June 30, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
Alex Tabarrok wrote that in certain circumstances requiring safety features on cars can actually detract from, rather than enhance safety:
- Indian auto manufacturers recently released a series of low cost cars that have a safety rating of zero stars, due to their lack of features such as air bags.
- Because they lack any bells and whistles such cars are incredibly cheap – one can be had for as little as $4,000.
- Adding air bags could cost as much as $400, increasing the price of the vehicle by a substantial 10%.
- Only 6% of Indian households have cars, but 47% have motorcycles.
- Any kind of motorcycle is more dangerous than a car. And not even the most advanced motorcycle has features like airbags.
- If low cost cars can convince Indians to switch to four wheeled vehicles, safety will dramatically improve – even if the cars themselves lack common safety features.
Read more of the argument here.
Source: Marginal Revolution
June 29, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
Remember that gym membership you signed up for but never use? If it’s any motivation, Steve Hendrix writes that there are dogs that have a more disciplined work out regime than you:
Read more about the gym here. And find our entire series on Pet Perks which includes coverage of doggie love motels, doggie restaurants, and doggie tattoos over here.
Source: The Washington Post
June 28, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
As market uncertainty continues after the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, Vipal Monga and Tatyana Shumsky wrote about one sector that could see a boom:
- At a minimum the UK will require two years to extract itself from the EU, requiring months of discussions involving international law experts.
- Some law firms have set up 24 hour hotlines to respond to the deluge of requests they’re getting in the wake of the referendum results.
- The need for private sector aid is especially acute because the UK hasn’t had to conduct its own trade negotiations in a long while – this was largely taken care of by the EU.
- If EU laws ever stop applying then the UK will have to start drafting its own laws on subjects as varied as food safety requirements around the making of cheese, and ensuring routes for the migration of honey bees.
Read more here.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
June 27, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
The Association for Psychological Science wrote about a study that examined the behavioural impact of having bad dating prospects:
- A series of experiments suggested that if people believe that gender ratios in their area are skewed in a way that lengthens the odds of finding a romantic partner, they are more likely to engage in risky behaviour.
- From an evolutionary perspective it sort of makes sense. If it’s difficult to find a mate then high risk-high reward behaviours and a willingness to do whatever it takes may be the way to go.
- Crucially though the high risk behaviour isn’t limited to finding a mate – those with poor romantic prospects seem to engage in risky behaviour in all domains in life.
- Thus people who struggle to find a date may engage in high-risk behaviour related to investments, gambling, and sports.
- In countries such as India and China with heavily skewed gender ratios this has implications for the kinds of societies that such pressures may create.
Read more about the experiments and their methodology over here.
Source: Eureka Alert
June 26, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
The Economist writes that the American university experience is increasingly a family one for Chinese students:
- Hundreds of thousands of students from China come to the United States to study every year.
- Now Chinese parents are increasingly opting to come and stay with them.
- As a result of the one child policy many parents have just the one child to take care of, and they want to make sure that they do well in the United States.
- It’s usually the mothers – fathers will often stay behind – and they see their role as cooking and cleaning, ensuring that their offspring don’t just survive on Red Bull and ramen.
- There are so many of them that Connecticut now even has a “Yale Chinese grandparents’ village”.
- In fact, as much as 70% of Chinese investment in American real estate may relate to parents wanting to support a child’s education.
- By purchasing a home outright parents also help make their children more attractive marriage prospects.
Read more over here.
Source: The Economist
June 25, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
The latest Game of Thrones episode, Battle of the Bastards, received critical praise and is a leading contender to win several Emmy awards. James Hibberd and Jethro Nededog looked at the numbers behind the episode:
- 500 extras were hired for the various armies involved. They trained separately from one another to create on-screen rivalry.
- 70 stunt horses were used – the use of real-life horses in battle is incredibly rare for a TV show.
- A typical episode takes about two weeks to shoot. Battle of the Bastards required 25 days.
- There were four camera crews responsible for capturing the action on all the various points on the battlefield.
- The entire season is thought to have cost over $100 million, and this episode is estimated to have been responsible for up to $25 million of that.
Read more here, and here.
Source: Entertainment Weekly, Business Insider
June 23, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
Alex Shephard wrote about Barnes & Noble and what would happen if it went out of business:
- Barnes & Noble’s share price is down 40% and its debts are rapidly rising.
- A lot of its money these days come from selling games, gadgets, and Starbucks fare. Unsurprisingly the amount of floor place devoted to books has fallen.
- But even this may not be enough and the chain may soon have to shut down, in what would be a blow to publishers and writers.
- Barnes & Noble is one of the few bookstores that purchases a large initial quantity of new books. Amazon on the other hand makes small orders both to test the market and create demand by saying that it only has 5 copies left of a book.
- The initial orders that Barnes & Noble puts in provide the upfront cash that publishers need to ensure that they can pay for ads and book tours that then create recognition and induce demand for new books.
- This will mean that without Barnes & Noble publishers will increasingly have to invest in books that they know will succeed – those, for example, from celebrity authors.
- There will also be fewer advances paid to authors, meaning that authors will no longer have the time or resources to write a good book.
Read more about what a future without Barnes & Noble would look like over here.
Source: New Republic
June 21, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
Shane Ferro looked at some startling Starbucks numbers:
- Starbucks has a card system that people can pre-load money on and use to pay for drinks.
- Customers have pre-loaded $1.2 billion worth of unspent cash.
- Assets of that size mean that Starbucks is actually one of the larger banks in the United States.
- Unlike other banks Starbucks doesn’t have to pay interest to depositors.
- However it can invest that money in other ventures earning itself a tidy investment return.
- Customers, in essence, have given Starbucks a $1.2 billion interest fee loan.
Read more here.
Source: Huffington Post
June 20, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
Ernie Smith wrote about the use of lawn ads in political campaigns:
- Political lawn signs are pricey. They cost almost $3 a pop and you need thousands of them.
- All in all it’s probably just cheaper to run a TV ad campaign – especially if you factor in the propensity for the signs to be stolen or vandalized.
- One study found that the difference that lawn signs make is small – a voter share increase of about 1.7%.
- This is unsurprising. A lawn sign only tells you the candidate’s name and nothing about their policy ideas or priorities.
- Still companies make millions selling the signs to campaigns. The latest tactic is to claim that oddly shaped signs will help draw attention.
Read about the history of political lawn ads, how Facebook is removing the one possible advantage they used to have, and other details here.
Source: Atlas Obscura
June 19, 2016 in Daily Bulletin
Summer is here. You better get your ice cream on writes The Economist:
- There’s a positive relationship between the amount of ice cream per person a country consumes, and how intelligent children in that country are.
- Australia, for example, consumes 13 liters of ice cream per person per year and has some of the smartest kids in the world.
- Even countries with cold climates like Finland, Canada, and Sweden eat a lot of ice cream – and see a corresponding bump in child literacy rates.
- There are exceptions. Asian kids don’t get offered a lot of ice cream but they do pretty well.
Read more, and look at a fascinating chart which shows how your country compares over here.
Source: The Economist