🐤 A rigged game?

Elitist academics have taken root in the economic realm, and the rest of us might be suffering because of it.

Thursday | May 11th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Thursday, chirpers! Baseball season is in full swing and it’s starting to get hot out there … so if you’re trying to stay cool in the stands, check out a Mariners game.

T-Mobile Park boasts the league’s cheapest beer at only 33 cents per ounce!

-Chris Agee

Markets
NASDAQ
IXIC
$12,306.44
$126.89 (1.04%)
Dow Jones
DJI
$33,531.33
-$30.48 (-0.09%)
S&P 500
GSPC
$4,137.64
$18.47 (0.45%)
EUR-USD
EURUSD
$1.10
$0.00 (0.01%)
Bitcoin
BTC-USD
$27,795.39
$136.62 (0.49%)
Airbnb
ABNB
$113.19
-$13.88 (-10.92%)
*Market data for this issue is from May 10th, 2023 at 5:15pm EST

🏦 Markets: The latest inflation numbers dropped on Wednesday, showing slightly lower annual consumer price increases last month than economists expected.

It wasn’t enough to prevent a minor sell-off on Wall Street, however, with all three major indexes finishing the day lower.

The Nasdaq was yesterday’s biggest loser, shedding more than 1% of its value as of the closing bell.

World

The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

🧑‍💻 Google it: Artificial intelligence played a central role in this year’s Google I/O as the web search giant introduced a range of tools and platforms making use of the latest tech. In addition to injecting generative search into a range of products, it also announced some interesting additions to its lineup, including: foldable phones, 3-D map routes, a new Google Home app, and “Perspectives,” which provides search results from Reddit and other sites.

👶 Oh, baby: A new technique for using the DNA from three individuals to fertilize an embryo has resulted in successful live births of multiple babies in the United Kingdom, marking the first example of the technique in that country. It is used to replace the mitochondria from mothers with a predisposition to pass down hereditary diseases. The healthy genes constitute less than 1% of the baby’s overall DNA. The first such birth occurred in the U.S. about seven years ago.

🚦 Light speed: Drivers with a lead foot might soon get stuck at intersections. One Canadian town is testing a traffic light that won’t turn green for motorists who have been speeding. It has already resulted in a lower average speed in the area. So far, the technology isn’t officially sanctioned by the government — but if the experiment goes well, these lights could show up on street corners across Canada and beyond.

📉 Airbnbust: Top executives at vacation rental company Airbnb are feeling the pain of reduced demand for properties. The company’s stock value is about half what it was at its 2021 peak and its three cofounders reportedly lost a combined $3 billion in one day after the most recent decline. Even though quarterly reports showed higher-than-expected earnings, the forecast for the upcoming summer travel season is being described as “unfavorable.”

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Game

Solve today's crossword and win a prize!

Highest score wins an Amazon gift card!

Crossword

*Prizes are sent out via email the next day by 11am EST.

economy

How The Exclusive World Of Academia Can Skew Economic Analysis

It's another area of U.S. society increasingly dominated by the elite.

How The Exclusive World Of Academia Can Skew Economic Analysis Giphy

As America heads deeper into an uncertain economy, many of us rely on the outlooks of so-called experts to provide some guidance. But who are these individuals who claim to have all the answers? A new study found that they’re more and more likely to come from an elite background with little exposure to the issues that lower- and middle-class Americans deal with on a daily basis.

The gap is widening

It’s no surprise that the realm of academia has long been dominated by those with plenty of generational wealth and influence to spare. But you’d be forgiven for assuming that in today’s modern society things are starting to get a little more equitable.

In reality, institutes of higher learning are increasingly dominated by a select group of well-connected families. And the issue is especially glaring when we focus on programs related to economics.

Breaking down the data

There was once a period of time, not too long ago in American history, during which it was pretty common for college students to attain a type of advanced degree that their parents had not.

As college attendance increases overall, it’s natural that graduates would go on to have kids who also earn a degree — but the states shed a troubling light on the disparity:

  • Only 20% of natural-born Americans who earned a Ph.D. in economics in 1970 had a parent who also had a graduate degree.
  • According to recent data, that percentage has since ballooned to about 67%.
  • During the same 50+ years, the overall share of parents with graduate degrees and college-age kids only increased by 10 percentage points.

