Numlock News: January 13, 2020 • Gold, Coal, Delivery

By Walt Hickey

Welcome back!

Gold

Typically, 18-carat gold is three quarters gold and one-quarter copper, and has a density of about 15 g/cm3. Researchers who wanted to maintain that amount of gold but make it a little more wearable — to cut down on the weight of the gold to make it easier to incorporate into watches or jewelry — have now developed a new 18-carat gold with a density of just 1.7 g/cm3. That was accomplished by using protein fibers and a polymer latex to embed thin discs of gold nanoparticles, according to the paper in Advanced Functional Materials. The new gold, which has the material properties of plastic, will be in significant demand for apparel, timepieces, and just the gaudiest crap imaginable, like the kind of chintzy junk that would make an ‘80s mafioso say “that’s a bit much.”

Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurich

Overcharged

An investigation by The Detroit News found that homeowners in the city were overcharged by $600 million between 2010 and 2016, with the city not correctly assessing the value of the homes that had their market prices slammed by the housing crisis and recession. Of 173,000 homes, 92 percent were over-assessed by the city over the period, an overcharge of $3,800 on average, with 96,000 properties taxed twice as much as they should have been at least once. That’s not just a goof, it’s an ongoing financial burden for all sorts of homeowners: 59,000 homes that were overtaxed by at least $221 million still owe $153 million in back taxes today. The investigation was stymied at first by the Wayne County Treasurer attempting to charge The News $235,000 for the requested data, but was eventually solved with a scraper.

Christine MacDonald and Mark Betancourt, The Detroit News

Contract

Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets hopes to sell 90 tokens for $150,000 each to accredited investors that would be backed by his three-year $34.36 million contract. He hopes to collect the value of his contract up front, while offering investors a chance to buy an asset that pays out 4.95 percent on a monthly basis and fully pay out at its maturity in 2023. Dinwiddie has gone back and forth with the NBA on whether this financial arrangement is allowed, but announced Friday the investment will launch January 13.

Mike Orcutt, MIT Technology Review

International

The future of the movie business is increasingly global — fully 73 percent of all grosses were outside the domestic market of U.S. and Canada — though because of the 25 percent cap on revenue sharing, China is less a part of the picture than the press around their colossal box office may portend. Even a movie like Joker managed to make 69 percent of its revenue overseas despite never getting a release in China. More to the point, growth is slipping: admissions in China rose by just 0.5 percent in 2019, and the overall box office grew by just 5.4 percent compared to the 9 percent of 2018. Meanwhile, Japan is doing great — up 16.6 percent in terms of yen — as is Italy (up 14 percent on a local currency basis), Germany (up 13.7 percent) and France (up 6 percent).

Nancy Tartaglione, Deadline

Red

Over the past 12 months, the percentage of U.S. companies that lost money is about 40 percent, which is the highest level since the 1990s when setting aside post-recession periods. IPOs in particular are money-losing companies, with 81 percent of companies that went public in 2018 and 74 percent of IPOs in 2019 not posting profits. Among the companies losing money, 17 percent are technology stocks and 42 percent are in the healthcare space, because investors are down to bet on money-losing biotech stocks on the off chance they strike it huge.

James Mackintosh, The Wall Street Journal

Delivery

Grubhub controls about 30 percent of the U.S. delivery market, trailing Doordash’s 37 percent but still leading Uber Eats, which has 20 percent. The company is reportedly considering its options for a sale, owing to the slim margins and fierce competition in the delivery space. As it stands, delivery is only about 3 percent of all restaurant orders, and despite ample consolidation in the space, the only real way to unlock the benefits of scale is believed by the companies to be further mergers.

Michelle Chapman and Dee-Ann Durbin, Associated Press

Coal

Though wind power generation capacity in India is projected to double from 2018 to 2024 and solar power is poised to quadruple, it’s still coal that’s fueling the growth in the country and will be for the foreseeable future. Coal consumption in India is projected to rise 4.6 percent annually through 2024, the largest expansion for the carbon-belching energy source in any country. Southeast Asia — led by Indonesia and Vietnam — will collectively see demand rise 5 percent annually over the same period. Those hikes will more than offset any progress made eliminating coal from the menu in the European Union. Japan’s three top banks — Mizuho Financial, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial — are the top lenders to coal-fired power projects, and three Chinese institutions — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Ping An Insurance Group and CITIC — were the top three underwriters for coal developers.

Akane Okutsu, Nikkei Asian Review

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