Economic & Business News

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Birdjaguar, Dec 30, 2020.

  1. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Often there is economic and business news worthy of posting that is interesting and perhaps useful. While economic news can be political and generate discussion along the capitalism vs Socialism spectrum, that is not my main intent with this thread.

    This story caught my eye this morning.

     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
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  2. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    @Lexicus let us try our bests not to turn this into a deficits don't matter thread. xD

    @Cutlass you follow good econ news sources get your ass in here.
     
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  3. Synsensa

    Synsensa Deity Retired Moderator

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    Did you guys know that money can be exchanged for goods and services
     
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  4. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    There are enough idiot claims in that article in the OP to keep me occupied for at least a couple hours...
     
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  5. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    This line in particular is egregiously evil/stupid. Short-term payday loans are a completely, 100% bad thing, caused by the social problem of inequality. ATM services can and should be freely available to anyone through a publicly-operated postal banking system.

    This article really just is an example of how classical economics amounts to an ideology that normalized and justifies the existence of social inequality and the exploitation of the poor. Coin-operated laundromats and payday loans are, quite obviously, simply about charging people money for the crime of being poor. The idea that more access to more payday loans supplied at the higher price would actually help the poor is just laughable on its face.

    This is also laughable as the real reason people pay high ATM fees and captive-audience prices at places like stadiums and airports is because of manufactured scarcity. This is "convenient" for the consumer in the same way that it's "convenient" to the victim of a racketeering scam that she can avoid being beaten up just by making some small monthly payments.

    The real reason ATMs are more expensive in some places than others is not because of "convenience" or any garbage like that, but because the premises where the ATM (or beer stand) is will have a contract with the owner/operator of the ATM where the ATM owner has a monopoly on ATM machines in the premises. Under free market conditions anyone could set up their own ATM or sell beer, and price competition would drive fees or prices down.
     
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  6. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I'm not here much recently. :dunno: Working too much, no left over energy.
     
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  7. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    @Lexicus Interestingly, you ignore the actual subject of the column, buying change for a premium, and dwell on other things. Of course payday loans are terrible and his mention of them is in regards to government regulation, which the author is against in general. ATMs are a different matter. Not only does an ATM cost money to own, they also take up space. Anyone can buy ATM machines and if they have a contract with agencies in the financial arena, they can place them anywhere a property owner will let them. The fees charged go to the financial institution for doing the transactions, the property owner for giving up physical space and the ATM owner for buying the machine. Bank owned machines are just a variation of that. What ATM owners learn is that not every place is a good location and crowded places where people spend money are better than most others. In many of those crowded place more than one "brand" of ATM will be found. ATMs are found in both rich and poor neighborhoods. Crowded shopping areas often have many machines, both bank owned and privately owned, within a 1 minute walk of each other. Avoiding ATM fees is actually pretty easy: use one's own bank's machines or arrange to have cash in one's wallet when one goes out. It turns out though that many many people prefer paying a fee rather than planing ahead, or they plan ahead to use an ATM.

    Scarcity at stadiums is not manufactured in the bad sense you imply. It is a reality of a "closed" location that only has room for a limited number of vendor locations. Restaurants only have a limited number of tables and chairs. A laundromat only has 6 washers and 4 dryer. A small town may only have one bank or one convenience store for fueling. Those also create scarcity. As I think about the Albuquerque Sunport (airport) it has an "A gates" wing, A "B gates" wing and a ticketing concourse. IIRC it has three ATM locations, one in each area and all three are branded differently. My bank has an ATM on the ticketing concourse but none on the gate wings. Is there a reason that the Sunport should allocate additional space for more ATMs of different brands? Is there an advantage to the airport to have 6 ATM locations?

    Maintaining an ATM costs money. A busy one will need to be refilled once or twice a week. Someone has to go there (and may need security) and spend 30 minutes or more on site. Then they have to drive back to their office. And the machines do stop working and need a technician to come fix them. Do they make a profit? mostly they do, A property owner makes a steady monthly/quarterly fee. The ATM owner gets a fee, usually per transaction to cover his space rental and his costs. The financial institutions make a percent of the transaction; and while the % is usually small for each participant, the overall volume easily covers their actual very low costs.

    "Scarcity" and the desire for convenience is mostly a product of the brick and mortar world and there is no way around it. The internet is doing away much of it though. There are hundreds of online locations to buy things and many have similar policies for shipping or returns etc. Apple Pay and its competitors eliminate the need for ATMs.

