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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Red Meat

Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice. by Gina Kolata (NYT)

The latest in a long back-and-forth debate over nutritional science and the right amount of red meat to eat, with a side of internecine scientific fighting. [Link; soft paywall]

Are Burgers Really That Bad for the Climate? by Justin Fox (Bloomberg)

How much carbon does your burger habit cost? It turns out the answer is a little bit complicated, and highly sensitive to the various assumptions that get made. [Link; soft paywall]

New York Real Estate

New York City Apartment Prices Hit Four-Year Low by Josh Barbanel (WSJ)

The median sales price for apartments in New York fell 32% in the third quarter, driven by an increase in transfer taxes for higher-end units that came into effect in July. [Link; paywall]

NYC housing prices in near ‘free fall,’ conditions mirror recession era following tax hikes by Brittany De Lea (Fox 5 New York)

The increase in the New York City “mansion tax” moved the maximum taxable rate up to 3.9% from 1%; tax amounts increase as sales prices do over $1mm. That relatively small tax change appears to have driven a massive price response, at least so far as QoQ data goes. [Link]

The Middle Class

The Middle-Class Crunch: A Look at 4 Family Budgets by Tara Siegel Bernard and Karl Russell (NYT)

A view at a range of middle class families with monthly take-homes ranging from $48k-$116k. Note: median family income in 2018 was $63k. [Link; soft paywall]

The Seven-Year Auto Loan: America’s Middle Class Can’t Afford Its Cars by Ben Eisen and Adrienne Roberts (WSJ)

Longer amortizations have come to the US auto market, meaning a more manageable monthly payment…but longer repayment and more risk. [Link; paywall]

Food For Thought

How billionaire Ray Dalio helped launch McDonald’s Chicken McNugget by Emmie Martin (CNBC)

Did you know that the Chicken McNugget wouldn’t exist without the founder of Bridgewater Associates? By matching buyer demand and seller supply, the hedge fund manager allowed for the mass market in fried, boneless poultry nuggets. [Link]

Biggest U.S. Egg Producer Plunges as Supplies Soar and Prices Drop by Lydia Mulvany (Bloomberg)

Egg producers are switching to cage-free varieties, but as customers switch to the more hen-friendly varieties, there hasn’t been any decline in traditional types of eggs. [Link; soft paywall]

Private Markets

Everything Is Private Equity Now (Bloomberg)

Outside ownership by a fund that has experience bringing operations into a more efficient place can be good for businesses and the economy, but like any medicine too much of a good thing is a problem. [Link; soft paywall]

All Revenue is Not Created Equal: The Keys to the 10X Revenue Club by Bill Gurley (Above the Crowd)

This relatively straightforward checklist gives a rundown of when a business is likely to be worth 10x its revenues and when it isn’t. [Link]

The Great Public Market Reckoning by Fred Wilson (AVC)

Is all of the chaos in the transition from private markets to public markets for VC-backed investments simply a question of margins? [Link]

Internet Stuff

Remember Wrinkles the Clown, the viral boogeyman for hire? This new documentary shows his dark side by KC Ifeanyi (Fast Company)

A strange video went viral, as part of a marketing stunt for a very creepy clown that was offering a strange service to parents. But there’s even more weirdness to this uniquely Florida story. [Link]

Fat Bear Week Is Back by Brian Kahn (Gizmodo)

For bears, pigging out over the summer isn’t a function of gluttony, but pure survival. Ursine eaters are in the process of hitting their peak weights, ready to hibernate through the winter, and Katmai National Park and Preserve is keeping track of which predator packs on the pounds best. [Link]

Closing Time

Why are Rural Hospitals Closing? By Emily Wavering Corcoran (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

An investigation into the 155 rural hospitals that have shut their doors over the last 15 years, concentrated in large states and those that did not expand Medicaid with the ACA. [Link]

As Steelmaker Shuts Plant, Governor Points to Tariffs by Jeremy Hill (Bloomberg)

A Louisiana recycled steel operation filed bankruptcy after shutting down its operations this week. The company uses imported scrap metal to make its products, which has left it badly exposed to tariffs on steel imports. [Link; soft paywall]

Autonomous Vehicles

Waymo Valuation Slashed on Autonomous Vehicle Tech Delays by Gerrit De Vynck (Bloomberg)

A private valuation of the Waymo division of Google has been cut from $175bn to $105bn thanks to “a series of hurdles relating to commercialization and advancement”. [Link; soft paywall]

Fixed Income

Why the U.S. Yield Curve Reliably Predicts U.S. Recessions by Richard M. Salsman (AIER)

A very basic walk-through of the logic behind yield curve inversion and its forecasting power in the US economy. [Link]


Charles Schwab on the Lessons He’s Learned Over a Lifetime of Investing by Robert Hackett (Fortune)

A profile on the discount brokerage legend, who has led the charge in democratizing the financial markets for discount brokerage clients. [Link]

Central Banking

The education of Jerome Powell: How the Fed chair is adapting to pressure from Wall Street and Trump by Heather Long and Tory Newmyer (WaPo)

As Chair Powell has gotten more press conferences under his belt, he’s worked hard to improve his communication style and avoid some of the past mistakes he’s made. [Link]

Early French and German central bank charters and regulations by Ulrich Bindseil (ECB Occasional Paper Series)

Some original scholarship that provides translations and analysis of six early central bank charters and related regulations for early European central banks. [Link; 94 page PDF]

‘Keep de Rates dem Low’—Jamaica Sets Inflation Fight to Reggae Beat by Robbie Whelan (WSJ)

Reggae is the latest weapon deployed by the Bank of Jamaica in its fight against inflation, a unique approach to public education. [Link; paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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