The Post Economics Of Performing The Super Bowl Half-Time Show

February 7, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Lady Gaga performed the half-time show at America’s Super Bowl LI. Keith Caulfield wrote about what this did for her bank account:

  • On February 5th, the day of the Super Bowl, people bought 150,00 of Lady Gaga’s songs and albums in the United States.
  • This was a 1,000% increase over the previous day, when she sold 15,000 songs and albums.
  • The most popular purchase was “Million Reasons” a relatively new song that isn’t among her biggest hits, but was featured prominently during the show.
  • Bad Romance, Born This Way, and Poker Face sales, were up 1,525%, 2,202%, and 1,217% respectively.

Read all the stats on Billboard.

President Trump Watches A Lot Of TV. Companies Are Buying Ads To Influence Him

February 6, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Trump has given television shows an advertising boost wrote Daniel Lippman and Anna Palmer:

  • President Trump is known to watch shows such as “Morning Joe” and “The O’Reilly Factor” on a frequent basis.
  • Companies are trying to buy ad-time on those shows to influence the President’s thinking.
  • The President is known to tweet about the messages and statistics he sees on the air. Those tweets then generate at least a day’s worth of media coverage.
  • This has caused the price of ads on certain shows to more than double.
  • It is, in essence, a lobbying strategy tailored to the current occupant of The White House.

Read more on Politico.

New Job Category: Driving Driverless Cars

February 3, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

We’ve previously reported that the rise of the ATM didn’t decrease the number of bank tellers – it increased them. It’s possible that driverless cars will similarly mean an increase in the number of paid driver positions. Alex Davies wrote:

  • For all the hoopla about self-driving cars, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to navigate through unusual circumstances – such as when construction requires driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • Nissan believes the solution is to have “drivers” who can remotely transmit instructions to cars, when the car isn’t sure what to do.
  • The driver won’t take over active control of the vehicle. Issues with latency could make this dangerous. Instead the human will evaluate the situation and transmit a sequence of maneuvers the car will execute.
  • In this Nissan is drawing upon the same technology that NASA uses to send navigation instructions to Mars rovers.
  • NASA likens it to lifts. You don’t need a lift operator, but you need a help button in the rare instances that something goes wrong.
  • Such a system could smooth the adoption of self-driving cars, as consumers and regulators will take comfort in knowing there’s a human on hand if required.

The full article on Wired is a fascinating insight into one potential future of self-driving cars.

Via: Marginal Revolution

The Rise And Fall And Rise Of Cigarette Companies

February 2, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Cigarette companies were in retreat as society turned against smoking. But they’re back, writes The Economist, and look set to grow:

  • While a lower proportion of people smoke, overall population growth means that the number of smokers in the world – 1.1 billion – hasn’t really changed.
  • But prices are rising, driving a boom in revenues.
  • Only big companies can deal with all the regulatory hurdles imposed on cigarette makers – meaning that industry giants don’t have to worry about upstart companies coming in and stealing market share with low prices.
  • Regulations also place limits on the advertising of cigarettes – making it even more difficult for low-cost cigarette makers to gain recognition, and slashing the amount of money existing titans have to spend on marketing.
  • And the companies are merging with one another – giving them even greater pricing power.
  • The rise of e-cigarettes is another opportunity. They’re more expensive which will increase revenues.
  • They’re arguably more healthy than regular cigarettes, which could drive an uptick in demand.

The article closes by noting that tobacco remains responsible for one in nine of all adult deaths. Read it on The Economist.

Venezuela Is Too Broke To Export Oil

February 1, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

From stories about currency to breast implants, Venezuela’s imploding economy has provided plenty of fodder for economists to pour over. Robbie Gramer wrote about the poor state of Venezuela’s oil export infrastructure:

  • A fleet of Venezuelan tankers carrying 4 million barrels of oil are stranded in the Carribean.
  • In order to traverse the ocean they need to undergo safety inspections and hull cleanings.
  • But Venezuela is mired in debt and is struggling to afford the services required to make the tankers seaworthy.
  • Ships have had to wait in the open seas for as long as two months – posing an environmental hazard – before they can sail their cargo.

Read more on Foreign Policy.

Owl Cafés Are A Thing In Japan

January 31, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

You can enjoy your cup of coffee with an avian companion at this café:

  • Customers pay Fukuro no Mise a $19.50 cover charge for a drink and an hour with its numerous owls.
  • The café doesn’t have food so you don’t have to worry about the birds pecking at your dish.
  • You can have the owl climb up on your shoulder or head – or just slowly pet it as you sip your coffee.
  • The place gets packed quickly and reservations are required in advance.

Read more on Business Insider.

It Sucks If Your Name Is Alexa…

January 30, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Joanna Stern wrote about the plight of those named Alexa:

  • Microsoft named its virtual assistant Cortana. Apple named its version Siri.
  • Amazon wanted its own product to seem more human. In doing so it called it Alexa – the 39th most popular girl’s name in America.
  • When one father asked his daughter, Alexa, to get him a glass of water, Amazon’s product offered to buy a bottle of premium bottled water.
  • Amazon allows users to change the key word to “Echo”, “Amazon”, or “computer” – but few know this.
  • In the future Amazon is hoping that it can use biometrics to figure out which Alexa an individual is referring to, based on tone of voice.

Read more on The Wall Street Journal

Via: Marginal Revolution

An Alternative Method Of Financial Aid

January 27, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

We’ve previously covered Seeking Arrangement, a website that allows college students to find “sugar daddies” that’ll give them money in exchange for companionship and sex. Ivana Hrynkiw wrote about the website’s latest figures:

  • 1.2 million students registered for the service in 2016.
  • Temple University and New York University – in pricey Philadelphia and Manhattan respectively – saw the greatest growth in student signups.
  • The website argues that it helps students graduate without taking on student debt.
  • Those who have a .edu email address can sign up for free.
  • The average “sugar baby” earns $2,440 a month.
  • 39% of the money is spent on tuition. 30% on housing. 21% on textbooks.

Read more on Al.

Via: Marginal Revolution

Uber For Kids Isn’t Working So Well

January 26, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

The Economist wrote about startups aiming to be the Uber for kids:

  • Uber for kids sounds like a great idea. It’ll save parents from having to drive their offspring to school and after-school activities.
  • Startups are finding creative ways to make the service child friendly. One gives children and drivers a code word – a child is only to get into the vehicle if the words match.
  • Parents can track the ride, including the driver’s speed.
  • There are problems. Demand is concentrated during certain times of the day, meaning that drivers can’t really make a living from the service.
  • And parents may never be comfortable teaching their kids to get into a stranger’s car.
  • Startups must also deal with the fact that Uber may decide that it wants to be the company that builds the Uber for kids.

Read more at The Economist.

America’s Last Disco Ball Maker Is 70

January 25, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Jeffrey Lee Puckett wrote about Yolanda Baker:

  • Omega National Products is responsible for pretty much every famous disco ball you know. Madonna and Kid Rock ordered their products, and it was responsible for the iconic ball in Saturday Night Fever.
  • Those at the company say that a proper disco ball is made by hand and with mirrors.
  • Yolanda Baker, now 70, has been making them at Omega for 50 years now, and she’s thought to be the last one left in America.
  • At her peak she was able to churn out 30 a day.
  • Demand for the product has died down as disco-fever has waned.
  • Despite having made thousands of them over the course of half a century, Baker says she’s never owned a disco ball herself.

Read more on Courier Journal.

Via: Marginal Revolution