🐤 Dog days

If you've been considering whether to adopt a pup, here's a compelling argument.

Saturday | November 11th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Veteran’s Day, chirpers! Our deepest gratitude goes out to those who have served and continue to serve.

On an unrelated note: What better way to ring in the weekend than with a chance to score an Amazon gift card?

That’s right — our daily crossword puzzle is back and you’ve got an opportunity to claim our daily prize. If you get the highest score, you can grab a holiday gift for someone (or a little special something for yourself) on us!

-Chris Agee

Markets
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Bitcoin
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AMC
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*Market data for this issue is from November 10th, 2023 at 3:25pm EST

🏦 Markets: The major indexes saw some increases to close out another winning week on Wall Street, but analysts warn against getting too excited about the recent gains.

David Lefkowitz of investment banking firm UBS issued a cautious outlook yesterday, noting that he still expects “a ‘softish’ economic landing” after a prolonged inflationary period but advised that “economic growth will likely slow in the months ahead and further improvements in inflation will probably be more incremental.”

World

The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Shutterstock

💧 Flood risk: With heavier-than-usual rainfall across Somalia, the United Nations is issuing a stark warning for more than 1.6 million people living in the country. There have already been more than two dozen deaths and a staggering 300,000 people have been forced out of their homes since the flooding began. In response to what the UN has labeled a “once-in-a-century event,” it has allocated $25 million to fund rescue efforts and other forms of essential aid.

☢️ Toxic workplace: Although she was seeking 10 times as much, a former personal assistant to actor Robert De Niro walked away from a lawsuit against one of his companies with a $1.2 million payday. A jury found that Canal Productions engaged in gender discrimination and retaliation against Graham Chase Robinson that resulted in a toxic work environment. But De Niro’s attorneys also claimed victory since jurors did not find that he was personally liable.

🏆 And the nominees are: A list of names in nearly 100 different categories was released this week ahead of the 2024 Grammys. You can click here to browse through all of the nominees. The artists competing for Record of the Year include Jon Batiste, boygenius, Miley Cyrus, Billie Eilish, Victoria Monet, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, and SZA. And several of those artists (Batiste, boygenius, Cyrus, Rodrigo, Swift, and SZA) are also Album of the Year nominees.

🇨🇳 US-China summit: As tensions remain elevated between the two global superpowers, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are poised to meet next week in California. According to reports, the two men will discuss a variety of important geopolitical issues in San Francisco on Wednesday, including China’s apparent support of Russia in the ongoing Ukraine war and the ongoing conflict in Israel after last month’s Hamas attack.

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health

The Evidence Is In: Adopting A Dog Is Good For Your Health

Emotional benefits might be obvious, but the physical ones are just coming into focus.

The Evidence Is In: Adopting A Dog Is Good For Your Health Giphy

It might not come as much of a surprise to all you dog lovers out there, but new research is proving what you suspected all along: Adding a canine to the family can improve your life in a variety of important ways.

What researchers discovered

While support animals have long been associated with improved mental health, there’s some surprising evidence that dogs can benefit their owners’ physical health too.

Here are a few key takeaways from a 10-month study involving new dog (and cat) owners:

  • Issues like headaches, indigestion, and sinus problems were reduced
  • People tended to get more restful and restorative sleep
  • Pet owners reported getting substantially more physical activity
  • Companionship can even make physical pain more bearable

And while these benefits were connected to those with either dogs or cats, there are a few pros that seem to be specifically tied to pup parents. One researcher in Australia found that dog owners made, on average, fewer doctor visits and required a lower rate of heart medication than those without a canine pet.

Let’s get dirty

One factor related to adopting a dog that might not seem like a positive actually turns out to benefit owners — particularly kids. Although you’ll probably notice a bit more dust in the air and on the carpet after you bring a dog into the home, this can help reduce allergies of all types.

According to a scientific theory known as the “microbiota hypothesis,” introducing dog dander with a variety of characteristics results in lower rates not only of allergies but also eczema and asthma.

A 2018 study found that kids between the ages of 7 and 8 were more than twice as likely to develop allergies if they didn’t grow up with a pet than those whose families had three pets.

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business

Humans Just Scored A Victory In The War On Self-Checkout Kiosks

The convenience factor can easily be outweighed by these common frustrations.

Humans Just Scored A Victory In The War On Self-Checkout Kiosks Shutterstock

If you’re particularly good at scanning your own items and don’t want to chat with a cashier, the supermarket self-checkout line can be a godsend. But when lines are backed up or you have to hunt down an employee due to an item that just won’t make the machine go “beep,” you’ll probably long for the days before these kiosks took over.

For one chain of grocery stores in England, the backlash has become acute enough to convince its owners to remove almost all of its self-checkout machines.

A spreading trend

Major retail corporations have been increasing the number of robotic cashiers at the front of stores, the opposite is happening in some smaller stores that have heard complaints from their customers and employees alike.

Booths, which operates supermarkets across northern England and has been in business for nearly two centuries, confirmed that it would be eliminating self-checkout stands from all but two of its locations.

And it’s not alone. Even Walmart recently indicated it would be cutting down on the number of kiosks.

There are several common reasons that people get frustrated with the expectation that they ring up their own purchases, and a growing number of businesses are taking the feedback seriously.

  • Scanning problems: Whether it’s a piece of fruit you can’t find in the menu, a missing UPC code, or a six-pack of beer that requires an ID, there are many times that a customer can’t just simply scan and go.
  • Theft allegations: Some people take advantage of the perceived opportunity to steal when using a self-checkout, but measures meant to cut down on theft often result in customers being falsely accused.
  • No human interaction: It might be a bonus for introverts, but many shoppers miss the days of exchanging pleasantries with cashiers as they check out.
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finance

Are Real Estate Brokerages Inflating Home Prices? These Lawsuits Say Yes.

One case has already been settled and another one is taking shape.

Are Real Estate Brokerages Inflating Home Prices? These Lawsuits Say Yes. Giphy

It’s an expensive time to buy a home — but inflation and interest rate hikes might not be the only reasons. According to a pair of recent class-action lawsuits, the National Association of Realtors and certain brokerage firms have been colluding to keep the home costs artificially high while padding their own pockets in the process.

The Missouri case

In the first of these two lawsuits, a Missouri jury handed down a verdict against the NAR and several brokerage firms after determining that they engaged in illegal deals that ended up costing home sellers nearly $1.8 billion.

And since the case allowed for triple damages, the defendants found to be culpable could ultimately be ordered to pay back well over $5 billion in damages.

Two firms reached a settlement of $138 million before the jury reached its decision.

The South Carolina case

In the more recent class-action suit, South Carolina home sellers say the NAR and Keller Williams (which was also named in the Missouri case) operated under rules that forced home sellers to pay more in commissions than they should have.

According to court documents: “The effect of these rules is not simply that the seller must pay the buyer broker’s compensation. These rules effectively take the compensation structure out of the view of the buyers and sellers, masking who pays the buyer broker’s compensation.”

The net impact of this arrangement, according to the plaintiffs, is that homeowners lose out on a substantial amount of profit upon selling their property as brokers rake in more money than they rightfully earned.

Unsurprisingly, the NAR disagrees. It says that the current system has been the standard for more than a century and that consumers actually benefit from it. The organization has already announced its intention to appeal the Missouri jury’s decision.

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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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