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.

The Big Apple

The Most Expensive Mile of Subway Track on Earth by Brian M. Rosenthal (NYT)

Massive cost inflation on capital projects related to New York City transit is driven more by rampant fraud and excess than the admittedly significant challenges inherent to construction in the dense urban environment. [Link; soft paywall]

Crime in New York City Plunges to a Level Not Seen Since the 1950s by Ashley Southall (NYT)

Murders in the country’s largest city have fallen by nearly 90% since 1990 and are at a record low for periods with reliable data. The decline has been consistent for 27 years straight. [Link; soft paywall]


Crispr Isn’t Enough Any More. Get Ready For Gene Editing 2.0 by Megan Molteni (Wired)

5000 papers in 5 years have mentioned Crispr, the gene editing protocol discovered in 2012. Here’s a rundown of the next wave of techniques that will be used for gene editing. [Link; auto-playing video]

As World Eats More Meat, U.S. Soy Is Losing the Battle to Feed Animals by Jeff Wilson and Tatiana Freitas (Bloomberg)

The US soybean crop’s protein yield fell to 34.1% this year, a tie with 2008 for the lowest since at least 1986, putting US farmers at a disadvantage when it comes to international sales of the harvest. [Link]


Freed From the iPhone, the Apple Watch Finds a Medical Purpose by Daisuke Wakabayashi (NYT)

With the ability to receive data connections thanks to wireless transmitting capability, the Apple Watch is starting to fulfill the medical promise of the device. [Link, soft paywall]

Blockchain Pumping New Life Into Old-School Companies Like IBM by Olga Kharif (Bloomberg)

If the hype around the adoption of blockchain technology for a myriad of roles is to be believed, IBM is in an excellent position to benefit. [Link; auto-playing video]

Emerging Markets

Emerging Markets: Growing in Maturity? by Richard Barley (WSJ)

The MSCI EM stock index turned 30 this week, and over those three decades lots has changed. Now, with constituent countries at 35% of the global economy, the index looks totally different from its origins. [Link; paywall]


Ten Economic Questions for 2018 by Bill McBride (Calculated Risk)

Bill’s always excellent blog always features this annual outlook piece which sits the stage for the coming year of data. [Link]

Best Schematic Ever: Financial Frictions in Macro/Finance by Menzie Chinn (Econbrowser)

An amazing run-down of literature that details the frictions in financial and real markets which can inhibit efficiency and curtails the benefits of the construct. [Link]


Goodbye, George Bailey: Decline of Rural Lending Crimps Small-Town Business by Ruth Simon and Coulter Jones (WSJ)

Almost one-third of local rural counties have no local bank, versus less than 15% in the mid-1990s. The trend is part of a larger wave of consolidation in banking across the economy but is crimping rural communities to an especially large degree. [Link; paywall]

Long Reads

Minecraft (Alice Maz)

A fascinating read on the economy of a Minecraft server, with remarkable similarities and differences to and from the real-world version. [Link]

The Secret History Of The Russian Consulate In San Francisco by Zach Dorfman (Foreign Policy)

An almost impossible to believe story of soft espionage conducted against Silicon Valley and the US more generally from the foggy hills of San Francisco. [Link; soft paywall]

Have a great Sunday and a Happy New Year!

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