It all adds up to a system skewed toward the elite, leaving economists like Robert Metcalfe — who comes from a working-class family — feeling like he’s “always one step behind in the academy.”

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Chirpy's Choices

Straight from the nest to you

A Taste: Samsung is after Apple users with the release of its new TryGalaxy app. This app lets iPhone users try the Galaxy S23 series UI on their apple device via a QR code. If you've ever wondered what having an Android is like, now's the chance to find out.

Everything under one roof: Great Wolf Lodges are the perfect place for families to staycation. With 18 locations in the US and 4 more coming soon, they offer unlimited splashes in their indoor water parks, fun activities for kids of all ages, and a 30% discount for stays within 90 days of arrival. Book your stay today and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Free Dog Pics: The Westminster dog show just ended, and in case you didn't get a chance to watch it here's a collection of all the best photos from the event. How did all of these doggos not win?

To meet, or not to meet: Cala is a new web app that integrates with Google Calendar and lets users swipe left on meetings they consider a waste of time. The app is designed to help people reclaim their focus time by canceling unnecessary meetings.

energy

Could Fusion Power Be Available A Lot Sooner Than We All Thought?

OpenAI's founder is investing big bucks into this promising form of clean energy.

Could Fusion Power Be Available A Lot Sooner Than We All Thought? Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

In the push to create renewable, clean sources of energy, fusion power (you know, the stuff that makes stars shine so brightly) has always been the holy grail.

Late last year, researchers confirmed that their experiments produced some promising evidence that it could be a feasible option … but most experts said that any real application would still be many years away.

Well, Microsoft is betting that the experts are wrong.

Teaming up with Helion

One company that hopes to be at the forefront of efficient and effective fusion power is Helion. The firm is backed by Sam Altman, whom you might recognize as the founder of ChatGPT creator OpenAI.

Helion has set an ambitious goal of using fusion to create commercial electricity within the next five years — and Microsoft wants a piece of the action.

In a new agreement, Helion has agreed to provide 50 megawatts or more of fusion power to Microsoft each year or face stiff financial penalties. Such a commitment is particularly notable since no company — Helion included — has ever actually created fusion-based electricity.

Altman’s game-changing goal

Although it remains to be seen whether Helion’s bold strategy ultimately pays off, Microsoft President Brad Smith is clearly hopeful, explaining: “We wouldn’t enter into this agreement if we were not optimistic that engineering advances are gaining momentum.”

For his part, Altman said that his involvement in this project is much more than just a ploy to grab attention and make headlines.

“The goal is not to make the world’s coolest technology demo,” he said of plans to create a functional prototype by next year. “The goal is to power the world and do it extremely cheaply.”

If he’s successful, a lot of naysayers will be eating their words in 2028.

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dad joke

My wife says I make too many graphs.


But I know where to draw the line.

travel

Airlines Still Don’t Know What Passengers Want

The post-pandemic "normal" is a lot different than the status quo.

Airlines Still Don’t Know What Passengers Want Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images

You probably saw stories last year about how terrible the air travel industry had become. Long lines, canceled flights, lost luggage, staffing shortages, and mid-air fights were commonplace even as the cost of a ticket remained frustratingly high.

Although things seem to have gotten a bit better in 2023, airlines are still being forced to acknowledge that they’re struggling to meet the expectations of modern travelers.

It’s hurting the bottom line

A combination of multiple factors, such as the work-from-home revolution, has created a new paradigm for air travel, and big-name carriers are playing catchup in an effort to determine the best way to serve their customers.

Here are some of the trends:

  • Weekends and peak travel days are more crowded at the expense of midweek sales.
  • More passengers are canceling flights or simply not showing up to board.
  • Fewer people are booking flights less than a month in advance.

These and other factors are making it harder than ever for airlines to figure out how to remain profitable while providing reliable service. After all, the Biden administration recently announced strict new regulations that will cost carriers a lot if they are responsible for flight cancellations or extreme delays.

No good options available

At this point, all airlines appear to be struggling with shares industry-wide dropping by an average of 6% since the beginning of the year.

And some carriers seem particularly desperate — like Delta, which is embracing a plan that involves overbooking flights even more than it did in the past.

Of course, that means there’s a higher chance that passengers will be booted off their flights.

But Delta President Glen Hauenstein said it’s a risk he has to take, concluding: “We had a lot of stability pre-pandemic. We’re adjusting here into what I would call a new normal.”

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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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