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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The Day The Dinosaurs Died by Douglas Preston (The New Yorker)

A little-known PhD candidate has found a remarkable fossil bed in the Dakotas, yielding evidence of what happened on the literal day that an asteroid buried itself into the Earth’s crust just north of the modern Yucatan peninsula. [Link]

The Worst Disease Ever Recorded by Ed Yong (The Atlantic)

The world’s deadliest disease is found among amphibians: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis eats away the skin of frogs and gives them heart attacks, devouring hundreds of species. [Link]


At $50,000 a Year, the Road to Yale Starts at Age 5 by Suzanne Woolley and Katya Kazakina (Bloomberg)

A look inside the extreme competition for spots in schools that promise a path into elite colleges within the New York City private education system. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

Experts warn of rapid rise in ‘Tommy John’ surgeries among child athletes by Cristina Corbin (Fox News)

60% of surgeries designed to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in patients’ elbows are found among teenagers, with over-use of the body in high pressure, year-round competitive sports programs to blame. [Link; auto-playing video]


Health Insurance Exchanges 2019 Open Enrollment Report (CMS)

This week the agency responsible for management of health care exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act reported 2019 enrollment was down about 3.4% (amidst an effort to reduce enrolment by suppressing outreach efforts) with premiums down about 2.5% pre-tax credit, and 2.3% lower after tax credit. Roughly 87% received assistance for premiums, versus 85% last year. [Link]

Justice Department now says courts should strike the entire ACA by Sam Baker (Axios)

The Trump Administration’s Justice Department is arguing in federal courts that the entire ACA should be struck down: not just the more limited pre-existing conditions coverage requirements that are roundly opposed by Republicans in general but the rest of the law as well, sparking a new threat to health care coverage expansion achieved during the Obama administration. [Link]

Industry Recaps

Battery Power’s Latest Plunge in Costs Threatens Coal, Gas (BloombergNEF)

A staggering review of the plunging cost of installation for industrial-scale power generation. Benchmark prices for lithium-ion battery storage has fallen 35% since the first half of 2018 while offshore wind prices are down 24%. [Link]

The State of Fashion 2019 (McKinsey & Company)

Interesting for investors, businesses, and consumers who focus on the world of fashion, this comprehensive review summarizes trends and economics across the industry. [Link; 108 page PDF]

Long Reads

Harry Kane Wants To Conquer The Premier League…Then The NFL by Bruce Schoenfeld (ESPN)

A profile of Tottenham’s Harry Kane – one of the highest-valued strikers in European soccer – and his fascination with the NFL. [Link]

The mobster in our midst by Zak Keefer (Indianapolis Star)

Where better to hide out from the mob (after putting one of their men, your own father, behind bars) than Indianapolis? The story of John Franzese Jr. and how he left the witness protection program to tell it. [Link]


Why Are Economists So Bad at Forecasting Recessions? by Simon Kennedy and Peter Coy (Bloomberg)

Using an annual decline in GDP as the benchmark, there have been 469 recessions around the world since 1988. IMF economists only successfully predicted 4 of those. [Link; soft paywall]

Independent but Not Indifferent: Partisan Bias in Monetary Policy at the Fed by Williams Robert Clark and Vincent Arel-Bundock (SSRN)

An empirical investigation of political bias at the Fed. The authors show evidence that interest rates decline before elections when Republicans control the White House, rise when Democrats do, are more responsive to inflation when Democrats are in power, and are more responsive to the output gap when Republicans are in power. [Link]


$1,000,000 home for sale highlights San Francisco’s wild real estate market by Aarthi Swaminathan (Yahoo! Finance)

Fixer-uppers in San Francisco are a bit different than the rest of the country. That’s why a tiny bungalow in the middle of the city is listed for $1mm. [Link]

Who keeps buying California’s scarce water? Saudi Arabia by Lauren Markham (The Guardian)

Relatively scarce water resources in California’s central valley are being used to grow fodder for cows in Saudi Arabia, part of a chain of agricultural investments made around the world to assure that Saudi Arabian livestock get their dinner. [Link]


American consumers spent more on Airbnb than on Hilton last year by Rani Molla (Recode)

US revenues for AirBnB surpassed those of Hilton in 2018, accounting for 20% of the US lodging market as the company continues to expand. [Link]


Oil Traders Are Now Watching Workers’ Phones to Spot Problems at Refineries by Aaron Clark (Bloomberg)

Using geolocation data from cell phones, researchers are able to track the number of phones – and therefore the number of outside workers – refineries, giving them an edge on estimating shutdown times. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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