Thursday, March 12, 2009

Newspapers, Trade and Sugardaddys

It seems another daily newspaper bites the dust every week, making the long term viability of papers questionable. The trend seems to be that papers have declining ad revenue, so they cut costs by dropping features, or putting them on the internet only. That makes consumers read it online instead of paying for a paper, leading to lower ad revenue, leading to more cost can see where this is going. Pretty soon, we are all reading papers online only, as the people who read the paper version keep dieing. Today's NYTimes has a story speculating on what city will become the first "no-paper" town.

For those who like the internet and newspapers but don't want to go to the trouble of buying and recycling them, I discovered, thanks to Freakonomics, a thing called rayogram NEWScan, which displays the the front pages of a variety of papers from around the world. Great way to keep up on the big stories.

Because of NEWScan I saw this story in the Detroit Free Press. It seems the "Buy American" provisions in the bailout package make it tough for Detroit, since they get many of their parts from foreign suppliers. So, the choice is the make GM and Chrysler buy American to get aid, which will make their cars more expensive and less competitive, or to let them send the aid money to foreign parts makers. Kind of a sticky situation the politicians get themselves in when they try to "fix" things. As all my students know, TRADE IS GOOD! So crippling our economy with tariffs and other trade restrictions will only make the economy worse, not better. You won't find any economist who will tell you the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 was a good idea.

So this morning I turn on CNBC when I get up, as I always do, and as I am half paying attention while pulling my pants on, I see what appears to be and ad for an internet service that will hook up old guys with money with young girls who want money. I thought they must be playing an SNL skit, but, NO, there really is a site called You can register as a Sugar Daddy or Sugar Momma, or as a Sugar Baby. Absolutely shameless site where rich guys can hook up with golddiggers. I wish I were clever enough to be making this up, but I'm not. I wonder if my friend Billy has registered yet.

Finally, and on a more sensible note, I had written a few weeks ago about the Giants use of "dynamic pricing" to adjust ticket prices based on likely demand. Bloomberg reports now that the Indians are also going down that road, but in a bit of a different matter. Since empty seats buy no beer and hot dogs, flexible pricing like this is extremely rational, and long overdue. It ain't a $50 ticket is no one will pay $50 for it. Ask the scalpers.