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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Policymaker Profiles

The Years of Work Behind Washington’s Best-Liked Man by Claudia Sahm (NYT)

An oral history of how a strait-laced Republican and former Wall Street executive has helped push the world’s most important central bank in a genuinely populist direction. [Link; soft paywall]

The Born Prophecy by Richard B. Schmitt (ABA Journal)

In the late-1990s, the nascent derivatives markets were starting to boom, and CFTC Chair Brooksley Born tried to set up prudential regulation. Her efforts were quashed by Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, his top deputy Larry Summers, and Fed Chair Allan Greenspan. [Link]

Odd Marketing

Post Consumer Brands to repay shoppers for black-market Grape-Nuts purchases by Noah Manskar (NYP)

Consumers desperate for their fibrous favorite were willing to pay as much as $100 per box earlier this year, prompting parent company Post to offer to reimburse the biggest fans for their overpriced purchases. [Link; auto-playing video]

Read the Pentagon’s 20-Page Report on Its Own Meme by Matthew Gault (Vice)

An unimpressive effort to skewer Russian hackers spent three weeks filtering through an approval process at the Pentagon before winding up on the US Cyber Command’s Twitter feed. [Link]


A Van Fight Is Brewing by David Welch (Bloomberg)

Commercial vans typically travel less than 100 miles per day, so electric conversion of fleets that reduce operating costs thanks to fewer moving parts and fuel costs are compelling for operators…and that’s before considering big tax incentives. [Link; soft paywall]

Intel is spending $20 billion to build two new chip plants in Arizona by Kif Leswing (CNBC)

After losing huge ground to foreign competitors, Intel has decided to shift its strategy towards a more US-centric approach. The result is billions of capex on two Arizona factories. [Link]

Weird News

How Many Slaps Does it Take to Cook a Chicken? This YouTuber Built a Slapping Rig to Find Out by Alyse Stanley (Gizmodo)

Energy is fungible, so imparting kinetic force on a chicken should at least hypothetically be enough to raise its temperature to the point it is “cooked”. As it turns out, it’s not just a hypothetical possibility. [Link]

How to Kill a Zombie Fire by Matt Simon (Wired)

Peat fires can continue to burn long after they appear to be put out, and warming temperatures are making them more common. Luckily, new techniques are proving more effective in fighting these fires. [Link; soft paywall]


RollerCoaster Tycoon: the best-optimised game of all time? by Matt Hrodey (PCGames)

Thanks to an expertise in a more fundamental language than the ones typically used to code graphics packages, RollerCoaster Tycoon’s original developer was able to pull off miraculous performance. [Link]

Infrastructure Week

Biden Team Prepares $3 Trillion in New Spending for the Economy by Jim Tankersley (NYT)

A two-part effort to revitalize physical infrastructure via investments in roads, bridges, telecommunications, housing, rail lines, ports, and green energy and human lives via job training, free community college, universal pre-kindergarten, subsidized childcare, and national paid leave is being floated by the Biden Administration. [Link; soft paywall]

Pandemic Spending

Pets and Pet Spending During the Pandemic: A Money Report by Paul Reynolds (Money)

Spending more time at home means spending more time with furry friends, leading to increases in value and affection of pets. Pandemic-enforced changes in behavior and increasing loneliness led to more purchases of pets, which were more commonly picked up from shelters or rescues than other sources. [Link]

Recast as ‘Stimmies,’ Federal Relief Checks Drive a Stock Buying Spree by Matt Phillips (NYT)

With $1400 economic impact payments rolling out the door, a legion of individual investors is looking to put their money to work in the stock market. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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