeans crises, other designs that fashion labels are trying, and more over here.
Source: Associated Press
March 29, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
The world is built upon sand, writes Vince Beiser:
- Sand is in glass, detergents, cosmetics, toothpaste, solar panels, silicon chips, and buildings – which are really just sand stuck together with concrete.
- Deserts seem like a limitless source of sand, but that sand is usually unusable because it is shaped by wind, making it too smooth for most purposes.
- 40 billion tons of sand is used annually and with economic growth driving up demand in places like China and India riverbeds and beaches have had their sand stripped away.
- Over 20 Indonesian islands have disappeared; their sands converted into land reclamation projects for the small island country of Singapore.
- But exporting sand is destructive – so much so that Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam have banned the export of sand to some areas.
- Such bans only fuel illegal mining which further damages the environment. Around 50% of the sand used in Morocco is thought to have been mined illegally.
- India is dealing with “sand mafias” that work with corrupt police and government officials to kill opponents who would seek to end lucrative mining operations.
Read more about the importance of sand, how the sand mafias operate, how they might be eliminated, and other details here.
March 27, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Josh Zumbrun wrote about how a company’s treatment of its employees affects its market performance:
- Ratings from Glassdoor, a website where people can anonymously rate their employers, similar to Yelp for restaurants, can be used to figure out how satisfied people are with their workplaces.
- Research indicates that companies that are rated well have outperformed stock market indices.
- A strategy where investors buy stock in companies that make the grade of best companies to work for, and sell them in places that are bad to work for, will have returned 219% since 2008, compared to the S&P 500’s 121%.
- This might be because a company that does well has more money to spend on employee perks.
- High employee satisfaction may also make it easier for a company to retain its best workers.
- Or perhaps automated investment algorithms pick up on any good news about a company from sites such as Glassdoor, and buy stock in it, driving up its price.
Read why this relationship may not last for long, what academic research indicates, and more over here.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
March 26, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
The Economist looked at the market for cross border election consulting:
- Expert pollsters, strategists, and media analysts are hired by candidates in large countries to help them win elections.
- However when the home country is going through a lull in between elections these same experts market themselves to countries abroad.
- The trade flows both ways between developed and developing countries. South American experts have helped American candidates appeal to Hispanic voters.
- At times you can tell a lot about a candidate based on the type of experts they hire. Pro-Russian candidates in ex-Soviet countries prefer Russian consultants, while their opposition usually prefer American ones.
- At times foreign consultants can be seen as unpatriotic – perhaps this is why Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that American forces were trying to unseat him in Israel’s most recent election.
- What he failed to mention was that American strategists had also been hired by his party to help (successfully) win the campaign.
Read why Boris Yeltsin had to go through his daughter to get campaign advice, how consultants helped Hugo Chavez win Venezuelan elections despite his cancer diagnosis, how Americans are influencing Britain’s upcoming election, and more over here.
Source: The Economist
March 23, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
The Michelin guide to restaurants has been published for over a century and can make or break the reputation of a restaurant. Yet Michelin, the company, is mostly known for selling tires. MessyNessy explained how a tire manufacture became the arbiter of restaurant quality:
- When the first guide was published, in 1900, the entire country of France only had 3,000 cars on the road.
- To increase demand for cars, and thus the company’s tires, Michelin executives needed to give people a reason to want to buy a car to get around.
- Enter the first Michelin guide which was given away for free and provided tourist tips, maps, and, of course, instructions for changing tires.
- After the First World War, in the 1920s, the company began to charge for the guide, as they were afraid that by giving it away for free, they were suggesting that the insights it contained weren’t worth much.
- The restaurant section of it was a particular success and the company began recruiting anonymous inspectors to evaluate eateries.
- In 1926 the guide started awarding individual stars to the best restaurants.
- Then in the 1930s it moved to a three star system to communicate the relative quality of restaurants.
- Now the guide’s history and its prestige keep the guide going – although the company still just mostly sells tires.
Read about the guide, what it used to look like in the past, how it was advertized, where it spread, and more over here.
Source: Messy Nessy Chic
March 22, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
The authors of Into the Black: The Inside Story of Metallica, 1991-2014 provided some insights about the metal band’s finances in an interview with Jamie Blaine:
- In the book the authors write that since the year 2010 the band has likely lost more money than it has made.
