Numlock News: June 21, 2023 • Condors, Bourbon, Weddings
By Walt Hickey
American whiskey sales hit $5.1 billion in 2023 after a steady rise, and bourbon producers have expanded capacity to over 2 million barrels a year for the past four years. One thing this has fueled is a whole lot of speculation. Whiskey takes time to age, and besides the bourbon intended for specific companies or brands, private equity and venture capital companies are paying distilleries to fill tens of thousands of casks with the intention of just sitting on them while they age in the hope of flipping them for thousands of dollars a barrel sometime down the line. The question then becomes is this sustainable, and will demand for whiskey continue to grow, or if this is the peak of a trend.
The law enforcement of a small county in Nebraska with a population of 17,962 people has allegedly systematically raked in a fortune by pulling over drivers on I-80, finding cash, alleging that the funds were suspicious, and seizing them under asset forfeiture laws, compelling drivers to surrender the money under threat of arrest and then keeping the proceeds. Seward County alone is responsible for a third of all civil forfeiture cases in the state of Nebraska, with 90 cases in the past decade, producing $7.5 million worth of revenue for the county in just five years. That financial windfall is behind just Lancaster County, which has a population 20 times larger.
Starting in the early 2010s, some U.S. law firms have compiled mass intellectual property cases where hundreds of Amazon sellers at a time are sued for selling counterfeit goods. This has become a lucrative and increasingly streamlined business, one that’s been described in academic literature as a Schedule A Defendants Scheme, or a SAD Scheme. One defense attorney out of New York estimated that 70 percent of their clients were from China and under 10 percent were based in the United States. In 2022, 938 mass counterfeit lawsuits against sellers were filed in the U.S., up from 120 such cases in 2018. One case filed in February 2022 on behalf of PopSockets scored a temporary restraining order within a day freezing the accounts of 163 defendants on Amazon, AliExpress and Wish.
An avian flu outbreak that ripped through the California Condor population led a conservation group called the Peregrine Fund to mount a daring and ambitious rescue of an orphaned egg from a cliffside cave in mid-March. A condor egg takes 57 days to hatch and needs constant attention, so when the egg’s mother got sick and had to be transported to a rehabilitation facility where it eventually succumbed, the male incubated the egg solo for an exhausting three weeks, which made him potentially susceptible to the avian influenza. The team was able to get the egg while the male was on a flight, eventually transporting the egg to an incubation facility. After three weeks of care, the egg hatched successfully, avian flu-free, and has since been tagged officially as condor 1221.
ALL SALES FINAL
Online retailers desperate to unload excess inventory are turning to the dual strategy of not only steep sales but also forcing finality on those sales. Across the entire online market, 16.5 percent of items were returned in 2022, and retailers are looking to avoid getting an eighth of their material back into stock, even if it leaves shoppers with undesired items. That’s reverberating across the secondary market as well: Poshmark reported a 61 percent rise in garments marked “new with tags” as well as “final sale” since 2022.
While the average wedding costs roughly $30,000 in the United States, just by the simple laws of probability there are still a whole bunch of weddings every year that cost way, way more than that. There were 13,000 weddings in the United States that cost over $1 million last year, or roughly rate of 250 million-dollar weddings a weekend, ignoring seasonality. This ultra high end of the already massive wedding industrial complex involves fleets of staff, massive guest lists and high risk for the people who plan them, as anything south of perfection can lead to substantial headaches just a few days later for wedding planners.
A new study sought to figure out just what kind of economic repercussions can be expected long-term from the weather phenomenon El Niño, which means a warmer-than-normal sea in the Pacific and then a bunch of complicated secondary and tertiary impacts reverberating from the warmer ocean. Through the end of the century, El Niño cycles could provoke $84 trillion in economic losses. That’s based on an analysis of two El Niño cycles in 1982 and 1997, wherein the five years following the weather pattern slashed economic growth by $4.1 trillion and $5.7 trillion, respectively, in 2017 dollars.
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.