Numlock News: May 12, 2022 • Chicken Soup, Macau, Disney
By Walt Hickey
The U.S. budget deficit has fallen by $1.57 trillion so far this year, thanks to rising wages and employment. The government received $2.99 trillion in receipts in the fiscal year to date, up from $2.14 trillion in the same period a year ago. In April, receipts hit $864 billion, the highest amount of any month on record. Spending was at $3.35 trillion over the same fiscal year through April, which was down from $4.08 trillion last year. While Nixon’s comment that the growth of inflation was falling in 1972 was the first time a president mentioned the third derivative in a speech, we here at Numlock feel that’s unambitious, and commend the government for slowing the rate at which the government increasingly accumulates a deficit, thus handling a fourth derivative in public policy. Perhaps if we could only accelerate the rate at which we slow deficits, one day our children might understand the fifth derivative.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment has purchased Redbox for $36.4 million, a transaction that both combines two media juggernauts as well as fulfills a ridiculous media MadLib. Chicken Soup owns the Crackle streaming service, and Redbox’s 38,000 rental kiosks offer the peculiar conglomerate both a streaming and direct physical media outlet to customers, although “chicken soup’s crackle may benefit from red box” just sounds like nice advice about how to pair Ritz crackers with a can of Campbell’s.
In the first quarter of 2022, Disney reported making $6.7 billion from its Parks, Experiences and Products segment, up from $3.2 billion in the same quarter a year ago and a massively encouraging signal that people are returning to the parks at the levels they had before the pandemic. In the same quarter of 2019, Disney made $6.2 billion from its parks’ business. While there is still a reservation system in place to limit attendance, new attractions and additions to the parks mean the overall capacity for guests will be going up.
Macau’s 41 casinos hauled in $36 billion in gaming revenue in 2019, vastly more than the Vegas Strip made with $6 billion from 144 casinos. But Macau is in a state of change, thanks to pressures from Beijing: The city saw a decline of 56 percent in revenue in 2020, and the number of monthly visitors has collapsed from regularly north of 3 million before the pandemic to fewer than 1 million recently. As a result, the unemployment rate jumped from an average of 2 percent over the past decade to 4.6 percent in the three months ending in March.
A new report from the National Retail Federation reports that 2.34 million TEU moved through American ports in March, up 10.8 percent from the month of February and up 3.2 percent year over year. That would also be a record: The previous record for volume was 2.33 million TEU set in May of 2021. This coming June, ports are projected to handle 2.29 million TEU, and July ports are right now projected to field 2.31 million TEU. This bodes well for importers, as increasing consumer spending will help protect them against the effects of supply chain delays, rising freight costs and potential complications in some upcoming labor negotiations on the West Coast.
While the overwhelming majority of the millions of cardinals in the United States are red, something like 10 to 15 of them are yellow. That’s an absurd number, but it’s based on the rare sighting of a yellow cardinal every now and again. Given that it’s a one-in-a-million mutation, the discovery of one such bird in Gainesville, Florida, in the vicinity of the University of Florida campus is great news. Only about three yellow cardinal sightings are reported per year.
A new study in India looked at 330 species out of over 2,000 invasive species in India. Looking at just 10 of those 330 species, the total damage to the Indian economy was estimated to be some $127.3 billion over the past 60 years. Overall, based on the size of the Indian economy, the country is believed to have spent $3.4 trillion on invasive species over the past six decades. The worst offenders are Parthenium hysterophorus, a carrot grass, as well as Leucaena leucocephala, a river tamarind, and then Oreochromis mossambicus, a fish known as the Mozambique tilapia.
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