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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Foreign Affairs

Unequal and irate, Latin America is coming apart at the seams by Daniel Cancel (MSN/Bloomberg)

An uprising against inequality in Chile, the usurpation of a left-wing government in Bolivia, populist leaders in Mexico and Brazil: a catalogue of the volatile political events in Latin America. [Link]

The Iran Cables (The Intercept)

700 pages of Iranian intelligence reports shed light on some of the country’s clandestine dealings over the past few years, including its involvement in Iraqi politics that has led to utter chaos in that country. [Link]

Inconspicuous Consumption

The House Liquor Of The Muslim World by Shuja Haider (The Outline)

How does a liquor brand become ubiquitous in a culture of tee-totalers? What starts as an investigation of Johnny Walker Black reveals a fascinating investigation of alcohol in the Muslim world. [Link]

Two of the Same Ultra-Rare Cars in the Same Town? Almost Impossible by A.K. Baine (WSJ)

One of the most rare cars in the country had a production run of only about 130, and two of them have ended up in Durham, North Carolina together 68 years later. [Link; paywall]

The American Dream

Personal loans are ‘growing like a weed,’ a potential warning sign for the U.S. economy by Heather Long (mySA/WaPo)

The rapid expansion of fintech lenders has driven huge growth in unsecured personal loans, which are helping crowd out other forms of lending. [Link; auto-playing video]

Blackstone Moves Out of Rental-Home Wager With a Big Gain by Ryan Dezember (WSJ)

After making a massive bet on single-family housing rentals in the wake of the financial crisis, Blackstone is finally exiting the space via the final sale of shares in its Invitation Homes investment. [Link; paywall]

World’s Rich Are Rattled and Seeking Old-Fashioned Security by Ben Stupples (Yahoo!/Bloomberg)

The business of protecting other peoples’ valuables is very, very old and has been very, very profitable for a long time, and with extreme wealth driven by both inequality and aggregate economic growth creating a flood of the ultra-wealthy, business is booming. [Link]

Disinformation Studies

Thousands flock to Wikipedia founder’s ‘Facebook rival’ (BBC)

A crowd-sourced and donor-funded Facebook competitor that pledges to never sell user data is starting to gain traction, even though it costs users $100 per year. [Link]

A Former Fox News Executive Divides Americans Using Russian Tactics by Nicole Perlroth (NYT)

Ken LaCorte runs a network of Facebook pages and news sites designed to divide and inspire wide sharing of their stories based on political anger. [Link; soft paywall]

How to recognize AI snake oil by Arvind Narayanan (Princeton University CITP)

As most investors are now aware, buzzwords related to big data and “AI” usually hide basically meaningless processes under the hood. [Link; 21 pages]

Social Studies

Growing sense of social status threat and concomitant deaths of despair among whites by Arjumand Siddiqi, Odmaa Sod-Erdene, Darrick Hamilton, Tressie Mcmillan Cottom, and William Darity (ResearchGate)

The authors argue that rising prevalence of “deaths of despair” are being driven by loss of superior status, basing their argument on the fact that nonwhites are experiencing many of the same socioeconomic pressures but have not seen a higher mortality rate in response. [Link]

Women Desert Trading Floors as Bias Blocks Path to Management by Charlotte Ryan (Bloomberg)

There are few women in management roles within FX businesses run by large global investment banks, and it’s not particularly mysterious why. [Link; soft paywall]

Small Blessings

Coldplay to put touring on hold for environmental reasons by Rory Sullivan (CNN)

The band has decided to turn down tours in order to reduce its impact on the environment. A noble motivation, and one that carries the positive externality of savings thousands from experiencing the band’s “music”. [Link; paywall]


What Joe Biden Can’t Bring Himself to Say by John Hendrickson (The Atlantic)

What looks at first glance like a political profile is in actual fact a much more nuanced piece of writing about the author’s experience as a stutterer, told through the lens of Joe Biden’s own experience with stuttering. A unique piece of writing that defies categorical assessment. . [Link; soft paywall]


Days Gone By: Physics Offers Explanation To Why Time Flies As We Get Older by John Anderer (Study Finds)

A Duke University team discovered that increasingly complex nerve pathways really do slow down perceptions of time as humans age. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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