- This is in part due to the Orion Music + More travelling musical festival set up by the band, which ended up being a financial disaster.
- They also worked on a movie, Metallica – Through the Never. The cost of making it ballooned to $32 million and it is thought to have recouped just a fraction of that.
- Keeping in mind the costs of staff, crew, and other expenses, the band has probably spent more than it has earned.
- The band likely tours Europe in the summers more out of the necessity to earn a few (million) bucks than by choice.
Read more of the interview to get a deeper insight into the band, its history, and its future here.
Source: The Weeklings
Via: Supajam, Ultimate Guitar
March 20, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Scott Mayerowitz explained the importance of model airplanes in the airline industry:
- Models of commercial airplanes – typically between one and two feet long – are used to initiate sales conversations or close deals.
- They can pique the interest of the buyer. Executives will go in to make a sale with high quality models of the planes they’re trying to sell.
- They’ll then leave the planes with the potential target as they’re more memorable than simple business cards, and unlike other gifts, usually are displayed prominently instead of locked in a closet.
- Airbus, one of the two leading aircraft manufacturers, took in orders for about 1,500 airplanes last year and ordered 30,000 models of its aircraft.
- The models first became popular after World War 2 when companies tried to encourage travelers to try flying on an airplane.
- The models – often with an interior cut out – helped potential passengers understand what the flying experience would be like.
- One major company sells models costing up to $1,500 each. All in all it sells 15,000 models, generating revenues of $10 million a year.
Read more about the practice, see some photos showing how the models are made, and find out other details here.
Source: Associated Press
March 19, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
ATMs making bank tellers obsolete is thought by some to be a foretelling of a grim future where humans find that they can no longer compete with machines for jobs. Turns out that ATMs haven’t actually been that bad for bank tellers, according to Timothy Taylor:
- After ATMs arrived the number of bank tellers actually slightly increased.
- This was in part because with ATMs banks could have a greater number of smaller branches. While each branch didn’t employ many tellers, the greater number of branches boosted the overall employment figures.
- Bank tellers also evolved to provide higher value services such as solving financial problems, creating demand for a new type of employee.
- This example indicates that instead of worrying about a lack of jobs in the future, we should actually be worried about people not having the skills for the types of jobs that will be created in the Second Machine Age.
See a chart showing how the number of tellers and ATMs have changed through the years, what we should make of all this, and more over here.
Source: Conversable Economist
Via: Marginal Revolution
March 18, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Allison Elkin wrote about the next frontier for online adult entertainment: product placement.
- With the rise of free online video sharing sites, creators of adult videos have found it increasingly difficult to make money.
- Now those in the industry are finding that they can increase revenue by promoting brands.
- One sugar-daddy dating site used adult video stars to endorse their site. They also appointed an experienced adult video actress to run the company.
- Other videographers have found that there’s demand to include branded cigarettes, lubricants, condoms, and, in one case, an energy drink.
Read more about the shift here.
March 17, 2015 in Daily Bulletin
Juliet Eilperin wrote about the statements that American Presidents release commemorating the dead:
- There are no formal rules to who a President does and doesn’t honour upon their passing.
- Reagan, for example, limited his accolades to individuals who had held office, and the Hollywood figures he had personally known.
- Obama is freer with his statements, frequently recognizing cultural leaders such as Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek’s Spock.
- Analysis shows that over a quarter of the dead that Obama has recognized were African American. As a proportion the second George Bush recognized less than half as many.
- Obama has also released more statements upon the passing of Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.
- George Bush, in contrast, was more likely to commemorate religious leaders, dignitaries, and even Presidential pets.
- The statements themselves are often written by aides, but the President will often review, perhaps edit, and then sign off on them.
- The messages are rarely written in advance. Each death leads to a scramble to put some words together.
- At times there is confusion over whether or not the President should say something. Bill Clinton ultimately decided to say nothing upon the passing of Kurt Cobain, afraid that doing so could spur copycat suicides.
The full article includes many more details including how Nixon’s death was approached, interesting figures that have been recognized by Presidents past and present, and other fascinating tidbits of information. You should read it here.
Source: The Washington Post