July 6, 2022

Today's Topics

Hi folks, we hope you all had a wonderful July 4th and weekend! Today — with the help of our newest team member Tom — we are exploring:

  • Unplugged. Tesla's deliveries have slowed down.
  • Wildfires. July 4th celebrations can sometimes have unintended consequences.
  • News deserts. Local newspapers are closing at a rapid rate.
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Last week we discussed how Nike was struggling with its business in China — today it's Tesla's turn.

The electric vehicle maker reported that it had delivered just over 250,000 cars globally, an 18% drop on the effort from Q1 when the company had shipped more than 310,000.

Like Nike, Tesla has been struggling with COVID restrictions at its factories. Tesla's Shanghai factory — known as the Giga Shanghai — had to close multiple times in the first quarter, and broader supply chain constraints like the computer chip shortage haven't helped either.

Tesla's minor hiccup follows years of remarkable progress that made it the largest EV manufacturer in the world. But just as it struggles with its operations in China, it's also facing rising competition from within the country. Chinese rival BYD reported just this week that it sold 641,000 EVs in the first six months of this year, more than Tesla's 565,000, leading some to proclaim that Tesla has officially been dethroned as the world's largest EV maker.

Technically some of those BYD sales were not full battery electric vehicles, with some hybrid sales included, so the distinction is slightly muddled. Nonetheless, the competition is coming — and, crucially, consumers are expecting it; data from Morning Consult showed that consumers expect to have the choice of more than 130 EV models by 2024. Back in 2010 they only had a few to choose from.

A good Fourth of July celebration often isn't the same without a few fireworks (though you'll still never watch that video you recorded) — the pyrotechnics can sometimes come at a price to the natural surroundings, however.

We might have started the fire

A 2020 study by Mietkiewicz et al., originally published in The Conversation, found that the number of human-caused wildfires often spikes in the days around July 4th, with the soaring figures often attributed to the widespread use of fireworks during the holiday.

This regular uptick exacerbates the pre-existing issue of human-caused wildfires in the US. In fact nearly 85% of wildfires between 2000 and 2017 were caused by humans according to data cited by the National Park Service.

Although fireworks are often the culprit around the 4th, other common human-sourced causes such as unattended campfires, burning materials and intentional acts of arson all contribute to a large number of wildfires. That is particularly true in the summer months, which tend to be the most dogged by wildfires due to the perfect storm of higher temperatures and drier conditions.

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The pressing issue

The local press industry in the US is rapidly folding in on itself, with around two newspapers shutting a week according to a new report from Northwestern University.

As media has shifted online, the industry has suffered. At the turn of the millennium the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted just under 200,000 employees at newspaper publishers in the US. Today it counts just 50,000. This decline was accelerated during the pandemic, leaving thousands of reporters, editors, and photographers out of work. At the current rate — with two publications shutting per week — the country is on course to lose over a third of its newspapers by 2025.

News deserts

The plight of the papers is being felt across the states, with roughly 7% of US counties now ‘news deserts’ — areas with no local news outlets — and 20% at risk of heading the same way. Areas with little or no local news coverage typically experience increased poverty rates and lower household incomes and there is some evidence that government services become less efficient without a local press.

One bright spot in publishing has been at digitally-native news outlets (like us!). In that sector employment has grown quickly, more than doubling over the last decade to around 18,000 employees — although that growth hasn't been enough to offset the overall decline in the industry.

More Data

1) A hacker known only as ‘ChinaDan’ has advertised a whopping 23TB cache of data for sale on the dark web in a breach that could see around 1 billion citizens compromised.

2) How bad is inflation around the world? The FT have put together an interactive dashboard.

3) Hot dog hero Joey Chestnut put away more than 6 hot dogs per minute to ensure he was still top dog at Nathan’s latest annual July 4th eating contest. His 63 total dogs this year was impressive — but not quite the 76 he managed last year.

4) The Euro has slumped to its lowest level against USD in 20 years, leaving the currency close to dollar parity, as fears of a recession in Europe mount.

5) Piestro is bringing automated robotic pizza kiosks to the $155B global pizza market. World renowned brands have already purchased $580m in Piestro robots to scale their operations at a fraction of the cost. Invest in Piestro today.**

6) Boris Johnson's time as Prime Minister of the UK may be running out as two key ministers resigned within minutes of each other yesterday evening. The latest polling data from YouGov shows 71% of the UK believe Johnson is doing "badly" as PM.

7) A Redditor has put together a handy heatmap of the most-common compound swearing insults deployed in the site’s comment sections (nsfw).

**This is sponsored content.

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