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.

Thinkers of Note

Charlie Munger on Getting Rich, Wisdom, Focus, Fake Knowledge and More (Farnham Street)

A series of quotes and anecdotes offering insight into the way Charlie Munger (of Berkshire Hathaway) thinks about investing and the world more broadly. [Link]

Kenneth Arrow, Nobel-Winning Economist Whose Influence Spanned Decades, Dies at 95 by Michael M. Weinstein (NYT)

Probably best known for a theory that’s more important for political science than economics, Arrow was a giant of the economics field, winning a Nobel and profoundly influencing the development of economic thinking in the latter half of the 20th century. [Link; soft paywall]

Hedge Funds

How Does the Hottest Metals Trade Work? First, Find Storage by Mark Burton (Bloomberg)

As battery demand explodes thanks to electric vehicle market penetration, hedge funds are buying physical stocks of cobalt. [Link]

Hedge Fund Liquidity Falls to Danger Zone in U.S. Stock Market by Lu Wang (Bloomberg)

As the market has rallied, gross exposures have risen and cash balances have fallen in the hedge fund community. [Link]


Why are we the only human species still alive? by Melissa Hogenboom (BBC)

Numerous close relatives of our species existed in relatively recent history, and often in close proximity to modern homo sapiens. So where did they go? [Link]

NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star (NASA)

While 235 trillion miles may seem like a very long way, it’s part of our astronomical backyard. That makes the discovery of multiple planets inside the habitable zone (where liquid water would be possible) of a star 40 light years away extremely exciting. [Link]

Tech Capital Raising

Jeff Bezos had to take 60 meetings to raise $1 million for Amazon, giving up 20% to early investors by John Cook (GeekWire)

With a current market cap of $400bn, it seems impossible to imagine the struggle its founder had raising capital for the original company. [Link]

My Snap Story: Valuing Snap ahead of it’s IPO! by Aswath Damodaran (Musings on Markets)

Dean of valuation and NYU professor Damoradan takes aim at the parent company of Snapchat, which plans to IPO in the next couple of weeks. [Link]

International Affairs

What One Photo Tells Us About North Korea’s Nuclear Program by Max Fischer and Jugal K. Patel (NYT)

A fascinating breakdown of the tiny visual cues left behind in propaganda pictures, with commentary from experts in nuclear proliferation. [Link; soft paywall]


Opening the Heart’s Floodgates, With a Paw by Amy Sutherland (NYT)

If you’re a dog person – whether you have a four-legged companion of your own or not – you’ll love this account of working in a shelter, helping pups find forever homes. [Link; soft paywall]


Mike Piazza Learns How to Be an Owner. Of a Soccer Team. In Italy. by Andrew Keh (NYT)

Piazza was a giant behind the plate in ballparks, but his new focus is a move to a small city 100 miles south of Milan, where he has purchased a third division soccer franchise. [Link; soft paywall]

Stretch of Roman road unveiled beneath McDonald’s restaurant by Nick Squires (The Telegraph)

A side of history goes well with burgers and fries. At a new fast food spot outside Rome, a stretch of Roman road is visible beneath the area where customers order their food. [Link]

Opportunities & Costs

The Big Idea for Middle America: Think Small by Conor Sen (Bloomberg View)

While the large city has been associated with opportunity, lower cost of living, accessible political institutions, and the ability to own a home are all important competitive advantages for small town America. [Link]

The High Cost of Cheap Labor by Brian Barth (Modern Farmer)

Inside the farm economy’s dependence on cheap immigrant labor in a country where available jobs aren’t always sought after. [Link]

Health Care

You’re Overpaying for Drugs and Your Pharmacist Can’t Tell You by Jared S. Hopkins (Bloomberg)

A look at the practice of clawbacks, a practice that steers consumers towards more expensive drugs despite the existence and availability of extremely cheap alternatives. [Link]

Bad Business Models

Beepi’s Series B Surprise by Chris Coleman (Carlypso)

An analysis (from a competitor, so perhaps to be taken with a grain of salt) of the failure of Beepi. The post is a fascinating insight into the function of the used car market and used car dealers. [Link]

Inside Disney’s troubled $675 mil. Maker Studios acquisition by Sahil Patel (Digiday)

Back in 2014, Disney purchased a stable of creative talent and syndication via YouTube called Maker Studios. The purchase has not panned out. [Link]

Have a great Sunday!

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