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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GameStop Madness

GameStop Day Traders Are Moving Into SPACs by Amrith Ramkumar (WSJ)

With prices and volatility both subsiding in popular “meme” stocks, investors looking to get ahead of the next pump are turning to SPACs for their big gains. [Link; paywall]

A GameStop Evangelist’s Videos Draw a Regulator’s Attention by Matthew Goldstein (NYT)

Massachusetts securities regulators are looking in to a trader at the center of the GameStop stocks urge for potential violations of supervisory protocols at his former company. [Link; soft paywall]

YouTuber David Dobrik Said He’s Lost $85,000 From Investing In GameStop Stock During The Hype by Tanya Chen (BuzzFeed)

A popular social media influencer reported that he lost $85,000 buying GameStop stock near the peak of the parabolic move in the stock that subsided over the past week. [Link]

Barstool founder Dave Portnoy sells GameStop, AMC shares at $700K loss by Thornton McEnery (NYP)

After collecting a big payday selling his company to Penn National, Dave Portnoy has taken to the markets, and in the latest round of fun turned himself into a GameStop bagholder. [Link; auto-playing video]

What Robinhood Traders Need to Know About Taxes by Laura Saunders (WSJ)

Active traders are going to face an absolute deluge of tax forms and actual levies, with the ten million other new retail traders who entered the market last year destined to learn hard lessons about both how much tax they owe and how big of a pain it is to file those taxes. [Link; paywall]

Back End & Brokering

GameStop Frenzy Puts Spotlight on Trading Giant Citadel Securities by Alexander Osipovich (WSJ)

Market maker and hedge fund Citadel has gotten lots of attention this week for their role in facilitating order flow from retail traders, and not all of it is positive. [Link; paywall]

Jane Street: the top Wall Street firm ‘no one’s heard of’ by Robin Wigglesworth (FT)

Another high frequency firm that makes markets specifically focused on ETFs has bene having a very good year and is also attracting an unusual amount of scrutiny. [Link; paywall]

Aligning with our community by Public (Medium)

In an effort to improve trust in their product, one of the free-to-trade brokerages has decided to stop accepting payment for order flow, and instead operate on a “tip” model. Good luck, we guess. [Link]


Why Do King Cakes Have Plastic Babies Hidden Inside? by Lindsey Liles (Garden & Gun)

If you’ve ever had a King Cake, you might have bitten in to a plastic baby. Here’s where that odd ingredient comes from. [Link]


It’s flipping madness: ‘Startling’ amount bet on Super Bowl coin toss by David Purdom (ESPN)

Every year, millions of dollars are bet on a negative expected-value outcome that puzzles even the least rational among us; why are people paying as much as 5% of their bet on the outcome of a coin toss? [Link]


Visa Signals Further Crypto Ambitions With API Pilot for Bank Customers to Buy Bitcoin by Nathan DiCamillo (Coindesk)

The mainstream payments giant is creating a new suite of APIs that allows banks to offer crypto products side-by-side with traditional financial services. [Link]

India plans to introduce law to ban Bitcoin, other private cryptocurrencies by Manish Singh (TechCrunch)

India is taking steps to ban crypto in the country, instead offering an official digital currency that it will roll out via new legislation later this year. [Link]

Tech Dystopia

There Are Spying Eyes Everywhere—and Now They Share a Brain by Arthur Holland Michel (Wired)

A Montreal company is attempting to put all surveillance techniques available to law enforcement into a single platform, offering a panopticon-like vision of the future. [Link; soft paywall]

Elon Musk Makes Characteristically Wild Debut on a Buzzy Social App Clubhouse by Reed Stevenson (Bloomberg)

The new conversation-sharing app Clubhouse featured a conversation with Tesla CEO Elon Musk this week, and it proved predictably wild with topics including bitcoin, Mars, Robinhood, aliens, monkey brains, and the COVID-19 vaccine. [Link; soft paywall]

A 25-Year-Old Bet Comes Due: Has Tech Destroyed Society? by Steven Levy (Wired)

A quarter century ago, an author and a journalist entered into a bet about the fate of society. While a winner has been declared, the victory was much narrower than might be expected. [Link]

Tech Utopia

The Environmental Upside of Modern Farming by Robert Paarlberg (WSJ)

If the world is going to feed its teeming billions into the 22nd century, it’s going to need a lot of productivity from farms. The good news is that productivity is booming, with use of pesticides dropping 80% since their 1972 peak while water and energy use are both down over 40% on a per-bushel basis. [Link; soft paywall]

Hard Currency

Gold, silver coin demand surging, straining U.S. Mint’s capacity by Devika Krishna Kumar (Reuters)

Sales of gold coins rose 258% last year, with silver coin sales up 28% per data released by the US Mint this week, and heavy buying has continued since. [Link]

Essential Workers

Covid Wears On, Essential Workers Carry On: ‘Everybody Forgets That You’re Still on the Front Line’ by Jennifer Levitz, Valerie Bauerlein and Alejandro Lazo (WSJ)

The front lines and greatest sacrifices of the COVID pandemic aren’t always in ICUs but very often in jobs that simply have to be done to keep the wheels turning. [Link; paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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