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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Conflicts of Interest

131 Federal Judges Broke the Law by Hearing Cases Where They Had a Financial Interest by James V. Grimaldi, Coulter Jones and Joe Palazzolo (WSJ)

More than 685 lawsuits heard between 2010 and 2018 involved judges that had an explicit financial conflict due to ownership of stocks impacted by the suits. [Link; paywall]

Kaplan Steps Down as Dallas Fed Chief, Hours After Rosengren by Catarina Saraiva and Craig Torres (Bloomberg)

After revelations that two different regional Fed Presidents traded individual stocks during 2020 and called their objectivity into question, both have stepped down within hours of each other. [Link; soft paywall]

Investing Business

Fidelity Brings Fractional Share Trading to Advisors by Diana Briton (Wealth Management)

RIA custody clients of Fidelity will get the ability to trade fractional shares for their clients across both single stocks and ETFs. Custody clients will get the benefit slightly later. [Link]

Franklin to Buy Custom Indexing Firm O’Shaughnessy to Help Personalize Portfolios by Justin Baer (WSJ)

Asset management giant Franklin Resources is betting on custom indexing, buying a modest asset manager whose core strength is a technology platform that allows investors to create and get exposure to custom indices. [Link; paywall]

University Endowments Mint Billions in Golden Era of Venture Capital by Juliet Chung and Eliot Brown (WSJ)

Numerous colleges saw their endowments gain more than 50% in the year ended June as favorable base effects and huge returns from venture investing sent the value supporting private colleges to their best years on record. [Link; paywall]


Graveyard of the bikes: Aerial photos of China’s failed share-cycle scheme show mountains of damaged bikes (Straits Times)

The explosive growth of bike sharing programs in China didn’t lead to the sort of permanent demand that had been expected and the result is massive “graveyards” for scrapped bikes which are discarded when riders don’t turn up. [Link]

The Ancient People Who Burned Their Culture to the Ground by Blair Mastbaum (Atlas Obscura)

A pre-Roman society in Spain that was one of the most developed and powerful in the region is being unveiled by a site in Extremadura that suggests a self-destructive end. [Link]


Why Is Every Young Person in America Watching ‘The Sopranos’? by Willy Staley (NYT)

A wandering investigation of why so many younger Americans – many far on the political left – are jumping into The Sopranos. The show is less about the Mafia, and more about American decline, or so many new enthusiasts argue. [Link; soft paywall]

How Peyton and Eli Manning Are Changing Television by Jason Gay (WSJ)

Three weeks in to the NFL season, ESPN’s experimental Manning-only version of their Monday Night Football broadcast has achieved rave reviews for its Twitch-like approach to covering sports. [Link; paywall]

Inflation & Shortage

An Obscure Chinese Mining Law Is Hobbling Global Energy Security by Alfred Cang (Bloomberg)

Back in March, Chinese coal miners faced stepped-up requirements for miner safety, which has made it harder to expand production of the critical energy resource. Tighter climate enforcement has also played a role, but this key factor has flown further under the radar. [Link; soft paywall]

Dollar Tree to Sell More Items Above $1 as Costs Rise by Sarah Nassauer (WSJ)

Famous for selling nothing at more than a single dollar bill, Dollar Tree has decided to shift strategy amidst supply chain costs and high demand. Previously the chain had experimented with higher-dollar items, but this latest choice is a more widespread one. [Link; paywall]

The Return of Empty Shelves and Panic Buying by Andrea Felsted (Bloomberg)

Supply chain snarls have left some grocery shelves empty in a vibe reminiscent of pandemic panic buying back in March and April of 2020. COVID restrictions around the world are also playing a role. [Link; soft paywall]


Merck to seek emergency US approval of oral COVID treatment by Will Feuer (NYPost)

Clinical trials for a 5 day course of pills designed to fight COVID severity went so well that the trial was discontinued in order to give all participants the drug. It appears to prevent hospitalization entirely. [Link]

Newsom orders COVID vaccines for eligible students, the first K-12 school mandate in nation by Howard Blume, Rong-Gon Lin II, and Taryn Luna (LAT)

All eligible school children in the country’s largest state will be required to receive COVID vaccinations per a mandate from Governor Gavin Newsome on Friday. [Link]

Real Estate

Squamish Nation moves Vancouver forward with transformative Senakw project by Kenneth Chan (Daily Hive)

Frustrated by anti-development elements in Vancouver, the Squamish Nation is using its special legal status to opt out of approval by the city government, giving the stiff-arm to anti-housing advocates and introducing 50+ story residential towers to Kitsilano. [Link]


Analysis: U.S. Fed navigates policy minefield with impending digital dollar report by Jonnelle Marte and Michelle Price (Reuters)

The Fed is due to release a report exploring adoption of a digital dollar not reliant on bank liabilities like deposits. Some helpful background explains how the central bank is likely to come down on the issue in this read. [Link]


Electric Cars Have Hit an Inflection Point by Robinson Meyer (The Atlantic)

After years of slowly building momentum, EV adoption and production have reached a point of critical mass. Climate subsidies and charging network rollouts well help smooth the process, but even without more state support the shift towards zero emission driving is here to stay. [Link]

Hole in the ozone layer widens as recovery remains in the distance by Camilla Hodgson, Claire Buchan and Steven Bernard (FT)

While the end of CFC use means that the ozone layer will repair itself over time, this year has still seen a record large gap in UV protection over Antarctica. [Link; soft paywall]

Irrational Investors

Individuals Embrace Options Trading, Turbocharging Stock Markets by Gundan Banerji (WSJ)

Retail investors continue to sway markets, with options the latest space to get large flows of retail trading that was scarce or inconsistent only a few years ago. [Link; paywall]

MIT Study Finds Older Men Are More Likely to Panic Sell Stocks (Bloomberg/The Wealth Advisor)

Three critical factors made investors more likely to dump stocks during selloffs: being male, being over the age of 45, being married, or having a self-described “excellent” level of investment experience. [Link]


JPMorgan’s Texas Muni Work Becomes Latest Culture War Fallout by Amanda Albright and Danielle Moran (Bloomberg)

Texas laws designed to punish private companies for taking stances on certain political questions will shut JP Morgan out of the $58bn Texas muni underwriting market. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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