Recent quotes:

‘Confusing Time’ for Managers Weighing Stock Bubble, Page Says - Bloomberg

If I look at the price-earnings ratio on the S&P 500, it’s in the 99th percentile compared to the last 30 years. But if you think stocks are expensive, have you looked at bonds recently? And if you compare the valuation of stocks -- that PE ratio, and you can invert it and look at the yield, which makes an easier comparison -- with bond yields and in particular real rates -- the yield you get on bonds after inflation -- then you get to the conclusion that it’s in the bottom 1%. So stocks are as cheap as they’ve ever been.

Quantifying Reputation and Success in Art

Early access to prestigious central institutions offered life-long access to high-prestige venues and reduced dropout rate. By contrast, starting at the network periphery resulted in a high dropout rate, limiting access to central institutions. A Markov model predicts the career trajectory of individual artists and documents the strong path and history dependence of valuation in art.

How have healthcare prices grown in the U.S. over time? - Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker

In 2016, while the average price paid by large employers for an admission for a full knee replacement was $34,063, 25 percent of admissions had a price of $24,734 or less and another 25 percent had prices higher than $39,786. […]Ten percent of admissions had prices in excess of $52,181 (53% above the average). For laparoscopic appendectomies, the average price paid for an admission was $20,192 in 2016; 25 percent of admissions had prices of $12,088 or less while another 25% had prices of over $24,847. Ten percent of admissions had prices in excess of $35,308 (75% above the average).

Four Reasons Drugs Are Expensive, Of Which Two Are False

Thus there is a lot of deliberate obfuscation of the real prices, net of rebates, discounts, clawbacks, budget caps, etc., that health systems actually pay. Elastic also loosens when there are barriers to trade. The European Union is a free trade zone. Therefore, if one sells pills into Greece, where prices are low, it is more profitable overall to make sure they are in Greek language-only packaging, in Greek language-only blister packs, with something obvious and Greek printed on the pills, and – if possible – in a dose that is subtly different from any dose that can be legally sold in the UK or Germany. This makes it tedious to repackage the pills, before shipping them to parts of the European Union where they compete with similar pills that the manufacturer is selling a higher price: Tedious but not impossible, as German friends taking re-exported Greek drugs recently told me.

Four Reasons Drugs Are Expensive, Of Which Two Are False

From the company’s perspective, the drug was much too cheap. Had Sanofi applied the cancer price to the multiple sclerosis dose, it would have been charging around $6,000 per year when multiple sclerosis drugs had annual prices closer to $60,000. So Sanofi withdrew Campath from commercial sale in late 2012 and re-launched it in 2013 in Europe and in 2014 in the US with a new name, Lemtrada, a new multiple sclerosis indication, and a list price rise of over one thousand – yes, one thousand – percent. The temporary withdrawal outraged neurologists who had been using Campath off-label for years, but who could not get the drug for their patients until the re-launch.

The drug development lottery

Nor, as we discuss later, is it necessarily good policy to attack the economics of the winners. This is because the majority of R&D projects fail. The failures cost investors and the industry a great deal of money, but because they fail, they are never scrutinized by suspicious members of Congress. If you just look at the winners, drug R&D will look wildly profitable. The same is true of all lotteries. People buy a ticket for a dollar and win a million. However, the economics of the winners is not representative the wider game. This is why, for example, the UK’s National Lottery is often called the tax on stupidity.

Auction bids decline with intensity of competition: Study reveals downside to having more bidders in an auction -- ScienceDaily

The study suggested that the more bidders there are in an auction, the lower each individual bidder perceives their probability of winning, which has demotivating effect on their desire to win the auction. "This is a counterintuitive finding because usually auctioneers would assume that the more bidders there are in an auction, the more money they will make -- the logic being that that the more bidders there are, the more likely it is that there is a bidder with a high willingness to pay for the good," said co-author Associate Professor Agnieszka Tymula from the University of Sydney's School of Economics. "However, it turns out that there is also a downside to having more bidders -- most people bid less."

Wine's origin might affect acceptable price more than taste study shows -- ScienceDaily

Researchers found that revealing the country and region of origin of the wines from Iowa and Wisconsin had a negative effect on how much participants were willing to pay per bottle. Customers indicated they would be willing to pay an average of $2.70 to $4.80 less per bottle than the designated stated retail price for the wines. For example, if the wine's stated retail price was $24, then the customer would be willing to pay potentially $2.70 to $4.80 less than that price, or $21.30 or $19.20 per bottle.

Giving employees 'decoy' sanitizer options could improve hand hygiene -- ScienceDaily

The results were clear: The experimental groups in each factory used more hand sanitizer after the decoy method was introduced relative to the comparison groups. In two of the factories, the experimental group kept increasing their use of the original spray sanitizer throughout the 20-day intervention period, whereas the comparison groups did not.

