Daylight Saving Time Is Bad for Your Health
Daylight saving time is about to start, and an interesting thing that you might not realize is how such a small shift in our time can have a large impact on our body clock and our health. These negative impacts of daylight saving time even cost us real money in lost productivity.
DST starts at 2 a.m. (the clock gets turned forward to 3 a.m.) on the second Sunday in March and ends at 2 a.m. (the clock gets turned back to 1 a.m.) on the first Sunday of November. That means our clocks spring forward an hour this Sunday, March 9. This is the "bad" time change, since it means we lose an hour of sleep over night.
It was enacted during World War I to decrease energy use. Benjamin Franklin first advocated for the practice in 1784 because he noticed that people used candles at night and slept past dawn in the mornings. By shifting time by an hour during the summer, they would burn fewer candles and not sleep through the morning sunlight.
The debate still rages as to whether this time-switch does save energy, but along the way we've seen signs that it has negative effects on our health and the economy.
Surprising Health Impacts
Transitions associated with the start and end of DST disturb sleep patterns and make people restless at night, which results in sleepiness the next day. This is true even during a "fall back" period, since when we fall back, we might have trouble adjusting to going to sleep "later" after the time change.
One pretty obvious study in Neuroscience Letters found that when people were transitioning their schedules after "springing forward," the quality of their sleep decreased and they slept an average of an hour less per night.
The resulting sleepiness leads to a loss of productivity and an increase in "cyberloafing," in which people muck around more on the computer instead of working. That finding was from a 2012 report in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
During the first week of DST (in the late winter) there's a spike in heart attacks, according to a study in the American Journal of Cardiology (and other previous studies). That's because losing an hour of sleep increases stress and provides less time to recover overnight. The opposite is true when we gain an extra hour of sleep. The end of daylight saving time causes a decrease in heart attacks.
Deadly car crashes decrease during DST (the spring, summer, and fall), because it's more likely to be light out when there are more people on the road, for example going to and returning from work or school.
But that's not likely true on the Monday after DST starts. Groggy people driving in the dark are more prone to accidents. Getting some extra sun in the morning, going to sleep earlier, or sleeping in slightly could help.
Research has found that having DST all year round could decrease deaths from traffic accidents even more—saving up to 366 lives, according to a 2004 study in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.
Accidents at work happen more often and are more severe after springing forward, according to a study of miners published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2009.
A study published in 2008 in the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms found an uptick in suicides in Australian men during the first weeks after daylight saving time.
There may be cognitive effects as well. A 2011 study in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics found that students in counties where DST was observed had SAT scores that were 2 percent lower than those of students who didn't have to spring forward or fall back.
How DST Gets Us Down
The impacts of DST are likely related to our body's internal circadian rhythm, the still-slightly-mysterious molecular cycles that regulate when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy, as well as our hunger and hormone production schedules.
Light dictates how much melatonin our bodies produce. When it's bright out, we make less. When it's dark, our body ramps up synthesis of this sleep-inducing substance. Just like how jet lag makes you feel all out of whack, daylight saving time is similar to scooting one time zone over for a few months.
The problems with DST are the worst in the spring, when we've all just lost one hour of sleep. The sun rises later, making it more difficult to wake in the morning. This is because we reset our natural clocks using the light. When out of nowhere (at least to our bodies) these cues change, it causes major confusion.
Like anytime you lose sleep, springing forward causes decreases in performance, concentration, and memory common to sleep-deprived individuals, as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
Night owls are more bothered by the time changes than morning people. For some, it can take up to three weeks to recover from the sleep schedule changes, according to a 2009 study in the journal Sleep Medicine. For others, it may only take a day to adjust to this new schedule.
That's Not All
All of these impacts have economic costs too. An index from Chmura Economics & Analytics, released in 2013, suggests that the cost could be up to $434 million in the U.S. alone. That's an estimated total of all of the health effects and lost productivity mentioned above.
Other calculations suggest this cost could be up to $2 billion—just from the 10 minutes twice a year that it takes for every person in the U.S. to change their clocks. (If you calculate 10 minutes per household instead of per person this "opportunity cost" is only $1 billion.)
The Real Satoshi May Have Just Surfaced to Deny the Newsweek Report
Last night, Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto told the AP that he is not the Satoshi Nakamoto listed as the creator of bitcoin.
That is contrary to a Newsweek cover story reported by Leah McGrath Goodman, along with at least two forensic analysts, arguing that he is. Now, the "real Satoshi" may have surfaced to further confirm he is not Dorian Nakamoto.
