Controlling Supply Controls Demand: Yeezy and Supreme

  In 2014, Adidas announced the historical collaboration with Kanye West that brought “Yeezy Season” to fruition. Since then, every announcement of a new boot has led to social media crazes and weeks of the phrase “Sold Out” posted on the Adidas website. Consumers line up for days to get the newest Yeezy gear not because they want to be among the first to own the gear: they might just be some of the few that get to own it. The Yeezy line limits its production purposely, enabling it to charge relatively high prices and enjoy consumer demand that far outstrips supply. The Kanye-Adidas collaboration line starts at $210 (if you can get an item at a store). Since many people cannot get them, the “Adidas Yeezy Boost 750” has a resale value of $2,993, putting these shoes at an even higher price than the Kanye-Louis Vuitton collection of 2009. Chris Kyvetos, owner of a successful sneaker-shop in Australia, gives testimony to this incredible demand: “If you're a sneakerhead, then KEEP READING >>

Thinking About the New York Wage Hike

Exciting news for college students who fear their prospects in the job market: Governor Cuomo recently signed a budget bill that raises the minimum wage in New York City to $15 an hour by 2019. The campaign for a $15 wage started in New York City when 200 fast food workers walked away from their registers to protest their paltry wages in 2012. The workers’ campaign, known as Fast Food Forward, gained momentum by expanding their walk-out protests across the nation. Although these demands were met with incredulous disbelief, in the past four years, four major cities have enacted a $15 minimum wage and many have increased their wages toward that level. The path to 15 was sparked in cities like Seattle and Los Angeles, and now has moved beyond cities to state-wide legislation. California narrowly beat New York to be the first state to pass a minimum wage of $15 which will be phased in by 2022 for most businesses and 2023 for businesses with fewer than 26 employees. New York similarly KEEP READING >>

The Art Boom (Part 6)

Reportedly, in 2011, the nation of Qatar purchased Paul Cézanne’s painting “The Card Players” for more than $250 million from the estate of Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos in a private deal (Figure 1). As a result, “The Card Players” became the most expensive artwork sold in the world. Only four museums own versions of “The Card Players”: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Courtauld Institute in London, and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. With one expensive purchase, Qatar entered an exclusive circle of some of the most established cultural institutions in the world. Buyers of fine art traditionally hailed from Europe and the United States, but the current art market is marked by increased buyer interest from the rest of the world, as indicated by auction turnovers (Figure 5). As foreign millionaires run out of real estate properties and yachts to acquire, they turn to fine art. In 2007, buyers spending more than $500,000 at KEEP READING >>

The Art Boom (Part 5)

“Works of art, which represent the highest level of spiritual production, will find favor in the eyes of the bourgeois only if they are presented as being liable to directly generate material wealth.” - Karl Marx Acquisition of expensive contemporary art is often prompted by desire more than financial necessity, further restricting the market to the wealthy and protecting it from financial instability. During the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath, HNWIs in the United States, Europe, and around the world kept the art market bullish by putting money in the market in order to diversify their portfolios. According to the World Wealth Report in 2007, while wealthy people scaled back their “investments of passion,” the proportion of luxury spending on art increased as investors sought assets that would have value in the long term. In various studies of fine art as a financial instrument, it has proven to be a poor investment on the secondary market. Most art does not appreciate. KEEP READING >>

Let Computers See the World

“I want to do more.” This was a passionate and determined statement from Bofei He, the founder and CEO of Deep Glint. It is a computer vision startup in China that seeks to apply 3D computer vision technology to artificial intelligence and pattern recognition for industries such as surveillance and traffic control. While Deep Glint was recently founded in 2013, Bofei first envisioned starting his own company as early as almost ten years ago. In an interview with Global China Connection last year, Bofei explained that he encountered many possible opportunities in the past to join startups. Yet, he decided not to join those because he wanted to do something much more meaningful. He said, “I am committed to not merely starting an influential company, but founding a company that would leave a lasting impact on human history.” Story of Serendipity Bofei spent the early part of his career serving as the General Manager of two multinational corporations, Intuit and Blackhawk Network. In KEEP READING >>