Penny-wise, pound-foolish decisions explained by neurons' firing: Spending decisions influenced by adaptation in neural circuits -- ScienceDaily

The researchers discovered that the neurons' firing rates reset between the two sessions. In the first session the maximum firing rate corresponded to the option of two drops of juice, and in the second it corresponded to 10 drops of juice. In other words, the same change in how rapidly the neuron fired corresponded to a fine distinction in value when the range was narrow, and a coarse distinction when the range was broad. "As we adapt to large values, we lose some ability to consider smaller values," Padoa-Schioppa said. "This is why salesmen try so hard to sell you upgrades when you're buying a car. Spending $100 to add on a radio seems like no big deal if you're already spending $20,000 on a car. But if you already have a car and you are thinking of spending $100 for a radio, suddenly it seems like a lot. They know that people don't come back and buy the radio later."

There Never Was a Real Tulip Fever | History | Smithsonian

The Dutch learned that tulips could be grown from seeds or buds that grew on the mother bulb; a bulb that grows from seed would take 7 to 12 years before flowering, but a bulb itself could flower the very next year. Of particular interest to Clusius and other tulip traders were “broken bulbs”—tulips whose petals showed a striped, multicolor pattern rather than a single solid color. The effect was unpredictable, but the growing demand for these rare, “broken bulb” tulips led naturalists to study ways to reproduce them. (The pattern was later discovered to be the result of a mosaic virus that actually makes the bulbs sickly and less likely to reproduce.) “The high market price for tulips to which the current version of tulipmania refers were prices for particularly beautiful broken bulbs,” writes economist Peter Garber. “Since breaking was unpredictable, some have characterized tulipmania among growers as a gamble, with growers vying to produce better and more bizarre variegations and feathering.” After all the money Dutch speculators spent on the bulbs, they only produced flowers for about a week—but for tulip lovers, that week was a glorious one. “As luxury objects, tulips fit well into a culture of both abundant capital and new cosmopolitanism,” Goldgar writes. Tulips required expertise, an appreciation of beauty and the exotic, and, of course, an abundance of money.

Crossing State Lines Is No Easy Jaunt for Insurers and Local Regulators - WSJ

Insurance executives question how much interstate sales would unleash competition. Premiums are closely tied to underlying costs, such as rates paid to local doctors and hospitals and projected health needs of enrollees. The regulatory environment notwithstanding, selling coverage in any given state would require an insurer to have a local network of allied doctors and hospitals, something new entrants to a market might find costly to arrange. “In order to offer more value, you will need to have relationships and contracts with the providers in a state,” said Paul Markovich, chief executive of Blue Shield of California. Insurers almost certainly wouldn’t sell coverage at the same price in multiple states, said Jim O’Connor, a principal at consultants Milliman Inc. They would adjust rates to reflect costs in each location, even if all the policies were under the same regulatory regime, he said.

Art and pricing

Very low prices made participants like art less, very high prices made them like art more.

Even with a joke, anchoring moves an offer up 10%

As expected, participants did anchor on the first number presented during the salary negotiation — even when that number was intended as a joke. When the bidding started off with the mention of $100,000 the average offer was $35,385 compared to an offer of $32,463 for the control group. That is, the high salary joke actually paid off with an extra $3,000 a year.

The Endless, and Expensive, Quest for Rare Objects

Rarity isn’t all about social signalling, though. Pappy’s rarity also makes the bourbon taste better, since people often consume rare products in an especially deliberate way. Precisely because they know rare experiences are scarce, they slow down and savor them, revealing layers of pleasure that might go unnoticed otherwise. After I spoke at the conference in Chicago, the organizer handed me a glass containing two ounces of Pappy twenty-year, and I sat alone in a corner and sipped the bourbon very slowly. Inspired by its rarity, I extracted extra pleasure from a mundane act that I’ve performed many times before. It helped, obviously, that the bourbon was excellent to begin with, but who knows—by savoring a lesser bourbon, I might have increased its value, too. Rarity isn’t essential to savoring, but it does nudge you toward mindfulness when you might otherwise consume mindlessly.

