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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Cars

Standstill Traffic May Be the Only Thing Keeping Crash Deaths From Skyrocketing by Alissa Walker (Curbed)

Despite a pandemic-fueled collapse in the number of vehicle miles travelled, traffic deaths soared in 2020 as clear roads meant higher speeds and more death. [Link]

We Called 8 Dealerships Asking About EVs. Here’s What They Told Us by Adam Ismail (Jalopnik)

Whether or not dealerships embrace electric vehicles will be a key to how fast they roll out in the United States, and the early indication from this informal review of dealerships across the country. [Link]

Speculation

Young retail investors plan to spend almost half of their stimulus checks on stocks, Deutsche survey claims by Holly Ellyatt (CNBC)

A survey of retail investors suggest that the latest round of stimulus checks are in large part destined for the equity market, driven mostly by younger stock buyers. [Link]

The most frequently asked questions by Robinhood traders reveal ‘new type of uninformed equity-market participant’ by Andrew Keshner (MarketWatch)

During Robinhood platform outages, stocks that were widely owned by Robinhood traders became more liquid and less volatile, suggesting that high volume free to trade buyers and sellers on the platform are adding noise to market prices. [Link]

SPAC Pioneers Reap the Rewards After Waiting Nearly 30 Years by Amrith Ramkumar (WSJ)

Blank check companies were first introduced in 1993 but didn’t really catch on until the last few years; they’re now 70% of IPOs and have raised $75bn this year alone. [Link; paywall]

NFTs

The Whales of NBA Top Shot Made a Fortune Buying LeBron Highlights by Ben Cohen (WSJ)

Digital trading cards known as non-fungible tokens have proven to be a spectacular speculation, with unique clips (which are of course widely available on YouTube or other sites) trading for millions of dollars. [Link; paywall]

Why the NFT Craze Is a Bubble Waiting to Pop by James Surowiecki (Marker)

Unique digital assets are the latest mania fueled by blockchain technology and rabid speculator enthusiasm for the next big thing. [Link]

Tech

This Chip for AI Works Using Light, Not Electrons by Will Knight (Wired)

Instead of running electrons through transistors, a startup that got its beginnings at MIT is using light to build chips that have radically higher throughput potential…if they work. [Link; soft paywall]

Tesla Is Plugging a Secret Mega-Battery Into the Texas Grid by Dana Hull and Naureen Malik (Yahoo! Finance/Bloomberg)

A subsidiary of the electric vehicle company is developing a battery near Houston that can store 100 megawatts, enough to power 20,000 homes on a hot day in Texas. [Link]

POLITICO Playbook: Scoop: Biden taps another Big Tech trustbuster by Ryan Lizza, Tarra Palmeri, Eugene Daniels, and Rachael Bade (Politico)

The Biden Administration has made multiple appointments that suggest a tight focus on antitrust in the tech industry, with a White House economic advisor and a Federal Trade Commission member both falling inside that category. [Link]

Weird News

The bizarre tale of the world’s last lost tourist, who thought Maine was San Francisco by Andrew Chamings (SFGate)

Back in 1977, a German tourist got confused on a layover and mistook Bangor, Maine for San Francisco, sparking an international media frenzy over a very confused man who spoke no English. [Link]

Brood X cicadas are about to put on one of the wildest shows in nature. And D.C. is the main stage. by Darryl Fears (WaPo)

The Delaware Valley, central Midwest, Hamptons, and eastern Tennessee are all due to receive an unholy storm of cicadas this summer as Brood X emerges from its long slumber. [Link; soft paywall]

Tax Trouble

He Got $300,000 From Credit-Card Rewards. The IRS Said It Was Taxable Income. by Richard Rubin (WSJ)

A physicist who spent $6.4mm on gift cards which he rolled into money orders deposited to his bank. The transactions were so large and numerous that they were flagged by the Treasury Department, eventually leading to an IRS investigation. [Link; paywall]

Food & Drink

Union officials: Tate’s Bake Shop workers threatened with deportation if they unionize (Long Island News 12)

Undocumented workers for Long Island bakery Tate’s are being threatened with deportation in response to a unionization drive. Tate’s is owned by Mondelez. [Link; auto-playing video]

The True Cost of a Cocktail by John Debary (Punch)

Ever wonder why a drink at a cocktail bar hits your wallet so hard? A breakdown of the costs that a cocktail typically embeds in its high menu price. [Link]

Furniture

Booming furniture sales mean ‘unprecedented’ delays for sofas and desks by Abha Bhattarai (WaPo)

Huge demand for furniture to upgrade homes that Americans are spending far more time in than usual is driving an unprecedented disruption to supply chains. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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