Numlock News: February 8, 2019

By Walt Hickey

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Kiwi : Guest Ratio

In 2017, New Zealand enjoyed 0.74 tourists per resident. With their tourism business on the rise, the current projection has it passing 5 million visitors by 2024, compared to a current population of 4.8 million. When that goes down, New Zealand will join the rare club of nations where the number of people coming by on vacation annually exceeds the permanent residents. In 2017, there were 18 countries with a population over 2 million that fit the bill, Croatia paramount above them with 3.78 tourists per resident. They’re followed by Greece (3.34 tourists per resident), Austria (2.53), Singapore (2.48), Ireland (2.15) and Denmark (2.04).

Dan Kopf, Quartz

Anchors Aweigh

Brexit may be 50 days away, but for British exporters the date the U.K. departs from the E.U. is actually quite near: Feb.15 is the Brexit cutoff for ships sailing to Asia, making the Brexit deadline effectively nine days away for exporters. After that, exporters will have no idea whether they’ll owe a 20 percent import tariff when they actually land. The U.K. has 40 trade deals with 70 nations through the E.U.

Alex Morales, Bloomberg

“Advanced Research Projects” Yeah Sure

From 2014 to 2017, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency spent $67 million to build a database of ads for escorts. I’m sure there was originally a point to all that, but now whenever I meet someone who obliquely mentions they work for the federal government, I’m just going to assume they maintain the Pentagon backpage ad server. Originally the goal was to use the ads to cut back on sex trafficking, but a 2018 study found it’s only ever led to three prosecutions. That’s one of many systems with an anti-trafficking bent that straight up doesn’t work, like how hoteliers are trained to identify trafficked people but usually just discriminate against women staying in their hotel.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason

Liquor Before Beer, You’re In The Clear

A new study divided 90 participants into three different groups: one drank four glasses of wine followed by 2.5 pints of beer, one drank 2.5 pints of beer followed by four glasses of wine and the third drank either only beer or only wine. The study — which I am strongly beginning to think was devised by the cleverest academic on the planet — attempted to determine if there’s any validity to the widespread and ancient belief that mixing booze delivery exacerbates the hangover. The researchers discovered that basically everyone was hungover and it was more tied to the amount than the variety. According to a recent supplemental research study conducted by W. Hickey at a laboratory site on 31st street, researcher can confirm that liquor is indeed quicker.

Press Association

The Least Possible Gun Control

There are 63,000 gun dealers in the United States. That’s twice the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks locations, combined. There’s no federally mandated security minimum at any of those places -- in order to get FDIC insurance, banks need to have security officers, but gun stores basically need a roof and a gun and then the feds are just fine with the situation. This has led to a string of gun store robberies, as the loot is inherently valuable and fuels a black market trade that fuels crime. From 2012 to 2017, burglars stole over 32,000 firearms from gun dealers. Only four states require physical security measures in gun stores.

Brian Freskos, The New Yorker

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Tax Cuts and Jobs and Acts

Congratulations, banks of America. Also, specifically Bank of America. But the major banks saved $21 billion from their tax bills as a result of the GOP tax bill passed last year and even came in ahead of expectations. On average banks paid an effective tax rate of just 19 percent last year compared to the effective average of 28 percent they paid in 2016, which just shows the best return-on-investment on Wall Street is a lobbyist. To celebrate, the 23 firms analyzed boosted stock buybacks and dividends and also eliminated 4,300 jobs.

Ben Foldy, Bloomberg

Next Week, On Mad Men:

Yesterday saw an earthquake in the advertising business, with Publicis Groupe SA reporting lower than anticipated revenue and bringing the whole sector down with it. Shares in the advertising conglomerate fell as much as 15 percent, with shares of rivals WPP Plc, Omnicom, Dentsu and Interpublic also taking a hit as well. Part of this is Publicis had been doing so well: the ad agency holding company secured $1.25 billion in new business in 2018, the highest compared to IPG ($894 million), WPP ($417 million) and Omnicom ($87 million) and way better than in-the-red rivals like Havas and Dentsu, which lost business. Given that Publicis still missed expectations and didn’t lose business to its ad agency rivals, it’s been viewed as a broader sign of weakness in the ad business as Facebook and Google consume more of the pie. Oh boy, wonder how that wily Don Draper gets us out of this one!

Alex Webb, Bloomberg and Kit Rees and Angelina Rascouet, Bloomberg

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