markets in everything

Faux Quebec village markets in everything

Canadiana Village, about an hour north of Montreal near Rawdon, Que., has been on the market since the fall. The nearly 60 hectares of land and 45 buildings are going for $2.8 million.

The village is designed to resemble a pioneer settlement from the 19th century, and includes a church, a general store, a mill, a cemetery, a saloon and 22 houses.

However, most of the buildings are just for show.

…”There’s only one livable home.”

Kaija said most of the buildings were shipped to the village over the years.

In its heyday, the village welcomed close to 30,000 tourists per year and was a popular destination for school field trips.

It was also featured in more than 110 film and TV productions, including Radio-Canada’s Pays d’en haut and I’m Not There, a Bob Dylan biographical drama.

Here is the full story, with photos, and for the pointer I thank Michelle Dawson.

Nigeria markets in everything

Nigeria has confiscated 2.5 tonnes of “plastic rice” smuggled into the country by unscrupulous businessmen, the customs service says.

Lagos customs chief Haruna Mamudu said the fake rice was intended to be sold in markets during the festive season.

He said the rice was very sticky after it was boiled and “only God knows what would have happened” if people ate it.

It is not clear where the seized sacks came from but rice made from plastic pellets was found in China last year.

Rice is the most popular staple food in Nigeria.

Here is the full story, via Jodi Ettenberg.

Addendum: Here is an update, as the story spirals into increasing confusion.

China professional bridesmaid markets in everything those new service sector jobs

Against this backdrop, it has become a huge ask to invite someone to be a bridesmaid, and many only agree to act as one reluctantly. Consequently, brides are hiring professional bridesmaids.

Professional bridesmaids have become a routine option for wedding packages, currently offered by more than 50 wedding-planning firms in China. A professional bridesmaid would be required to act as the make-up artist, to drink alcohol, and to fend off rude guests on behalf of the bride, among many other tasks. They are required to perform what the sociologist Arlie Hochschild termed “emotional labor”: faking smiles, engineering a joyous atmosphere, and taking part in traditional stunts that are otherwise considered too vulgar for many.

Depending on the level of “difficulty” of the services they provide, a professional bridesmaid is paid between 200 yuan (around £22) and 800 yuan (around £90) per wedding. Many professional bridesmaids work on weekends, in addition to their routine weekday jobs, in order to generate extra income.

Here is the full story from Yang Hu, much more detail at the link.

China markets in everything, Titanic disaster edition

You too may soon be able to feel what it was like to hit an iceberg on the Titanic.

Construction of a life-size replica of the doomed passenger ship began in China’s southwestern Sichuan province on Wednesday with a keel-laying ceremony and fireworks to mark the occasion.

It is part of Star Energy Investment Group’s plans for a tourist resort along the Qijiang River in Sichuan’s Daying County.

And it will eventually come with a simulation of the iceberg collision that sank the original ship in the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912.

Backers say the project will also play on the 1997 blockbuster “Titanic” movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Steven Star Chief Executive Su Shaojun said it should not be strange that it is in China.

Here is further information, via Peter Metrinko.

What will future casinos do forthcoming betting markets in everything?

The gambling market is somewhat saturated, so how can new customers be found?

One idea: skills-based games.

In Atlantic City, the Borgata added a basketball free-throw shooting contest. Other casinos are adding skill-based games to electronic slot machines — shooting, puzzles, less slot machine ding ding ding and more Angry Birds-style competition.

Maryland does not allow such games yet, but the state’s gaming agency says it is working on the issue.

That is from Michael Rosenwald, with most of the article covering D.C.’s foray into the casino genre.

China insurance markets in everything

Medical insurance often becomes invalid if the customer is drunk. But during the football World Cup in 2014, Shanghai-based Zhongan Insurance turned that rule upside down by offering Chinese football fans a policy specifically for self-inflicted liver damage.

It cost less than $1 and covered sports enthusiasts against alcohol poisoning for 30 days — paying out up to Rmb2,000 ($290) for hospital fees. It soon came to be known as “watching-football-drinking-too-much” insurance.

This has not been Zhongan’s only foray into more specialist areas of China’s insurancemarket. Another of its policies, called “high heat”, reimburses customers when the temperature hits 37°C. Another insures against flight delays — and, in many cases, pays out while the customer is still waiting in the departure lounge.

But while such products might seem niche, the company behind them is anything but. From a standing start three years ago, it has sold 5.8bn policies to 460m customers. This has quickly translated into profit. Zhongan went from making a loss in 2013 to posting Rmb168m in net profit two years later. Total assets jumped more than 500 per cent between 2014 and 2015, to Rmb8bn.

That is from Don Weinland at the FT.  And this:

Zhongan is finding it has competition in the market for offbeat insurance policies. TongJuBao already sells specialist policies to cover for the cost of divorce lawyers and for search teams to look for missing children. It also sells insurance that offers income protection for people who leave their jobs to move to a different city.

Shades of Robert Shiller…

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.