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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Climate

Unlimited Sand and Money Still Won’t Save the Hamptons by Polly Mosendz and Eric Roston (Bloomberg)

How the federal government is investing billions to give some of the most expensive coastal real estate in the world a chance at survival amidst rising seas and intensifying storms. [Link]

The Engineer Who Made Electric Vehicles Palatable for the Pickup-Truck Set by Alejandro De La Garza (Time)

A profile of the veteran Ford engineer who is driving the company towards widespread battery-electric adoption that will be predicated on selling millions of electric pickups she helped design. [Link]

Economic Research

Labour markets and inflation in the wake of the pandemic by Frederic Boissay, Emanuel Kohlscheen, Richhild Moessner and Daniel Rees (BIS Bulletin)

A helpful cross-country analysis of the very different labor market shifts brought on by the pandemic. The US saw an unusual uptick in average hours worked but much more unemployment, while other developed markets typically reduced labor activity via fewer hours. [Link; 9 page PDF]

A C-Shaped Recovery? by JW Mason (JW Mason)

Unlike in a typical recession, a massive policy response meant that real incomes actually rose during this recession, and the biggest gains came at the bottom of the income distribution, a complete mirror image of the typical downturn. [Link]

Monitoring the Inflationary Effects of COVID-19 by Adam Hale Shapiro (FRBSF Economic Letter)

A somewhat dated (from August 2020) but useful analysis of COVID-related inflation and disinflation that uses volume changes to identify which categories of prices are being driven by supply versus demand shifts. [Link]

Strange Pastimes

Crypto Investors Are Bidding to Touch a 1,784-Pound Tungsten Cube Once a Year by Edward Ongweso Jr (Vice)

Just when you thought the NFT craze couldn’t get any weirder, and Illinois company is selling one that allows users to touch a big cube of metal. [Link]

Inside the jaw-clenching world of cricket fighting in China by Emily Feng (NPR)

A thousand year old tradition in China involves setting bugs against one another while a referee watches closely to pick a winner. The little insects are rarely injured by their grappling, and owners never allow fights to the death. [Link]

Tech, For Good Or Bad

For the First Time, Drones Autonomously Attacked Humans. This Is a Turning Point. by Kyle Mizokami (Popular Mechanics)

While somewhat dated, this article is still an important milestone in the evolution of warfare: the first time a drone has made a decision to attack and kill a human without another human being involved. [Link]

3-D Printed Houses Are Sprouting Near Austin as Demand for Homes Grows by Nicole Friedman (WSJ)

New technology is being deployed to help reduce the costs of home construction, with builder Lennar (LEN) hoping to free up more supply with the new approach. [Link; paywall]

You Could Be Competing With Bots to Buy Gifts This Christmas by Joshua Hunt (Bloomberg)

Inside the desperate competition for sneakers sold by retailers that pit botnets versus consumers looking to buy shoes for themselves. [Link; soft paywall]

Oops

Covid cases: Immensa lab failures preceded huge spikes in South West as large number of positives were missed by Thomas Saunders (iNews)

As much as a quarter of the positive COVID tests in South West England were missed thanks to an error at a lab that generated more than 40,000 false negative test results in September and October. [Link]

Demographics

The First Population Bomb by Davis Kedrosky (Substack)

How a massive surge in population preceded the fastest economic growth of England’s industrial revolution, driven by a range of factors from earlier marriages (thanks to better labor incomes) to longer life expectancy. [Link]

Cigarette Sales Rose in 2020 for First Time in 20 Years by Talal Ansari (WSJ)

With less money spent on travel, gas, and entertainment, more money got spent on cigarettes, driving the first annual increase in cigarette volumes for more than two decades. [Link; paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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