Welcome to Wednesday, money nerds, and welcome to another edition of Apex Money.
A few weeks ago, I shared a video about how airlines quietly became banks. Well, I recently discovered an old article (from August 2019) about how Starbucks has done something similar.
Starbucks, financial superpower. [Moneyness] — “Stored value card liabilities are the money that you, oh loyal Starbucks customer, use to buy coffee. What you might not realize is that these balances simultaneously function as a loan to Starbucks. Starbucks doesn’t pay any interest on balances held in the Starbucks app or gift cards. You, the loyal customer, are providing the company with free debt.”
Translation: Starbucks customers have purchased more than $1.6 billion in gift cards. This amount is, effectively, an interest-free loan to the company shared by many millions of people. The company is free to use this free cash to generate greater returns by investing it. Crazy!
“Should I be worried if I get a letter from the I.R.S.?” [The Military Wallet] — “Most IRS letters are not a crisis. If action is needed, you typically have time to deal with the issue. The IRS does try to work with taxpayers to find reasonable solutions.”
How to cure yourself of investing FOMO. [Wallet Hacks] — “FOMO, whether investing or otherwise, relies on a cognitive bias known as scarcity. We assume that when things are scarce, they are more valuable (gold has value strictly because it’s scarce!). We may, and often do, make bad decisions when influenced by this scarcity bias.”
Today’s video features is all about science! Here’s a 17-minute YouTube clip from the Veritasium channel that looks at the longest-running evolution experiment in the world. For 33 years, researchers at Michigan State University have been evolving E. coli bacteria at a rate of six or seven generations per day. They’ve now had the equivalent of nearly two million years of human lifespan. How have they changed?
I love this stuff. It makes me feel small, but it makes the universe seem even more wondrous. Yay! (More about this experiment here.)
Okay, that’s all for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more interesting links for your edification. See you then…