markets in everything

Luxury potato chip markets in everything truffle seaweed from the waters around the Faroe Islands edition

They cost $11 a piece and come in boxes of 5:

In an attempt to create a special snack to go with their high quality beer, Sweetish brewery St. Erik’s has created the world’s most expensive potato chips.

Apparently, St. Erik’s didn’t think Lays or Pringles chips were good enough to pair with their ale, so they decided to create their own exclusive snack and price it accordingly. “St. Erik’s Brewery is one of Sweden’s leading microbreweries and we’re passionate about the craftsmanship that goes into our beer. At the same time, we felt that we were missing a snack of the same status to serve with it,” brand manager Marcus Friari said in a statement. “A first-­class beer deserves a first-­class snack, and this is why we made a major effort to produce the world’s most exclusive potato chips. We’re incredibly proud to be able to present such a crispy outcome.”

The luxurious black box designed by St. Erik’s contains just five individual potato chips, each made by hand by a chef, using five special Nordic ingredients – Matsutake mushroom picked from pine forests in northern Sweden, truffle seaweed from the waters around the Faroe Islands, Crown Dill hand-picked on the Bjäre Peninsula, Leksand Onion grown on the outskirt of the small Swedish town of  Leksand and India Pale Ale Wort, the same kind used to make St. Erik’s Pale Ale beer.

The potatoes themselves, are also special. They apparently come “from the potato hillside in Ammarnäs, a steep, stony slope in a south-facing location where almond potatoes are cultivated in very limited numbers. The slope is difficult for modern agricultural machines to access, which means that all potatoes are planted and harvested by hand.”

Here is further information, via Michael Rosenwald, and here is another source, via Mark Thorson.

The first batch sold out almost immediately, and it is unclear when more will be produced.

Truman Capote markets in everything

The ashes belonged to Capote’s close friend Joanne Carson

The ashes of the author Truman Capote, who wrote In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was sold at auction for $43,750 in Los Angeles to an anonymous buyer this weekend.

The ashes, which are housed in a sealed wooden Japanese box, originally belonged to the late Joanne Carson, ex-wife of former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. She was a close friend of Capote, who died at her Bel-Air mansion in 1984.

“We had people from Russia, Germany, China, South America and here in the U.S. who had interest in them,” President and Chief Executive of auction house Julian’s Auctions, Darren Julien, told CNN of the Sept. 24 auction. “I anticipated it could sell for over $10,000, but didn’t anticipate it going to $45,000.”

Here is one story, here are the auction records.  For the pointer I thank Bill.

Spanish politeness price discrimination markets in everything

A café in Spain has begun charging its customers more for their coffees and pastries if they are rude when ordering.

Restaurant Blau Grifeu in Llanca charges rude customers €5 for their morning pick-me-up while those who behave more graciously pay just €3.

Saying ‘please’ and wishing the barista a good morning will get you a coffee for as little as €1.30.

Here is the full story, via Minakowski.  And the back story is this:

The 41-year-old [owner] from Colombia added that she finds it strange that Spaniards are less inclined to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ than customers in her native country, who are typically more well-mannered.

Medical arbitrage markets in everything

Under the “third party” arrangements, nonprofit organizations work as a front for medical care providers trying to win higher payments from private insurers that pay more than government programs like Medicaid, insurers say. For example, UnitedHealth Group last month sued a dialysis chain, American Renal Associates, alleging fraud. In its suit, UnitedHealth said American Renal hooked patients up with a charitable organization that helped patients pay their premiums, according to media reports.

Even though patients were eligible for Medicaid coverage for the poor, according to this New York Times report, the kidney care company wanted them to be covered by a private insurer so the dialysis providers could be paid a higher reimbursement.

Here is more, via Megan McArdle.  And here is Megan on who is gaming Obamacare — everyone.

