Monday, May 27, 2024

When more people work from home more items get purchased online

See We’re Spending Billions on This Work-From-Home Indulgence: Without the boss nearby, who can resist placing that Amazon order? by Rachel Feintzeig of The WSJ.

It is probably less costly to shop online during work hours if you are at home compared to being at the office. So people do more of it.


"Our collective retail therapy adds up. New research from Stanford University, Northwestern University and the Mastercard Economics Institute, the payments company’s research arm, finds the pandemic prompted a rise in online shopping that’s persisted. Last year, for example, we spent $375 billion more than we would have otherwise, the report estimates.

The brunt of that bump is being driven by people working hybrid or fully remote schedules, says Nick Bloom, a Stanford economist and co-author. County-level data shows that in areas where work-from-home jobs are prevalent, online shopping is up, while it’s back to prepandemic levels in places where more folks work in-person.

Along with walking the dog and getting a jump on dinner, workday shopping is a way to make efficient use of our time, Bloom says, and take advantage of the fact that we have more control over it at home.

“People just can’t work continuously without taking a break,” he says."

"Weekly online spending peaks from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays, as the workweek slows to its languorous end, data from Adobe shows. More than a quarter of women surveyed last year by shopping portal Rakuten said they typically shop online during work hours. For Gen Z, the share was 41%."

Saturday, May 25, 2024

The AI-Generated Population Is Here, and They’re Ready to Work

AI that can predict how specific humans will look, act and feel could do the jobs of fashion models, focus group members and clinical trial participants

By Isabelle Bousquette of The WSJ

The article mentions that AI might replace people for some tasks. When machines or capital replace workers and the workers are unemployed as a result, we call that structural unemployment. But sometimes workers and robots complement each other (as discussed in some of the related posts listed below).


"Artificial intelligence is making it possible for companies to replace humans in tasks that range from modeling sweaters to participating in clinical trials.

AI systems can take in data on a person’s individual characteristics—such as appearance, shopping preferences and health profile—then predict how they would look in an item of clothing, how they would answer a question or be affected by a disease. This AI content, sometimes referred to as a person’s digital twin, is already being used for a variety of tasks.

Los Angeles-based startup AI Fashion uses photos of real models to generate completely new AI images of them modeling various pieces of clothing for fashion campaigns and e-commerce sites. Another startup, Brox AI, created digital versions of 27,000 individuals, with information about their brand preferences and shopping habits, that allows companies to ask the AI focus-group-style questions. And San Francisco-based Unlearn is using AI to generate digital twins of people based on their health data to predict how disease might progress over time for those individuals—aiming to make clinical trials more efficient and effective."

"For businesses, the digital people are a way to scale faster and save on costs."

"enterprises are starting to invest in the idea of using AI to digitize and monetize some aspects of humanness."

"Women’s clothier Anne Klein is testing technology from AI Fashion that generates fashion shoots based on photos of real-life models."

"In some cases models are completely AI-generated, a practice that has led to criticism for potentially putting real models out of work."

"Weiss said more personalization and cost efficiencies are benefits he expects to see from using the tool, but added that it is too early to estimate exactly how much money could be saved." (Doug Weiss, senior vice president of digital, e-commerce and AI for Anne Klein parent company WHP Global.)

"Brox AI’s focus group tool gives companies the chance to get answers to questions without the expensive months long process of setting up a real focus group."

"Based on interview data, Brox’s proprietary AI algorithm can generate answers to questions like whether a female in her 30s would pay a 10% increase on a streaming service subscription. Participants were paid anywhere from $20 to $150 depending on how many interviews they participated in, he said."

Related posts:
Rent a robot for Christmas? Makes sense if you are a logistics company (2022)

Walgreens Turns to Prescription-Filling Robots to Free Up Pharmacists (2022)

Answering the Call of Automation: How the Labor Market Adjusted to the Mechanization of Telephone Operation (2022)

Warehouses Look to Robots to Fill Labor Gaps, Speed Deliveries  (2021)

Is unemployment still high because of structural unemployment?    (2021)

The Pizza Delivery Guy Will Be a Robot at Many Campuses This Fall  (2021)

Many Jobs Lost During the Coronavirus Pandemic Just Aren’t Coming Back (2021)

Can computers write poetry?Could they replace poets? (2020)

Will computer programs replace newspaper columnists?  (2020)

Is Covid causing some structural unemployment? (2020)

Is Covid causing some structural unemployment? (Part 2)

McDonald’s Tests Robot Fryers and Voice-Activated Drive-Throughs: Burger giant wants to speed service as competition for fast-food diners mounts (2019)

Is Walmart adding robots to replace workers or because it is hard to find workers? (2019) 

The Robots Are Coming And It Might Not Be A Case of Structural Unemployment  (2018)

Broncos to debut beer-pouring robot at upcoming game (2018)

Robots Are Ready to Shake (and Stir) Up Bars (2018)

Automation Can Actually Create More Jobs  (2016)

Are Computer Programs Replacing Journalists? (2015)

Robot jockeys in camel races (2014) 

Structural Unemployment In The News-Computers Can Now Tell Jokes  (2013)

WHAT do you get when you cross a fragrance with an actor?

Answer: a smell Gibson.

Robot Journalists-A Case Of Structural Unemployment? (2010)

Friday, May 24, 2024

Does Boeing face a shortage of a temperature-regulating part?

See Boeing’s Latest Trouble Is a Jet Part Caught Up in Russia Sanctions: Plane maker can’t deliver enough 787 Dreamliners after sanctions disrupted production of heat exchangers by Sharon Terlep of The WSJ. 

