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United Airlines: Visualizing the Numbers Behind the Crisis

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The people in Pepsi’s marketing and PR departments must be relieved, because the internet’s viral outrage is finally being channeled in a different direction.

This time the fury is targeted towards United Airlines – a brand that is in full-blown crisis mode after a bloodied passenger was forcibly dragged off a plane, and millions of people witnessed videos of the incident being spread over social media.

Two days into the crisis, here are some charts that will help give context around what happened, as well as the potential effect on the United brand itself.

Damage Done?

First, let’s take a look at what’s happened to United’s stock price since the incident:

United's Stock Price

While some public relations crises have minimal effects on the long-term financial performance of companies, this market reaction is an interesting gauge to consider.

The stock’s lowest point today was -4.3% below the open, which is equal to a nearly $1 billion loss in market capitalization. At that point, it was speculated that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which owns 9% of all outstanding shares of United Continental Holdings Inc., could lose up to $87 million.

The market clearly saw the crisis as creating risk around United’s fundamental business, but the stock has mostly recovered since those intraday lows. That said, if there are reports of top line revenue being affected because of boycotts or other issues, then the incident’s impact on the stock price could easily re-surface.

Social Media Blowback

With today’s interconnected world, a public relations crisis can start with one tweet. Here’s the snowball effect in brand mentions of United that occurred on April 10th:

Brand Mentions on April 10th for United Airlines

Courtesy of: Brandwatch

Here’s another look. This time, it’s a comparison of mentions over the last 21 days.

Brand Mentions over last 21 days for United Airlines

Courtesy of: Brandwatch

Yes, it’s only been about two weeks since United’s last PR crisis, called #LeggingsGate. As you can see, however, the most recent disaster is many times worse in terms of mentions.

With millions of references to the United Airlines brand occurring on social media, here is the split between positive and negative sentiment as of April 10th::

Positive and Negative sentiment for United Airlines

Courtesy of: Brandwatch

Denied Boarding Rates

But how big of a problem is making passengers deboard a plane, in the first place?

The next chart shows denied boarding rates, inclusive of voluntary and involuntary activity, from January to September 2016:

Total Denied Boardings

Data: U.S. Dept of Transportation

United and Delta are the two worst offenders here, with denied boarding rates that are worse than American, Virgin, Alaska, JetBlue, or Southwest.

Lastly, here’s the same figures, except contrasting voluntary vs. involuntary denied boarding rates from January to September 2016:

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Denied Boardings

Data: U.S. Dept of Transportation

Southwest and ExpressJet lead the way with the most involuntary denied boardings, and United Airlines is in the middle of the pack. However, in terms of voluntary denied boardings, United and Delta have much higher rates than other major airlines such as American or Virgin.

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Markets

40 Stock Market Terms That Every Beginner Should Know

Getting a grasp on the market can be a daunting task for new investors, but this infographic is an easy first step to help in understanding stock market terms.

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40 Stock Market Terms That Every Beginner Should Know

Understanding the stock market can be a daunting task for any new investor.

Not only are there many concepts and technical terms to decipher, but nearly everybody will try to give you conflicting pieces of advice.

For example, if a stock in your portfolio falls in price, should you be accumulating additional shares at a lower price or should you be strategically cutting your losses?

Some experts will tell you one thing, while others will tell you precisely the opposite.

A Place to Start: Terminology

Before you drift into the many debates that the investing pundits are weighing in on, perhaps the most proactive step for a beginner is to simply learn to talk the same language as the pros.

Today’s infographic comes to us from StocksToTrade.com, and it covers the most important stock market terms that every new investor should know and understand. It’s enough to get any beginner on the same playing field, so they can start toying with the more nuanced or complex concepts in the investing universe.

While we don’t agree with the exact definitions of all of the terms, the list is adequate enough to get any new investor off the ground. It covers basic order terms like “bid”, “ask”, and “volume”, but it also goes into concepts like “authorized shares”, “secondary offerings”, “yield”, and a security’s “moving average”.

