Maybe it’s the 70 degree weather heat wave taking over the city of Chicago in November ???, but whatever it is – we’re in a better than usual mood today. Combine that with some interesting stats that came across our desk this morning, and we decided to take a quick look at some things that might just make you think twice about geography, history, retirement, wealth, lotteries, and technology (and Star Wars…of course).

The Lottery:

Against everyone’s better judgement, we still all think that buying a lotto ticket is a good idea, especially when the numbers get big. Our grandmas still put them in our stocking for Christmas every year, and we never win, questioning how much more money would we have if they just gave us that money instead. Still it was a little shocking to us when we recently read that Americans spend $70 Billion a year on state lotteries…

Last year, Americans spent more than $70 billion on state-run lotteries. To put that into context, that’s more money than Americans spent on sports tickets, books, video games, movie tickets and music plus all of the apps, games and programs bought from Apple’s iTunes App Store — combined. 

To put that into context, that’s about 0.4% of the America’s GDP. This shouldn’t be too much of a shock as 44 states currently have state lotteries. We’ve mentioned before how truly impossible it is to actually win these high number lottery games. What’s alarming is these state lotteries are supposed to be going towards funding education, but as John Oliver reports on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” those funds aren’t be allocated to the right place.

Geography:

If you’re into maps and geography as much we are, you’ll love BAML’s recent look at economics, tourism, and more using maps. Our favorite? All of the continents plus Greenland would fit inside of the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific OceanSource: Bank of Merrill Lynch

Star Wars is worth $28 Billion and Counting…

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, taking into effect movie ticket sales, DVD, VHS, toys, books, video games, and costume sales, the Star Wars total franchise revenue streamcurrently stands at $28 Billion. For those of you who don’t live in Chicago, there’s a George Lucas Museum approved to be built near Soldier Field, and we’re not sure if that will count as part of the revenue stream or not, but if the answer is yes, expect that number to grow exponentially.

P.S. – That $28 Billion does account for the $48 Million made during the First 48 Hour Ticket Presale for upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens. You can geek out to the trailer here:

Bill Gates Wealth:

For 16 of the past 21 years, the man that helped make Microsoft what it is today, Bill Gates, has been the richest person on the planet. According the Forbes, his current wealth is sitting at a humbling $79.2 Billion dollars. Is it just us or is it weird that Gates wealth is eerily similar to the amount of money Americans spend on the lottery each year? Gates’ wealth is more than Donald Trump’s and Mark Zuckerberg’s combined. Gates’ wealth is well outside the bell curve of standard deviation of wealth of the average person. We tried to pinpoint just how outlier his wealth status was back in 2012, when his wealth was a mere $54 Billion.

Take the distribution of wealth as compared to the distribution of human height as an example. Consider that the tallest human ever recorded was 8’ 11”, or about 1.6 times the average, and 10 standard deviations outside of the average.

Now consider Bill Gates and his net worth of about $54 Billion. How tall do you think a person would have to be so that they are as much over the average in height, as Bill Gates is over the average in wealth? 10ft tall? 50? 1000?  Would you believe 1.6 million feet, or 303 miles, tall… which is about the length of Lake Michigan.  That is how much greater Bill Gates’ wealth is than the average American. He should literally not exist in a world which is normally distributed, being thousands of standard deviations above the average. But he does exist, and those $54 Billion are really his, making it painfully obvious for those of us down there within a few standard deviations of the mean that we are in fact in extremistan.

The Top 100 CEOs

Regardless of your opinions of the wealth inequality in the United States, there’s no denying that the top 1% has a lot of money – otherwise they wouldn’t be in the 1%. Recently, Bloomberg reported that the top 100 CEOs in the U.S. retirement plans accounted for around 41% of the entire country’s retirement accounts (116 Million Americans).

In a report scheduled for release today, the Center for Effective Government and Institute for Policy Studies found that the 100 largest chief executive retirement funds are worth an average of about $49.3 million per executive, or a combined $4.9 billion. David C. Novak, the recently departed chief executive officer of Yum! Brands Inc., is at the top of the list, with total retirement savings of $234.2 million.

68 Million Workers without a Retirement Plan

For those that are a bit skeptical of those numbers, it might make more sense when you add context to the situation. We were personally astonished to read last week that half of U.S. workers are without company based retirement plans. Half??  Bloomberg estimates that totals to 68 Million without a plan and they say the problem lies in small businesses.

Some 58 percent of the 68 million wage-and-salary workers without a company-sponsored retirement plan in 2013 worked for a business with fewer than 100 employees, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

“The current 401(k) system was designed for a workplace that doesn’t exist for most people: lifetime careers at big corporations that offer benefits,” says Teresa Ghilarducci, an economist at the New School who researches retirement policies. “Saving consistently — which you need to do for just a modest retirement income — isn’t remotely likely.”

If you’re one of those 68 million without a plan, do yourselves a favor and give us a call at 312-870-1500. Our wealth management branch would be more than happy to help you create a plan for retirement.

14 Ghosts

No, this isn’t the name of the latest sci-fi horror flick, but a ratio of ghosts per person…. If ghosts are in fact a thing. According to toothpaste for dinner comic website, 100 Billion people have lived on this earth, ever, meaning there’s going to be a lot of ghosts hanging around.

Ghosts
Comic Courtesy: Toothpaste for Dinner

18 Million Auto Sales

We like to talk about the crude market quite a bit, but economists are now saying the implosion of crude prices are leading to record-breaking car sales. Today, Autodata released their car sales numbers in the U.S. at 18.2 Million in October, marking the first time since 2000 that

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