Saturday, July 19, 2008

Condom PPP

Here are the average prices of a 12 pack of Durex Elite Condoms.  You can use these prices to derive a PPP index, much like the Big Mac index.


This Boston Globe article points to the chilling effect that Massachusetts case law has on marriage.  Of course the impact of making divorce more expensive may not only be to reduce the number of marriages it could also prevent divorce as well.  And thus the law will likely lead to more extra-marital sex.
FORGET KAFKA. Welcome to Massachusetts. In the 1980s, it was known as Taxachusetts. These days, it's known as the state whose divorce laws are so out of date that many people decide against marrying here - or marrying anyone anywhere whose alimony obligations originate here. I'm one of them. Two divorce lawyers tell me that the state's laws are so extreme they have "a chilling effect on marriage." Prenups offer no guarantees. Judges routinely ignore them.
more stories like this

Cathy Ortiz, a secretary in Fairhaven whose husband is out of work, was ordered in 2007 to make alimony payments from her own paycheck to his ex-wife - who has a full-time job with benefits. The husband, Ernest Ortiz, is suing the state, arguing that these laws are unconstitutional. Oral arguments were heard yesterday in Appeals Court.

Alimony law is largely case law, not statute. Many legislators are shocked to hear the feudal details, unique to Massachusetts. But not shocked enough to reform the law.

The laws are gender neutral, but the facts are not: 96 percent of alimony payers are men, who often must give 30 to 40 percent of gross earnings to educated and sometimes employed women. Alimony does not automatically end or decline at retirement, even after an ex-wife has gotten an equitable share of marital assets. This applies in no-fault divorces, to the middle-class, and to millionaires.

Alimony is usually ordered until the recipient dies or remarries, even for couples in their 30s and 40s. Judges who set time limits may be overruled on appeal. When children are involved, the court usually awards only child support, about 30 percent of a father's income, which ends when children turn 23. Then mothers frequently receive alimony at the same or higher levels, for life.

Prostitution and Price

Here we have an example of price differences by nationality of prostitute. There are many things that could explain the lower prices received by Malay girls. Anything from preferences of Johns, to supply of prostitutes.  Malay prostitutes might be more likely to have a STD so the lower price reflects a discount due to risk of disease for the John.

Porn's Financial Woes

Variety bends over to kick the porn industry while its down.
Economists are citing some dire portents of a recession these days, but they've missed one indicator I find especially disturbing: The porn business has suddenly gone flaccid.

The drop in porn rentals and sales is worrisome on several fronts: Till now, porn has been a recession-proof business. Further, with the country already in a dispirited mood, the fact that porn has gone limp may indicate a true plunge in consumer confidence.

DVD porn is down between 10% and 30%, depending on which nook and cranny of the business you scrutinize. Joy King, executive vice president of Wicked Pictures, and a smart analyst of the business, says the smallest dropoff is in "couples-friendly porn" -- films that embrace something of a storyline. Women account for roughly half of this audience, making their purchases in lingerie boutiques and toy stores (no, not kiddie toys).

By contrast, that sector called the "gonzo" side of the business is in serious need of fiscal Viagra. Guys with an appetite for "gonzo" are going unrequited, which may help account for the closing of many DVD emporiums like the Movie Galleries in the Midwest.

One beneficiary of these trends is online porn -- a business that's lofty in traffic but shriveled in terms of revenue. With sales declining across the landscape, employees at big corporations have a lot more time to check out the three-minute porn clips flashing across their computers. To the serious porn players, some of these clips are beyond hardcore -- they're, well, mega-gonzo.
Of course there are some claims that the economic stimulus has stemmed the tide of losses, though I'm never one to put too much stock into unverified press releases.
NEW YORK, July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An unforeseen and surprising beneficiary of the Economic Stimulus Plan, a plan that George Bush contends will "boost our economy and encourage job creation," has surfaced this week. An independent market-research firm, AIMRCo (Adult Internet Market Research Company), has discovered that many websites focused on adult or erotic material have experienced an upswing in sales in the recent weeks since checks have appeared in millions of Americans' mailboxes across the country.

According to Kirk Mishkin, Head Research Consultant for AIMRCo, "Many of the sites we surveyed have reported 20-30% growth in membership rates since mid-May when the checks were first sent out, and typically the summer is a slow period for this market."

Jillian Fox, spokeswoman for, one of the sites reporting figures to AIMRCo, added, "In a June 15, 2008 survey to our members, thirty two percent of respondents referenced the recent stimulus package as part of their decision to either become a new member, or renew an existing membership."

Where I've Been

Mostly riding my bike, and reading. Posting to resume soon.