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Hi SL436,

Thanks for your comment! I think many of us from the West are surprised to see some of those high numbers for Developed Economies (which does, as you rightfully noted, include the US). For Developed Economies, I believe the absolute numbers are smaller than other regions, but the profits are higher – likely due to a higher proportion of exploitative sex trafficking.

To your point above on legalization – that is one train of thought! I have been looking into what the effects of legalization are, and unfortunately the net effects are negative. On average, legalization tends to increase demand and remove the risk for traffickers, and trafficking inflows actually increase (for one study on this subject, see “Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?”, published in World Development Vol. 41, in 2013).


Hi Maya,

I didn’t know about that criticism – thanks for letting me know! I’ve looked it up and read about it, and based on my limited understanding of what is going on, I believe that Polaris Project does not default to involving law enforcement – the victim has to specify their request of law enforcement. However, the complaints I have read are more about the perception of the sex industry rather than actual arrests – that Polaris Project is focusing on the criminal side of it and “victimizing” those involved, some of whom do not consider themselves victims. That said, I am not an expert in Polaris Project and may be reading the situation incorrectly.

I do think that law enforcement needs to do a better job of distinguishing between victims and others, though in areas where prostitution is illegal I have to say that even if someone is “consenting” they are technically breaking the law. I have talked to many who have argued for legalizing the sex industry in such areas as a solution to the problem, but studies show this actually increases trafficking of non-consenting individuals (see “Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?”, published in World Development Vol. 41, in 2013). It is a troubling challenge, and I admit that I don’t have a good answer for it.

More broadly, however, the sex industry only accounts for ~20% (4.5M out of 21M according to the ILO) of all trafficked persons (though a disproportionate amount of revenue). There are millions of others outside the sex industry that are being trafficked and worked in manufacturing, domestic work, construction, etc. and who need more attention than they are currently given.

Thanks again for your comment! It’s good to know what dialogue is going on about these issues.

On November 20, 2016, ART commented on Amazon: Their Most Innovative Drones Weren’t Built to Fly :

Love the post, Nathan! I have been fascinated by Amazon’s warehouses for a little while now – one video I’ve seen before which really shows the step-by-step use of these robots is: I think their warehouse drones are incredible, assuming (to Nate’s point) that they are fast enough to meet order demand and that they don’t interfere with stocking operations. I could see a world in which sensors analyze stocking spaces to identify the optimal spot for different products and also bring shelves to stockers as well as pickers…but again, I’m concerned about interference between the two.

My broader concern with these kinds of innovations is what it means for our society in terms of educational needs. While I don’t think that manufacturing innovation necessitates a net loss in number of jobs, I do think it shifts job needs to those with a higher education. As stockers and pickers and other such roles are replaced by bots, what does that mean for our educational system, and how do we use this to drive an educational imperative at all levels?

On November 20, 2016, ART commented on Chase Cashes in on Mobile Banking :

Great post, Alex! I completely agree with your assessment of mobile banking as an obligatory service banks need to offer in this rapidly digitizing industry. I have recently completely shifted to digital with my banking and bank with CapitalOne, which has less than 900 branches (compared to players like Chase with 5,550 or Wells Fargo with 6,238) [1].

The concern I have for banks is how to balance the need for a physical footprint with this growing trend. Branches are closing rapidly, but there may yet be value in a physical presence for major product “purchases” such as a mortgage or auto loan, and a physical footprint also ensures brand presence and awareness. How will banks find that optimal balance of physical and digital presence going forward?

[1] Jeff Cox, “For the future of banking, it’s all about the apps”, CNN. Accessed 11/20/2016.

On November 20, 2016, ART commented on Starbucks: Grinding Beans and Data :

Great post! It’s incredible the level of data Starbucks is leveraging to make sure they have the right offering in the right place at the right time for the right customer. I agree with you that the personalized customer experience is going to be important going forward, and I would argue that for that to really impress a customer, it needs to seem like Starbucks is not creepily evaluating all this data behind the scenes. If Starbucks wants to shift from a “retail brand to a data-analysis brand”, that’s their prerogative – but I don’t think they should communicate that to the customer. The customer wants a quality product that they have control over and enjoy in a comfortable, personal setting. The moment they feel like Starbucks controls too much of their buying thought-process, customer will be a bit put off. Starbucks has to preserve that feel of the “neighborhood coffee shop” while growing their know-how behind the scenes with their robust data and analytics.

On November 20, 2016, ART commented on Too much data :

Love the post, coach! I agree with you on your assessment of this move on the part of Under Armour – to steal concepts from marketing, it seems like the value-in-use to the average consumer is far lower than the price Under Armour has asked for their product. It also seems like a fundamental shift in their brand and target segment – from gritty athlete to health nut. Sometimes these consumers are one and the same, but only for a small segment of the population.