    What you have ignored is that with the pandemic there is a scarcity of coin money. In addition, people seem to want coin money and to get more of it, they are willing to pay a premium in paper money to get more coins. It is a good illustration of how a new market works. How long will it last? No one knows. IIRC someone posting here said earlier that they were looking for a new game controller, but could not find them because so many other people were also wanting it. Guess what? People are willing to pay a premium for one because there are not enough to go around.
     
  8. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    The author believes payday loans are good, since his argument is that government placing a maximum price on them reduces the supply and that this is bad.

    No, it really is.

    The reason that anyone should be allowed to set up an ATM there was already given in my post: price competition, which would reduce fees. The issue that you talked around and never addressed in your entire post, instead choosing to address me as though I am unaware that maintaining an ATM has costs.

    It's very funny to me that according to economic theory, competition is the magic that lowers prices and brings benefits to consumers, but the reality of business practice is nothing but methods of avoiding actual price competition.

    On the actual subject of the column, the only place where the author has an actual point is wrt to parking meters. There's no reason for any parking meter to exist anywhere that only takes coins. Similarly, there is no reason laundromats should only work if you put coins in them. So the "coin shortage" is just another example of manufactured scarcity. Parking meters serve a legitimate purpose in society but coin-operated laundry machines are just a way of charging poor people for existing.
     
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  9. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Yes, that is his opinion. :dunno:

    You say that, but please tell me why. I explained why the scarcity is connected to physical space, but you haven't said why it is something else.

    Not actually so. In an airport most folks don't spend time walking around various concourses looking for deals to save a dollar. They spend time at ticketing, food courts, walking to and from gates, and in the baggage claim. The only ATMs that actually compete with one another are ones that are next to one another or in close proximity. An ATM on Concourse A does not compete with one on Concourse C. So to increase competition an airport would need to group machines close to one another. The airport does not actually care about ATM competition. ATM owners do and they all want exclusivity, but they don't control the space. The likely scenario if two or more ATMs are next to each other is that they will all charge the same rate to each customer class using the machine. If one machine is busy, a customer will just go to the other because it is available, and if one is in a hurry, saving $1.00 will not be important enough to wait. If you are a customer of a bank that has an ATM next to one that is not owned by your bank, you are likely to wait to use your bank's machine.

    The theory of competition and actual marketplace competition are world's apart. In the market, competition brings differentiation and branding that stratifies markets and pricing. Competition emerges within that stratification bur not often across those lines. A Chevy does not compete with a Lincoln. Customers do benefit and low price versions of high end products and services emerge. Often though, there is a difference (or a perceived difference) between those products. That is how Southwest Airlines got started.

    Keep in mind that every party to market situation (Airport, leasing agent, ATM owner, customer) has their own agenda, goals and cost equation (including use of time) that go into what they do. The "solutions" we see in an airport (marketplace) are not simple.

    The problem is the economic theory rarely holds true at the transaction level of actual people buying and selling. One can find commodity situations where supply and demand function like theory says they should, but as soon as you move to company and community level, most theory falls apart. The reason is that theory doesn't account for how people actually behave. Business happens at the individual transaction level and the goal of a business is to maximize the number of profitable transactions it can, however that business defines profitable. Competition changes behavior, but it does not change the fundamental goal of business owners: earn a living and grow the business. Competition changes how they go about achieving that.

    And yes, at the end of summer if a store has too many swimsuits on the shelves, they will lower prices to move them. But the reasons for doing so are particular to the business.

    Oh, so if coin is in short supply, people who don't have CC should not be allowed to park in metered spaces? ;) A better solution would be to bag the meters and allow free parking until things get more normal. The coin shortage is not manufactured. It is real because people are staying home and not using coins to buy things. They are using CC.

    You said "there is no reason laundromats should only work if you put coins in them. So the "coin shortage" is just another example of manufactured scarcity." The fact that one could offer free access to washers and dryers does not have any connection to the current coin shortage. The actual reality is there is a coin shortage and in response people are paying more than $0.25 for a quarter. Now in your town, you could spend your Saturdays at a local laundromat and put quarters and dimes in machines for those using them.

    Laundromats:
    • About 35,000 in the US
    • No major chains or franchises (locally owned mostly)
    • They employ about 50,000 people full and part time
    • Start up costs range from $100,000 to $300,000 depending upon size and have 40-100 washers and dryers
    • Median, annual household income for laundromat users is $28,000
    • 87% of users live within a mile of the laundromat they use, most are repeat customers
    • They have a 95% success rate
    • They generate 20-35% ROI
    So who puts up the ~$200,000 to start one? Who pays the wages of the 50,000 workers? What should they be paid? How do machines get fixed when they break? Do they offer free detergent? Now to be fair, laundromats could be almost fully automated and managed with minimal actual paid staff, putting all those people out of work, but that would call for a big investment in tech from somewhere.
     
