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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California

California moves toward ban on gas lawn mowers and leaf blowers by Phil Willon (LAT)

Gasoline-powered lawn equipment motors are extremely inefficient and produce shocking amounts of pollutants. California is responding by banning their sale (though operating them will still be legal in the state). [Link; soft paywall]

More than half of Bay Area residents plan to leave permanently: poll by Jordan Williams (The Hill)

As the saying goes, talk is cheap, and it’s a lot easier to grouse about where you live than actually leave, but there certainly are a lot of people near the Golden Gate who would rather be somewhere else. [Link]

Logistics

Crews Are Abandoned on Ships in Record Numbers Without Pay, Food or a Way Home by Drew Hinshaw and Joe Parkinson (WSJ)

Dozens of ships are being abandoned with their crews left unpaid and far from home as maintenance, left without resources to make their own way home from the locations their ships have in some cases literally washed up. [Link; paywall]

Amazon Seeks Used Long-Range Cargo Jets Able to Fly From China by Matt Day and Julie Johnsson (Bloomberg)

With passenger flights down sharply and therefore huge amounts of cargo capacity missing from the trans-Pacific trade network, Amazon is buying long haul jets in order to fill the gap and rush high value shipments from Asia to the US. [Link; soft paywall]

Biggest U.S. Retailers Charter Private Cargo Ships to Sail Around Port Delays by Sarah Nassauer (WSJ)

Large stores like Home Depot (HD), Costco (COST), and Walmart (WMT) are chartering their own ships in the hopes they can avoid the chaos in the freight forwarding industry and get goods to US consumers on time for the holidays. [Link; paywall]

Culture

Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Is Slammed by Kim Jong Un’s Propagandists as ‘Beastly’ by Dasl Yoon (WSJ)

The most successful Netflix show ever has drawn the ire of North Korean propagandists, who are spinning the show as a realistic depiction of South Korean society (it is not). [Link; paywall]

I Was a Lifelong Vegetarian. I Decided to Taste What I Was Missing by Rajesh Parameswaran (Bon Appetit)

When in Argentina, get a steak. That’s the upshot of this wonderful personal essay about breaking in to beef from the perspective of a lifelong vegetarian. [Link]

Manufacturing

How Morocco transformed itself into a carmaking hub by David Pilling (FT)

An unlikely powerhouse in the global auto manufacturing industry is Morocco, which produces more than twice as many cars as it purchases thanks to an aggressive industrial policy that has supported the development of car making infrastructure and value chains. [Link; soft paywall]

History

Christopher Columbus And The Replacement-Level Historical Figure by Patrick Wyman (Defector)

While Columbus is a culture war focal point in the US these days, the larger context of his role in history puts the lie to the idea that he was either a unique hero or a specific villain, as opposed to a direct product of his time and circumstances. [Link]

Astronomy

Dark matter’s shadowy effect on Earth by Michael R. Rampino (Astronomy)

One possible explanation for what appear to be periodic cataclysms throughout geological history is the influence of Earth’s passage through the central plane of the galaxy, an area that may be rife with dark matter and create increased likelihoods of major impacts or geological disasters. [Link]

Real Estate

Soaring Home Prices Are Roiling Appraisals and Upending Sales by Nicole Freidman (WSJ)

With home prices soaring, appraisers are skeptical, and many new home deals are falling apart as lenders balk at the prices their potential borrowers are agreeing to. [Link; paywall]

Pay To Play

Is Stock Index Membership for Sale? by Kun Li, Xin (Kelly) Liu, and Shang-Jin Wei (NBER)

This novel paper documents a relationship between companies purchasing credit ratings from Standard & Poors and their inclusion in the flagship S&P 500 index. [Link; registration required]

Labor Market

A Year After a Jobs Bust, College Students Find a Boom by Nelson D. Schwartz and Coral Murphy Marcos (NYT)

College seniors are finding lots of interest from employers as companies scramble to fill positions in a hot, high turnover labor market that has shifted the balance towards students who a year ago were staring into the abyss of a COVID recession. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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