Numlock News: July 20, 2020 • Phoenix, Mosquito, Buffet

By Walt Hickey

Welcome back!


Three manufacturers of rubber gloves in Southeast Asia have exploded in value, with the stock of Kuala Lumpur’s Top Glove Corp. up 389 percent so far and Supermax Corp up over 1,000 percent. Top Glove is the single best performing asset on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index. The top three glove makers in Malaysia have added a collective 109 billion ringgit ($26 billion) to their total market value this year, and a tenth of all investments in the nation’s stock market right now relates to the manufacture of gloves.

Abhishek Vishnoi, Bloomberg

All You Can Politely Decline To Eat

Restaurant buffet sales in the United States amounted to $5 billion in 2019 according to the NPD group. They’re about 1 percent of the total restaurant business, but are uniquely hurting at this time: NPD estimated buffet restaurants pulled in $106 million in May, a third of the action compared to May of 2019. The origins of the all-you-can-eat buffet are an enigma to historians, but are believed to originate in the Phoenician empire shortly before it was destroyed by plague, later re-emerging in the Mongolian steppe only to once again disappear following the destruction of the Mongol Empire, again by plague, and then only later in medieval Europe, right before the emergence of The Black Death.

Max Matza, BBC


Supply Chain

The government of Japan is trying to get its companies to pull their manufacturing out of China amid rising geopolitical tensions in the region and a crisis that uniquely underscored the value of maintaining critical factory infrastructure where you can see it. To do this, they’re simply paying companies to move back to Japan: 57 companies will receive 57.4 billion yen ($536 million) from the government to move back to Japan, and another 30 will get money to move their manufacturing from China to Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, or other neighbors. In April the Japanese government earmarked 243.5 billion yen for companies to cut their reliance on China.

Bloomberg News


Mosquitos are universally reviled, but the resources to combat their spread are no longer around due to state health departments being, er, otherwise preoccupied. Half of public health departments in the U.S. coordinate their state’s mosquito response, but public health departments at the state and local level have not been well taken care of: since 2008, 38,000 public health worker jobs have been lost, and per-capita spending on local public health is down 18 percent since 2010.

Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Lauren Weber, Kaiser Health News


Ethiopia has built a $4.5 billion hydroelectric dam across the Nile River, and soon the country will begin filling the reservoir behind the dam. This has caused serious problems with downstream Egypt, which is anxious having another country in control of the river that supplies 90 percent of Egypt’s water. The dam will double Ethiopia’s electricity production and the reservoir isn’t any immediate threat to Egypt, as they’re just filling it a tenth of the way. The dam’s reservoir holds a maximum of 19.5 trillion gallons, with an optimal target of 13 trillion gallons filled over the course of at least seven years. That’s the equivalent of one year’s worth of Nile River flow.

Declan Walsh, The New York Times



Cosmetics sales are down 12 percent since March, a sector ravaged by any number of factors: economic devastation for some, less of a need to be in public for others, maybe even face masks eliminating the need for cosmetics on a solid fraction of the face. But while cosmetics use is down, skincare is up, with facial skincare product sales up 1.6 percent in the same time frame. Listen, I’m going to come out on the other side of this with a decade of sun damage handled.

Parija Kavilanz, CNN Business


Sixteen airports in the U.S. have notched temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit or higher since 1990, according to an analysis of climate data. Just last week Yuma International Airport in Arizona hit a temperature of 112 Fahrenheit. This is a problem, because at around 110 Fahrenheit planes start having trouble taking off, and while I’m no aeronautical engineer, as I understand the physics of it, taking off is considered a pretty big deal re: planes. The maximum operating temperature of the Boeing aircraft that American Airlines uses to serve Phoenix is 118 Fahrenheit. By the 2060s, Phoenix could see more than 60 days above 110 degrees annually, so looks like the 3:10 to Yuma is going to be increasingly delayed on the runway.

Maxine Joselow, E&E News

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