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Starbucked, Tourism of Doom and Venezuelan capitalists December 16, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in assorted, economics, humor, videos.

Starbucks chariman Howard Schultz to Larry King in a 1997 interview.

“People weren’t drinking coffee. … So the question is, How could a company create retail stores where coffee was not previously sold, … charge three times more for it than the local doughnut shop, put Italian names on it that no one can pronounce, and then have six million customers a week coming through the stores?”

The article is PJ Rourke’s review of a new book by Taylor Clark titled “STARBUCKED: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture.” Himself an author, Rourke is known for his witty style (one of his books titled : “Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics”), something that is on display here. .

Clark talks a lot about the determination, drive and persistence of the Starbucks Corporation. But if those were the sole qualities of success, toddlers would rule the world. Clark makes much of Starbucks’s discovery that it could put one store close to another and both could thrive. But you can line a street with fire hydrants and dogs will use them all; that’s not necessarily a recipe for wealth, especially if you try to charge the dogs.


Times on the emerging trend of “Tourism of Doom” from Ken Shapiro, the editor in chief of a travel magazine.

From the tropics to the ice fields, doom is big business. Quark Expeditions, a leader in arctic travel, doubled capacity for its 2008 season of trips to the northern and southernmost reaches of the planet. Travel agents report clients are increasingly requesting trips to see the melting glaciers of Patagonia, the threatened coral of the Great Barrier Reef, and the eroding atolls of the Maldives, Mr. Shapiro said.

To borrow from Tyler Cowen, lets call this Markets in Doom ! (No pun certainly)

“It’s not just about going to an exotic place, it’s about going someplace they expect will be gone in a generation.


In the annals of “Do as I preach, not as I do.”


A video of a Gucci- and Louis Vuitton-clad politician attacking capitalism then struggling to explain how his luxurious clothes square with his socialist beliefs has become an instant YouTube hit in Venezuela.

The video is here ; truly these are time when I really wish I knew Spanish.

Despite the best efforts of left-wing President Hugo Chavez to instill austere socialist values in its people, the oil-rich South American nation remains attached to consumerism. Riding a boom in oil prices, middle-class and wealthy Venezuelans are on a spending spree, guzzling fine whiskies and snapping up luxury cars. Poorer Venezuelans also have benefited, with subsidies driving a spike in demand for basic products.

See resource curse.



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