Stellar Recap | Mar 5-11
MAR. 12, 2023
👋 Hello there,
Welcome to another edition of the Stellar Recap, a weekly newsletter where I share interesting content you may have missed over the week. This issue features 79 bullets.
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📊 Business, Economics & Personal Finance
China set a modest economic growth target of around 5% this year, which is its lowest growth projection in more than 25 yrs.
41% of US adults said they have taken steps to prepare for a possible economic recession.
Last year, 34% of board appointments in Fortune 500 companies went to a person of color, down from 41% in 2021. The decline was largely driven by a drop in the share of Black appointees (17% compared with 26% in 2021). The share of board seats going to women declined to 40% in 2022, compared with 45% in 2021.
Camden, NJ, passed a law requiring Camden-based companies to disclose how many employees are actually based there to gauge if the $1.5B in state subsidies designed to increase employment in the city was working. Some notable revelations: Lockheed Martin got $107M and employs 3 Camden residents of 229 employees; American Water Works got $164M to employ 7 Camden residents of 584 employees; and Subaru got $120M to employ 10 Camden residents out of 786 employees.
The most recent OECD data (which is from 2021) showed that S. Korea has the widest gender pay gap at 31.1%.
A joint LinkedIn and Headspace survey of 2K US-based workers found that 3 in 4 said they experience the “Sunday scaries”—a feeling of dread that settles in as the weekend draws to a close.
Mexico announced a ban on importing genetically modified corn for human consumption (🔒NYT). The ban could cost US companies up to $5B/yr.
The average full-service restaurant dinner on Valentine’s Day cost diners $102, before tips, in 2023. The cost was slightly down from $107 in 2022.
The number of construction job openings plunged by nearly 50%, to 248K from Dec. to Jan. It was the largest-ever monthly decline in construction job openings in the data series that stretches back roughly 20 yrs.
Motor vehicle repair prices in the US have risen 23% over the past year, due to a combination of a shortage of workers (the industry will be 642K workers short of capacity by 2024) and an inconsistent supply of auto parts.
Auto manufacturer GM is offering buyouts to the majority of its salaried workforce (~500 globally), as part of an effort to shed $2B in structural costs in the next 2 yrs.
European grocery chain Aldi was called out for selling “bunny- and chick-shaped” marshmallows that didn’t actually look like bunnies and chicks.
The latest US jobs report showed that employers added 311K workers in Feb. Roughly 270K workers also reentered the labor force last month, with the labor force participation rate for prime-age workers (those between 25 and 54) rising back to the pre-pandemic level of 83.1%. Jobless claims were up to 211K for the week ending Mar. 4—a 21K increase week over week before and the highest jump in 5 mo. The overall unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.6%.
A new survey by Gartner found that more than 40% of finance roles will be reshaped into new positions or lost entirely due to technology by 2025. A separate study suggested that telemarketers are among the jobs most at risk of being specifically eliminated by ChatGPT technology. Also in that list, teachers across different fields (e.g., sociology; poli sci) claimed 9 of the top 11 spots (out of 20 total). The list also included law professions and clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.
Baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) have the highest household net worth of any US generation, with an average net worth of about $1.643K.
Nearly 25M Americans are behind on their credit card, auto loan, or personal loan payments (🔒WP). Another 20.5M US households are behind on their utility bills, the highest level since 2011.
Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, atfer investor concerns about its solvency prompted a bank run. It’s the 2nd largest bank failure in US history.
A WA state judge issued an arrest warrant for a woman who has refused for more than a year to isolate or receive treatment for her tuberculosis (🔒WP).
The FDA posted separate recall notices for certain eyedrops distributed by Pharmedica and Apotex. Pharmedica is recalling nearly 2.9K bottles of Purely Soothing 15% MSM Drops, while Apotex is recalling Brimonidine Tartrate Ophthalmic Solution. 0.15% sold between Apr. 2022 through Feb. 2023.
In Dec. 2021, nearly 1 in 4 parents admitted to not disclosing that they knew or suspected their kids had Covid to people who were exposed to them. More than 1 in 5 let their kids break quarantine rules and about the same share avoided getting their kids tested when they suspected they were infected. 1 in 10 said their children were vaccinated when they weren't. The top reason parents gave for misleading others was "wanting to exercise personal freedom as a parent."
A new study found that happiness rises with income and may even accelerate with earnings above $100K/yr (🔒WP). These findings conflict with an often-cited 2010 study that found happiness plateaued near a salary of $75K (or ~$103K today after inflation). While the study found that more money is associated with more happiness, it’s not the only factor. For example, time off from work has a pronounced effect on happiness, independent of income.
