June 12, 2023

Today's Topics

Good morning! Headlines have been hogged by former leaders recently, with Trump’s indictment, a resignation for Britain’s last-last prime minister Boris Johnson, an arrest for ex-Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, and former Italian PM Berlusconi’s death. Today we're exploring:

  • Everest: It's busy on the world's highest mountain.
  • Engagements: America's largest jeweler is selling fewer rings than it expected to this year.
  • Electricians: Demand for electrical experts is surging.
Not yet a subscriber? Sign up free below.

Not so lonely at the top

A record number of climbing permits being issued for Mount Everest this year may sound like a positive sign that thrill seekers are back out seizing the day, but locals and trekking experts pointed to the 478 issuances as a key reason behind 2023 being the deadliest season in years.

In response to criticism over the permits, Nepal’s Department of Tourism claimed that basecamp officials and doctors were “well prepared to cope with the crowd”. However, with 12 confirmed fatalities and 5 climbers declared missing this season, the government conceded it would be considering tighter regulations moving forward.

New peaks

There have been over 11,000 summits since the first successful ascent of Everest in 1953, a British effort where a mammoth team of 350 porters and 20 Sherpas supported just 10 climbers, with those numbers really rising since the turn of the century. While that’s been good for the Nepalese tourist board and local industry — climbing Earth’s highest peak can cost you anywhere from ~$45k-$75k according to some estimates — the climbing figures can make the ascent more dangerous.

In 2019, an estimated 877 mountaineers made it to the top of Everest — a tally reflected not only in a viral photo of people snaking their way up the mountainside, but also in the perils which faced climbers. Although there are no estimates yet for the number of successful ascendants in 2023, the danger of the season and the record permits suggest it won’t have been lonely at the top.

Love is (too) patient

America’s largest jeweler, Signet, cut its forecast for the rest of the year — blaming the pandemic for why it's selling fewer engagement rings than it expected in 2023.

The company, which sold more than $3.4 billion worth of bridal jewelry in its last fiscal year, believes the pandemic stopped people from meeting their would-be fiancés, falling in love and buying a sparkly something to celebrate. One survey estimates that the average couple dates for two-and-a-half years before getting engaged, suggesting that the missing couple class of 2020-21 theory could be plausible.

That said, the initial premise — that dating was put on hold during the pandemic — is harder to evaluate. Many dating apps actually saw a boom in activity, with Tinder reporting more messages and conversations that were 32% longer in the middle of 2021.

Till debt do us part

Of course, the pandemic isn’t the only thing that Signet could blame for its expected sales slump. Marriage rates have been on the decline for years (chart), for various cultural and economic reasons, and couples are putting off getting married until later in life (chart). Of course, it doesn’t help that weddings are now so expensive, with the average wedding costing nearly $30k in the US, sending many who want to celebrate in style into debt.

Not yet a subscriber? Sign up free below.


The job market for electricians is booming. Driven by a seismic shift to electrify-everything, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 80,000 new electrician jobs will be created annually until 2031, taking the total number pursuing the profession over the 1 million mark for the first time in over 30 years.

Soaring demand for specialist knowledge to install solar panels, electric vehicle chargers, electric stoves, and more, means an increasingly attractive pay packet for those in the industry. Indeed, the average electrician's hourly wage in April was up an inflation-busting 7.4% year-over-year. That takes the average hourly pay in the industry to $37.50 — or an annual salary of roughly $78,000.

Power up

However, the industry faces a significant challenge in attracting younger generations to join the trade. Outdated perceptions and underestimations of the potential earnings associated with skilled trades, including electricians, persist among many high school graduates.

Flipping the switch on these misconceptions, and encouraging more women to become electricians — currently just 2% of employed electricians in the US are women — will be crucial in keeping the profession fully charged.

More Data

• We are officially in a bull market as the S&P 500 has risen 20% since its October low, marking an end to the longest bear run since 1948.

• Summer jobs are hot right now as teenagers' pay is up 11.5% on last year.

•  A Florida professor just broke a world record by living 100 days below the ocean’s surface, spending over 3 months in America’s only "underwater hotel”, and losing half an inch of height in the process.

• George Soros is handing over the reins of his $25bn philanthropic enterprise to his 37-year-old son.


• Test your eyes with 151 visual phenomena and optical illusions.

• Novak Djokovic just became (male) tennis’s most decorated Grand Slam player.

Quick cut: Netflix’s crackdown on what money-saving scheme resulted in new signups exceeding lockdown levels? [Answer below].

Answer here.

Not yet a subscriber? Sign up free below.

Recent newsletters

Analogs and algorithms: The changing shape of the recorded music industry
Amazon’s empire: How the tech giant makes its money
Powering down: Electric vehicle sales lose momentum
We and our partners use cookies and similar technologies (“Cookies”) on our website and in our newsletters for performance, analytical or advertising purposes to ensure you have the best experience on our site and/or interaction with us. To find out more about the use of Cookies, see our Cookie Notice. Please click OK if you consent to our use of Cookies or click Manage my Preferences to manage your Cookie preferences.