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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Why Americans Don’t Cheat on Their Taxes by Rene Chun (The Atlantic)

High morale and faith they are paying their fair share are key reasons that the US has been able to maintain a high rate of voluntary compliance with taxes. [Link]

Real Estate

All Signs Point to a Housing Boom Ahead by Conor Sen (Bloomberg)

Contrary to dour outlooks for housing that have become prevalent in recent analysis as data cooled in the latter half of last year, there are some major tailwinds in place for the space. [Link; soft paywall]

A Growing Problem in Real Estate: Too Many Too Big Houses by Candace Taylor (WSJ)

After large, high-maintenance palaces in remote (albeit attractive) locations, Baby Boomers are having a hard time finding bids of properties that don’t fit the income, lifestyle, and preferences of younger buyers. [Link; paywall]

The lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are aiming at Realtors and their 6% fee by Andrea Riquier (MarketWatch)

A class action suit filed in Chicago alleges that the realtor system is a monopoly that is not legal under federal antitrust law. [Link]

Popped Bubbles

Behind the curtain at China Ding Yi Feng by Jamie Powell (FTAV)

A Chinese conglomerate suspended from trading earlier this week had some…interesting ideas about how the world – especially related to finance and investing – works. [Link; registration required]

Bitcoin Is in the Dumps, Spreading Gloom Over Crypto World by Paul Vigna (WSJ)

Since bitcoin’s 2017 blow-off top, trading volumes have collapsed, miners are facing a desperate cash crunch, and the ecosystem premised on ever-expanding prices for the underlying cryptocurrency is falling apart. [Link; paywall]


The People Who Eat the Same Meal Every Day by Joe Pinsker (The Atlantic)

As many as one-third of Brits eat the same lunch every day, and the ranks of the monotonous menu brigade are large elsewhere as well. [Link]

Chicken nugget demand is flatlining — here’s what happened by Marilyn Haigh (CNBC)

The historic bedrock of kids’ menus across the nation is falling on tough times as chicken strips and health concerns keep them off consumers’ plates. [Link]


Capt. Sullenberger on the FAA and Boeing: ‘Our credibility as leaders in aviation is being damaged’ by Captain Sully Sullenberger (MarketWatch)

After a catastrophic series of accidents related to software on its 737 MAX airframe, Boeing and its regulator have some tough questions to answer; the entire US aviation industry may be in trouble as a result. [Link]

Hedge Funds

At Hedge Fund That Owns Trump Secrets, Clashes and Odd Math by Katherine Burton, Sridhar Natarajan, and Shahien Nasiripour (Bloomberg)

A hedge fund that owns the National Enquirer has a reputation as a litigious, boundary-pushing organization in its pursuit of returns. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

Buy Gold!

Buy Gold, Sell Stocks Is the ‘Trade of Century’ Says One Hedge Fund by Sarah Ponczek (Bloomberg)

Small macro hedge fund Crescat Capital thinks precious metals are the play while equity markets are poised to tumble. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]


As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling by Michael Corkery (WSJ)

After China decided to stop buying US recycling materials (citing too much trash mixed in), costs have surged for municipalities that offer curbside pickup. [Link; soft paywall]

This Week In Tech

Most Amazon Brands Are Duds, Not Disrupters, Study Finds by Spencer Soper (Bloomberg)

While there’s lots of speculation that Amazon could use its market power to monopolize activity within its e-commerce platform, one study shows that Amazon-branded products don’t actually perform that well with consumers. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

The Hottest Chat App for Teens Is … Google Docs by Taylor Lorenz (The Atlantic)

With laptops proliferating and Google Docs often used as a tool for collaboration or doing work on a given subject, students are starting to use the tools as a way to talk where the teacher can’t hear. [Link]

A first look at Twitter’s new prototype app, twttr by Sarah Perez (TechCrunch)

In an effort to improve engagement, Twitter is experimenting with an alternate mobile app; here are the early results of the effort. [Link]


On Class Difference by Chris Dillow (Stumbling and Mumbling)

A discussion about how natural comfort in elite institutions – thanks to the income, social status, or culture a person is used to being in – can confer both benefits and create horrific blind spots. [Link]


A shadowy group trying to overthrow Kim Jong Un allegedly raided a North Korean embassy in broad daylight by John Hudson (WaPo)

Ahead of a meeting between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, an expat dissident group ransacked the North Korean embassy in Madrid. [Link; soft paywall]

Labor Markets

Shake Shack Tests Four-Day Work Week Amid Tight U.S. Job Market by Matthew Boesler and Jeanna Smialek (Bloomberg)

Efforts to introduce a four-day work week in the US have been resisted for decades, but one fast food company is trying to do it in response to tight labor markets. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

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Have a great weekend!

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