Category Archives: consumption

When Gift Cards Trade Over Par

Dealbreaker finds a $75 Amazon gift card which sold on eBay for $75.76. Interestingly, if you look at the auction history of the winning bidder, it’s pretty much all gift cards — this is someone who knows what they’re doing. … Continue reading

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Wine Tasting Datapoint of the Day

Robert Hodgson has a paper out entitled "An Examination of Judge Reliability at a major U.S. Wine Competition". He had the ingenious idea of serving up three identical glasses of wine — poured from the same bottle — to groups … Continue reading

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The Economics of Liquidation

Andrea Chang has a story about Circuit City shoppers being angry that liquidation discounts aren’t larger: "What happened to 30%? Lies!" shouted customer Gabriel Ifrah, 52, at the Circuit City on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles on Monday, where … Continue reading

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Broken Glass

Is Waterford Wedgwood luxury, or "masstige"? Either way, it’s bust. Its $625 million in debt is essentially worthless, it’s been losing money before interest payments for a couple of years now, and its prospects, as we enter another grim year … Continue reading

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Packaging Datapoint of the Day

It’s hard to keep up with Amazon. This morning, Tyler Cowen checked out the prices for an 8GB memory card: $24.45 but out of stock if you want Amazon’s frustration-free packaging, and $17.45 for the regular, frustrating version. Right now, … Continue reading

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Retail Sales Datapoint of the Day

The WSJ has quite the chart this morning, taken from MasterCard’s SpendingPulse data: These are huge numbers, especially the 35% drop in luxury sales: it wasn’t all that long ago that the luxury segment was supposed to be immune from … Continue reading

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The Difference Between Televisions and Pianos

Costco sells televisions. Here’s what its CFO had to say on the subject of recent sales, as reported by Jeff Matthews: Our television sales have been way up in November…. [W]e had unit sales up over 50% in the four … Continue reading

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Diamond Datapoint of the Day

Bloomberg headline, Dec 9: "Diamond May Fetch 9 Million Pounds at Christie’s, Defying Slump". Bloomberg headline, Dec 10: "Diamond Sells for Record $24.3 Million, Defying Slump". Consider the slump defied! But the best line comes from the buyer, Laurence Graff, … Continue reading

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Conspicuous Consumption Datapoint of the Day, Private Jet Edition

Times have changed over the past ten years when it comes to attitudes to private jets. In October 1998, Nathan Myhrvold famously wrote a lavishly-illustrated paean to his Gulfstream V in Vanity Fair, and even appeared in a Gulfstream ad … Continue reading

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The End of Excess

Today’s 8,000-word dose of schadenfreude is here, courtesy of Michael Shnayerson and Vanity Fair. All the bankers laid low by ill fortune you could ever want! Still, a look at the real-estate "bargains" shows how much further there is to … Continue reading

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Adventures in Shopping, Black Friday Edition

Free Exchange reads LiveJournal: so we left around 11. About half an hour into the drive, we hit traffic. Thinking their must be an accident up ahead or something else going on, we pateintly waited, but the traffic never ended … Continue reading

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Art World Cost Saving Datapoint of the Day

According to Alexandra Peers, the trendy way to economize these days is to increase Champagne consumption: at Art Basel Miami Beach, she says, "many events are doing just Champagne, to cut out the bartenders." I can’t make the sums work … Continue reading

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Watches: Don’t Trust the Auctions

Of all the weird alternative asset classes to be invested in, could watches have been one of the best? A 1963 Patek Philippe just sold at Christie’s in Geneva for $800,000 — a record for a yellow-gold watch. But as … Continue reading

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Driven to Bankruptcy

Do you know anybody who bought a new car in October? Most of the country was a little bit preoccupied, I think, for that kind of activity. But even so, the news that GM sold just 168,719 cars last month … Continue reading

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Markets in Everything, Vegas Edition

Reuters reports: The Sapphire Pool charges men $30 to $50 admission and is fenced off from the Rio pool, where the women keep their swimsuit tops on.

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Retail Datapoints of the Day

Prime Fifth Avenue retail rents, per square foot, in 2000: $675 Prime Fifth Avenue retail rents, per square foot, in 2007: $1,500 Prime Fifth Avenue retail rents, per square foot, in 2008: $2,500 Square footage of the Saks Fifth Avenue … Continue reading

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Wine-Price Datapoints of the Day

I just found Juliet Chung’s fascinating article on wine pricing at restaurants, which appeared in the WSJ on Friday. Here’s a couple of datapoints for you. A bottle of 2004 Opus One will cost you $195 at Houston’s in San … Continue reading

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Food Inflation Datapoint of the Day

The best bit of the "Lunch with the FT" column is looking at the bill: how much lunch costs in various restaurants. Unfortunately, it’s a graphic, which the clever chaps at FT.com seem to be incapable of reproducing. The article … Continue reading

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Momofuku Ko Datapoint of the Day

Momofuku Ko is the impossible-to-get-into restaurant in the East Village, where I suggested in April that the chef-owner David Chang might want to auction off reservations once or twice a week. Well, he kinda took my suggestion: for a one-off … Continue reading

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The Plight of the Wine Lover

Keith Levenberg weighs in on the economics of wine with a very smart insight: If one aims to study “the welfare gains” to wine consumers, measured in those magic units of happiness that economists and philosophers call “utils,” then one … Continue reading

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Are Top Wine Prices Really Falling?

Omer Gokcecus reports on the cost of Wine Spectator’s annual wine listing: The real price (in 1988 prices) for the basket of the entire Top 100 list was $4,313 in 1988; $3,132 in 1993; $2,533 in 1999; and $2,421 in … Continue reading

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Cheap Food and Expensive Wine

Frank Bruni is right, I think: The same plate of pasta goes down a lot easier at $12 — it even tastes better at $12 — than it does at $16. Why does food behave in the opposite manner to … Continue reading

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Marking to Last Year’s Market, Charity Ball Edition

In the very first issue of Portfolio, last year, Tom Wolfe reported on the annual charity ball held by the Robin Hood foundation. After listing the excesses of the auction (ten "power meals" for $650,000; a "five-day “Surf and Sun” … Continue reading

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The Healthiest Part of the Financial-Services World

Bloomberg has a big article up on the slightly sleazy world of inter-dealer brokers. It’s a world I know a little about, since I used to have an inter-dealer broker as my roommate. This chap was eminently qualified for the … Continue reading

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The Negative Correlation Between Wine Price and Quality

Back in November I held a Pinot contest which concluded that there was really no correlation between price and quality – or if there was, it was negative. Of course, there was nothing really scientific about a drunken night in … Continue reading

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