Hacked medical records markets in everything

For some time now I have had mixed feelings about the move to electronic medical records, here is another reason why:

On the dark web, medical records draw a far higher price than credit cards. Hackers are well aware that it’s simple enough to cancel a credit card, but to change a social security number is no easy feat. Banks have taken some major steps to crack down on identity theft. But hospitals, which have only transitioned en masse from paper-based to digital systems in the past decade, have far fewer security protections in place.

…These records can sell for as much as (the bitcoin equivalent) of $60 apiece, whereas social security numbers are a mere $15. Stolen credit cards sell for just $1 to $3. During the tour, we spotted one hacker who claimed to have a treasure trove of just shy of 1 million full health records up for grabs.

As IBM’s Kuhn explained in a follow-up interview, these medical records can be leveraged for a wide variety of nefarious purposes. In some cases, it’s about stealing a person’s identity and billing them for a surgery or a prescription, and in others it’s about opening a new line of credit. Security researcher Avi Rubin told Fast Company in an recent interview that he suspects hacked medical records are often routinely used for blackmail and extortion.

Such hacking is indeed a trend:

More than 113 million medical records were hacked in 2015 alone, according to data compiled by the Health and Human Services. A newly released report from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a cybersecurity think tank, found that some 47% of Americans have had their medical record hacked in the past 12 months.

That is from Christina Farr.

Auckland, New Zealand markets in everything

Officials announced that they will now offer families up to NZ$5,000 (about $3,500 US dollars) to relocate to another area of the country.

The relocation grant is specifically for Auckland residents who meet the low-income requirements that make them eligible for social housing, or the city’s subsidized public housing program. The move comes at a time when there are more than 3,500 eligible people in the city waiting to be matched to a home. Forty-two percent of those people identified as Māori, according to the city’s most recent quarterly statement.

Here is the full story, via Richard Kuo.  Auckland has for some while been the world’s largest and most splendid Polynesian city, but perhaps that will not last forever.

Thwarted China markets in everything

Chinese Taylor Swift fans hoping to hedge their heartbreak by insuring against the downturns in the pop star’s love life are now out of luck.

Taobao, China’s largest online marketplace, has cracked down on vendors who were offering “insurance policies” on Swift’s reported relationship with British actor Tom Hiddleston.

The Hiddleswift plan offered double your money if the couple split up. According to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, Taobao vendors had begun taking bets on the pop star’s romantic fortunes last week, with the minimum wager set at 1 yuan (15 cents).

Here is the link, via Christopher Balding.

Nascent insurance markets in everything

…at least one insurer seems to sense an opportunity where others fear to tread. In what appears to be an unprecedented move, a British insurance company has begun offering a special policy designed for autonomous and partly automated vehicles. In theory, you could use this on your Google driverless car or your Tesla that’s equipped with autopilot.

Unfortunately, it’s only available in Britain. But the policy protects against all of the usual things you would find in your typical car insurance — damage, fire, theft. And it also goes further, covering accidents caused by malfunctions in the car’s driverless systems even if the passenger has failed to use a manual override. It covers any havoc that hackers may wreak on a car’s operating system. It applies to cars even if they haven’t been updated to the latest software. And it even covers mishaps that may occur if your car loses satellite or other crucial connectivity.

From Brian Fund here is the full story.

Vermont newspaper markets in everything

The Hardwick Gazette sent out a press release Wednesday for an essay contest with a newsworthy prize – The Hardwick Gazette.

It’s real, said Ross Connelly, editor and publisher of the Hardwick, Vermont weekly. He hasn’t gotten any entries yet, of course, since the release just went out, but they’re supposed to come in by mail anyway. “Real mail,” he said.

The cost to enter the contest is $175. The guidelines: 400 words “about the entrant’s skills and vision for owning a paid weekly newspaper in the new millennium.”

Here is the full story, via Peter, a loyal MR reader.

Coloring book markets in everything

There are coloring books for every imaginable interest group, including “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” ones, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump versions, and, in a new and surprisingly durable trend, “sweary” coloring books. Because how better to demonstrate that your coloring book is not for kids than by incorporating lots of four-letter words?