Why so many people need glasses now (~7 min. video).
The FDA is updating mammography guidelines to require providers, as of Sept. 2023, to notify patients about breast density. This can make it harder to detect cancer and as a result, puts some at increased risk of the disease. The CDC said that while some follow-up tests may be able to find cancers that are missed on a mammogram, they’re also more likely to show a "false positive result" which could lead to "unnecessary tests, like a biopsy," whose costs may fall on the patient.
A survey by The Economist and YouGov found that 2 in 3 US adults think that Covid originated (intentionally or as a chance mutation) in a laboratory in China.
New findings suggest that women and men are more likely to live longer in countries that are making greater strides towards gender equality.
Analyzing survey data from over 1.7K US children in 2013, researchers found that 1 in 3 children under age 18 experienced physical, property of psychological sibling victimization during the previous year. This sibling aggression was associated with worse mental and physical health later in life.
Opioids were the leading cause of poisoning deaths among children age 5 and younger in the US between 2005 and 2018.
TikTok rolled out a new filter called “Bold Glamour,” which has been used in 18.5M videos as of last week. Psychologists warned that it could set people up for “disappointment and body dysmorphia.”
🎓 Lifelong Learning
Assess your self-control strengths and weaknesses with the seven deadly sins survey by UPenn in collaboration with Freakonomics Radio. For context and about the quiz, listen to this podcast episode of No Stupid Questions (42 min.).
The troubled history of the body mass index, aka BMI (9 min. video).
Therapy hurt my relationship with my daughter. How do we move forward?
🌴 Lifestyle & Travel
10 places where you can see the bluest water in the US, according to Travel + Leisure.
Airplanes that have been converted to homes (and hotels).
Vail Resorts announced it is again increasing the price of its Epic Pass to $909, an increase of $68 from last season. The price of the Epic Local Pass will increase by 8% to $676.
St. Augustine, FL, is the #1 small town in the US, according to Southern Living.
According to an analysis by Zillow, Austin, TX, is the top pet-friendly city for renters with nearly 81% of rentals allowing animals.
31% of US adults have travel plans for spring break. More than half are traveling by car.
🗳️ Politics, Security & International Affairs
Chinese company ZPMC controls 70% of the global market for ship-to-shore cranes and makes 80% of the cranes at US ports. As tensions between China and the US rise, the cranes + Chinese-made software that operates them, are seen as a liability (🔒WSJ).
A new UN report states that Iran is close to obtaining a nuclear bomb.
23 people were arrested on domestic terrorism charges after launching a “coordinated attack” on a police training facility in Atlanta, GA. Only 2 of those charged are from GA. The rest came from 14 other US states and 1 citizen from France and 1 from Canada.
Ben Savage, the former child actor who was the star of the tv series “Boy Meets World,” said he was running for Congress (🔒NYT). He is running as a Democrat for a seat in the Los Angeles area that is being vacated by Rep. Adam Schiff.
Indonesia has begun construction on its new capital city in East Borneo, which will be about 2x the size of NYC when completed. Plans for the new capital include a large system of forests and parks, food production that utilizes renewable energy resources, “smart” waste management, and green buildings.
Legislators in WV struck down a bill that would prohibit child marriages. The bill would have established that 18 is the age of consent and removed the ability of a minor to obtain consent through their parents, legal guardians, or by court petition. The most recent data showed that WV had the highest rate of child marriages in the US in 2014, with a 5-yr. average of 7.1 marriages per 1K children ages 15 to 17.
In a major breakthrough negotiated with China’s help, Iran and Saudi Arabia announced that they will reestablish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies within 2 mo., after 7 yrs. of tension.
⏩ Pop Culture, Art, Sports & Entertainment
Creed III made $58.6M at the US box office - the best opening for a sports movie in history. Overseas, the movie made $41.8M in 75 markets for a total of $100.4M.
Only 33 mushers registered to compete in the Iditarod in AK. That’s a record low for the nearly 1,000 mile (1,609 km) race. The very first race, held in 1973, had 34 mushers, but the average number of starters since then was 63.
Art UK created an A-Z resource highlighting 1K women artists.
American children spent 16.6 hrs. per week on team sports in 2022 (🔒Sportico), up from 13.6 hrs. per week before the pandemic.
The US lost 2K+ movie theater screens during the pandemic. Total screen count shrunk as the average ticket price rose to $10.53, up from $9.16 in 2019.
The schedule for the 2023 men's NCAA tournament has been released. The women’s bracket will be released tonight at 8pm ET.
WSJ ranked the Oscar nominees for best picture (🔒) based on a representative sample of US adults.
