Numlock News: January 23, 2024 • Coconut Water, Anime, Wine
By Walt Hickey
New York readers: extremely exciting event you should come to! I’m doing an event at NeueHouse with Jeff Yang called “How Movies Make Us” this Thursday, January 25. It’s free, but you need to RSVP. You might remember Jeff from this fall when I interviewed him about his excellent book, The Golden Screen: The Movies That Made Asian America. It will be a lot of fun; doors open at 6 p.m., so RSVP today and come!
A new study out of Moody’s looked at 472 million companies, attempting to find the kinds of red flags one typically encounters when dealing with shell companies, and boy did they find some: 21 million, in fact. Some of them are pretty amazing; for instance, there are 2,200 companies that have someone who is a director who is over the age of 123, which is rather odd, as the oldest known human died at age 122. One director at a particularly fascinating company was listed aged 942, which seems a bit long of a run for someone in corporate upper management. Other kinds of red flags located within the data include directors under the age of 5, a precocious penchant for management detected at thousands of companies, as well as individual overachievers, like one person who had 5,751 roles at 2,883 entities, which just seems exhausting.
As cash goes out of style, one bill stands supreme: the $100 U.S. banknote. Six years ago, the number of $100 bills in circulation for the first time overtook the number of $1 bills in circulation, a credit to the $100 bill as an internationally respected and easily transferrable unit of currency. As of the end of 2022, there were 18.5 billion $100 bills in the world, and then they went ahead and printed another 1.5 billion bills in 2023 again. Of the total value of all existing currency in circulation, 80 percent of them were $100 bills, and while that is pretty neat, it’s also of concern, as Benjamin Franklin has become the preferred medium of exchange of people evading taxes, orchestrating criminal networks, and fueling kleptocracies and corruption that don’t deliver bribes in digital payments.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, worldwide collaborations measuring Arctic temperatures have been going without Russian data. This is a problem, because just under half the land in the Arctic is Russian, so that’s a lot of information off the board at an otherwise critical time in global climate study. The largest network of research stations measuring weather in northern latitudes is the INTERACT network, which has 94 locations, many of which are in Russia. A group of researchers attempted to simulate how much more erratic measurements would get when 17 stations in Russia were online versus offline, and found that when the stations are excluded the information in the overall system decreases in accuracy.
Consider The Coconut
Coconut water sales have been on a tear, increasing 56 percent since 2019 to $680 million in sales, growth that exceeds that of energy drinks, carbonated soft drinks and bottled water. Vita Coco, the market leader with 51 percent of the coconut water market, saw sales hit $387 million in the first nine months of the year. That’s up from a 42 percent market share as of 2020, in no small part because main rivals are stepping down: Coca-Cola sold Zico back to its founder, and Pepsi divested its coconut water, O.N.E., in 2021 when it sold off Tropicana.
For Me, The Action Is The Juice
I must strenuously stress that in no way, shape, or form does this newsletter ever condone, admire or respect crime, but I also must confess that there are moments in which I can appreciate a job done for the love of the craft. Such is the explanation provided by the 76-year-old man who was accused of carrying out a smash-and-grab heist in 2005 of one of four existing original copies of the ruby slippers worn in The Wizard of Oz. The man claims that after a life of crime, he had finally gotten out of the game for 10 years, at which point the thought of one final score reportedly kept him up at night, and then he eventually decided to go for one last job. The slippers were insured at $1 million and at the time on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in Michigan, and he was caught 10 years later in a sting operation. He’s currently got a life expectancy of six months and is pleading clemency.
A new survey of over 4,000 adults attempted to figure out their relationship with anime, and found peoples’ relationship with the medium varied greatly across demographics. Only 3 percent of baby boomers watch anime weekly, while 42 percent of Gen Z respondents did, as well as 25 percent of millennials. Anime fans tended to be more diverse than the overall population: Black Americans constitute 17 percent of anime fans over the age of 18, significantly higher than the 13 percent of the general population that is Black.
Premium sellers of wine saw sales drop 4.8 percent last year, according to the latest edition of the annual study of the American wine industry out of Silicon Valley Bank. That’s a rough drop compared to 2021, when emerging from the onset of the pandemic wine sales were up 18.6 percent. The average direct-to-consumer price of a bottle of wine out of a Napa winery was $84.20 per bottle in 2023, up from $79.40 the prior year.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.