🐤 Put it on the tab

A new study proves that the adage "money can't buy happiness" comes with a big caveat.

Friday | March 10th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Friday, chirpers! If you’re running on fumes heading into the weekend, try to find a way to introduce a little more fun into your job (within reason, of course).

You might take a cue from Houston weatherman Adam Krueger, who has been sneaking song lyrics into his on-air forecasts for a while now.

Most recently, his social media followers challenged him to mix in some classic Snoop Dogg, and he was happy to oblige. The resulting segment gained the attention of Snoop himself, who shared it with his nearly 80 million followers.

-Chris Agee

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*Market data for this issue is from March 9th, 2023 at 5:51pm EST

🏦 Markets: We’re headed into the week’s final trading day on the heels of a widespread sell-off on Thursday. After troubling inflation-related news earlier in the week, Thursday revealed some increased concerns about the banking industry and saw the release of a report showing a higher rate of unemployment benefit claims.

All three major indexes closed down well over a point by Thursday’s closing bell, led by a 2% dip in the Nasdaq Composite.

A jobs reports covering last month’s trends is expected this morning.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

🏛️ A new capital: Although Jakarta has been the seat of Indonesia’s government for generations, current environmental concerns have resulted in the decision to move the capital city to the island of Borneo. Not only is Jakarta massively overpopulated, but it also suffers from frequent earthquakes, stifling pollution, and the fact that it is actively sinking into the sea. By transitioning to Borneo, Indonesian officials say they’ll be able to create a carbon-neutral capital by 2045. Of course, skeptics think that the true result will be subjecting the island to many of the same environmental issues that have contributed to the current capital’s situation. The government will establish a new city, Nusantara, as the capital. It is currently under construction and is expected to be inaugurated in conjunction with the nation’s Independence Day on Aug. 17.

💻 Moderation is key: Twitter is in hot water again over owner Elon Musk’s decision to ease content moderation procedures and get rid of fact-checkers. Although the social media platform announced plans to use volunteers and artificial intelligence technology to address such concerns, that’s not good enough for regulators in the European Union. Musk has been engaged in negotiations regarding what he needs to do to properly monitor the site, and EU commissioner Thierry Breton has previously indicated that Twitter can generally form its own strategy. In order to comply with the Digital Services Act, however, it looks like he’s going to have to hire a considerable number of employees tasked with moderating harmful posts and disinformation.

👶 The royal treatment: It’s no secret that there’s a pretty big rift in Britain’s royal family these days as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex eschew their official duties and share some not-so-flattering claims about the monarchy. Nevertheless, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s kids are still in the line of succession, as the family’s official website confirms. Three-year-old Archie and his younger sister Lilibet are identified as the Prince and Princess of Sussex, making them sixth and seventh, respectively, in the line to take over as monarch. The prince and princess titles can be bestowed to the grandchildren of the king or queen, which is why they were not referred to as such until King Charles III took the throne upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

🤑 Tax reform: President Joe Biden is rolling out a proposal that will increase taxes on the nation’s wealthiest citizens and major corporations as part of a plan to reduce the federal deficit. Along with a hike in the tax rate for those earning more than $400,000 per year, the White House wants to close a commonly used loophole exploited by investors and impose a 25% minimum tax on the top 0.01% of American taxpayers. While the budget plan would include an increased 28% corporate tax rate, that is not as high as some economists would prefer — and substantially lower than the pre-2017 35% level. Biden’s plan would also expand Medicare’s negotiating power, end gas and oil subsidies, and halt a major tax benefit for real estate investors.

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Does Money Actually Buy Happiness After All? It’s Complicated.

A new study reveals the limits to what increased income can accomplish.

Does Money Actually Buy Happiness After All? It’s Complicated. Giphy

More than a decade ago, researchers determined that a certain amount of money really does contribute to increased happiness. At that time, it was believed that after earning about $75,000 per year, there wasn’t much correlation between income and happiness.

Revising the figure upward

A more recent study suggests that the real threshold for money-related happiness is significantly higher — specifically, about $500,000 per year.

While inflation might have something to do with the fact that this number is much higher than the result of the 2010 study, there’s clearly more at play than just market forces.

