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.

Birinyi More Worried About Markets Than Any Time Since 2009 by Joseph Ciolli (Bloomberg)

Veteran market prognosticator Lazlo Birinyi has altered his bullish tone and says that he’s growing increasingly nervous about the outlook for stocks. [Link]

Cracks Exposed in U.S. Bond Market as Liquidity Woes Warp Prices by Liz McCormick and Alexandra Scaggs (Bloomberg)

Price distortions between more liquid recent issues by the Treasury and less liquid “off the runs” are one indicator that shows the US bond market is much harder to operate in than normal these days. [Link]

Petrodollars are eurodollars, and eurodollar base money is shrinking by Izabell Kaminska (FT Alphaville)

A thought-provoking (as usual from Kaminska) rundown of the impact that crashing commodity prices are having on the global money supply. [Link, registration required]

Will China’s new “supply-side” reforms help China? By Michael Pettis (China Financial Markets)

This is an extremely long read and very worthwhile read on the history and outlook for Chinese growth in the context of reforms, both economic and financial; seriously, it’s really long (20,000 words) so get your coffee and a comfortable chair before starting. [Link]

It’s people. The economy is made out of people by Jason Smith (Information Transfer Economics)

Some novel (and well-supported) ideas about what drives growth over the course of the economy’s development; highly recommended. [Link]

The Five Scenarios Now Facing the Federal Reserve by Tim Duy (Bloomberg)

The outlook for growth and financial markets is currently somewhat uncertain; this clear and insightful post lays out the various possibilities quite nicely. [Link]

How Los Angeles Is Changing the Way Men Dress by Booth More (WSJ)

We admit to rolling our eyes a bit at some of this piece but for fashionistas and the casual dresser alike it’s an interesting read, and one that conforms with Bespoke’s own dress code quite well. [Link, paywall]

Japan, China seek new dialogue on yuan, China reforms by Leika Kihara (Reuters)

We’re enthusiastic about the liberalization of many, many aspects of China’s economy but we can’t help but wonder whether Japan is the right country to assist china here given its painful retreat from a massive investment-led bubble in the 1980s. [Link]

Spiriva – Half the Medicine Provided is Wasted by MrConsumer (MousePrint.org)

If you need an example of how bonkers (that is, nonsensical) US prescription drug pricing is, look no further than this downright absurd example. [Link]

Innovation and the Contingent Workforce by Labor Secretary Tom Perez (US Department of Labor Blog)

In an exciting development, this blog post announces that the Bureau of Labor Statistics will once again begin collecting stats on the “gig” economy, whose rise in the form of ride sharing or home sharing apps (think AirBnB or Uber) is gaining increasing attention. [Link]

Pentagon in open brawl over spending priorities by Austin Wright (Politico)

In a somewhat concerning development, some of the highest ranking military leaders and civilian overseers are increasingly at odds over what and who should receive military funding. [Link]

People keep going to this home looking for their lost phones – and nobody knows why by Peter Holley (WaPo)

This amusing story features irate phone owners, a bit of math and science, and two very concerned home owners who are dealt a wave of unwanted visitors. [Link]

Siri, Alexa and Other Virtual Assistants Put to the Test by Brian X. Chen (NYT)

Some of the trials and tribulations of using “AI”-like software to help manage your life, find information, and allegedly make things easier. [Link, paywall]

Inside Facebook’s Decision to Blow Up the Like Button by Sarah Frier (Bloomberg)

An inside track look at the decision made by the world’s largest social network to fundamentally alter a key part of its user interface. [Link]

Only women showed up to work after snowstorm, Senator says by Emily Smith (CNN)

Women work harder than men…in the US Senate, at least; following the major snow storm in Washington this week, the entire staff and membership of the Senate that was present early this week was female. [Link]

If Women Are So Good At Managing Money, Why Are So Few Of Them Doing It? By Leah McGrath Goodman (Newsweek)

Numerous academic studies have suggested that more attuned risk tolerance and cooler heads help women perform better than men when managing money…so why aren’t more of them doing that? [Link, paywall]

Silicon Valley North Fuels Canada Condo Boom as Google Moves In by Katia Dmitrieva (Bloomberg)

Words fail us at some of the anecdotes in this story, which truly boggles the mind in the picture it paints of a Canadian housing market looking identically similar to what happened in the mid-2000s for the US. [Link]

Bets on Negative U.S. Rates by End-2017 Jump Above 10% Chance by Matthew Boesler and Liz McCormick (Bloomberg)

While only one Fed official has suggested negative rates are anything close to necessary (Narayana Kocherlakota in his submissions to the Statement of Economic Projections last year), options markets are regarding that outcome as increasingly likely. [Link]

Fees on Mutual Funds and ETFs Tumble Toward Zero by Jason Zweig and Sarah Krouse (WSJ)

A look at the breakneck-speed race to the bottom that investment products are offering clients on the price of their services. [Link, paywall]

U.S. Universities Raised a Record $40.3 Billion Last Year by Janet Lorin (Bloomberg)

A fantastic look at the scale of fund raising conducted by elite institutions with dozens of gifts over $100mm in value. [Link]

Iowa’s Bucolic Backdrops Belie an Economy That Thrives on Finance by John McCormick (Bloomberg)

We had no idea that 21.5% of GDP in Iowa was driven by finance, insurance, and real estate, but that’s true of the first to vote state. [Link]

What A Girl Wants, FOMC Edition and Brazil Is Not Driven By Commodity Exports by Mark Dow (Behavioral Macro)

Two quick posts from macro trading veteran and economic commentator Mark Dow, outlining his thinking around the Federal Reserve and the collapse in Brazil’s economy.

What A Girl Wants, FOMC Edition [Link]

Brazil Is Not Driven By Commodity Exports [Link]

It’s What You Owe (Bahl & Gaynor)

A thoughtful and skeptical look at the outlook for corporate credit in the US, with numerous charts and the overarching thesis that credit spreads will continue to widen until the fundamental outlook improves. [Link]

High-Tech Homeless Man In Detroit Accepts Credit Card Donations On A Cell Phone (CBS Detroit)

We honestly don’t know what to say about this one, other than to note we’re impressed at the effort made by this Detroit resident. [Link]

As Japan Battles Deflation, a Bitter Legacy Looms by Jacob M. Schlesinger and Takashi Nakamachi (WSJ)

A retrospective on “Japan’s Keynes”, the central banker that got Japan moving again following the Great Depression but was eventually killed by rebelling soldiers. [Link, paywall]

Instagram Sensation Chef Jacques La Merde on Who She Really Is (and Cooking with Cheez Whiz) by Christine Flynn (Bon Appetit)

We are huge fans of @chefjacqueslamerde on Instagram for “his” irreverent and light-hearted takes on modern haute cuisine; this article explaining the account from its creator is fantastic. [Link]

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