March 1, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! The White House is doing its best impression of a disgruntled parent trying to cut down on kids’ screentime, giving all government agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from their devices. Today we're exploring:

  • Going gray: Japan's population problem.
  • Unleash the beast: Monster Beverage Corp. just keeps growing.
  • Pillow tax: Even the Tooth Fairy can't fight inflation.
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Japan's birth rate fell to its lowest level on record last year, with the country welcoming just 799,728 newborns in 2022, a 5% fall on the prior year. That fact alone would be enough to have demographers worried, but the nation also recorded 1.58 million deaths, a figure up 9% year-on-year, accelerating the decline of Japan’s native population.

Baby boomers wanted

Elon Musk’s tweet that “Japan will eventually cease to exist” if this trend continues is perhaps a bit overstated, as it remains the 11th most populous country in the world with ~126m inhabitants. However, Japan's naturally shrinking population, which it's had for ~15 years, still causes many concerns.

Most obvious is the economic burden that an aging population puts on a smaller workforce. Fewer workers means fewer taxpayers to support retirees. That’s not a problem Japan is facing alone, as people globally are living longer and birth rates are falling — but nowhere is the issue as acute as in Japan. The country currently has the world’s oldest population, with a third of its citizens already over the age of 65.

Fumio Kishida, Japan’s prime minister, hopes to reverse this trend. He’s looking to implement an “unprecedented” set of measures that would focus on child-rearing policies, including increased economic support for parents, child care services and reformed working styles. Of course, these policies will take decades to solve what is a more immediate problem — a quicker fix could be a greater openness towards immigration.

Monster Beverage Corporation, often cited as the best-performing US stock of the century, saw its shares slide ~4% last night on the back of a disappointing annual update.

Net income in 2022 was down some 13.5% to $1.19 billion compared to the year before, though the energy drink giant managed to maintain its impressive streak of revenue growth which now stretches back 3 decades.

Unleash the beast

The drinks company started life in the 1930s as Hansen’s Natural, a family-run fruit juice firm in Southern California. However, after 70 or so years in the juice and soda game, the company decided to launch an energy drink in 2002, creating a Monster that would go on to define the brand.

In 2002, the company netted just $92m in sales, a figure that rocketed past the $1 billion mark just 6 years later, and has since climbed to a whopping $6.3 billion in 2022. Hansen’s became Monster Beverage Corp. in 2012 when the energy drink’s status as its star seller was firmly established, and a strategic partnership with Coca-Cola followed in 2015.

With festivals, an F1 racing team, a smattering of global soccer sides, and over 11 billion cans sold last year, Red Bull is the loudest (all things relative) of the two big brands in the energy drink space. However, Monster’s slightly quieter approach has worked wonders. A theoretical $100 investment in MNST at the turn of the century would now be worth ~$113k, over 5x the return on the same investment in Apple.

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Pillow tax

Compensating children for losing teeth just got a lot more costly for the Tooth Fairy, with the average payout up to $6.23 in 2023 according to the latest annual poll.

The earliest reference to the “Tooth Fairy” that we know of today cropped up in the Chicago Tribune in 1908 as parental advice for helping children through the tooth-losing process. However, some trace the practice to the “tand-fe” — or tooth fee — that Norse people would pay to children after their first loss, though the vikings likely weren’t shilling out more than $6 a tooth.

Delta Dental conducts its Original Tooth Fairy Poll every year, asking 1,000 parents across the US how much their children are getting for each tooth. 2023’s figure came in 87 cents higher than last year’s, confirming that no one, not even the Tooth Fairy, is escaping the impact of inflation.

Given that children typically lose all 20 of their milk teeth, parents adhering to the “average” will end up paying out a whopping $124.60. For context, in 1998 each tooth was rewarded just $1.30 on average, making a full "mouth" worth $26.

Go deeper: explore the poll’s findings and their surprising correlation with the S&P 500 here.

More Data

Boeing engineers have just broken the paper plane flight distance, sending a folded sheet 88.3 meters (almost 290 feet).

• Interesting analysis and data on the 10 worst-paying majors.

• Electric vehicle company Rivian reported it lost some $6.8bn last year, as supply chain problems held production back, sending shares down 8% at the time of writing.

• In preparation for the 95th Academy Awards, explore this year's unusually populist nominees list.


• Charting the rise of tying the knot in Vegas.

• As TIME is set to celebrate its 100th birthday, check out a century of the magazine's front covers.

Off the charts: McDonald’s just announced it will be expanding its collaborative trial with which sweet treat maker across 160 restaurants? Hint: we charted about the test run when it was first launched in October 2022. [Answer below].

Answer here.

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