Happy Halloween and welcome to Bespoke Brunch Reads, our Saturday morning summary of interesting things we’re reading this week. The links are mostly market related, but there will be some other interesting subjects covered as well.  The links are in no particular order.  We hope you enjoy the food for thought as a supplement to the research we provide you during the week.

An Argentine bond breakthrough, via Belgium? by Elaine Moore (FT Alphaville)

For those not familiar with the saga (and we do mean saga; it’s approaching James Joyce length and depth at this point) we recommend skimming FTAV’s ongoing “Pari Passau Saga” series listed at the top of this most recent post, which details the new role Belgian courts may have to play in the default-and-mess-thereafter story of Argentina. [Link, registration required]

Sam Zell Edges Out of Apartments by Laura Kusisto (WSJ)

The real estate mogul is hitting a bid on a huge chunk of suburban apartments in favor of a focus on higher income, urban consumers that are surging back in to cities. [Link, paywall]

After Years of Decline, U.S. Oil Imports Rise by Nicole Friedman (WSJ)

An interesting dive into the move higher in US oil imports, mainly in response to shifting regional differentials within the domestic oil market. [Link, paywall]

IMF Said to Give China Strong Signs of Reserve-Currency Status (Bloomberg Business)

Loud signals are being sent by Chinese officials that the yuan will be added to the IMF’s special drawing rights bucket, which would confer significant prestige and increase global demand for yuan, one of the key steps to opening the Chinese capital account. [Link]

Standard Chartered Winding Down Equity Derivatives Business by Alfred Liu and Regina Tan (Bloomberg Business)

More dealing rooms are shuttering as global banks retreat from unprofitable, capital-intensive market making businesses in a variety of asset classes; StanChart’s Asia-focused equity derivative desks are just the most recent. [Link]

Then & Now: NYC’s Pneumatic Tube Mail Network by Michelle Young (Untapped Cities)

New York City used to host a multi-borough system of air-pressured tubes used for moving mail around various parts of the city’s postal system; travel time from the Herald Square General Post Office to Triborough in modern Harlem was about 20 minutes. [Link]

Are share buybacks jeopardizing future growth? by Tim Koller (McKinsey)

No, share buybacks are not destroying companies’ ability to invest, and the gang over at McKinsey has the numbers to prove it. [Link]

Valeant’s Pharmacy Relationships Were Complicated by Matt Levine (Bloomberg View)

Levine at his best, digging into the fine print and piling the entire Valeant mess into a nice, abstract theory of the differences between legal corporate control and economic corporate interest. [Link]

Moscow’s Metro Dogs by Sally McGrane (The New Yorker)

We’re dog lovers here at Bespoke so this gem from the archives about the fiercely intelligent packs of dogs roaming the streets – and rails – of Moscow was one of our favorites this week. [Link]

Inside the Secretive Circle That Rules a $14 Trillion Market by Nabila Ahmed (Bloomberg)

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association is proposing rule changes to reduce conflicts of interest on the committee that determines details around events of default, a critical process in the life cycle of a credit default swap. [Link]

Ask the Doc #2: Scotch, Bogs, Smoke, and You by Arielle Johnson (Madfeed)

Fascinating look into the organic chemistry of your favorite scotch: who knew that Lagavulin was loaded with 4-Ethyl Phenol or that Macallan had a bit more Vanillin? [Link]

Oysters, Alabama Style by Jennifer Stewart Kornegay (Bitter Southerner)

Long read on the half shell: inside the effort to preserve the Gulf Coast Oyster tradition on farms rather than prior methods based on tonging. [Link]

In China’s Alleyways, Underground Banks Move Money by Chuin-Wei Yap (WSJ)

A first-hand look at how capital continues to leak out of China, through Hong Kong or otherwise; steep penalties have only served to raise fees for Chinese savers desperate to move their wealth beyond the reach of their capricious government. [Link, paywall]

Guest post: Sizing up NPL risk in China by Christopher Balding (FT Alphaville)

A comparison of company interest expenses to bank-reported interest income in China suggests that the non-performing loan statistics for the country are drastic under-estimates of the true performance stats. [Link, registration required]

Here’s What Companies Are Saying About Wage Growth in Their Earnings Calls by Julie Verhage (Bloomberg Business)

A sample of earnings call mentions of labor cost, with a number of S&P 500 companies mentioning tightening labor markets, especially at the low end. [Link]

Receding indicator by Peter Thal Larsen (Reuters Breakingviews)

A roundup of the various dubious indicators used to track the consumer in China ranging from restaurant sales to Apple to various sentiment data series. [Link]

Enron Revisited: Highlights from Bear Stearns Research by Will Ortel (CFA Institute)

A delicious walk-through of a Bear Stearns research note published on Enron in January of 2001, featuring charts, quotes, and just perfect assumptions about one of the largest frauds in US history. [Link]

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