March 22, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! Finland has just been crowned the happiest nation on earth for a 6th consecutive year, according to the 2023 World Happiness Report. Good for them. Again. Genuinely. Today we're exploring:

  • Stocked up: Nike and Adidas have mountains of unsold inventory.
  • Final warning: Digging into the latest climate report from the IPCC.
  • Pop: Home prices in the US are falling.
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Everything must go

Where dealing with its inventory glut is concerned, Nike is just aboutdoing it. Yesterday, the apparel giant reported that sales were up 14% to $12.3bn in its most recent quarter, but the company continues to carry a near-record level of stock, with inventory up 53% in the last 3 years.

Nike execs are at least “increasingly confident” that the company will exit the financial year with healthy inventory levels — the same, however, cannot be said for their biggest competitor in the sportswear scene.

Adidas is having a harder time with its own inventory issues, warning that 2023 could see the German company's first annual loss in 3 decades. That’s in part because of a uniquely-Adidas issue — the $1.3 billion worth of Kanye West-designed Yeezy stock that the company isn’t sure how to shift after cutting ties with the star due to antisemitic comments. So far, donating the shoes, selling them and giving the proceeds to charity or even burning the entire stock have been floated as potential solutions.

Just ship it

Having too much stuff isn’t an issue that the fitness and footwear giants are facing alone — shifting consumer demands, supply chain issues, and inflation have all combined in recent years to lead to bulging stockrooms in businesses across the US, including major retailers like Target and Walmart. And there’s only really one way to power through a stock backlog: sell the unwanted inventory at discounted prices.

Tipping point

A new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been hailed as a “how-to guide to defuse the climate time bomb” and a “final warning” for keeping warming below 1.5°C, a milestone at which damage to the climate is said to be irreversible.

The report — a synthesis of 10,000+ pages of research from hundreds of the world’s top scientists — doesn't make for light or easy reading, but its conclusion is clearer than ever: policymakers must act now.

Regular extremities

The report is the 4th and final instalment of the AR6 series. The first 3 covered the physical science of global warming, while the synthesis report pulls the findings together, with an emphasis on what can be done, and what the future might hold.

According to the report, the planet has already warmed 1.1°C since humans began burning fossil fuels, which has resulted in extreme weather events becoming more intense and more frequent.

While extreme weather phenomena such as heavy precipitation, droughts and extreme temperatures have all been noted since the 1800s, the prevalence of such events changes dramatically as the Earth warms. At the current level of warming, for example, extreme precipitation events are ~1.3x as likely than if humans hadn’t influenced the climate, droughts in agricultural and ecological regions are estimated to be ~1.7x more common, and extreme high temperatures are ~2.8x more likely too.

And that’s just where we sit currently. If, as the IPCC’s report suggests, we cross the 1.5°C mark within the next decade, these events will unfortunately become much more commonplace.

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Just over 2 weeks ago, we charted about how the combination of higher borrowing costs and still-elevated home prices had created one of the least affordable housing markets in modern history for would-be buyers.

However, data out this week from the NAR revealed that some of the air is coming out of the market, as existing home prices fell 0.2% in Feb 2023 (vs. Feb 2022), breaking an 11-year-streak of continuous annual increases.

Interestingly, the number of homes sold jumped some 14.5% in February. That suggests there is demand from those waiting on the sidelines, standing by for any favorable fluctuations in the mortgage market, where interest rates still hover around 7%. As Fortune put it, the real winners of the pandemic may be the home-buyers who managed to lock in a mortgage rate around 2%.

More Data

• Inventory problems? IKEA is keeping on top of it with 100 autonomousdrones that count its stock.

• Sales of snacks rose 12% last year as Americans enjoy an explosion of new tasty treats.

GameStop is up to its old tricks again, with shares in the company up 41% this morning after reporting its first profit in 2 years.


• Where does saying "Pluto" refer to the planet, or the community in West Virginia? Fascinating map of overlapping place names in the US from our friends at The Pudding.

• Charting the number of homeless people in the US, and why that is so difficult to do.

Off the charts: Which hit Broadway show, that is staging its last performance in April, just had the highest-grossing week in its 35-year run? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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