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.

That Time I Tried to Buy an Actual Barrel of Crude Oil by Trace Alloway (Bloomberg Markets)

We say above that we present our links in no particular order but this week there’s one that stands out, and hence gets pride of placement right at the top.  Alloway blends commodity markets, gonzo journalism, and her contacts amongst the broker community to weave this deeply amusing and informative piece about buying a small container of crude oil for storage and forward sale out of her Manhattan apartment. [Link]

Six Misconceptions and Six Hard Facts About the Solar Sector by Nemo Incognito (Medium)

Fantastic walk-through around the detailed economics of solar companies, from the good, bad and ugly, to the both harsh and incredible economic realities of solar at scale. A must-read for anyone interested in the space, including both yield cos and traditional solar providers. [Link]

Securitisation: the chicken and egg version by Thomas Hale (FT)

An analogical explanation of what securitization is via the example of a chicken farm; also includes a helpful update on European securitization markets. [Link, paywall]

Raghuram Rajan defends speech, says India fringe groups should calm down by John Micklethwait (LiveMint)

India’s well-regarded chief central banker has drawn ire for his enthusiastic support of open democracy and free expression. [Link]

Introducing the Chinese Social Financial Network by Izabella Kaminska (FT Alphaville)

Bitcoin exploded higher this week and Izzy is convinced it’s because a fully transparent pyramid scheme in China has gone viral; given the moves we’ve seen in bitcoin, China, bitcoin in China, and fraud related to all of those things over the years, we’re extremely sympathetic to this theory. [Link, registration required]

The Unkillable Demon King by Mina Kimes (ESPN)

A deep dive into the fascinating world of esports, specifically League of Legends and the plight of Faker, a 19-year-old Korean prodigy; this is a rapidly growing and passionately-supported area of entertainment that’s worthy of your attention. [Link]

China’s Money Exodus by Bloomberg News (Bloomberg Business)

More on China’s leaky capital account and the techniques used to move huge sums of money from onshore China to the rest of the world, beyond the reach of confiscation or devaluation. [Link]

Darth Jar Jar (darthjarar.com/SCULPT Marketing Group)

With The Force Awakens set to hit big screens a week before Christmas, take a dive inside the jarring theory that Jar Jar Binks was the true Sith mastermind in the prequel trilogy. [Link]

A shift to a decluttered digital economy by Diane Coyle (FT)

While economic growth has plodded steadily along over the past several decades, the amount of physical stuff in use has declined notably, due to de-industrialization, e-commerce, and the trend towards growth of services over manfucturing. [Link, paywall]

The Tech Bust of 2015 by Sam Altman (Sam Altman’s Blog)

A helpful primer on some of the financing arrangements being struck in late-stage private markets of Silicon Valley; ratchets, liquidation preferences, and liquidation caps have the effect of creating fixed liabilities that bear far more resemblance to debt than “equity”. [Link]

Understanding Earnings Dispersion by Fatih Karahan (NY Fed Liberty Street Economics)

A deep-dive on the nature and drivers of differences in lifetime pay for male workers in the United States, featuring a number of interesting charts and gifs presenting the data. [Link]

Global buyers snap up Russian corporate debt by Lucy Fitzgeorge-Parker (Euromoney)

Despite predictions of apocalypse for the Russian economy, debt floated by companies with USD revenues and RUB costs are attracting rabid demand from investors who need more exposure to Russia versus their benchmarks. [Link]

China Rolls Out First Large Passenger Jet by Chun Han Wong (WSJ)

China’s Commercial Aircraft Corp unveiled its first ever jet liner this week, a milestone on its efforts to compete with Airbus and Boeing; don’t expect them to hit the skies any time soon though, as flight testing will only begin next year and deliveries are not expected beyond China when they start in 2018. [Link, paywall]

How Changing Global Demographics Could Destroy One of the Most Popular Ideas in Portfolio Management by Luke Kawa (Bloomberg Business)

A very long trend of abundant labor supply looks set to be winding down and that leaves long-term portfolio managers with something of a quandary: how to shift between various asset classes in an environment where labor outperforms capital. [Link]

OECD health report: Charts and eye-catching facts by FastFT (FT)

A quick summary of some interesting stats and charts in the 220 page world health report released today from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. [Link, paywall]

According to NASA, Antarctica is actually gaining ice by Aamna Mohdin (Quartz)

A new analysis suggests that while certain regions within Antarctica are indeed seeing ice loss at an accelerated rate, other regions are actually adding ice faster and therefore the coldest continent is a net adder of ice, not the accelerating contributor to sea level rise that had been previously assumed. [Link]

Homebuyers are hitting record credit scores by Diana Olick (CNBC)

Hesitancy to lend to below-prime borrowers and strong demand as well as a recovering economy means that loans going out the door are probably the highest quality ever. [Link, autoplays video along with text]

Iriving Fisher still lurking in China by David Keohane (FT Alphaville)

A quick update on the prospects for China’s debt overhang, with the addition of some analysis of the new Five Year Plan. [Link, registration required]

Here’s the Deal: The Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership by Barack Obama (Medium)

In an…innovative? bold? strange? interesting? move, the White House has released the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Medium. [Link]

Man is evil but Americans are good: Reconciling US domestic and foreign policy philosophies by Raja Korman (Tumblr)

While domestic US policy is all about suspicion of central government and the fallibility of human systems, the outward stance of the US has always been much more sanguine on the weakness of actors, specifically American ones. [Link]

Activist Investor Bill Ackman Plays Defense by Monica Langley (WSJ)

A first-hand account of the trials and tribulations of Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman as he deals with the apocalyptic collapse in the shares of Valeant. [Link, paywall]

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