The Art Boom (Part 4)

Because the demand for art is so exclusively centered on wealth, the art market was protected in the long term from the financial crisis because high net worth individuals were protected from the crisis. In fact, the richer got richer. In 2010, twenty-five American hedge fund managers earned over $25 billion while paying some of the lowest tax rates in the country. The art market is often said to be driven by four D’s: death, debt, divorce, and discretionary selling. In the face of waning confidence in the economy, potential sellers with no urgent need to sell fine art did not sell in 2008 and 2009. Furthermore, the recession prompted an aversion to wealth, both for security and a fear of appearing wealthy in a time of public crisis. According to The World Wealth Report by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch, HNWIs scaled back on “investments of passion,” such as yachts, jets, cars, and jewelry. The drop in asset prices also prompted the reverse of the “wealth effect.” When the economy is KEEP READING >>

ZEUSÉ: A Perfect Blend of Fashion and Wireless Charging Technology

As soon as Zhe Wang placed my phone into the Vivienne Tam pouch that had recently made its début in New York Fashion Week, the LED lights behind the pouch’s golden plated edge started fading in and out as if they were breathing. The next thing I knew my dying phone was already charging. This is not the first time that Vivienne Tam is cooperating with tech companies to merge fashion and technology. She has always had a keen eye for evolutionary technologies as a designer; some of her previous partners include world famous companies such as, HP, Lenovo, and Beats. But this time, Vivienne Tam has chosen to work with a small Chinese startup consisting of only ten people. What’s the story behind this startup that had fascinated her as well as leading angel investors in China? Zhe Wang is the co-founder of ZEUSÉ, a company that aspires to bring a new wireless-charging era to the global community. After studying Electric Engineering at Tsinghua University, Zhe Wang developed a passion in KEEP READING >>

The Art Boom (Part 3)

The art market bull run was epitomized by the two-day auction of 56 works by conceptual artist Damien Hirst at Sotheby’s in London on September 15, 2008, the same day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in New York. As the financial system began its collapse, the sale, titled “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever,” fetched more than £111 million ($198 million), a record for a single artist at auction. After the financial collapse unfolded on Wall Street and around the world, the Federal Reserve warned of recession in the United States while the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicted that Great Britain may face a ten percent fall in houses prices and 200,000 job losses. As the credit crunch spread from banks to hedge funds to the real estate market to the streets, auction houses, which relied heavily on guarantees during the art boom, feared that the usually optimistic climate in the art market would take a turn for the worst. When confidence fell, KEEP READING >>

The Changing Economics of the Music Industry

Beginning with Napster, a popular file sharing and illegal music download platform, online music sharing and digital music have changed the business model of the industry. The Chairman of the Universal Music Lucian Grainge believes that the new form of music distribution caused a “14-year, 50% decline in U.S. record sales.” [1] Then when iTunes was first introduced, customers could purchase just one song instead of an entire album.a 4.9% decrease in music sales, year-over-year. After years of combatting music piracy, the music industry has gradually adopted new revenue-generating streaming services. These new models include free-without-advertisement, free-with-advertisement, trial, and paid music streaming services. Regardless of the type of model, artists are paid per stream. How much are they making? According to Rolling Stone, on Spotify an artist is paid $0.006 to $0.008 per stream, while says it could be as low as $0.005. According to, KEEP READING >>

The Art Boom (Part 2)

Auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s are one of only two commercial enterprises in the world whose sales results are reported in the major news media regardless of the importance or interest of the items on those sales. The other enterprise is the stock exchange. - Don Thompson, author In the high-end secondary sale art market, contemporary art is intriguing because of its sheer volume and profitability. About half of transactions, and a large proportion of secondary sales, in the art market are conducted by public auctions, which are controlled by the duopoly of Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The other half of art transactions goes through galleries and private transactions. Modern art, defined loosely as art created between 1860 and 1970, exhibited strong demand in 2011 auction sales, with 164,000 works sold worldwide – a record for the decade. These sales brought in total revenue of over $6 billion and represented 52 percent of global art auction revenue. Contemporary art, defined KEEP READING >>