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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Stocks Are Rising on Earnings, and Earnings Aren’t Even That Good by Matt Phillips (NYT)

Without controlling for beats versus misses, S&P 500 stocks have rallied over 1% in the wake of earnings this season, the best result since 2009. [Link; soft paywall]

Jack Bogle Led This Investing Fee War by Elisabeth Kashner (ETF.com)

Another look back at index investing proponent Jack Bogle, and his gift to investors in the form of higher returns not paid to more expensive active managers. [Link]


Resignations Are Political Acts, Not Moral Ones by Theodore Johnson (Brennan Center for Justice)

A reminder that the calls for resignations in the wake of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal are part of an effort to assign cost to racist behavior. [Link]

What Trump talked about in the 2019 State of the Union (Axios)

A gorgeous graphical summary of the President’s last three speeches reporting the State of the Union to Congress, divided up by topic. [Link]

CLO System

Women Claim New Turf on Wall Street by Matt Wirz (WSJ)

The explosive growth of the securitized loan market has been fertile ground for female portfolio managers, with more than 1.5x as large of a share in senior management than the finance industry as a whole. [Link; paywall]

Health “Care”

Bill would require vaccinations amid Northwest measles outbreak (CBS)

Amidst an outbreak of measles that has been attributed to under-vaccination by scientifically illiterate parents, Washington State is proposing expanding requirements for measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations. [Link]

McKinsey Advised Purdue Pharma How to ‘Turbocharge’ Opioid Sales, Lawsuit Says by Michael Forsythe and Walt Bogdanich (NYT)

New legal papers related to ongoing suits against OxyContin makers Perdue shows the role that management consultants played in helping fuel opiate dependence. [Link; soft paywall]

Economic Policy

Fed debating if balance sheet should be regular tool, Daly says (Reuters)

In a speech this Friday, SF Fed President Mary Daly reported that FOMC officials are engaged in discussions about changes the size of the Fed’s balance sheet. [Link]

How Low Interest Rates Can Freeze the Economy by David Harrison (WSJ)

Stepping back from the overdramatic headline, a paper from Liu, Mian, and Sufi argues that one of the costs of lower interest rates is lower productivity. [Link]

The Global Con Hidden in Trump’s Tax Reform Law, Revealed by Brad Setser (NYT)

Another dramatic headline, but underlying it a firm analysis on the failure of promised benefits in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has actually incentivized further offshoring of profits by US corporations to reduce tax burden. [Link; soft paywall]

Prairie Problems

‘This One Here Is Gonna Kick My Butt’—Farm Belt Bankruptcies Are Soaring by Jesse Newman and Jacob Bunge (WSJ)

With prices for agricultural products low and trade disruptions still significant, US farmers are filing a wave of bankruptcies. [Link; paywall]


How a Strange Grid Reveals Hidden Connections Between Simple Numbers by Corey Brickley (Quanta)

A fascinating rundown of an abstract problem in number theory, with helpful graphical examples and a concise explanation of the details. [Link]


The Five Families of Feces by David Gauvey Herbert (New Yorker)

A quintessential story about the oligopoly sitting atop the New York market for portable sanitation facilities, full of vibrant characters, intrigue, and all the scatological a-loo-sions you could desire. [Link]


The 2019 Kia Niro EV Is What Tesla Model 3 Shoppers Should Be Buying by David Vanderwerp (Car and Driver)

A review of Kia’s entry to the mass-market electric vehicle which compares favorably to the more widely acclaimed Tesla Model 3. [Link]


How Belichik crushed McVay and other Super Bowl LIII notes by Ian A. Boyd (Concerning Sports)

A very thoughtful and nuts-and-bolts analysis of both offensive and defensive schemes that the New England Patriots used to stymy the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl. [Link]


The Rise of the Robot Reporter by Jaclyn Peiser (NYT)

While currently relatively limited to sports and finance, automated production of journalistic content is starting to accelerate. [Link; soft paywall]

Social Media

Instagram to hide self-harm images in the wake of rising teen suicides by Ben Kesslen (NBC)

The Facebook subsidiary is working to limit the spread of images featuring self-harm and suicide, which are a niche but potentially extremely harmful subset of what the service helps users share. [Link]


Huawei Sting Offers Rare Glimpse of the U.S. Targeting a Chinese Giant by Erik Schatzker (Bloomberg)

Silicon Valley start-ups, corporate espionage, national security, and an FBI sting are intertwined in this story about a US effort to expose the wrongdoing of the Chinese tech giant. [Link]


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Have a great weekend!

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