To be frank, I still harbor some skepticism of how much value the current wearable technology market provides to our society. CNN recently released an article which noted that while people wearing a Fitbit did choose to exercise more, they also find it a challenge to live without the Fitbit. They feel frustrated that activity is “wasted” and their intrinsic motivation to exercise will fall, as they have become dependent on the Fitbit for motivation. ( While I appreciate the great intentions of many of these technologies, I do wonder sometimes if their secondary effects reduce their value overall and if so, what does that mean for the market and society?

On November 20, 2016, ART commented on The Battle of the Books: Should Barnes & Noble Concede? :

Great post! I’m hopeful that physical books will stay with us for some time, but I think it is a tough road ahead for Barnes & Noble. I agree with you that Barnes & Noble conceded to digital too quickly (easier to say with hindsight, I’m sure I would have fallen prey to the temptation to go digital as well!). On top of that, they have never “gone on the offensive” since competition with the digital market became a reality. They haven’t established their value proposition with physical books, and I think there is a lot of value to argue for there.

One thing that does somewhat encourage me in the push for physical book survival is that Amazon has recently started opening physical bookstores ( This signals that there is a value in physical bookstores that digital cannot quite capture…but it also signals that Barnes & Noble has failed to capitalize on this value in their own stores.

Great post Jina! I had never thought about the challenges to supply energy to remote islands. One thing that occurred to me is the extreme amount of Hawaiian energy consumed by non-residents given the size of the tourism industry. With almost 9M tourists arriving per year ( in comparison to the <2M Hawaiians, non-residents consume a disproportionate amount of Hawaii's expensive energy. Does that suggest that major hotel chains or other tourism players should somehow contribute to these renewable energy efforts? It seems that the large number of tourists are likely adding a significant energy burden to the small number of residents, and should somehow "pay" for their disproportionate consumption. Perhaps there is room for some portion of a tourism tax to fund state subsidies for renewable energy efforts, or some other vehicle to distribute part of this energy challenge to some of the greatest users of energy – tourists and the players who serve them.

On November 7, 2016, ART commented on So Hot Right Now! The Levi Strauss Climate Change Agenda :

Great post EB! It’s amazing to see what progress Levi’s has already made on several fronts (a 96% reduction in finishing water use is staggering). Beyond reduction in water use and CO2 output, I think another environmental concern in the denim industry is the use of finishing techniques such as stone-washing or acid treatment to achieve that faded or distressed look many consumers pay for. Alternative techniques have been developed, but I believe they are being adopted in some geographies faster than in others, and denim companies with global supply chains may have an opportunity to bring such techniques into new locations to better disseminate use.

Great post! Wine is such a fascinating topic for sustainability because of the uncertainty of how it will affect the product itself. While the changes in temperature introduce significant variability into the wine (which makes the business difficult to manage), warm and dry seasons can also develop some of the best wines available. Depending on the geographical location of a winery, climate change may push a vineyard into this sweet spot of warm and dry growing season, or push a vineyard far beyond it into an environment far too hot and/or dry to produce good grapes (e.g., see Different vineyards around the world will therefore be affected differently, which means that industry players are not all similarly incentivized to solve these challenges. In the long-term, this may imply a global shift in wine-growing regions to areas that can better maintain that environmental sweet spot.

Coffee is an extremely important contributor to my quality of life – your post is a major concern for my future happiness! I think one of the biggest concerns for Starbucks is the extent to which it is exposed to this issue due to its scale. Many of the coffee companies I love are small, with fewer than 5 stores and small-batch output. They focus more on the higher-end of the market, often charging more for their beans than Starbucks does. As supply dwindles, these smaller players may actually win out, given they don’t need the vast quantities of beans that Starbucks does and their customers are already more accustomed to paying higher prices. Given Starbucks’ high level of exposure to this risk, they will need to invest a significant amount to ensure their scale remains viable as the supply of coffee shrinks.

On November 7, 2016, ART commented on Blue Apron: Delivering an efficient tomorrow :

Wow, great choice Aakash! Food waste is something that bothers me a lot, and I had no idea that Blue Apron’s business model was working toward eliminating that. One thing I would really like to quantify is not only sustainability “savings” from food waste reduction, but also what sustainability “costs” are we incurring through (a) delivering food in potentially smaller bundles, leading to more transportation (higher carbon footprint), (b) energy associated with maintaining a cold supply chain to the consumer vs. traditional grocery shopping, (c) waste associated with packaging, including boxes. The ultimate goal with all this information would be to determine the net effect of the model on sustainability. If I were Blue Apron, I would also want to understand whether consumers are still throwing away any of the food I send to them, or if it is all consumed, to see if we are truly making a difference in the food waste habits of consumers.