Same number looks different, depending on the trend

Maglio says the lesson here for marketers or brand managers is they may want, where possible, to focus on the message that a product or an event is on an upward trend. But if you're in the not-so-desirable position of talking about something in decline, the best approach may be to focus on only the most recent estimate and not its downward trend or to assure consumers that the trend is not meaningful.

runDisney, Can We Talk? | Sharp Endurance

I would like to discuss in particular the starting cost of the half marathon at $205. Clearly, you know this is crazy. Marathons around the country with larger fields in bigger cities don’t even have pricing that gets that high. And if they do, it’s double the distance (and honestly more swag too). That is literally almost $16 per mile. Also let me remind you, literally a third of Disneyland Park is under construction as you build Star Wars Land (which I also protest but I’ll save that). So, you raise prices…while you’re under construction…makes sense. $120 for a 10K is MAD. and $80 for a 5K is laughable. Let’s not forget to add the Active processing fees as well, so go ahead and add about 5-15 bucks on top of registration. And I am not even going to talk about the expo lines the first day of the race weekend. Child.

Psychology of Pricing: A Gigantic List of Strategies

Not only should you start with a high initial price, but you should also use a precise value. In one study, Janiszewski and Uy (2008) asked participants to estimate the actual price of a plasma TV based on the suggested retail price — either $4,998, $5,000, or $5,012. When participants were given precise values ($4,998 and $5,012), they estimated the TV’s actual price to be closer to that range. When the suggested price was rounded ($5,000), participants believed the actual price to be much lower.

Bezos: books need to compete

The most important thing to observe is that books don’t just compete against books. Books compete against people reading blogs and news articles and playing video games and watching TV and going to see movies.Books are the competitive set for leisure time. It takes many hours to read a book. It’s a big commitment. If you narrow your field of view and only think about books competing against books, you make really bad decisions. What we really have to do, if we want a healthy culture of long-form reading, is to make books more accessible.

The economics behind 432 Park Avenue

Keep in mind that these are pied-a-terres that begin at $7 million each and include several full-floor parcels in the $75 million range. More than anything else, this speaks to the insatiable appetite of the world’s greatly expanded billionaire class. Middle Eastern oil magnates, Chinese billionaires, Russian oligarchs, and the Latin American aristocracy all have one thing in common: More money than they know what to do with and a desperation to get as much of it out of their home countries as possible. New York real estate works very well as both a facilitator of this as well as a store of value.

Pricing for Serial podcast ads

MailChimp, the email marketing company that sponsors “Serial,” says it pays between $25 to $40 CPM (the cost of reaching a thousand listeners). On average, pre-roll ads on YouTube cost an average $17 CPM, according to data firm SQAD.

Amazon offends the elite by flooding their market

Despite my benefitting from it, I am unwilling to pretend that this system is beneficial for readers or for writers who lack my privilege. […]The reason my fellow elites hate Amazon is that Amazon refuses to flatter our pretensions. In my tribe, this is a crime more heinous even than eating one’s salad with one’s dessert fork.The threat Amazon poses to our collective self-regard is the usual American one: The market is optimized for availability rather than respect. […] If Amazon gets its way, saying, “I published a book” will generate no more cultural capital than saying “I spoke into a microphone.”

Traditional publisher pricing model kills conversation

Reading is especially important when a book comes along and synchronizes public conversation; the publishers’ preferred pricing model—wait a year for the cheap copy—means that people who can only afford the paperback can’t be part of that conversation.
Visible Prices is the tool that I wished for to help students grasp the economic content of literature, and to provide researchers with a means of studying how authors used prices in their texts. In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Jane’s salary as governess to Mr. Rochester’s ward is £30 per annum. This database makes price back into a visible part of the reading experience by allowing students to discover what £30 meant in purchasing power, or to see how the salary that Bronte chose compared with those being offered at the time of composition and publication. Economic historians have, in the past, gathered price listings for staple goods and raw materials, such as wool and wheat. These records of the changing prices of a specific commodity have been formatted as excel spreadsheets, or as .txt files. They are readable, but not manipulatable, and are able only to track specifically focused inquiries, i.e. “What was the price of wheat recorded in France from 1825-1913?”. As printed documents have migrated onto the web, researchers have gained greater access to economic data, though the challenges of making it easy to combine and manipulate remain.
If a reader waiting for my latest release (who was willing to pay $4.99) suddenly gets it for 99c, they now have $4 more to spend on books. So maybe they’ll end up buying two or three instead of one. Also, while I might leave money on the table this week, the strategy is to maximize sales by getting more of my disparate list/platform to try my historical fiction. If it works, I’ll have expanded my readership and made money. If it doesn’t… the worst that will happen is I’ll make a little less money, but still expand my readership somewhat and make existing readers happy. But however it works out for me personally I don’t see it having much effect on anyone else, other than somewhat increasing the amount of books my readers can afford.
Brad Stone describes one campaign to pressure the most vulnerable publishers for better terms: internally, it was known as the Gazelle Project, after Bezos suggested “that Amazon should approach these small publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.” (Company lawyers later changed the name to the Small Publisher Negotiation Program.)