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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Ukraine

The Dangerous Allure Of The No-Fly Zone by Mike Pietrucha & Mike Benitez (War On The Rocks)

Needed context and discussion for why an American or NATO-established no-fly zone over Ukraine would be both relatively unhelpful to Ukraine and create a massive risk of a devastating wider war in Europe. [Link; paywall]

Energy

The Biden Administration Has The Power: Administrative Authority To Address The Crisis in Oil Supply Right Now by Alex Williams, Arnab Datta, & Skanda Amarnath (Employ America)

A novel approach to reducing the cyclicality of energy production, ensuring lower price volatility and more stable supply by absorbing oil price volatility and demand mitigation on to the American government’s massive balance sheet. [Link]

Lead from gasoline blunted the IQ of about half the U.S. population, study says by Elizabeth Chuck (NBC)

Leaded gasoline created massive exposure to the IQ-blunting metal across the US population, with an average impact of 2 IQ points per person but much higher impacts among earlier generations. Leaded gasoline has been banned for more than a quarter century. [Link; auto-playing video]

Fertilizer giant Yara slashes production in Europe (CNN/Reuters)

Norwegian company Yara is cutting production of ammonia and urea at plants in Italy and France thanks to the extreme prices for natural gas (a key input to fertilizer) in Europe. [Link]

Municipal Matters

‘Booming’ LIRR and Metro-North commuters return to Manhattan in high spirits by Alex Mitchell (NYP)

As offices in Manhattan reopen, commuters are swarming back on to the tracks of commuter rail services around the New York area. [Link; auto-playing]

U.S. Retirement Funds, Heavy on Stocks, Brace for Losses by Heather Gillers (WSJ)

With more than 61% of their assets dedicated to equity markets, US public pensions are highly exposed to the stock market. Declines could pressure state and local finances though of course operating budgets are in excellent shape thanks to the post-pandemic economic boom. [Link; paywall]

Facebook

Facebook Libra: the inside story of how the company’s cryptocurrency dream died by Hannah Murphy and Kiran Stacey (FT)

An effort by Facebook to launch a digital currency found tentative support from the Federal Reserve Chair before Treasury pulled support. Ultimately, a failed lobbying campaign in Washington meant Diem never took off. [Link; soft paywall]

Facebook allows war posts urging violence against Russian invaders by Munsif Vengattil & Elizabeth Culliford (Reuters)

In a revealing change at the company’s own discretion, Facebook will no longer interdict posts calling for violence against Russian troops invading Ukraine. [Link]

Yikes

Gig App Gathering Data for U.S. Military, Others Prompts Safety Concerns by Byron Tau (WSJ)

Ukrainians paid to take pictures of specific areas in rural Ukraine were unwittingly participating in a US DoD research project designed to assess the accuracy of satellite photos. [Link; paywall]

Some Understaffed PetSmarts Are Dealing With Freezers Overflowing With Dead Pets by Lauren Kaori Gurley (Vice)

PetSmart stores that have been understaffed are seeing a wave of dead pets that end up stacked in freezer and improperly disposed, adding a horrifying twist to the difficulty of running a business based on selling living things. [Link]

Sovereignty

Corporate Sovereign Awakening and the Making of Modern State Sovereignty: New Archival Evidence from the English East India Company by Swati Srivastava (Cambridge University Press)

A painstaking analysis of the growth of the English East India Company, which grew outside of the English state to the point that it actually challenged the sovereignty of the nation. [Link]

Counting

2020 Census Undercounted Hispanic, Black and Native American Residents by Michael Wines & Maria Cramer (NYT)

Amidst the challenge of the COVID pandemic, the Census likely undercounted the US population by millions of people, though that undercount does not appear to be much larger than previous decennial surveys. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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