Numlock News: June 22, 2021 • Pistachios, The Deep, NCAA

By Walt Hickey

Title Insurance

When someone buys a new home in the U.S., they need to purchase title insurance, an odd little necessity often required by the state that essentially insures the sale in the event that a competing claim emerges and they sue to reclaim the property that was unjustly sold out from under them. Though cinematic and exciting, this is vanishingly rare. In practice, it usually means an extra grand or two tacked on to the sale price, and some states are worse than others: in Texas, the title insurance premium on an average house is $1,808, in New York it’s $1,125, and in Iowa it’s $110. Aside from the regional differences, the practice is essentially all profit for the title insurers: the loss ratio is just 1.2 percent, which is incredibly low. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, title companies sold $1.8 billion worth of title insurance policies, but only $24 million was needed to settle claims in title defects. That meant title companies held on to $1.5 billion and paid $335 million to underwriters, a ridiculously high profit margin.

Seth Harp, Texas Observer

Shipping

The cost of sending a 40-foot container from Shanghai to Rotterdam is now $10,500, up from $8,900 in January, $5,800 in December and $2,800 in November. The spike is in part due to long lines and one-directional demand, where containers are going back to China empty, often because of the high demand for empty boxes. The cost of sending a container from Shanghai to Rotterdam is 6.28 times the cost of sending it from Rotterdam to Shanghai. That ratio is even worse for the American West Coast, with the cost of sending a box from Shanghai to Los Angeles coming in 7.73 times the cost of getting one from L.A. to Shanghai.

David Fickling, Bloomberg

Pistachios

A California truck driver was arrested for allegedly attempting to sell 42,000 pounds of pistachio nuts he had been carting. The Touchstone Pistachio company noticed that their load was 21 tons short, prompting an investigation into who was attempting to make some black market bad ice cream. The nuts are valued at $100,000, and have since been returned to the company after they were discovered having been moved to smaller bags to be resold.

Gloria Oladipo, The Guardian

Quits

In April, 649,000 retail workers put in notice they would leave their jobs in April, the single highest-ever month of quits since the Labor Department started tracking that two decades ago. Many are leaving the industry for other customer service jobs that pay considerably better, such as at insurance agencies, banks and local governments, places that are also hard up for workers but willing to pay benefits and higher wages.

Abha Bhattarai, The Washington Post

NCAA

In a 9-0 decision, the U.S Supreme Court ruled that NCAA limits on compensation for college athletes violated anti-trust law, and while the fire hose of unlimited pay for college athletes was not opened, the court said that the NCAA has to allow colleges to recruit athletes by offering them money and benefits beyond the cost of attending college. Fundamentally, it underscores the NCAA commitment to amateurism, specifically the amateurism in its attempted legal defense of not paying workers.

Brent Kendall and Louise Radnofsky, The Wall Street Journal

The Depths

The ongoing attempt to assemble a passable map of the ocean floor has continued, with the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project announcing they have hit 20.6 percent of the total underwater area successfully mapped, up 1.6 percent from the 19 percent logged last year. This means that we have narrowed it down to just 79.4 percent of the ocean that could be chock-full of non-euclidean Chthonic monstrosities full of unnatural hyperdimensional horrors merely biding their time before they spring above the waves in cascades of madness, beckoning us to doom, doom, doom beneath the tides.

Jonathan Amos, BBC News

It’s A Grid System

While new and greener sources of energy are expected to command the bulk of investment for the foreseeable future, electrical grids are projected to outpace the investment in generation around 2037, according to BloombergNEF. For instance, in 2021 a projected $512 billion will be invested in new power generation, while $259.4 billion will go toward electrical grids. That latter amount is projected to steadily rise annually, hitting $371.9 billion by 2030, $481.4 billion by 2040 and $636.1 billion by 2050.

Marc Champion, Bloomberg

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