Last night, a social network account known to have been used by the Satoshi credited with bitcoin suddenly came alive after nearly five years of dormancy (by the user himself). Here is what was written:
The social network is called Ning, and it's used on the Peer2Peer Foundation's site.
Josef Davies-Coates, the creator of Ning, confirmed that whoever has access to the Satoshi account there uses the same email address listed on the original Bitcoin spec paper.
Newsweek and McGrath Goodman continue to assert that Dorian Nakamoto is the Satoshi of bitcoin, telling CBS This Morning on Friday, "with me he definitely acknowledged bitcoin."
It remains possible Dorian Nakamoto could be the person with access to the account, and is just confusing everyone.
See also: BI's Interview With Leah McGrath Goodman
Goldman Sachs Elevator Has Lost His Book Deal
To everyone eagerly awaiting the Goldman Sachs elevator book, Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance and Excess in the World of Investment Banking, our sincerest apologies.
Simon and Schuster has canceled its deal with former Citi banker John LeFevre. He was notified today via email.
"It's just a comical mystery to me," LeFevre told Business Insider. "As of Friday afternoon, after all of the noise—during which Simon & Schuster prohibited me from responding and defending myself—they have continued to support me and stand by our project. Well, until today apparently."
A statement from Simon and Schuster given to Business Insider says: "In light of information that has recently come to our attention since acquiring John Lefevre's STRAIGHT TO HELL, Touchstone has decided to cancel its publication of this work."
Since LeFevre's identity was reported by Dealbook's Andrew Ross Sorkin, publications from Gawker to New York magazine have questioned his credibility. New York magazine played with the idea that LeFevre was not acting alone while Gawker accused him of out and out plagiarism.
So Lefevre took to the internet to defend himself.
"We always counted on my identity being revealed and we were confident that it would lend credibility and support to my story and vantage point. And my publisher had been vocal in supporting me after I was outed. So today it's quite surprising to see them walk away from a contractual obligation."
LeFevre is confident that the show will go on and that new opportunities await.
"This doesn't change anything for me," LeFevre continued. "In the immortal words of Carl Fox, 'money is only something you need if you don't die tomorrow.' Since I have been able to respond, my credibility has only increased. I have been asked to write a regular column for two of the most prestigious capital markets publications, in addition to being an on-record source regarding the new investigation into fixed income allocation practices at Goldman Sachs and other firms."
So this isn't the end of the tweeting, the storytelling, or the satire. That will remain the same. What's new is that there's a guy walking the earth that signed contracts with both Goldman Sachs and Simon and Schuster ... and lost money on them both (for now).
Gates Is $9 Billion Richer Than Last Year, But Only Partly From Microsoft
Bill Gates has been the richest man in the world for 15 out of the past 20 years. Even though he's given an astounding $38 billion to his charitable foundation, he keeps getting richer every year.
As of March 2014, Gates is worth $76 billion, according to Forbes' annual list of billionaires. That's $9 billion more than a year ago and $4 billion more than six months ago.
His net worth has been helped by an uptick in Microsoft's share price (up by about $10 a share since last March), but Microsoft isn't the source of most of his money, and hasn't been for a while. Microsoft accounts for less than one-fifth of his total net worth, according to Bloomberg's Billionaire Index.
Most of his wealth comes from his investment company, Cascade Investment. It owns stakes in Canadian National Railway, Berkshire Hathaway, Deere & Co., Liberty Global, Waste Management, and other firms, according to forms filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Over the past 10 years, Gates has sold off a large chunk of his Microsoft stake, about 80 million shares, reports Computerworld's Gregg Keizer. Specifically, in September 2004, Gates had 1.1 billion shares of Microsoft. As of his last trades in February, he owned 337,991,164 shares, according to Yahoo's Insider Trading site (based on forms filed with the SEC).
He still owns more than a 4 percent stake of Microsoft and is still the company's single largest shareholder, according to Bloomberg. But if Gates continues to sell Microsoft shares at the same rate and doesn't acquire more, by 2015 for the first time in the company's history, that could change. Steve Ballmer could become the company's largest stakeholder.
In 2013, Gates sold 43,000,000 shares of Microsoft (although he also acquired a few, 5,554), according to Insider Trading records. Ballmer currently holds 333,252,990 shares now, according to SEC forms, and hasn't sold any in years. That's just 47,38,174 shares fewer than Gates.
Chipotle Isn't Going to Stop Serving Guacamole
Don't panic about reports that climate change could threaten guacamole at Chipotle.