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  10. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    In other news:
    Uber, Gig Companies Seek Labor Deals to Avoid Workers Becoming Employees
    Food-delivery platforms in Europe are offering couriers extra benefits in the hope of averting costly legislation on employment rights
     
  11. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    You should be able to pay your parking fee on the internet
     
  12. Colon

    Colon King

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    Re OP: ATMs can be hard to find here in Belgium, especially in less densely populated areas and it's regularly occured to me this wouldn't be the case if banks were willing the charge for withdrawals (it's not actually banned to my knowledge, but there's very little social tolerance for it).

    That said, charging $7 for a beer at a game just sounds like shoddy business practices to me. Most people don't give a fig about the law of demand, they just see something that costs a multiple of an identical product elsewhere. You're giving your customers the feeling they're being gouged and you're tarnishing the name of your company for like what, a few ten-thousands more? A pittance basically.

    Pricing is a bit like freedom of speech and being vulgar, it's not because you can do something that you should. (something that many artists understand very well when they ask ticket prices that are far below resale value). Celebrating a commercial strategy that potentially makes your customers feel resentful as "capitalism" working well is just silly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
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  13. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Do you have private, non bank affiliated companies operating ATMs there?
     
  14. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Streaming Wars of 2020 Turned Into Feast

    BY LILLIAN RIZZO AND DREW FITZGERALD

     
  15. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    How Big Cardboard is handling the 2020 box boom
    The supply chain industry is working hard to combat potential cardboard shortages with the pivot to more online shopping amid the pandemic

    Boxes sit on trash cans in front of a home in the District's Georgetown neighborhood on Nov. 27. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades for The Washington Post)
    By
    Hannah Denham
    Dec. 30, 2020 at 4:00 a.m. MST

     
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  16. Naskra

    Naskra Emperor

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    Boxes may be piling up in the streets, but that doesn't show in the revenues of IP and WRK.
     
  17. Colon

    Colon King

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    Not that I know of. It might even be it's not legal for non-banks to operate them. In the beginning all ATMs belong to 2 jointly operated systems that subsequently merged. Then banks also operated their own ATMs at affiliates, next to the jointly operated system, and now they've been talking about having a single jointly owned firm operate all of them again. It's certainly not as freewheeling as in the US, where you can find practically portable ATMs at neigbourhood groceries (at least that was what it seemed like to me when I was there).
     
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  18. sendos

    sendos Immortal

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    The Gig economy certainly wants to revise the common law position on the multifactorial test on employee vs contractor.

    All Gig economies need to do is give their "workers" more autonomy in using their gig software and that's it. Too much control, and workers are more likely considered employees.

    Of course, these principles vary from country to country. Australia is one country with mixed decisions though. Companies like Foodora has left Australia because their workers were considered employees, while Uber has won decisions stating that their workers are independent contractors.

    Have you heard of the Australian businessman Richard Pratt and his company Visy? He's basically Australian's cardboard king and his mother's mansion is a few blocks from where I live.
     
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  19. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    World’s richest men added billions to their fortunes last year

    BY CHRISTOPHER INGRAHAM

    THE WASHINGTON POST

    The pandemic has forced untold hardships onto many Americans, with tens of millions of families reporting they don’t have enough to eat and millions more out of work due to layoffs and lockdowns.

    America’s wealthiest, on the other hand, had a very different year: Billionaires as a class have added about $1 trillion to their total net worth since the pandemic began. And roughly one-fifth of that went to just two men: Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon (and owner of The Washington Post), and Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX fame.

    Musk has quintupled his net worth since January, according to estimates by Bloomberg, adding $132 billion and vaulting him to the No. 2 spot among the world’s richest, with a fortune of about $159 billion. Bezos’s wealth has grown by roughly $70 billion over the same period, putting his net worth estimate at roughly $186 billion.

    The fortunes of both men grew largely due to stock gains posted by the companies they run. Shares of Tesla are up roughly 800% this year after a five-to-one stock split in August. The meteoric rise is driven by a number of factors: its factory in Shanghai started churning out vehicles this year, the company began posting consistent quarterly profits and demand for electric vehicles in general is expected to surge in 2021.