🏡 Real Estate
A new analysis showed that about 111K of the roughly 112K real estate development firms in the US are white-owned (🔒NYT). The lack of diversity in the industry was attributed to a lack of access to capital.
The NYC City Council is deliberating on how to price public sidewalks and streets to allow for permanent outdoor restaurant services. Before the pandemic, the rent charged by the city for 150 sq ft of sidewalk space was $5.8K/yr. for restaurants below 96th St. and $4.4K/yr. outside of the area, plus a $510 fee for a 2-yr. license.
The average sale price of an existing home in London is £537,510 (🔒WSJ) or roughly $637.2K. The average sale price of homes in 41% of all London’s 283 postal codes was £1M+ as of Nov. 2022.
The late Rush Limbaugh’s 2.7-acre waterfront property sold for $155M (🔒WSJ), setting a new record in Palm Beach, FL.
Only 21% of homes for sale in 2022 were affordable to the typical US household, a 53% decline year over year. According to Redfin, an affordable home is one where the estimated monthly mortgage payment is no more than 30% of the local county’s median income.
Judy Heumann, the activist known as the “mother of the disability rights movement,” died at age 75.
The US marriage rate (# of women’s marriages per 1K unmarried women ages 15+) has fallen by nearly 60% over the last 50 yrs. The share of married women was highest in 1950 at 65%. Today, a record 52% of women ages 15+ are unmarried - the lowest share since the turn of the century.
The governor of CO asked the federal US Board on Geographic Names to rename Mount Evans to Mount Blue Sky. The 14er is named after territorial governor John Evans, a man who was forced to resign because of his role in the Sand Creek Massacre, a deadly attack against Native American people.
About 58.5K individuals were homeless in the US in 2022, with 22% living in just 2 cities: NYC and Los Angeles.
Among the 634 US cities with at least 65K residents in 2021, 6 had at least 5% of households that earned an average income of more than $1M, with Bethesda, MD, earning the most at $1.55M. The top 5% in Lafayette, IN, earned the least with an average household income of $170.9K.
In 2022, women were 5x-8x more likely than men to report that caregiving obligations were impacting their careers.
🧪 Science, Climate, Environment & Technology
UN members agreed on a unified treaty to protect biodiversity in the regions outside national boundary waters, known as the high seas. Currently, only 1.2% of those areas are protected, but the UN High Seas Treaty hopes to turn 30% of international waters into protected areas by 2030.
Iran says it discovered what could be the world’s 2nd-largest lithium deposit at more than 8.5M tons.
Tesla lowered its prices for its Model S and X vehicles in the US by 4%-9% (🔒Reuters). This is the second time that the company has dropped its prices. In Jan., the company lowered the price of its baseline Model Y by 20% and its high-performance Model 3 sedan by 14%.
Researchers analyzed GPS signals and other registration data about ships and found that “about 17% of fishing hours on the high seas was conducted by vessel identities that were either not publicly authorized or were internationally unregulated.” This unauthorized/unregistered activity was more common in the Indian and southwest Atlantic Oceans. Both are areas known to have highly coveted tuna.
Scandinavian scientists have identified the oldest known inscription referencing the Norse god Odin on part of a gold disc unearthed in western Denmark.
Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which formed on Feb. 6, may be Earth’s longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record.
Antarctic sea ice "reached its lowest monthly extent in the satellite data record, at 34% below the average for Feb.”
The average range of EVs has increased by nearly 3x since 2010 to 220 miles in 2021.
Emerging research suggests that climate change makes atmospheric air currents more unstable and winds faster, which is causing more turbulence during flights.
Average winter temperatures across the US have increased by 3.2°F since 1970, while average summer temps have increased by 2.3°F. About 80% of the country now has at least 7 more days with above-normal temps during the winter.
Kīlauea in HI has stopped erupting after 61 days of volcanic activity.
Microsoft’s search enging Bing registered 100M daily active users after launching its AI-powered Bing Chat feature a month ago. For comparison, Google has more than 1B daily active users.
La Niña has officially ended. Currently, there is neither an El Niño nor a La Niña present, but El Niño may be lurking around the corner.
Researchers claimed to have achieved room-temperature superconducitivity. If verified, this mark a tremendous breakthrough since a material that can conduct electricity with zero resistance in easily attainable conditions would have countless applications.
President Biden declared a national emergency in CA on Fri., as another atmospheric river hit the state. The National Service warned that “areas that normally do not experience flash flooding will flood.” The state is still recovering from a deadly storm in Jan. and a blizzard last month.
Following a nearly 2-week series of storms that dropped more than 15 ft. of snow in parts of the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe has received more snowfall than in any other season on records dating back to 1971-72.
Wishing you a productive week
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