Numlock News: September 24, 2019 • Pilots, Ponzi Schemes, Lottery Winners
By Walt Hickey
Infomercials for Streaming
The four major U.S. networks — ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox — had their worst-ever year at the Emmy awards, scoring just 16 Emmys. HBO alone won 34, Netflix had 27 and Amazon had 15. The networks took a hit on another level, too: the four trade off broadcasting the awards, and viewership this year crashed 33 percent compared to last year, with just 6.9 million viewers on average and 2.08 million aged 18 to 49. By comparison, a competing mediocre Rams at Browns game notched something like 17.8 million viewers. Compared to six years ago when the Emmys were on CBS, last night’s audience was down 61 percent. Streaming’s domination of the networks also bled into the commercial breaks, as two of the five largest advertisers were Netflix and Prime Video.
Mo Money, Mo Happiness
A previous study of lottery winners found that their financial windfall did not make them significantly happier, which is weird because basically everyone likes money and you would think that getting a bunch more of it would move the needle at least slightly. Well, it seems we have a better answer: all researchers had to do to observe a statistically higher level of happiness among lottery winners was ask more than 22 of them. The 1978 paper from which the mo’ money mo’ problems notion stems interviewed just 22 lottery winners. A new paper argues that was probably a mistake, as the sample size was too low to register the difference in happiness. The newest study has data from 617 German lottery winners who had significant wins, 342 of whom won more than 2,500 Euros. They found that, yep, winning the lottery makes you happier, and winning more money makes you more happy.
A new study analyzed Harvard admissions from 2009 to 2014 based on data that emerged during a lawsuit regarding discrimination against Asian applicants to the university. The report looks at the percentage of the Harvard class who were admitted as athletes, legacies (relatives of alumni), the children of donors and the children of faculty. Fully 43 percent of the Caucasian applicants accepted over that period fell into one of those groups — 16.4 percent athletes, 27.3 percent legacies or other birth-related admittance — and the paper estimated that only 26 percent of those applicants would have been accepted had they not had those advantages. For other races, it’s 16 percent, not 43 percent. Good to know the going rate for a silver spoon these days I suppose!
Pilots who fly commercial aircraft are required to retire at age 65, and the number of pilots aging out of the cockpit will rise annually through 2023, at which point it will plateau. In 2019 about 2,000 pilots at major airlines will reach age 65, which will subsequently hit 3,000 every year from 2023 to 2026. This has led smaller regional airlines to scramble to make sure they have enough people on staff to ensure the planes stay in the air, leading to a surge in new airline pilot licenses as the airlines roll out 200 percent higher entry-level pay compared to 2014 levels. A serious dip in pilots can have consequences: the number of enplanements on regional airlines fell from 163 million to 153 million from 2010 to 2017, in part due to a pilot shortage.
Insurers will partner with the UN to offer as much as $5 billion in insurance capacity to 20 developing countries especially prone to climate shifts. Executives in the insurance business have been sounding the alarm that climate change and the heightened severity of storms that stem from it will have serious financial consequences, citing the $6.5 billion in estimated losses for insurers resulting from Hurricane Dorian’s thumping of the Bahamas in early September.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has prosecuted 50 percent more Ponzi cases following the financially explosive $50 billion Madoff prosecution. Whether it’s due to a rise in popularity for the breed of scam or just additional oversight and detections, the scope of prosecutions is getting larger. In the 10 years before Madoff, 301,000 investors lost a collective $8.5 billion in Ponzi schemes, a total of 195 cases. In the decade following the Madoff debacle, that’s grown substantially: 4.3 million investors in Ponzi schemes lost a collective $31.1 billion from 291 different cases. Some of this is scammers attempting to hide their Ponzi schemes — where large returns are promised to investors, but in actuality the up-front capital of subsequent investors is paid out to earlier investors as “gains” — by cloaking them in non-traditional products. The average loss per victim rose from $80,000 pre-Madoff to $150,000 post-Madoff.
The New York City Council began hearings on a proposed retirement plan for workers who do not have access to a 401K or retirement savings plan as part of their job, which in New York is about 57 percent of the working population or over 1 million workers. Oregon offers a similar plan, but were it to become law, New York would be the first city with such a retirement program. It’d be voluntary to enter for anyone working 20 hours per week, would automatically withhold 3 percent of a paycheck and workers would retain their accounts when switching jobs.
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