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.


Fidelity Reports Web Issues After Robo-Adviser Sites Crash by Brandon Kochkodin, Suzanne Woolley, and Ben Steverman (Bloomberg)

As equity markets plunged, technology platforms that have sought to create a new, more passive approach to investing saw crashes during the equity market decline Monday. [Link; auto-playing video]

Banks Cheer Return of Wild Markets by Max Colchester, Jenny Strasburg and Liz Hoffman (WSJ)

Low volatility meant low trading volumes for banks’ fixed income, currency, and commodities desks. But equity market declines this week have analysts anticipating good things for those parts of the financial system. [Link; paywall]

I somehow made $110k this morning and I’m still not totally sure how by flopsie123 (r/wallstreetbets)

A Reddit user was short a put spread, had 863 of 1000 puts on one leg exercised against him. Despite a $50,000 account the broker allowed $23mm worth of SPY shares to end up in his long account. That’s quite a margin loan! Remarkably, the investor managed to come out well ahead. [Link]


As Bitcoin Bubble Loses Air, Frauds and Flaws Rise to Surface by Nathaniel Popper (NYT)

An accounting of recent frauds, schemes, and hacks related to the retreat in crypto prices and the poor practices they have revealed. [Link; soft paywall]

China to stamp out cryptocurrency trading completely with ban on foreign platforms by Xie Yu (SCMP)

After taking earlier steps to curtail access to cryptocurrency access by closing domestic exchanges among other measures, China has now moved to block all websites related to crypto trading. [Link]


No telecommuting allowed: Why is Google investing billions of dollars in office buildings? by Tom Foremski (ZDnet)

Despite a suite of products and a culture that would seem to support remote work, Google has an absolutely voracious appetite for physical real estate and office space. [Link]

Twitter Made a Small Change to How It Shows Retweets. That’s Bad News for Bots. by April Glaser (Slate)

Embedded tweets that are shown on websites outside of the social network will now refer to how many people are discussing a tweet, rather than including retweet counts. [Link]

Space Cowboys

Falcon Heavy, in a Roar of Thunder, Carries SpaceX’s Ambition Into Orbit by Kenneth Chang (NYT)

A glowing review of the first test flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch system, the new and powerful multistage rocket designed to lift much larger satellites than the current Falcon 9 workhorse. [Link; soft paywall/auto-playing video]

This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It’s Taking Over Europe by Carl Zimmer (NYT)

A single mutation in a crayfish in Europe about 20 years ago let the creature clone itself, creating vast waves of progeny which have spread across the entire world. [Link; soft paywall]

EHang’s driverless MEGADRONE carries passengers around China at 80mph in its first ever test flights by Phoebe West (Daily Mail)

A Chinese company has run thousands of tests flights with a two passenger aerial vehicle, which can fly to, pick up, and drop off passengers all without a human driver. [Link]


Someone on the internet was wrong, $1tn of Treasuries edition by Alexandra Scaggs (FTAV)

Scaggs does some excellent mythbusting about US federal debt dynamics and mechanics as well as critiquing reports of forecasts portrayed as facts. [Link; registration required]


China to Probe U.S. Sorghum Subsidies (Bloomberg)

Following new Trump administration tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, China has announced a probe of subsidies paid to US sorghum exporters; describing this dust-up as a trade war is premature, but it’s got some similarities. [Link]

Economic Research

New Perspectives on the Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment by Teresa Fort, Justin Pierce, and Peter Schott (NBER/Fed Working Papers Preliminary Draft)

Using data from the Census, the authors introduce new dynamics relating to US manufacturing employment and import substitution. They find non-manufacturing workers hired by manufacturing firms largely offset the manufacturing employment decline until 2000; plant closures were offset in large part by new establishments containing high skill professional workers and other non-manufacturing jobs. [Link; 29 page PDF]

Have a great Sunday!

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