You Can Get Groping Insurance In Japan

July 24, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Channel News Asia wrote about Japan’s subway system:

  • Japan’s rush hour trains are notorious for incidents of sexual harassment.
  • The trains are so packed that it’s hard to know who the true perpetrator is – leading to the potential for the wrong person to get accused.
  • Enter the insurance industry. One company sells a ¥6,400 (US$ 57) “false groping accusation benefit” insurance plan that’ll pay the accused’s legal fees.
  • Use of the policy recently spiked, with the company behind the policy receiving hundreds of claims in the past month.
  • Other attempts to reduce incidents of sexual assault include women only carriages during busy periods.

Read more here.

Forget Fidget Spinners The Next Big Thing In China Is Mini Flame Throwers

July 20, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Neil Connor wrote about the latest fun craze in China: flamethrowers!

  • Small cigarette shaped flamethrowers are being marketed to women as anti-harassment devices.
  • They’re able to generate a stream of fire half a meter long burning at 1,800 degrees Celsius.
  • The pocket devices can cost as little as $12 and are often bought online.
  • The police have made clear that they believe the devices to be illegal. That hasn’t deterred people much.
  • Concerns about personal safety may. It’s possible for them to accidentally become activated in people’s pockets.

Read more on The Telegraph.

Via: Marginal Revolution

The Economics Of Netflix Password Sharing

July 19, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Sharing is caring. Unless you care about the bottom lines of streaming services wrote Ashley Rodriguez:

  • 12% of American adults who use streaming services say they’ve used the password of someone outside their household.
  • Those most likely to do so are between 18 and 24.
  • Using some assumptions, if Netflix cracked down on password sharing, it could make about $391 million more a year.
  • With annual revenues of $8.8 billion this would represent 4.4% growth.
  • Given that Netflix has been growing 20% a year it’s likely not worth it for the streaming service. But if growth slows it’s possible Netflix executives will start looking into it.

Read more on Quartz.

The Motorcycle Industry is Dying

July 18, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Kyle Stock wrote about motorcycles:

  • Sales of motorcycles peaked in the US in 2006 at 700,000 units. They fell during the recession and never truly recovered – in 2016 just 370,000 were sold.
  • Bikes are popular with a dying market: baby boomers. Millennials are more likely to want an electric green car.
  • The industry has tried to respond by coming out with lighter and cheaper bikes equipped with new safety features aimed at first-time urban bikers.
  • Harley-Davidson’s new line of bikes cost around $12,000 – their marketing chief talks about them costing $6 a day, encouraging the young to sacrifice their lattes for one.

Read more on Bloomberg.

The Lipstick Effect: Brexit Edition

July 17, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Brexit is beginning to drag down Britain’s economy wrote Sarah Butler. This can have strange consequences:

  • Consumer spending is showing signs of decline in Britain.
  • Yet certain categories are up. Sales of lipstick have grown 31% in the three months leading up to June.
  • In times of economic uncertainty spending on more essential items – like fridges – goes down while spending on spontaneous luxuries goes up.
  • The effect was first noticed when, after 9/11, sales of lipstick shot through the roof.
  • It’s thought that people try to be frugal in times of crisis but make small purchases of marginal luxuries to seek respite from the gloom.
  • People buy frozen food to cut down on food wastage. But they bake more cakes at home for the experience and satisfaction of making something.

Read more on The Guardian.

The Economics Of Insuring Aged Rock Stars

July 13, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

The Rolling Stones have been going at it for more than 50 years and members of the band are now 70. The Economist delved into the minds of the insurers that provide them protection:

  • The average rock star is 1.7 times more likely to die than others of the same age.
  • Yet for those who make it, the risks to insure against are osteoporosis and hearing loss, rather than drug overdose or equipment electrocution.
  • Insurers are willing to provide them insurance – provided there are exceptions for pre-existing conditions like livers damaged by alcohol abuse.
  • Older rock stars, past their rebellious years, are also more likely to agree to changes in lifestyle imposed upon them by insurers.
  • And elderly rock stars may not even be that risky. They did, after all, manage to survive this long.