    Amazon’s stock, on the other hand, has risen around 70% this year, a figure that is modest only in comparison to Tesla’s gains. Much of Amazon’s performance is due to homebound Americans turning to the e-commerce giant to order products they would have otherwise purchased at retail outlets shut down by the pandemic. Amazon Web Services, a big profit generator for the company, has also experienced increased demand during the pandemic.

    All told, the two men increased their net worth by a staggering $200 billion last year, a sum greater than the gross domestic products of 139 countries. A billion dollars — a radically life-changing sum in nearly any other context — becomes just “an entry in a database,” as Musk recently characterized his Tesla assets. Such a rapid accumulation of individual wealth hasn’t happened in the United States since the time of the Rockefellers and Carnegies a century ago, and we as a society are only just beginning to grapple with the ethical implications.

    What does it mean, for instance, that two men amassed enough wealth this year alone to end all hunger in America (a price tag of $25 billion, according to one estimate) eight times over? Or that the $200 billion accumulated by Bezos and Musk is greater than the amount of coronavirus relief allocated to state and local governments in the CARES Act?
     
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  20. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Across U.S., 2021 Ushers In Laws Prompted by Pandemic and Protests

    BY SARA RANDAZZO

    The start of the new year brings more than just hope for the end of the pandemic. In states across the country, new laws and regulations will be going into effect, including some aimed at addressing worker safety, affordable health care and other issues that emerged last year from the coronavirus. Others target matters like racial inequality and policing that were thrust into the national spotlight in 2020.

    Employment
    • In California, employers must notify workers of a possible workplace exposure to Covid-19 within one business day and report an outbreak within 48 hours to local public- health officials. In a major expansion of the state’s family leave program, employers with at least five employees must now offer at least 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to take care of new children or sick family members.
    •Connecticut also is expanding its family leave program, which will be funded by a 0.5% tax on worker wages that begins in January.
    • New York requires all employers to offer sick leave. Companies with five or more employees or net income of more than $1 million must give paid time off, and smaller companies can offer unpaid leave.
    •The minimum wage increases in about half the states, including Maryland, Arkansas and Vermont. Florida joined a few other states and cities in aiming to get baseline pay to $15 an hour; the rate will rise to $10 an hour in September, with annual increases until 2026.
    •In California, app-based and delivery drivers won’t be classified as employees and will be exempted from state laws governing minimum wage, paid sick leave and other labor protections after voters approved a ballot measure sponsored by Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and other companies. Under the new law, the companies will offer some benefits to employees including mileage reimbursement and contributions toward health care.

    Health and Medical Costs
    • Virginia and Georgia have new laws aimed at curbing surprise medical bills. Virginia’s law protects insured patients from being billed by out-of-network providers for emergency care, or for surgeries and some other scheduled procedures performed at in-network hospitals.
    • Diabetics will have greater drug-pricing protections in seven more states. New Mexico created the lowest 30-day cap for insulin payments at $25. Virginia’s new cap is $50.
    • Oklahoma will expand its Medicaid coverage starting in July.

    Policing, Crime and Drugs
    •The killing of George Floyd in May after a Minnesota police officer pressed his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes prompted several statehouses to put a ban on the chokehold maneuver used in his killing. California, Delaware, Iowa, New York, Oregon and Utah all passed some form of choke hold ban. Connecticut banned choke holds as part of a broader law reforming policing in the state, which has some elements taking effect in January, including requiring officers to wear a badge in a prominent place. Some antichoke hold measures failed in other states.
    • Georgia makes it a hate crime to target someone because they are a police officer. The law, opposed by civil-rights groups, followed the passage of a broader hate-crimes law that increased the prison sentences in crimes motivated by a victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation or other bias. Legislators passed that law after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25year-old Black man who was fatally shot after being pursued by three white men while he was on a run.
    • More states continue to legalize recreational marijuana use through ballot measures or legislative changes, including Arizona, South Dakota, Montana and New Jersey.

    Other Notable Laws
    • Several states are cracking down on cellphone use on the road. Virginia is making it illegal to hold a cellphone while driving, expanding on a prior law that banned such use in work zones, or reading or typing on devices while driving. California increased penalties for texting and driving. And Arizona is imposing fines for holding a phone while driving.
    • Publicly held corporations with headquarters in California will be required to have at least one member of boards of directors be part of a racial or ethnic minority group or LGBT by the end of 2021.

    —Christine Mai-Duc, Zusha Elinson and Deanna Paul contributed to this article.
     

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