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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Health Care

ER doctors agree it’s time to tackle surprise emergency room bills by Sarah Kliff (Vox)

Surprise emergency room bills – the practice of in-network emergency rooms staffed by out-of-network practitioners leading to huge costs for patients not covered by insurance who are trying their best to comply with coverage requirements – is getting attention from both Congress and the private sector. [Link]

Apple & Aetna team up for health-tracking ‘Attain’ program by Mike Wuerthele (Apple Insider)

One of the country’s largest health insurers is partnering with Apple to provide incentives for patients to engage in healthy activity, with rewards that include gift cards and an Apple Watch. [Link]

Failure Of Justice

Taken: How police departments make millions by seizing property by Anna Lee, Nathaniel Cary, and Mike Ellis (The Greenville News)

A massive investigation of the practice of civil asset forfeiture, a practice of seizing property connected to criminal activity. In many cases, including those documented at length by this story, the practice is used to fund police departments regardless of whether the claims of connection to activity are legitimate. [Link]

He was accused of killing a Portland teen. Feds believe the Saudis helped him escape by Shane Dixon Kavanaugh (The Oregonian)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been implicated in the orchestration of a 21-year-old Saudi student who was awaiting trial for the hit-and-run killing of a Portland woman. [Link]

Media Matters

1 big thing: The future of media is niche by Sara Fischer (Axios)

Loyalty to a specific subject matter and coverage of it appears to be the only way to make money in digital media thanks to distribution costs nearing zero. [Link]

For Bill Simmons’s the Ringer, Podcasting Is the Main Event by Benjamin Mullin and Joe Flint (WSJ)

The Ringer was founded with a focus on podcasting from the very beginning, which may give it room to make up ground on much larger sports properties. [Link; paywall]

Telegraph to Pay Melania Trump ‘Substantial’ Damages for Article by Kelly Gilblom (Bloomberg Quint)

A British newspaper published an article that relied on “a number of false statements” which resulted in the paper paying substantial damages to the First Lady. [Link; soft paywall]

Michigan teen who made 700 BuzzFeed quizzes for free: No more by JC Reindl (Detroit Free Press)

After learning that her work was effectively allowing Buzzfeed to lay off paid staff, a Michigan teen who was the fifth-highest driver of traffic to the site has sworn off creating quizzes. [Link]


Chemours Is Using The U.S. As An Unregulated Dump For Europe’s Toxic GenX Waste by Sharon Lerner (The Intercept)

Chemical giant Chemours is shipping byproducts from the production of a chemical used in Teflon to North Carolina, making NC a dumping ground for toxic waste. [Link]

Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492 by Alexander Koch, Chris Brierley, Mark M. Maslin, and Simon L. Lewis (SinceDirect)

Prior to the arrival of Europeans in North America, large scale activity by First Peoples kept growth of forests in check. For more on this subject, we also recommend the excellent history 1491 by Charles C. Mann (Amazon link). After the huge population declines related to disease exchange, enough plant life grew back that plausible estimates show carbon dioxide extraction from the atmosphere may have led to mini-ice ages. [Link]


Can China Turn the Middle of Nowhere Into the Center of the World Economy? by Ben Mauk (NYT Mag)

A spotlight on one of the largest infrastructure projects in history and the role it may play in the expansion of globalization. [Link; soft paywall]

The People’s Bank Capital of China by Thomas Hale (FTAV)

A look at a new PBoC program which allows for steal recapitalization of banks via the central bank, thanks to a facility which allows funding for holders of perpetual bonds issued by banks. [Link; soft paywall]

The Great Chinese Bank Bailout by Frances Coppola (Forbes)

More on the PBoC’s effort to stimulate demand for – and ultimately subsidize – central bank perpetual bonds which are helping keep the country’s banking system afloat. [Link]

Construction halts on $1-billion mixed-use complex in downtown L.A. by Roger Vincent, Emily Alpert Reyes, and David Zahniser (LAT)

A massive real estate development project in downtown LA is on pause thanks to a lack of funds from the Beijing-based company funding the project. [Link]

Online Activity

A “gold standard” study finds deleting Facebook is great for your mental health by Nicole Karlis (Salon)

A Stanford/NYU study showed that when users of Facebook deactivated their accounts, they spent more time socializing, had less polarized political views, and experienced higher subjective well-being. [Link]

Craigslist Reduced Violence Against Women by Scott Cunningham, Gregory DeAngelo, and John Tripp (Working Paper)

The passage of FOSTA in 2018 eliminated virtually all online forums which had allowed sex workers to screen clients, raising the prospect that a perverse effect of efforts to protect women from sex traffic may make violence against them more prevalent. [Link; 50 page PDF]

Product Innovation

iRobot’s Long-Awaited Terra Robot Does the Lawn Mowing for You by Don Reisinger (Fortune)

The maker of the Roomba has finally rolled out an automated solution to the problem of keeping your grass clipped and presentable. [Link]

Purina Wants to Feed Your Dog Crickets and Fish Heads by Corinne Gretler and Deena Shanker (Bloomberg)

The pet food company wants to use invasive species in pet food to both clean out the interlopers and provide viable protein for pups across the country. [Link; soft paywall]

Transit Tragedy

A Mother’s Fatal Fall on Subway Stairs Rouses New Yorkers to Demand Accessibility by Michael Gold and Emma G. Fitzsimmons (NYT)

A 22-year-old Stamford woman fell when trying to navigate the stairs at Seventh and 53rd with a stroller containing her 1 year old daughter. The daughter survived the fall, her mother did not. [Link; soft paywall]


An Interest Rates Primer for Cryptocurrency Folks by Josh Giersch (Josh.sg)

Interest rates implied by the bitcoin futures market are starting to get very attractive indeed, despite the crypto market collapse. [Link]


The Best Hedge Fund Manager of All Time Is… by Stephen Taub (Institutional Investor)

A London-based firm has ranked hedge funds performance and discovered that after fees the top 20 funds earned $23.2bn for clients last year compared with a $64.2bn loss for the rest of the industry. [Link]

Generation Studies

The Fleecing of Millennials by David Leonhardt (NYT)

A data-driven review of the economic prospects of the largest generation in American history, with some staggering results. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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