Read more on The Economist.

Cult Movies Are Dying

July 12, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

It’s not just horror movies and summer blockbusters. Cult movies are also going extinct:

  • Cult movie sections used to be lovingly curated by movie store clerks who’d sell them to movie buyers looking for a recommendation.
  • Studios used to be more willing to experiment with cult fare back when it was easier to stand out and have even dud movies make a lot of money.
  • Now even summer blockbusters don’t always break even and executives prefer to cater for mass audiences rather than segmented markets.
  • In theory social media should help, but in practice it encourages discussion over a large quantity of topics rather than a sustained discussion of any one thing.
  • And since movies aren’t physically shared with friends on DVDs or proudly displayed on shelves anymore, there’s less of an opportunity to talk up an understated film.
  • Do not despair: television has become increasingly experimental and the kinds of people who made cult movies now make the same fare for Netflix and HBO.

Read more on The Star.

TV Executives Are Sneaky

July 11, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Joe Flint wrote about TV executives manipulating advertizers:

  • During Memorial Day weekend NBC seemingly had a typo in its lineup. Instead of watching “NBC Nightly News” people watched “NBC Nitely News”.
  • It was intentional. By having a typo Nielsen, an automated ratings calculation system, assumed it was a new show, and didn’t count the lower Memorial Day weekend ratings as part of the show’s overall ratings.
  • This helped NBC look like it was rated higher than it was, and allowed it to charge advertizers higher rates.
  • NBC did this 14 times during the 2017-2017 TV season. CBC did it 12 times and ABC did it seven times.
  • Executives have also tried to trick the system into thinking that a second airing of a program later in the evening should add to the viewer tally of the initial showing.
  • And CBC successfully manipulated the system to deceptively indicate that “Bull” was the most watched new show of the season.
  • Ad industry executives are understandably upset they’re being misled about how many people are actually seeing their ads.

Read more on The Wall Street Journal.

The Economics Of Prisoner Of War Camps

July 10, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Frances Woolley delved into a paper from 1945 written by an English soldier taken as a Prisoner of War during World War 2:

  • Prisoners of War received four and three days’ worth of rations of bread and margarine on Thursdays and Mondays.
  • These were supplemented with extras like cigarettes, chocolate, meat, and tea by the Red Cross and other aid organizations.
  • Cigarettes emerged as a form of currency. They’re uniform, durable, and can easily be packaged together for large transactions.
  • There was weekly inflation in the lead up to ration days. By Sunday, the day before the next ration, the price of bread had increased by 14% – from seven cigarettes to eight.
  • More often though there was deflation. The problem with cigarettes as a currency is that they eventually go up in smoke, creating recessionary conditions when they weren’t replenished.
  • This economy rewarded special skills. An Urdu speaking English prisoner could engage in a form of international trade with the Indian part of the camp.
  • Soldiers who were particularly addicted to cigarettes risked starvation – as they bartered all their food away for the next nicotine hit.
  • Officers in the camp considered policies of redistribution where bread would go to hopelessly addicted smokers in need.

Read more on the National Post.

The History Of Giant Novelty Checks

July 7, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Kelly Conaboy wrote about giant checks:

  • Who popularized the idea of giant checks? Nazis. Goebbels, in 1936, received one and it is the first such documented case.
  • But the oversized check was really born due to the invention of the portable camera and the rise of photojournalism around that time.
  • The tabloid was first born in 1919, and while its photo heavy content was derided by mainstream journalists, it was popular with readers, and giant checks made for good photo opportunities.
  • The rise of portable video cameras furthered their popularity. Game show hosts liked to film the reactions of people receiving prizes, and an oversized check made for a striking visual.
  • Contrary to popular belief giant checks can be cashed in if they’re filled out correctly.

Read more on The Outline.