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.

Mind the Gap

Two interesting write-ups on an amazing stat we uncovered in a Chart of the Day a few weeks ago.

The Stock Market Works By Day, But It Loves the Night by Jeff Sommer (NYT) [Link; soft paywall]

The Investors’ After Party by Vito Racanelli (Barron’s) [Link]

Tax Reform Tales

B.R.E.A.M. (Bonds Rule Everything Around Me) by Alexandra Scaggs (FTAV)

While offshore profits are overwhelmingly held in dollar-denominated assets and therefore won’t be of much foreign exchange impact, they will create radical shifts in the funding of offshore USD markets and the US bond markets’ structure. [Link; registration required]

Tucked Into the Tax Bill, a Plan to Help Distressed America by Jim Tankersley (NYT)

A billion and a half dollars doesn’t sound like much but if properly executed, a small provision of the recent tax reform package could kick-start more investment and activity in rural and low income areas that have been largely left behind during the current recovery. [Link; soft paywall]

Where We Live

A Gentrification Story With A Happy Ending by Jon Michaud (NYer)

The story of a diverse Harlem community staving off the closure of a legendary watering hole, saving what is not only a thriving business but also a community institution. [Link]

U.S. soldiers are revealing sensitive and dangerous information by jogging by Liz Sly (WaPo)

Thanks to the release of billions of GPS data points logged by its users, workout app Strava has unwittingly revealed the locations and layouts of US armed forces locations around the world. [Link; soft paywall]


Companies Will Learn to Love Unions by Conor Sen (Bloomberg View)

Historically unions have been viewed as factor increasing cost of labor, but they also serve to secure supply for businesses. [Link]


Podcast Listeners Really Are The Holy Grail Advertisers Hoped They’d Be by Miranda Katz (Wired)

On average podcast listeners make it through 90% of the length of the programs they listen to, a fantastically enthusiastic engagement rate. [Link]

Concerning Lending

How the Finance Industry Is Trying to Cash In on #MeToo by Matthew Goldstein and Jessica Silver-Greenberg (NYT)

With rising numbers of lawsuits and settlement payments to victims of sexual harassment, specialized lenders are looking to cash in by financing the payouts. [Link; soft paywall]

Cash-Strapped Chinese Giant Taps a New Money Source: Its Workers by Alexandra Stevenson and Cao Li (NYT)

Faced with profitability pressures and a mountain of debt after a truly absurd acquisition binge, Chinese conglomerate HNA is asking employees to pony up and make loans to the company. [Link; soft paywall]


Massive Cryptocurrency Heist Spurs Call for More Regulation by Yuji Nakamura and Andrea Tan (Bloomberg)

A Japanese cryptocurrency exchange will go down as one of the largest heist victims in history after thieves were able to hack almost half a billion dollars worth of tokens. [Link; auto-playing video]

U.S. Regulators Subpoena Crypto Exchange Bitfinex, Tether by Matthew Leising (Bloomberg)

A Japanese cryptocurrency exchange will go down as one of the largest heist victims in history after thieves were able to hack almost half a billion dollars worth of tokens. [Link; auto-playing video]

Economic Research

Speed under sail during the early Industrial Revolution by Morgan Kelly and Cormac Ó Gráda (Voxeu)

Using detailed records of positions and weather conditions from ships logs, the authors demonstrate notable improvement in shipping speeds during the 18th century that economists had previously dismissed. [Link]


How Apple Built a Chip Powerhouse to Threaten Qualcomm and Intel by Mark Gurman (Bloomberg)

Vertical integration is back! Faced with sub-optimal results from suppliers’ chipsets (which more recently have been beset by security concerns), Apple’s bet on internally developed chips looks increasingly prescient. [Link]

Social Media

The Follower Factory by Nicholas Confessore, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Richard Harris, and Mark Hansen (NYT)

Inside the world of fake followers and purchased influence, which runs rampant in a world where social media credibility has become increasingly important. [Link]


David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital Lost 6% in January by Juliet Chung (WSJ)

Hedge fund performance in general has lagged in a period of low volatility and sky-high performance for the highest-market cap stocks, but Greenlight’s shorts in particular look painful. [Link; paywall]

Law & Order

Has the Supreme Court Legalized Public Corruption? by Matt Ford (The Atlantic)

While Ford’s analysis isn’t new, his observations about the implications of a 2017 Supreme Court decision which vacated a corruption conviction against former Virginia Governor McDonnell (a Republican) look especially prescient given prosecutors’ failed prosecution of NJ Senator Menendez (a Democrat). [Link]

Health Care

Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to WV town with 2,900 people by Eric Eyre (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

A staggering anecdote that gives some insight into the supply-side of the opioid crisis. [Link; auto-playing video]

Amazon, Berkshire, JPMorgan Link Up to Form New Health-Care Company by Zachary Tracer and Hugh Son (Bloomberg)

While it’s not clear what exactly will come of the new initiative, there was lots of attention this week as three scions of modern capitalism announced a new effort to attack costs. [Link; auto playing video]

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Have a great Super Bowl Sunday!

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