Welcome to Bespoke Brunch Reads — a linkfest of the favorite things we read over the past week. The links are mostly market related, but there are some other interesting subjects covered as well. We hope you enjoy the food for thought as a supplement to the research we provide you during the week.

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Agent Orange: Trump, Soft Power, and Exports by Andrew Kenan Rose (SSRN)

Using panel data for 157 countries from 2006 – 2017 combined with Gallup data for 5 major economies, the author identifies a two-thirds percent increase in exports for every 1 point increase in other countries’ approval ratings for a leader. [Link]

China Resists U.S., EU Talks on Global Digital Trade Deal, Sources Say by Bryce Baschuk and Shawn Donnan (Bloomberg)

In the background behind bilateral trade disputes, multilateral efforts to agree on a framework for digital trade are not engaging China. [Link; soft paywall]


Inside The Strange Yet Profitable World Of Retail Arbitrage by Ian Lecklitner (Mel Magazine)

Buying goods at your local Amazon or Target then re-selling them on Amazon can net you a tidy profit; in one case, more than $2500 in a day for a board game trade. [Link]

Real Estate

Hamptons Listings Surge 82% in a Year, Pushing Home Prices Lower by Sydney Maki (Bloomberg)

In December, almost 2200 homes were for sale in the Hamptons, an 82% YoY advance that is a record. Softening demand driven by stock prices, very strong appreciation over the last decade, and tax law changes are all to blame. [Link; soft paywall]

Billionaire Ken Griffin Buys America’s Most Expensive Home for $238 Million by Katherine Clarke (WSJ)

The United States has a new record real estate transaction thanks to the purchase of a New York City penthouse by Citadel co-founder Ken Griffin. [Link; paywall]

Airport Noise NIMBYism by Eli Dourado (Mercatus Center)

Opposition to nuisance airport noise tends to be very concentrated; in one example, 78% of calls to complain about aircraft noise at Reagan International Airport came from one residence (an average of 19 per day). [Link]


We may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s – and how to stop it by Debora MacKenzie (New Scientist)

New research suggests that the bacteria which causes common chronic gum disease is the culprit for Alzheimer’s, with the proteins thrown off by the bacteria potentially playing a key role in the evolution of the disease. [Link]

Company sells $80 used tissues, claims to help prepare people for flu season (Fox 5 WTTG)

Vaev is offering used tissues as a method for boosting your immune system, a surprising twist on the usual approach of vaccines. [Link]

CBS Rejects Super Bowl Ad for Medical Marijuana by Craig Giammona (Bloomberg)

A medical marijuana company backed by John Boehner tried to buy ad space during the Super Bowl, but was turned down. [Link; soft paywall]

Stories of the South

Lightning, Struck by Max Blau (Bitter Southerner)

The modern Mercedes-Benz stadium that will host the Super Bowl replaced the Georgia Dome, but the neighborhood that occupied the land prior to the Georgia Dome is mostly forgotten. [Link]

After a casino boom, a Mississippi county deals with a reversal of fortune by Jenny Jarvie (San Diego Tribune)

As gambling development has spread from a few concentrated meccas, traditional temples to gambling have fallen on some very hard times. [Link]

Civil Rights Unionism by Robert Korstad (Jacobin)

The recent history of the South has seen the rise of non-union manufacturing, but the longer history is fascinating, including a Communist-led union of tobacco workers fighting for Civil Rights in the wake of World War Two in the Jim Crow South. [Link]


Wind Installation Bottleneck Threatens 23% of US Projects by Mary B. Powers (Engineering News-Record)

The unique challenge of moving very large components is creating big headaches for the turbine industry, which is facing a phase-out of tax credits. [Link]

U.S. Oil Production Is 23 Years Ahead of Schedule by David Marino and Stephen Cunningham (Bloomberg)

Last year, the EIA forecasted 2042 oil production in the US would come in around 11.95mm bbl/day, but the industry is on pace to break that high water mark this year alone. [Link; soft paywall]

Vows & Vocations

As If by Design, Their Connection Was Inevitable by Vincent M. Mallozzi (NYT)

Accomplished professor at the M.I.T. Media Lab, former Israeli Air Force first lieutenant, and PhD in computational design Neri Oxman wed the manager of a hedge fund in a January 19th ceremony. [Link; soft paywall]

Norman Goodman, 95, Dies; Summoned Manhattanites to Jury Duty, Like It or Not by Margalit Fox (NYT)

The man who instructed generations of Manhattan residents to appear for jury duty has passed away, leaving behind a colorful career of public service. [Link; soft paywall]


Remarks delivered at the World Economic Forum by George Soros (georgesoros.com)

Americans often hear the name George Soros as some sort of left wing puppeteer, but the investor’s speech at the World Economic Forum doesn’t read anything like that. It’s acutely focused on the dangerous authoritarianism of China under Xi Jinping, very consistent with his long-term focus on protecting free and open society. [Link]

Chilling Davos: A Bleak Warning on Global Division and Debt by Andrew Ross Sorkin (NYT)

During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a hedge fund manager’s bleak outlook over a global social and political divide is par for the course. [Link; soft paywall]


A big portion of Trump’s base is breaking from him and would want to end the shutdown without a border wall, new poll shows by Eliza Relmon (Business Insider)

The government shutdown ended (at least temporarily) Friday, but polling released earlier in the week suggests that the President’s base was not sticking with him as he sought wall funding in exchange for re-opening the government. [Link]

Global Warming Concerns Rise Among Americans in New Poll by John Schwartz (NYT)

73 percent of Americans polled at the end of 2018 agreed that global warming was happening, 10 percentage points higher than in 2015; 72 percent say the issue is important to them. [Link; soft paywall]


Venezuela Wants $1.2 Billion in Gold Back From Bank of England by Patricia Laya, Ethan Bronner, and Tim Ross (Bloomberg)

In order to prevent access to funds for the Venezuelan regime, the Bank of England has denied a request to repatriate the country’s gold reserves from London. [Link; soft paywall]


I’m Still Around by Samuel Kerr (Medium)

The fascinating and disturbing story of the mid-nineties gang war in Vancouver, including media mistakes, blown prosecutions, vicious murders, and more. [Link]

The Rich

Super Rich Americans Are Getting Younger and Multiplying by Ben Steverman (Bloomberg Quint)

As Baby Boomers age, the largest wealth transfer in history has started, with the average age of those with $25mm or more in assets falling to 47 from 58 in 2014. [Link; soft paywall]

Social Media

Twitter suspends account that helped ignite controversy over viral encounter by Donie O’Sullivan (CNN)

The confrontation in Washington DC last week between a teenaged supporter of Donald Trump and a native American protestor initially caught attention from an account later suspended by Twitter. [Link]

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Have a happy New Year!

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