When dismissing a harassment case between neighbors, Canadian judge Dennis Galiatsatos ruled that flipping the middle finger is “a God-given, charter-enshrined right that belongs to every red-blooded Canadian.”
In today’s email:
Supercore inflation: What it has to do with haircuts.
Chart: Chick-fil-A counts its chickens.
Dead heat: Should AI crawl obit photos?
Around the Web: A virtual museum, how to have fun, a neat game, and more.
🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear about Chick-fil-A’s plans for global domination, what happened in banking on Monday, data showing how people are buying fewer gifts, and more.
The big idea
What is supercore inflation?
“Supercore inflation” is a term used to describe the rising cost of goods and services, minus food, energy, and housing.
Juliet Bennett Ryla
You know, that’s a great question and it’d be great if there were one concrete definition, but… there isn’t. So, we’ll just talk about how the Federal Reserve uses it.
The consumer price index (CPI)measures the monthly change in US consumer goods and services prices.
Core inflation excludes food and energy, as prices can be volatile (e.g., bird flu and egg prices; the war in Ukraine and energy costs)
Supercore inflation also excludes housing data, which lags and has been more volatile since the pandemic, perBusiness Insider.
What the Fed looks at…
… when it talks about supercore inflation is the price of services (e.g., getting a haircut, hiring a plumber).
Service prices have increased as consumers prioritize them over goods, and as labor shortages drive higher wages, which are passed on to the consumer.
So, prepare for more hikes
Earlier this month, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that supercore inflation must be lowered to restore price stability, noting that “strong wage growth is good for workers but only if it is not eroded by inflation.”
And while the Fed can’t control bird flu, it can bump interest rates to cool off business growth, consumer spend, and the cost of labor, per The Wall Street Journal.
Thus — SVB debacle aside — experts expect the Fed to continue hiking rates until it reaches its 2% inflation target. Currently, one estimate pegs supercore inflation at 4.6% YoY.
BTW: There are critics of the Fed using supercore as a key metric, pointing out that food, energy, and housing… we need that stuff.
Cordyceps. Hot off its star turn in HBO’s hit “The Last of Us,” a “sparkling mushroom elixir” raked in a Series A haul. The energy drink’s maker, Odyssey Wellness, has raised $8.3m to date.
Following SVB’s US implosion, HSBC UK acquired Silicon Valley Bank UK for £1. The Bank of England confirmed depositors’ funds are safe.
Brain dump: Telehealth startup Cerebral is under fire for sharing 3.1m patients’ personal data with the likes of Google, Meta, and TikTok. The US Department of Health and Human Services is on the case.
Pfizer plans to acquire biotech company Seagen Inc., best known for antibody drugs that target tumors, for $43B — assuming antitrust regulators don’t halt the deal.
Volkswagen will build a battery plant in Ontario, Canada, as it expands in North America. It’s expected to start production in 2027.
Meanwhile: Rivian is looking to end an EV van exclusivity agreement with Amazon.
Go Fish: Campbell Soup Co. says the big cheese of its snack division, Goldfish, is on track to hit $1B in annual sales.
A Reddit user’s viral in-depth investigation into Samsung’s 100x “Space Zoom” camera feature concluded the tech is generating moon details almost entirely with AI.
Aw, rats: Big Sky Balloons, maker of the giant $10k Scabby the Rat inflatables that accompany union protests, reportedly sold to a new owner that plans to stop making the rats.
Up your productivity: These tips and templates will help you purge procrastination, and punch the metaphorical workplace clock with pride.
FROM THE BLOG
Being a good leader can be challenging. But sometimes the best way to inspire others is to lead by example. Here’s how to be the change you want to see in your team.
Chick-fil-A gears up for global domination
Get ready, Europe and Asia.
Despite the mediocre flying capabilities of its namesake, Chick-fil-A is ready for takeoff.
The company reportedly has a $1B plan under its wing to expand into Europe and Asia by 2026, per TheWall Street Journal.
In the US, Chick-fil-A’s sales have quadrupled in the past decade, and it’s now the third-biggest fast-food chain by sales after McDonald’s and Starbucks.
Despite being closed on Sundays, Chick-fil-A’s ~2.7k US locations averaged $6.3m each in 2021 revenue, ~4x that of KFC and Popeyes.
Since hatching in 1967, Chick-fil-A has tried at international expansion — in South Africa in 1996, and the UK in 2019 — to meager results and local opposition. It now has eight locations in Canada and three in Puerto Rico.
Currently, KFC runs the hen in Asia’s ~$33B fast-food chicken industry, with 39% market share. It also leads the way in Western Europe’s $6.1B market.
BTW: Last year, KFC owner Yum Brands opened a new restaurant around the world every two hours.
The world needs more women founders
Only ~10% of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs, which feels flat- out wrong. This Women’s History Month, learn about the women from around the world who are blazing a better path for us all.
HubSpot for Startups founders who are kicking ass and taking names:
Suneera Madhani’s old bosses snickered when she pitched a payment platform… so she built the billion-dollar business herself.
Dawn Dickson was the first Black woman to raise $1m in VC funding, which, of course, was just the warmup.
Sophie Winwood invests in Europe’s rising female founders, and also hosts events to unite women in VC.
Serene Cai is revolutionizing the health care industry in cities across Singapore and Malaysia.
Add this to their list of troubles: PimEyes, the controversial face-search engine that crawls the web to ostensibly help individuals monitor their online presence.
The facial scanner was found populating its database with images of the dead, perWired, scraping digital memorials from Ancestry.com without permission.
Creepy? Yes. Ethics and privacy fiasco? Also yes.
For PimEyes’ part, they say their raising-of-the-dead was unintentional, and that they have blocked their crawlers from Ancestry and deleted the images in question.
For everyone else’s part, it’s another major “yikes” added to the tally of AI’s ethical repercussions. PimEyes has already been on the radar of privacy advocates, who worry the face scans may be used to gather sensitive personal info without consent.
Watchdogs fear the tech — good enough to ID subjects wearing sunglasses and masks, and accessible to anyone with $21 — could also be used for nefarious purposes, from stalking to identity theft.
The Wild West of post-mortem privacy
This bizarre PimEyes story highlights how few hard-drawn limits exist for facial-recognition engines — and on the privacy of the deceased in general.
More regulations seem likely. Post-mortem privacy has increasingly factored into high-profile cases, and EU policies already bar pictures of dead people when they carry a privacy interest for the living.
Until the courts say otherwise, the only certainty here is PimEyes’ dominion over Haley Joel Osment as the most unsettling case of “I see dead people.”
AROUND THE WEB
⚖️ On this day: In 1964, nightclub owner Jack Ruby was sentenced to death for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, in the US’s first televised courtroom verdict.
🍞 Learn: The Hunger Museum is an online project that explores the politics, economics, and culture surrounding hunger in the US over the past century.