What’s Next?

Already got a handle on 40 of the most important stock market terms?

Visual Capitalist has a ton of other powerful visual resources for new investors, or anyone else hungry to learn about how markets work:

Crush the above resources, and you’ll be market savvy in no time!

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Gold

A Brief History of Jewelry Through the Ages

Jewelry has been coveted for centuries by many different cultures. Here’s a look at the history of jewelry, and how it’s evolved into a $348B industry.

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Jewelry has been an integral aspect of human civilization for centuries, but it was the discovery and subsequent spread of precious metals and gemstones which really changed the game.

In today’s infographic from Menē, we visualize how the uses and symbolism of jewelry have evolved across time and space to become the industry we’re familiar with today.

Antique, Yet Ageless

There isn’t a single corner of the world that’s untouched by the influence of jewelry.

  • Ancient Egypt
    Gold accompanied the affluent into the afterlife – the famous 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb was filled to the brim with gold jewelry.
  • Ancient Greece and Rome
    Jewelry was used practically, and as a protection against evil. The gold olive wreath design was highly popular during this time.
  • Mesopotamia
    Both men and women in the Sumer civilization wore intricate pieces of jewelry, incorporating bright gems like agate, jasper, or lapis lazuli.
  • Meso-America
    The aristocracy in Aztec culture wore gold jewelry with gemstones to demonstrate their rank. The jewelry also doubled up as godly sacrifices.
  • Ancient India
    The Mughal Empire introduced the combination of gemstones with gold and silver. Today, pure gold jewelry is often gifted to new brides for financial security.
  • Ancient China
    Both rich and poor wore jade jewelry for its durable and protective properties. Pure gold jewelry is making a fashion comeback, doubling as a form of investment.

Modern Jewelry: At a Crossroads

Today, jewelry is at once the very same and vastly different from what it used to be.

The industry is worth upwards of $348 billion per year, and it’s not hard to see why. As an alternative asset, jewelry has grown 138% in value over the last decade – only outperformed by classic cars, rare coins, and fine wine.

However, perceptions of jewelry vastly differ. It’s not a stretch to say that Western jewelry buyers are enamored with diamonds, given their enduring association with special occasions – but it’s interesting to note how that ideal was fabricated.

The Invention of Diamonds

The De Beers Group is well known for making diamonds great again. In the early 1900s, the company had already monopolized the diamond trade and stabilized the market, but they faced the challenge of marketing diamonds to consumers at all income levels.

The average American considered diamonds an extravagance, preferring to spend money on cars and appliances instead. The concept of engagement rings existed, but weren’t widely adopted. The #1 slogan of the century – “A Diamond is Forever” – transformed all that.

Even as more companies like Tiffany and Co and Cartier entered the playing field, De Beers had set a successful industry standard. But there’s a catch – diamonds are actually:

  • Not all that rare in nature
  • Intrinsically low in value
  • Easily replicated in a lab
  • Decreasing in sales

Despite these caveats, the popularity of diamonds illustrate how Western consumers do not approach jewelry in the same way as Eastern economies, where its function as a store of wealth persists.

The Eastern Gold Standard

In Eastern economies, jewelry often takes the form of pure gold. The reasons behind this difference are surprisingly pragmatic: gold is considered a secure and innate store of wealth that maintains its purchasing value over decades, allowing families to pass wealth from generation to generation.

The rich history of the precious metal has made it a sought-after commodity for centuries, and China and India drive more than half of global gold jewelry demand every year:

YearShare of Demand (India + China)Total Global Jewelry Demand (tonnes)
201457%2510 tonnes
201558%2426 tonnes
201655%2068 tonnes
201757%2201 tonnes
201858%2200 tonnes

Source: Gold Hub – Values have been rounded up to the nearest tonne.

Why are Eastern cultures so attracted to the properties of pure gold?

Part 2 of this series will show why gold is the world’s most incredible metal, and why it’s coveted by billions of people.

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