Emily Atkin at ThinkProgress noted Tuesday that the company's latest annual report discloses that guacamole and salsas could become too expensive for the company to sell if climate change starts to affect certain crops.
But people are misunderstanding the report—and the company assures us that guacamole is not going away anytime soon.
"This is strictly routine 'risk factor' language as part of the annual financial disclosure," a Chipotle spokesman told us in an email.
Chipotle notes climate change as one of the "risks related to operating in the restaurant industry" in the report, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.Risks like labor costs, food-borne illnesses, and competition from other businesses are also mentioned by Chipotle. Public companies are legally required to disclose these risks in SEC reports. In other words, this would be like writing a story saying that eating Chipotle could give you food poisoning.
Here's what Chipotle had to say about climate change in the report:
Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients. In the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients.
The company temporarily suspended selling antibiotic-free steak in some restaurants earlier this year because of a shortage.
Here’s the Story About the Economy That Liberals Don't Want to Hear
For the most part, the "left" has been on the correct side of all the big economic policy debates since the economic crisis hit.
Inflation has not been an issue at all, meriting exceptionally aggressive Fed policy.
The public debt has also not been an issue at all, and attempts to cut spending have been completely counterproductive and damaging to the short and long-term health of the economy.
Liberals were on the correct side of these debates. Conservatives were, by and large, not. You can get into debates about other issues (taxation, health care policy, trade, etc.) but the two issues above—inflation and debt—were the real biggies.
But times change, and a gap is starting to grow between the liberal view of things, and how economists are seeing things. This is most evident in the view of the labor market. The liberal view is that there's tons of room for the Fed to be more aggressive in the pursuit of full employment.
Meanwhile, economists are starting to come to the conclusion that the job market is not far from being "tight." More specifically, the view among more and more economists is that the headline unemployment rate (which is currently at 6.6 percent) is a fairly accurate gauge of the job market and that various measures of long-term unemployment (and labor force participation) tell us very little.
The New York Fed recently published a study, for example, that showed that short-term, not long-term unemployment, is the best thing to look at if you want to predict wage growth. In other words, if you want to know if the job market is tight enough to induce a rise in worker wages, the best input is short-term unemployment. The large numbers of long-term unemployment don't seem to have a big depressant effect on wages.
Evan Soltas posted this chart Saturday, showing the relationship between the headline unemployment rate (also known as U-3) and the rate at which workers quit their jobs. Workers quitting their jobs at a higher rate is a good sign, since it's an expression of confidence. When the economy is bad, workers don't quit their jobs. What the chart shows is that the relationship between unemployment rate and quit rates has remained steady, suggesting that it's the headline unemployment rate (not long-term unemployment) that best captures the state of the workforce.
Up until recently, the left was very much in step with where the mainstream of economics was (more easing, wherever you can get it). But daylight between the two is emerging. Economists are increasingly talking about a tightish job market.
As the unemployment rate continues to fall, Fed Chair Janet Yellen is going to face increasing pressure to tighten money before inflation starts to creep up. This would be a tremendous mistake, and the left must mobilize against it.
The view from the left is basically: Even if the labor market is getting tight (which they deny), the Fed should press hard on the gas pedal, so that employers start to employ the long-term unemployed. And that might be the proper path, and if there's anyone who has the stomach to engage in the strategy, it's probably Janet Yellen.
Meanwhile, the view of more and more people in the economics sphere is that the job market is getting tight, and there's little more the Fed can do.
How Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine Already Cost Russia $10 Billion
The Central Bank of Russia has been forced to intervene in the foreign exchange market today to stem the decline of the Russian ruble, which tanked Monday following an escalation of military tensions on the border between Ukraine and Russia over the weekend.
According to a trader at ING cited by Bloomberg News, the central bank sold more than $10 billion of its dollar reserves this morning in exchange for rubles in the open market in order to prop up the value of the ruble. The IMF estimates that at the end of January, Russia's stock of foreign reserves totaled $457.2 billion.
Basically, when a central bank wants to prop up its currency, it dips into its foreign exchange cash pile and buys its own currency on the open market. The central bank also unexpectedly hiked its key benchmark policy interest rate to 7 percent from 5.5 percent in an effort to stem the ruble's decline.
The dollar is still up 1.4 percent today against the ruble, but the Russian currency has pared losses from earlier this morning when the dollar was up even more. The latest decline in the ruble on the back of escalating military tensions pushes the ruble into territory that the Central Bank of Russia can no longer ignore, given its effect on inflation.
See also: Wall Street's Take on Ukraine
What Frank Underwood Doesn't Get About How Treasury Auctions Work
There is a lot of confusion surrounding China and its role as a holder of U.S. government debt.
An exchange at the beginning of episode 6 of the second season of House of Cards provides a perfect illustration of this. In the show, members of the presidential administration are discussing which tack to take with China, and the president suggests playing hardball.
"If China doesn't show at the refunding auction, long-term interest rates will spike!" warns someone at the table—ostensibly the treasury secretary.
"And in a week, yields on our 10-year notes will pierce the 7 percent threshold," chimes in Frank Underwood (the show's main character, portrayed by Kevin Spacey). "That could happen."
You've probably heard this before in American political discourse. There's this idea that if China decides to stop buying U.S. government bonds, the U.S. Treasury will have a failed auction and bond yields will surge. There are two big problems with this: First, there is a system of primary dealers in place to make sure that failed auctions won't happen, and second, China's holdings of U.S. Treasuries are not some sort of "leverage" that the Chinese government holds over the U.S. government.
On the contrary, China's Treasury holdings are a function of its foreign exchange reserve accumulation.
As other countries buy Chinese goods with dollars—the primary currency of international trade—it puts upward pressure on the Chinese renminbi. China's central bank accumulates dollar reserves to counter this upward pressure, and it holds those dollar reserves in U.S. Treasuries in order to garner interest.
China's foreign reserves continue to rise, so it is in no position to "dump U.S. debt," as politicians sometime like to claim it will. It is true that its central bank has begun to allocate away from Treasuries as a percentage of its reserve portfolio, but this is the sort of thing that must be done over time.
So when you hear politicians engaging in fear-mongering over China's holdings of U.S. government bonds, remember that it's complete nonsense.
Why SEC Employees Are Freakishly Good Stock Traders
Two academics from the University of Virgina got a hold of the trading records of SEC employees—then they built a mock hedge fund to see how it would do. The results are all in a paper presented at UVA's Darden School of Business.
The academics, Emory University professor Shivaram Rajgopal and Georgia State University accounting Ph.D. candidate Roger M. White found that SEC employees tend to sell a company's stock before the SEC takes enforcement action against the company.
The result, they wrote, were abnormal returns of about 4 percent for the market in general, and about 8.5 percent for the U.S. stock market. That's significant. While an SEC employees' stock purchases are normal, their stock "sales appear to systematically dodge the revelation of bad news in the future," according to the paper's findings.
Check out the table below. It shows that 60 days before an enforcement action, when the market is selling at a rate of about 50 percent, SEC employees are selling at a rate of 71 percent. The SEC employee rate of sales increases as the enforcement action approaches, while the wider market's pretty much stays the same.
Rajgopal and White specifically found a high volume of SEC employee sales from 2010 to 2011 before enforcement action in Bank of America, General Electric, Citigroup, Johnson and Johnson, and JP Morgan.
This information was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and the identities of specific SEC employees that traded on this information is unknown. In fact, this kind of information wasn't even recorded until 2009, when a new rule required SEC employees to get clearance from an ethics committee before stock trades.
In a statement to the Washington Post, the SEC said that this can all be explained. Before an employee works on a case, they must divest themselves from any interest in the company. So it makes sense that employees sell their stock in a company before enforcement action. It just happens to also be profitable.
Under House Arrest, This "Bitcoin Millionaire" Is Basically Drinking and Watching Netflix
Charlie Shrem, the 24-year-old CEO of BitInstant who was charged with money laundering criminals' bitcoins on Silk Road recently, described what he's doing now that he's under house arrest and cannot leave home without a judge's permission: Drinking and watching Netflix are two of his activities, he tells CoinDesk.
Shrem cannot leave his parents' house in New York without court permission 48 hours ahead of time: “I can’t go anywhere. It sucks,” he says.
"My friends are here a lot and I’m getting a lot of free stuff. People are sending me a lot of alcohol gifts, which is good. I’m trying to make the best of it – I’m learning some new languages, I’m working out a lot every day and watching Netflix – a lot. Just trying to keeping my spirits up,"
"I’m just trying to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in the space. My brain is here for the picking and a lot of people are calling me to see what I think about their business and I’m brutally honest with them,” Shrem explained, adding:
“Just bring me a six-pack and I’m yours for an hour.”
Shrem also makes the case that BitInstant—which enables people to transfer money to bitcoin exchange accounts—was actually several steps removed from Silk Road, the anonymous website where criminals traded bitcoins for drugs.