Economist Dan Kahneman was involved in the earlier research and wanted to join forces with the researchers responsible for the more recent study in order to find out why there was such a gaping disparity.

At the end of the day, however, one broad hypothesis holds true in both cases: Money can buy happiness … up to a point.

There are some exceptions

As researchers found in their survey of more than 33,000 working adults across the United States, a small subsection of people don’t seem to be affected by increased income. You might initially assume that these folks are happy at any level of wealth — but the opposite appears to be true.

Whether due to personal loss, depression, or some other fundamental issue that impedes happiness, this group of people are unhappy regardless of how much money they have.

“If you’re rich and miserable, more money won’t help,” concluded researcher Matthew Killingsworth.

For about 30% of those included in the study, however, there’s a major correlation between a greater sense of well-being and increased income above the $100,000 per year mark.

As Killingsworth advised: “Money is not the secret to happiness, but it can probably help a bit.”

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It Looks Like The ‘Plant-Based’ Craze Has Finally Jumped The Shark

The marketing fad isn't just for food anymore.

It Looks Like The ‘Plant-Based’ Craze Has Finally Jumped The Shark YouTube: WUSA9

An increase in the number of vegan consumers hasn’t gone unnoticed by companies fighting for a bigger bite of the growing segment. That’s why you’ll see so many “plant-based” options on restaurant menus and in supermarket aisles these days.

But some people believe we’ve finally gotten to the point where that phrase has lost any discernible meaning.

Chocolate bars might be the final straw

Reese’s recently announced the roll-out of its plant-based peanut butter cups and Hershey’s is also coming out with a comparable version of its iconic chocolate. They’ll reportedly be using oat milk instead of dairy products, which at least some consumers will appreciate.

For many others, however, this is just further evidence that “plant-based” has become the latest overused food fad in a long line that includes phrases like “low-fat” and “all-natural.”

In fact, some brands that have always been “plant-based” (like V8 vegetable juice) have started using such language on their labels in an apparent effort to appeal to the vegan crowd.

You’ll also find a number of items that aren’t intended to be eaten — such as cleaning products — that are also jumping on the bandwagon.

And as with previous marketing gimmicks, there’s a financial motivation for advertising “plant-based” credentials. The market grew by a whopping 6% in 2021, when it accounted for $7.4 billion in sales.

How big will it get?

Although some folks are starting to become skeptical of the trend, there’s no sign that it’s slowing down anytime soon. On the contrary, major brands and upstart companies alike appear to be doubling down on their commitment to providing as many “plant-based” options as possible this year.

From Domino’s to Ben and Jerry’s and everything in between, here’s a list of nearly two dozen vegan products set to launch in 2023.

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Plant based food?

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A Brief Guide To The Complex World Of Product Recalls

You might never know if an item you own was determined to be unsafe.

A Brief Guide To The Complex World Of Product Recalls Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

If you’ve noticed an increased number of reports about recalled consumer products of all types in recent years, you’re not alone. The internet provides countless outlets to share the news about potentially harmful items — plus, regulators have been announcing an increased number of recalls lately.

But the reality is that there are many recalls you don’t know about, potentially for items that you own.

It’s an imperfect system

At its root, the process of recalling a product is fairly straightforward.

  • A manufacturer receives reports of injuries or defects.
  • It issues a recall urging customers to return the unsafe product.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission makes an announcement.

From there, however, there’s no coordinated method for getting the news to everyone who might own the recalled product. For that reason, it’s common for companies to make multiple announcements, which probably means that there are still reports of injuries despite the initial recall.

Teresa Murray of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group explained: “Our recall system itself is broken because there just aren’t good ways for consumers to find out.”

No product is immune

On a broad level, there are generally two reasons that a product can be the subject of a recall: There was either a design or a manufacturing flaw involved. Since any product has to go through both of these processes, that means anything you buy could later be labeled unsafe.

Cheap items might have a simple design, but attempts to cut costs could lead to oversights during production. On the other hand, innovative products might have a flawless manufacturing process but unsafe aspects of the design might not be apparent until it goes on sale.

Individuals can do their part to stay informed by checking saferproducts.gov periodically to check for any recalls that might affect them.

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

90 N Church St, The Strathvale House
Grand Cayman KY1, 9006, Cayman Islands

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