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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Election Analysis

The Polls Weren’t Great. But That’s Pretty Normal. by Nate Silver (538)

Polls were certainly off in 2020, but the national polling miss was far smaller – and less unusual – than the headlines might have indicated. [Link; soft paywall]

Nate Cohn Explains What the Polls Got Wrong by Isaac Chotiner (The New Yorker)

The NYT’s top voting analyst and pollster discusses why polls missed, with granular discussion of the specific factors and voting patterns that led pollsters to predict much larger Biden margins than those that actually appeared. [Link; paywall]

Election Showed a Wider Red-Blue Economic Divide by Jed Kolko (NYT)

This data-heavy column looks at the attributes of red and blue counties to offer some more detailed discussion 2020 vote patterns than simple results maps may indicate. [Link; soft paywall]

Fast Food

The Future of McDonald’s Is in the Drive-Thru Lane by Brian Barrett (Wired)

Machine-learning, transponders, and an emphasis on drive-thru dining are just some of the many innovations McDonalds is working on to power further growth. [Link; soft paywall]

Fast Food’s Bet on Breakfast Goes Bust During Covid-19 Pandemic by Julie Wernau (WSJ)

With more working from home and fewer commutes, fast food companies’ bets on the first meal of the day has gone sour at a grand scale. [Link; paywall]


China’s President Xi Jinping Personally Scuttled Jack Ma’s Ant IPO by Jing Yang and Lingling Wei (WSJ)

On October 24th, Alibaba controlling shareholder Jack Ma argued financial regulation is standing in the way of private market innovations that can solve China’s debt problem. President Xi Jinping didn’t take so well to that line of thinking, and a few days later the company’s IPO of Ant Group was pulled. [Link; paywall]

Hong Kong regulator clears funds and banks to implement US sanctions by Primrose Riordan and Nicolle Liu (FT)

In a sign of who really calls the shots in the global financial system, Hong Kong regulators have assured banks that complying with US sanctions that punish officials for enforcing anti-democratic measures designed by Beijing will not lead to a new round of penalties from Beijing. [Link; paywall]

TikTok says the Trump administration has forgotten about trying to ban it, would like to know what’s up by Sam Byford (The Verge)

The US government has gone silent on its directive for Chinese company ByteDance to sell video service TikTok’s US operations, leading the company to ask whether it’s still supposed to be complying with the original order. [Link]

Policy Cliffs

Federal Reserve’s Emergency Loan Programs at Center of Political Fight by Jeanna Smialek and Alan Rappeport (NYT)

Programs which underwrote the bottoming out of financial markets in March and would offer a critical backstop should fiscal policy fail to underwrite a rocky winter period may end up cancelled by the Trump Administration during its lame duck period. [Link; soft paywall]


Ackman places new bet against corporate credit by Ortenca Aliaj (FT)

After making $2.6bn betting against $71bn of notional corporate credit in late February, Bill Ackman is returning to the theme as he shorts the same market again; it should be noted, however, that he explicitly views this latest trade as a hedge against his equity longs. [Link; paywall]

The Tiny Hedge Fund That’s Loved on Twitter — And Now Backed by Greenlight by Leanna Orr (Institutional Investor)

A small hedge fund run by a Twitter personality has seen a sizeable investment from fund-of-funds Greenlight, offering the large firm’s imprimatur and prestige in addition to more assets. [Link]

The Investors Gambit by Michael Antonelli (Bull & Baird)

What investors large and small can learn from Netflix’s latest smash hit Queen’s Gambit: constant obstacles, many ups and downs, signs for a path, and a face down with rivals are all part of both successful investing and the series. [Link]

New York State of Mind

Richest New Yorkers Will Devastate City If They Leave With $133 Billion by Alexandre Tanzi and Ben Steverman (Bloomberg)

Income taxes account for less than 20% of New York City’s total receipts, but they are dominated by an extremely small and extremely high-income group of 30,000 households making in excess of $1mm/year. [Link; soft paywall]

The Bronx’s Little Italy is thriving amid the COVID-19 crisis by Lisa Fickenscher (NYP)

With New Yorkers stuck near home, Arthur Avenue has seen a boom in business that has kept footfalls at or above the levels that prevailed before COVID struck. [Link]


Life after COVID-19 hospitalization: Statewide study shows major lasting effects on health, work and more (Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation)

A new study shows that in the two months after leaving the hospital, 7% of severe COVID cases were dead, 15% returned to the hospital, and 12% were unable to carry out basic care of themselves, illustrating the “long tail” of COVID’s impact on the human body long after the acute infection period. [Link]

How Ticketmaster Plans to Check Your Vaccine Status for Concerts: Exclusive by Dave Brooks (Billboard)

The events company plans to use third-party services as well as health care providers to make sure that attendees either had a negative COVID test or vaccination in the past couple of days before any event they attend. [Link]

Animal Products

When Pigs Fly, They Want Drinks, Leg Room by Lucy Cramer (WSJ)

Faced with crashing passenger counts, airlines are scrambling to re-orient their fleets towards cargo hauling, and some of their passengers have even more finnicky than the human kind. [Link; paywall]

Where’s the meat? UK’s first vegan butchers launches (Reuters)

Soy and seitan-based proteins will be the focus in a new UK business that hopes to cater to customers who have completely forgone animal products. [Link; auto-playing video]

The Secrets of Deviled Eggs by Emily Strasser (The Bitter Southerner)

A uniquely Southern hors d’oeuvre (or maybe hors d’oeuf) is the focus of cravings and mouth-waterings all across the country, bringing with it a unique food history that is much more intense than many other favored foodstuffs. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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