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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GoDaddy Employees Were Told They Were Getting a Holiday Bonus. It Was Actually a Phishing Test. by Lorraine Longhi (The Copper Courier)

Lured with promises of a year-end bonus, employees of GoDaddy responded to an email from an internal domain only to find out they had failed a phishing test. [Link]

Insecure wheels: Police turn to car data to destroy suspects’ alibis by Olivia Solon (NBC)

With little precedent over privacy related to various data systems used in modern vehicles, privacy advocates and prosecutors are gearing up for a major conflict over whether the data cars carry can incriminate suspects. [Link]


How Covid-19 Makes Teaching Reading Harder by Leslie Brody (WSJ)

Reading allowed is a challenge when teaching remotely, and that doesn’t include the challenges of faulty technology. Millions of children are at risk of falling far behind. [Link; paywall]

When the Great Equalizer Shuts Down: Schools, Peers, and Parents in Pandemic Times by Francesco Agostinelli, Matthias Doepke, Giuseppe Sorrenti & Fabrizio Zilibotti (NBER)

Educational inequality is already a huge challenge in the United States, and the pandemic is increasing the already wide gulf between students with resources and those without. [Link]

Hedge Funds

Human-Run Hedge Funds Trounce Quants in Covid Year by Hema Parmar, Katherine Burton, and Nishant Kumar (Bloomberg)

The dramatic volatility and rapid moves across the investment universe have made nimble human-driven funds better-performers than algorithmic traders in the hedge fund industry this year. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

Wrong-Way Bet on Covid Is Changing Oil-Trading Industry Forever by Alfred Cang (Bloomberg)

One of the biggest names in crude oil trading blew up in spectacular fashion, with billions in debt and nothing to show for it thanks to the collapse in demand for petroleum that led to a collapse in crude markets. [Link; soft paywall]


Washington’s Secret to the Perfect Zoom Bookshelf? Buy It Wholesale. by Ashley Fetters (Politico)

The secret to a good Zoom bookshelf isn’t a wide library of books that you’ve read, but bulk orders intended only to meet the aesthetic needs of an office with a webcam. [Link]

Surprise Ending for Publishers: In 2020, Business Was Good by Elizabeth A. Harris (NYT)

Whether intrepid book buyers spent the pandemic reading or just telling themselves they were going to read, either way there has been an impressive wave of book buying this year. [Link; soft paywall]

Material Stories

How a ship-eating clam helped bring about the Industrial Revolution by David Fickling (Thread Reader)

An amazing rundown of how a desire to protect wood hulls lead to higher demand for copper, which led to more mines, and eventually led to the invention of the steam engine. [Link]

China’s Empire of Concrete by Mike Bird (WSJ)

Chinese municipalities long process of land privatization via sales of collectively owned property to the private sector have created a behemoth market that drives an impressive percentage of economic activity around the world. [Link; paywall]


Cathie Wood’s Flagship Fund Posts Largest Outflow On Record by Claire Ballentine (Financial Advisor)

The most impressive asset-gathering story this year finished on a bit of a sour note, with tens of millions of assets flowing out of the ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) at the end of the year. [Link]


Temperature Snag Delayed 144,000 Moderna Shots Bound for Texas by John Tozzi (Bloomberg)

Over 400 shipments of Moderna’s COVID vaccine sent to Texas had evidence that they had strayed above maximum storage temperature this week. [Link; soft paywall]

Social Media

The North Carolina Kid Who Cracked YouTube’s Secret Code by Lucas Shaw and Mark Bergen (Bloomberg)

A Greenville teenager dropped out of college to figure out exactly the best way to go viral. A bit over four years later, he is the king of YouTube. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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