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.

Business of Finance

Blackstone’s Top Dealmaker Says Now Is The Most Difficult Period He’s Ever Experienced by Devin Banerjee (Bloomberg)

High prices for everything with a cash flow have made the life of long-term purchaser of businesses very, very painful. [Link]

A quick Deutsche ‘splainer by Dan Davies (Medium)

Published ahead of the 14% rally in DB shares to end the week, Davies provides an excellent overview of the situation DB finds itself in. [Link]


When Restaurants Ditch the Dining Room by Serena Dai (NY Eater)

There’s an increasing trend towards getting rid of the front of house entirely with the surging popularity of online platforms for food delivery. [Link]

Turning Breakfast Waste into Food for Commerce by Michele Wucker (strategy+business)

A dizzying array of food waste is being turned to alternative uses, running the gamut of the breakfast menu. [Link]

Real Estate

Pinching Pennies in the Hedge-Fund Capital of America by Oshrat Carmiel and Katia Porzecanski (Bloomberg)

Brutal returns for hedge funds are having spillovers in the local economy where they are most geographically concentrated, from car dearlerships to home prices. [Link]

Housing Highlights From The 2015 ACS by Jed Kolko (Terner Center For Housing Innovation)

An excellent summary of the data contained in the most recent release of the US Census American Community Survey for the year of 2015. [Link; 29 page PDF]

26 crazy pictures of micro-apartments around the world by Chris Weller (Business Insider)

Urban living at its smallest, from Kips Bay 300 square-footers running over $2,000/month to some of the most crowded city slums in the world. [Link]


Who Actually Won the Moneyball Revolution? by Josh Levin (Slate)

A retrospective on the statisticization of baseball, a process that began in earnest with the success of Billy Beane in Oakland but has continued to this day. [Link]

Fantasy Football Season Is Starting. Here’s How the Phenomenon Began by Ashley Ross (Time)

Nearly one-sixth of the country plays fantasy football, a pastime that is also tied to Oakland (see link above). Raiders fans, not known for their pocket protectors, appear to have spawned the couch-bound GMing so prevalent today. [Link]


What Happened to Bob Ross’ Paintings by Lucas Reilly (Mental Floss)

The veteran host of The Joy of Painting has not only soothed the nation with his calm commentary on each oily creation he spawned, but also helped out hundreds of PBS stations with his work. [Link]

6 Photographers Shot the Same Person and the Results are Astonishing by Joel Comm (World Village)

Perspective isn’t just an optical phenomenon – it also perpetuates a fallibility of the human condition. Photographers told different stories about a subject produced almost shockingly different portraits of the same man. [Link]


Aetna to Transform Members’ Consumer Health Experience Using iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch (Business Wire/Aetna)

One of the nation’s largest insurers is offering to subsidize the consumers’ purchase of Apple Watches, and effort to improve monitoring and health awareness. [Link]

Startup Cargo Cults: What They Are and How to Avoid Them by Leo Polovets (Coding VC)

An excellent read on the mistakes that start-ups often make in emulating organizations which have found success in the past. [Link]

Implementation Guidance for Executive Order 13707: Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People by John P. Holdren (Executive Office Of The President – Office Of Science And Technology Policy)

The White House has decided to emphasize a focus on behavioral science by executive agencies as a way to improve uptake of government programs and reduce hurdles to policy implementation. [Link; 12 page PDF]

How Actual Nuts and Bolts Are Bringing Down Oil Prices by Tracy Alloway (Bloomberg)

Some of the largest innovative leaps are conducted under the greatest pressure – in this case, mass efficiency in the oil industry, catalyzed by the price declines of the last few years. [Link]

Age & Economics

U.S. Real Wage Growth: Fast Out of the Starting Blocks by Robert Rich, Joseph Tracy, and Ellen Fu (NY Fed Liberty Street Economics)

Quantitative analysis of the path of wage growth throughout a worker’s career. Growth is slowest at the start of careers, accelerates into middle age, then trails off towards retirement. [Link]

Older Americans Are Jeopardizing Their Retirement With Divorce by Carol Hymowitz (Bloomberg)

It turns out that the end of a marriage is not just the end of a romance, but also a devastating blow to financial wellbeing. Separate households cost more, not to mention the tax consequences and legal costs of a divorce. [Link]

Substance Abuse

For Small-Town Cops, Opioid Scourge Hits Close to Home by Jeanne Whalen (WSJ)

A distressing dispatch from the front lines of the fight against powerful new opiods which are ravaging communities across the United States. [Link; paywall]


The H&M Sandwich by Shelly Banjo & Andrea Felsted (Bloomberg)

Stuck with higher prices than new entrants and less cache than alternatives, H&M is in a very painful place; sales are down to their lowest growth rates in recent memory. [Link]

Global Concerns

The ECB on the Slowdown in Global Trade by Brad Setser (Council on Foreign Relations)

A summary and analysis of the ECB’s recent effort to understand the slowdown in global trade; China is the primary culprit. [Link]

Key facts about the world’s refugees by Phillip Connor and Jens Manuel Krogstad (Pew Research Center)

10 bullet points (with accompanying charts, of course) on the demographics and displacement of the world’s 60 million refugees. [Link]


The relationship between VIX futures term structure and S&P 500 returns by Athanasios P. Fassas (University of Sheffield)

An empirical analysis of the VIX term structure’s predictive power for the path of equity prices in the underlying index. [Link; 19 page PDF]

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