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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Mania

Leading Card Grader PSA Doubles Prices as Industry Booms by Darren Rovell (Action Network)

Two weeks after being sold for a bit less than $1bn, the leading grader of sports trading card quality, has doubled prices and raised minimum batch counts amidst an epic order backlog numbering millions of cards. [Link]

How a 10-second video clip sold for $6.6 million by Elizabeth Howcroft and Ritvik Carvalho (Reuters)

A non-fungible token purchased for $67,000 is telling for 100x that price less than six months after being sold for the first time last fall. [Link; auto-playing video]

First Trust Takes Aim At ARK; Launching Innovation ETF by David Dierking (The Street)

Following in the footsteps of ARK Invest’s extremely successful Innovation ETF (ARKK), ETF giant First Trust has filed for an ETF that takes a similar approach. [Link; auto-playing video]

Meme Stocks

Hertz, the Original Meme Stock, Is Turning Out to Be Worthless by Steven Church (Bloomberg)

The original retail-fueled short squeeze from 2020 saw Hertz declare Chapter 11; that process is now finishing up with equity owners getting nothing. [Link; soft paywall]

Bots hyped up GameStop on major social media platforms, analysis finds by Michelle Price (Business Insider/Reuters)

A Massachusetts-based cyber security company has identified a large number of social media bot accounts helped amplify the craze for GameStop (GME) stock. [Link]

Washington

The Evolution of the Oval Office Décor (American Home Shield)

Ever wonder what the President’s office looked like in the past? Décor changed little in the first half of the 20th century, but since Truman each President has redecorated to suit their personal styles and the fashions of the time. [Link]

Divided Senate Passes Biden’s Pandemic Aid Plan by Emily Cochrane (NYT)

Despite some confusion over specific unemployment provisions that delayed passage Friday, this weekend the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a $1.9trn aid bill that will result in thousands of dollars of aide for the middle class, expanded jobless claims benefits, and is estimated to cut poverty by an astounding one-third this year. [Link; soft paywall]

Whoops

Hey Citi, your bitcoin report is embarrassingly bad by Jemima Kelly (FT)

This week an effort to discuss crypto currency with clients led to some pretty spectacular whiffs from Citi’s research group, including a remarkable mix-up over basis points versus percentage points. [Link; paywall]

The Reemergent 1977 H1N1 Strain and the Gain-of-Function Debate by Michelle Rozo and Gigi Kwik Gronvall (NIH)

During the 1970s, a virulent flu strain that wrecked havoc likely represented a failure of containment at a bio research lab. The genetics of the virus were almost identical to strains first collected decades prior. [Link]

Shifting Gears

‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like This’: Chaos Strikes Global Shipping by Peter S. Goodman, Alexandra Stevenson, Niraj Chokshi and Michael Corkery (NYT)

Shipping can be a volatile business, but the rapid swings in demand across goods and geographies have created unprecedented chaos across transportation markets around the world. [Link; soft paywall]

How Remote Work Is Reshaping America’s Urban Geography by Richard Florida and Adam Ozimek (WSJ)

Roughly half of Americans are working remotely, and while that share will decline as vaccine rollouts make normal offices safe again, some of the shift will persist amidst a longer-term trend towards the practice of working without going in to a physical desk. [Link; paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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