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.

Economic Research

A prince not a pauper: the truth behind the UK’s current account deficit by Stephen Burgess and Rachana Stanbhogue (BoE Bank Underground)

An argument that rather than incurring new liabilities, the UK’s current account deficit is a spending-down of accumulated national wealth. [Link]

Putting a Value on the Ecosystem Services Provided by Forests in the Eastern United States: Case Studies on Natural Capital and Conservation by Dan Kraus and Brian DePratto (The Nature Conservancy)

An attempt to demonstrate the economic value of forests across the East Coast of the United States, with a range of values per acre and methodology for how biological resources were assigned financial worth. [Link; 29 pages]

Tax Reform and the Trade Balance by Brad W. Setser (Council on Foreign Relations)

A rundown on likely macroeconomic account impacts from tax reform, focusing on the shifts in foreign taxation that will drive a re-alignment of the current account including the trade balance. [Link]


Long Online/Short Stores ETF (ProShares)

Just in time for a huge rally in traditional retail stores over the last few weeks, ProShares has created a custom index of traditional retailers to short and online retailers to be long, similar to Bespoke’s Death By Amazon index (link to more information). [Link]

Judge bars Starbucks from closing 77 failing Teavana stores by Lisa Fickenscher (NYP)

Starbucks has been ordered to keep stores open under the theory that closing them is a bigger burden on their landlord (Simon Property Group) than it is on Starbucks to keep the stores open. [Link]


Want a Vintage Metallica T-Shirt? That’ll be $1,000 by Jacob Gallagher (WSJ)

Vintage t-shirts from across the musical spectrum are flying off the shelves of stores that specialize in digging up old tour merch for a new generation. [Link; paywall]

Design (Motiv)

A new fitness tracker that’s fully waterproof, lasts days without a charge, and is worn around…your finger. [Link]


Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth by Nina Martin and Renee Montagne (ProPublica)

A heartbreaking story about the post-partum death of a CDC researcher which serves as an example of the horrific inequality in mothers’ mortality in the United States. [Link]

Millions Are Hounded for Debt They Don’t Owe. One Victim Fought Back, With a Vengeance by Zeke Faux (Bloomberg)

Debt collectors are hounding consumers for payments on debts they never incurred, but one man they chose to threaten over an invented balance decided to fight back. [Link]


Napoleon was the Best General Ever, and the Math Proves it. by Ethan Arsht (Towards Data Science)

Using methods that will be familiar to any hard-core baseball fan, Arsht ranks generals and attempts to determine how well they performed relative to the typical general. [Link]

The Conflict in Jerusalem Is Distinctly Modern. Here’s the History. by Mona Boshnaq, Sewell Chan, Irit Pazner Garshowitz, and Gaia Tripoli (NYT)

Background on the history of Jerusalem, helpful in the context of President Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to that city this week. [Link; soft paywall]


Private equity investors are paying through the nose for midsize companies by Matthew C. Klein (FTAV)

An update on the P/E market, which looks a little bit excessive these days given huge war chests and extreme valuations. [Link; registration required]

Bloomberg’s rising terminal count signals hope for the beleaguered bond trader by John Detrixhe (Quartz)

After recording only its second subscriber count decline in history last year, Bloomberg’s terminal business saw its customer count rise in 2017. [Link]


I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor by Oobah Butler (Vice)

In a frankly hilarious stunt, a journalist listed their shed as a restaurant then gamed TripAdvisor to make it the highest ranked restaurant in all of London. [Link]


This Mining Company Soared 159% After Saying It’s Buying a Crypto Firm by Camila Russo (Bloomberg)

All a company needs to do these days is change a part of its name to something bitcoin-related. [Link; auto-playing video]

There’s an $814 Million Mystery Near the Heart of the Biggest Bitcoin Exchange by Matthew Leising (Bloomberg)

In any investing fad there is inevitably fraud, and it looks like the combination of tether and the crypto exchange Bitfinex are gunning for the poll position in the blockchain’s tally. [Link; auto-playing video]

SEC Targets Initial Coin Offering ‘Scam’ by Paul Vigna (WSJ)

The first enforcement action against an initial coin offering has been dropped by the SEC, and it could be important in setting precedent for how ICOs are handled by US regulators. [Link; paywall]

Bitcoin miner: ‘I haven’t paid for heat in three years’ by Krystal Hu (Yahoo Finance)

A North Carolina man who mines bitcoins hasn’t needed to turn on his heat thanks to the huge volume of heat thrown off by CPUs on rigs he uses to mine. [Link; auto-playing video]

A Bitcoin Frenzy Like No Other Is Gripping South Korea by Kyungji Cho, Yuji Nakamura , and Narae Kim (Bloomberg)

Roughly 21% of trading in bitcoin globally takes place in Korean won, and thousands of speculators in the relatively small country have piled in to the surge. [Link; auto-playing video]

Meet CryptoKitties, the $100,000 digital beanie babies epitomizing the cryptocurrency mania by Evelyn Cheng (CNBC)

An explainer on the strangest fad you’ll read about this weekend. [Link; auto-playing video]

Have a great Sunday!

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