The print version's title was "Boeing Wrestles With Shortage of Key Part." The article also mentions that there is a shortage of cabin seating and material shortages for materials used to make cabin seating.

The article does not mention anything about the price being below equilibrium. That makes quantity demanded greater than quantity supplied and that means a shortage. That might be the case here but the article says nothing about the price of this part. 

It is possible that the suppliers have kept their price the same even though demand increased and/or supply decreased.  But again, there is no discussion of this or if the suppliers are reluctant to raise the price. Just saying that a quantity is lower than it used to be or that a buyer wishes there was more available does not necessarily mean that there is a shortage.


"Boeing has more parts trouble, but this time it doesn’t stem from manufacturing snafus or the 737 jet. The blame goes to Russia sanctions still rippling through the jet maker’s supply chain.

In the opening days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a maker of a temperature-regulating part for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner ceased its Russian operations and shifted production west. At the time, Boeing was building so few of the jets that the supplier, RTX, was able to keep up with demand.

But now the jet maker is trying to increase production of the wide-bodies, and RTX’s new factory lines in the U.S. and U.K. aren’t making enough.

“When the invasion happened, it got moved, and the capacity of that supplier has not kept pace with us,” Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said this past month. 

In a demonstration of how relatively simple glitches can reverberate through a global supply chain, Boeing’s inability to secure enough heat exchangers, a critical but relatively basic part akin to a radiator, in part led it to warn investors that it won’t deliver as many of the Dreamliner jets as anticipated this year."

Related posts on supply and demand and shortages: 

Drug Shortages in America Reach a Record High (2024)

Is There A Booze Shortage? (2022)

Car makers face ‘chipageddon’ (2021)  

Does the U.S. have a firefighter shortage (2021) 

There is no truck driver shortage in the US (2021)

Is there a shortage of homes? (2020)

What Chocolate Shortage? Cocoa Prices Steady as Record Output Projected (2019)

Is there really a shortage of construction workers (2019) 

Was there really a shortage of meatless burgers? (2019)  

Is There A Christmas Tree Shortage? (2017)  

Is There Really A Honey Bee Shortage? (2013)

Will There Be A Pumpkin Shortage This Year? (2011)

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Gen Z Sinks Deeper Into Debt

Inflation drives many to credit cards to cover costs, leaving them with bigger balances

By Oyin Adedoyin of The WSJ. Excerpts:

"'The average credit-card balance for 22- to 24-year-olds was $2,834 in the last quarter of 2023, compared with an average inflation-adjusted balance of $2,248 in the same period in 2013" [so that is up 26%]

"Younger people with higher debt are more delinquent on credit-card payments and need to rely on family for help if they lose their job, say economists and financial advisers. They also often delay life milestones, including homeownership and marriage, say the economists."

"The median annual wage for recent college graduates was $60,000 in 2023, little changed from $58,858 in 2020" [a 1.94% increase]

"The median rent in the U.S. was $1,987 as of January, a nearly 22% increase over the past four years"

"In 2021, credit companies loosened the qualifications for who could get credit cards and more people opened new accounts. Gen Z members opened new credit-card lines at a faster rate than other generations during the pandemic. Nearly 5% of consumers 27 or younger had opened at least one new credit-card account in March 2020"

"By March of this year, that figure had dropped to 3%."

"Of those with an open loan or credit line, Gen Z members were more likely to have at least one credit card compared with millennials a decade ago"

"Gen Z members also benefited from rising credit scores during the pandemic. The influx of cash from stimulus checks and fewer opportunities to spend money made it easier for consumers to pay down their debt and stay on top of their bills."

"As interest rates have climbed over the past two years, those credit scores have taken a hit. The drop was most drastic for millennials with credit scores between 660 and 719, whose scores fell by 26 points. Gen Z wasn’t far behind. The average credit-score change for Gen Z with credit scores above 720 fell 24 points during that time period"

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Would you pay someone to rob you?

Economists say incentives matter. This explains why the answer to the question can sometimes be yes.

See Cross-border gunshot arbitrage markets in everything, Jean Baudrillard gone wrong edition from Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution. 

"Federal prosecutors on Friday announced charges against five people in connection with a Chicago-based scheme that staged armed robberies so the purported victims could apply for U.S. immigration visas reserved for legitimate crime victims…

Officials believe hundreds of people, including some who traveled from out of town, posed as customers in dozens of businesses across Chicago and elsewhere, all hoping to win favorable immigration status by becoming “victims” of pre-arranged “armed robberies.”

During a staged hold-up in Bucktown last year, one of the “robbers” accidentally fired their gun, severely injuring a liquor store clerk, according to one source. During that caper alone, five “customers” were “robbed.”

Here is the full story, via Ian."

Monday, May 20, 2024

Can You Mix Economics With Religion?

The ancient Greeks sure thought you could. They had a god of commerce and a god of wealth. You can read about them at Britannica.

Hermes (commerce)

Plutus (wealth)

The name of Plutus came up in a Wall Street Journal article called The Greek Tragedy That Changed Europe. It is about the debt problems that Greece faces and how they might affect the European Union. It says:

"Plutus, the Greek god of wealth, did not have an easy life. As the myth goes, Plutus wanted to grant riches only to the "the just, the wise, the men of ordered life." Zeus blinded him out of jealousy of mankind (and envy of the good), leaving Plutus to indiscriminately distribute his favors.

Modern-day Greece may be just and wise, but it certainly has not had an ordered life. As a result, the great opportunity and wealth bestowed by European integration has been largely squandered."

Here are links for Wikpedia:



The following picture shows what Hermes might have looked like

The Freaknomics blog has a good article about people donating more money to their churches if other people can see how much they are donating called “We Pretend We Are Christians”