Here is the Alexandra Alter NYT piece, I have yet to see a good essay on the broader implications or causes of the coloring book trend.

Dominican Republic markets in everything fact of the day

A 2011 Vanderbilt University survey found 22 percent of Dominican voters had been offered money or goods in exchange for their vote, the highest percentage in Latin America and the Caribbean.

After the 1996 election, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who led a monitoring delegation in the Dominican Republic, said he was concerned by reports of voter cards for sale; and in 2012, politician-turned-television host Taina Gautreau estimated more than 400,000 votes were bought, in an electorate of roughly 7 million.

Here is the story, via Dan Jackson.

Used book perfume markets in everything

“Book smell” is now a thing in the perfume world, like vanilla or sandalwood. In the last few years, dozens of products have appeared on the market to give your home or person the earthy scent of a rare book collection.

Sweet Tea Apothecaries sells Dead Writers Perfume, which promises to evoke the aroma of books old enough for their authors to have passed to the great writers’ retreat in the sky. Perfumer Christopher Brosius’s “In the Library” product line makes your home and body smell just like that. The high-end fragrance Paper Passion claims to capture the “unique olfactory pleasures of the freshly printed book,” though for roughly $200 per bottle it’s a lot cheaper to just buy a freshly printed book.

The appeal of old books’ smell has been studied in depth. Wood-based paper contains lignin, a chemical closely related to vanillin, the compound that gives vanilla its fragrance. As the pages age and the compounds break down, they release that signature scent. An experienced rare book handler can date a volume by scent alone, according to the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.

Here is the full story by Corinne Purtill.

EU refugee markets in everything

European countries that refuse to share the burden of high immigration will face a financial charge of about €250,000 per refugee, according to Brussels’ plans to overhaul the bloc’s asylum rules.

The punitive financial pay-off clause is one of the most contentious parts of the European Commission’s proposed revision of the so-called Dublin asylum regulation, due to be revealed on Wednesday…

According to four people familiar with the proposal, this contribution was set at €250,000 per asylum seeker in Monday’s commission draft. But those involved in the talks say it may well be adjusted in deliberations over coming days.

“The size of the contribution may change but the idea is to make it appear like a sanction,” said one official who has seen the proposal. Another diplomat said in any event the price of refusing to host a refugee would be “hundreds of thousands of euros”.

Here is the full FT piece.  Elsewhere on the pricing front, there is talk that at some point Uber will move away from surge pricing.

Markets in everything (hee)

SolidOpinion leaves the bulk of the comments section to operate as it always has, but it adds three slots at the top for “promoted comments,” which can be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Publishers have the option of using SolidOpinion’s software to moderate all their comments. The startup’s service is free to use, but it takes a cut of all cash transactions.

…Last year, Tablet magazine, a New York-based Jewish publication, started charging people to post any comment on its website. Readers can pay $2 a day, $18 a month, or $180 a year. Alana Newhouse, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, said she was sick of anonymous commenters haranguing her writers but wanted to leave an option for people willing to prove their good intentions by making what amounts to a donation.

The result has been far fewer comments, but Newhouse doesn’t mind.

Here is the Joshua Brustein Bloomberg story, no comments allowed.

The pointer is through Ted Gioia, don’t forget his new and excellent book How to Listen to Jazz.

London markets in everything

A new pop-up restaurant coming to central London this summer will give diners the option to eat in the nude.

The Bunyadi, which is opening in June for three months, will be split into clothed and unclothed sections, and even feature staff in the nude with certain body parts covered up, Time Out reports.

The concept is already wildly popular. So far, nearly 4,000 people have signed up for tickets on the restaurant’s website.

Here is the story, via the excellent Samir Varma.

And here from Washington,D.C., via Ninjaeconomics, is “on-demand limousine service for pets.