Latest News: Too Many Real Estate Agents

Great news for anyone looking for a change of scenery once it’s safe to travel again: The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge has been completed in Portugal, and it’s opening to the public on Monday.

The record-breaking bridge measures 516 meters (or roughly 1,692 feet) long, and is suspended 175 meters (574 feet) above a river. It’s located in the town of Arouca — about an hour south of Porto — in the UNESCO-recognized Arouca Geopark, an area famous for its nature tourism and outdoor activities.

Vaccinated U.S. Travelers Will Be Allowed To Visit Europe Again Starting This Summer
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Vaccinated U.S. Travelers Will Be Allowed To Visit Europe Again Starting This Summer
The 516 Arouca bridge, according to its website, is “not for the faint of heart.”

“The new bridge, under construction since May 2018, is inspired by the Inca bridges that spanned the Andes mountain valleys,” reads a release. “Last year, the municipality of Arouca described the bridge as ‘frighteningly beautiful.'”

(Frightening indeed, as the most famous such Andean span may be Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey, which collapsed in 1714.)

It connects the banks of the Paiva River, a popular destination for kayaking and white-water rafting. It’s also located near the Paiva Walkways, a wooden pathway that winds through 8 km (5 miles) of the natural landscape.

The hanging bridge is supported by two V-shaped concrete towers, and reportedly takes about 10 minutes to cross. Its floor and side railings are made of metal grids, providing a largely unobstructed view of the lush mountains and river gorge.

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It was designed by Portuguese studio Itecons and constructed by a company called Conduril in a process that spanned several years. It will be officially inaugurated in a ceremony on Monday, before opening to members of the public ages 6 and up the following day.

Brave locals have already been able to try it out, however, as the bridge opened to Arouca residents on Thursday.

Hugo Xavier, the first member of the general public to cross the bridge, described the moment as “extraordinary, a unique experience, an adrenaline rush,” according to the Guardian.

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“I was a little afraid, but it was so worth it,” he said.

Officials hope that the new structure will bring more tourists to the area and give the economy a boost as it eases public health restrictions. The majority of the country will move into the final phase of its COVID-19 lockdown on Saturday, which the Portugal News reports marks the transition from “state of emergency” to “state of calamity.”

Local authorities say they hope the pedestrian suspension bridge will boost the economy by enticing locals to stay and tourists to visit.
Octavio Passos/Getty Images
Portugal has recorded more than 836,000 cases and 16,900 deaths since the start of the pandemic, and 8.41% of its population is fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Margarida Belém, Arouca’s mayor, described the construction project to Reuters as part of an effort to incentivize locals to stay and tourists to visit.

“There were many challenges that we had to overcome… but we did it,” she said. “There’s no other bridge like this one in the world.”

Indeed, 516 Arouca has earned its spot in the record books, overtaking Switzerland’s 494-meter (1,621-feet) Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge as the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge.

The longest such structure in the U.S., by contrast, is the Gatlinburg SkyBridge in Tennessee, which stretches 680 feet across a valley in the Great Smoky Mountains and has a transparent glass floor at its highest point.

here are more real estate agents than actual houses for sale in the United States. Any given day, you’re likely to see about half a million homes for sale, and there are 1.5 million members of the National Association of Realtors.

Economist Sonia Gilbukh, with co-author Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, finds that this isn’t just a problem for real estate agents facing extra competition. Their new working paper finds that too many new real estate agents selling homes can make downturns worse for the entire housing market.

There’s this really big and expensive problem that’s happening right now: dark patterns. Dark patterns are manipulative, often deceptive strategies that retailers and marketers use. Like you know when you think you’re signing up for a one month trial subscription to something and then you somehow, mysteriously, found out that you’d been signed up for a year? That is a dark pattern.

And, dark patterns are becoming more and more widespread. Because of the pandemic, ecommerce sales last year grew by more than 40%. More than $850 billion dollars annually. And because online retailers deal with so many customers at a time, making one tiny change — a dark pattern, can double or even triple the likelihood of someone signing up for a service.

On The Indicator from Planet Money, we peel the curtain back on the internet and take a look at some of the most manipulative and sneaky online marketing strategies around dark patterns.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is looking into this issue and wants to hear from consumers. Here is the form where you can send those comments. The deadline for comment is May 29th, 2021.

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