How much of the world’s porn traffic is directed to the GOUSA?

So, all the protestations of piety from our politicians, blathering self-congratulation [or is it self-gratification?] from priests and pundits, seems to come to naught. Just maybe it’s because most Americans don’t consider porn a big deal in their lives.

They’re wrong, of course. Especially since it seems to be about 99% constructed to service male supremacy. Though, I also think that’s another expression of the lameness of individual feelings of power and voice in this society. Frankly, not the highest priority for economic analysis on my horizon.

Anyway – here’s the link to Pornhub’s Annual Report to the congregation. Some of it is worth a chuckle.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Americans are starting to die younger


iStock photo

For the last three years, life expectancy in the United States, the richest nation on Earth, has declined. This decline in life expectancy is being driven by rising death rates in young and middle-aged Americans, according to a new study. These troubling trends place the U.S. in stark contrast to every other developed nation in the world, The Washington Post reports.

[I haven’t used the Post article because many folks are put off by a paywall]

❝ The study, which analyzed six decades of mortality data, found that adults between the ages of 25 and 64 are increasingly dying from drug overdoses, suicides and diseases related to addiction and obesity. From 2010 to 2017, the biggest spike in death rates was seen in young adults between the ages of 25 and 34, with a 29 percent jump. Overall, the death rate for working-age Americans rose 6 percent from 2010 to 2017…

The report doesn’t single out one cause for the increasing death rate. Demographics, even geography play a part. Culture, costs and economics in general play a part. RTFA and reflect upon something that need not be.

VW, There and Here


VW starts pre-production runs – new plant in China

❝ VW announced that it already started pre-production at its all-electric vehicle factory in China, just a year after ground breaking at the new plant.

Over the last two years, every major automaker has announced plans to build electric vehicles in China due to the country’s new aggressive zero-emission mandate.

❝ VW is among those automakers who quickly announced plans to build a new factory just for electric vehicles.

They started building it last year through their joint venture with SAIC and today, they announced that they started pre-production at their new factory in Anting, Shanghai.


VW breaks ground for $800 million EV plant in Tennessee

❝ Volkswagen breaks ground Wednesday on its Tennessee plant that will produce two battery-powered cars, according to Reuters. Plans for the $800 million investment in the Chattanooga plant were first announced in January. The ground-breaking shows that Volkswagen is intent on achieving its goal of producing 50 million electric cars in the next several years.

❝ Scott Keogh, Volkswagen Group of America CEO, characterized the event as part of a “magic moment” for electric vehicles in the United States. He equated it to the introduction of the Beetle, which went on to sell 21 million units.

❝ The average transaction price of a car in America right now is $33,000, somewhere around there. That’s where I’d put the dart in the market [for an electric vehicle]. That’s a decent space to approach the center of the market. It will be a car for the heart of the market.

Don’t kid yourself. The same kind of people whining about investments, government support for electric vehicles, here in the United States have their peers with the same kind of chickenshit DNA in China. Priorities are formed by leaders: political, economic and social leaders willing to move ahead. Apparently, it is still possible to find folks willing to setup shop in completely different countries because they recognize opportunity.

Bots Surpass Humans at Spreading News on Twitter

❝ As bots have become inextricably tied to the spread of “fake news,” a new study looking at how automated accounts engage with popular websites finds they are more prolific than humans on Twitter, posting two-thirds of all shared news links.

While Pew Research Center analysts found…that the majority of bot-generated links on Twitter come from sports and adult content websites, suspected bots also accounted for about two-thirds, or 66 percent, of tweeted links to popular news and current event websites.

❝ About the same average proportion of bots posted links to all the sites the study covered, including pages about news and current events, sports, commercial information, celebrities and commercial products or services…

❝ “These findings illustrate the extent to which bots play a prominent and pervasive role in the social media environment,” Aaron Smith [Pew’s associate director of research] said in a news release. “Automated accounts are far from a niche phenomenon: They share a significant portion of tweeted links to even the most prominent and mainstream publications and online outlets.”

So, anyone hear what TWITTER and their peers are doing about any of this? If anything? Removing these posts might reduce the take from advertisers paying for clicks and posts, eh?

A case study in crap data put to meaningless use

❝ On Monday, I cast doubt on the many stories about how Black Friday retail sales were off to a disappointing start. This is an important story because retail is such a critical part of the U.S. economy, and because such a large share of the industry’s sales occur during the roughly five weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the more important point — at least for my purposes — is that the initial reports, thanks to the National Retail Federation, are a case study in how to obtain meaningless data and then put it to bad use.

❝ The NRF reported a 3.5 percent drop in spending. “Average spending per person over Thanksgiving weekend totaled $289.19, down slightly from $299.60 last year,” the organization said in a statement. This information was based on asking consumers how much they figured they would spend this year versus a year ago…

A lousy guess turns out to be wrong. Q’uelle surprise!

❝ I make a big deal about the retail trade group’s record of inaccuracy every year for a few reasons: it is important for investors — and indeed, citizens — to be grounded in reality. Most human progress is the result of the work of scientists, technologists and logicians who rely on facts and testable theories…

❝ This is crucial because retail sales are such a big deal. Almost 16 million people work in retail, or about 10.9 percent of the U.S. labor force. It accounts for a huge percentage of the overall economy. Retail sales provide a window into consumer sentiment, as well as corporate revenue, profits and investment decisions. By some measures, consumer spending counts for almost two-thirds of gross domestic product.

❝ …It is of course way too early to have the final retail sales data, but we do have some early numbers based on actual sales. First Data Corp., a point-of-sales transaction processor, says that it examined data from almost 1 million merchants and concluded that sales so far this holiday shopping season are up 9 percent from a year earlier. Furthermore, perhaps in a sign of the state of the industry’s health, sales of electronics and appliances rose 26.5 percent, compared with a lackluster 2.3 percent gain last year. First Data also found that the average transaction grew by more than $41 year over year.

Oh.

❝ First Data noted that its analytical methodology “is based on actual consumer transactions rather than surveys or speculation.” The company has access to this information because it processes actual credit-card and debit-card transactions.

RTFA. We’re in an extended season of mediocre surveying, surprising results, poor planning afflicting anyone making decisions based on “truthiness”.

Barry is speaking to investors; but, his point of view on hard data needs to be taken to heart across the spectra from politics to Giftmas shopping.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz