Several days ago on this web site there was an article regarding The Melbourne Cup. I had to see it for myself so on Saturday I attended Derby Day. Here are a few thoughts I would like to share:

Happy but Out of Pocket
Before the Carnival, I guessed the services would be overpriced. So I budgeted by placing only one Australian $50 bill in my pocket. I promised myself that I would not place bets on horses as I know nothing about racing. I kept this promise. The price structure of the complementary goods of gambling and alcohol was impressive, or dangerous is probably a better word. Champagne was ridiculously overpriced, while beer was much more affordable. It is my opinion that the beer priced at $6 had two purposes: to get patrons intoxicated so they would gamble more and to squeeze the last coins out of the unlucky pockets of losers. The small plastic bottles of champagne sold for $30 were effective in reclaiming money from any lucky winners.

The Grace Equilibrium
Everyone puts on their most beautiful outfit for the races. For men it’s simple. I only spent a minute donning my olive green Italian suit. Girls on the other hand, have been planning, shopping and using their creativity for weeks to come up with the most gorgeous dresses and graceful hair pieces they can find. I have never seen so many eye-catching combinations of colors, shapes, flowers and feathers. I wonder why hair decorations are so rare in today’s daily society. Since almost no one wears them daily, an individual woman would feel silly sporting one. However, if women wore these decorations daily they would collectively be more graceful. Maybe a small spark (designers, stars, wake up!) is all that’s needed? Tons of money could be made on decorations and designer hats if incorporated into daily fashion.

The Opposite Seasons
We are the first generation that can relatively easily cut down the four seasons in a year to just two. By having one home in each hemisphere, one can have twice as many friends and can experience the magic of spring and comforts of summer twice as often. For business this becomes a problem however. In most industries moving all staff members twice a year would be impractical. But I do see an opportunity here for some firms, especially small firms with young (childless) employees doing online business. Possibly a good way to attract the brightest minds without paying the highest salary? Offering a country swap and endless sun? I think this opportunity exists as long as there is an asymmetry between the number of firms operating this way and the fraction of people who would suit this unique lifestyle.

Craig Mee replies:

Just a quick reminder, Australia’s biggest horse race, “The Melbourne Cup”, is November 7. In 17 of the past 22 (and 11 of the last 11) years the Australian share market has closer high on the day. The average gain has been close to double the average loss. The effect on human emotion and share buying in the midst of one of the happiest days during the year in Australia cannot be under-estimated.





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