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.


A Not-So-Great Recovery in Consumption: What is holding back household spending? by Aditya Aladangady Laura Feivseson (FEDS Notes)

Why hasn’t consumer spending been very strong to bounce back in this recovery? A quantitative investigation of the breakdown in the relationship between income, net worth, and government transfers with consumer spending. [Link]

The Moral Hazard of Lifesaving Innovations: Naloxone Access, Opioid Abuse, and Crime by Jennifer L. Doleac and Anita Mukherjee (SSRN)

We present this paper with the following cautionary notes: while the study’s design and data set are of good quality, they have not yet been peer-reviewed and they are contradictory to prior findings, meaning they should be handled carefully while not being dismissed, in our view. That said, if the findings hold up they are important. To summarize, the authors find that increasing availability of Naloxone leads to moral hazard (more risk-seeking behavior) and therefore the benefits of the drug’s availability is cancelled out. [Link]

Study: When CEOs’ Equity Is About to Vest, They Cut Investment to Boost the Stock Price by Alex Edmans (HBR)

This study finds that equity grants’ vesting period creates an incentive for short-termism around investment versus quarterly profitability. [Link; soft paywall]


Men of Steel, unburdened by experience by Jamie Powell (FTAV)

A summary of what steel tariffs may mean, viewed through the lens of the last abortive effort at similar tariffs attempted during the Bush Administration. [Link; soft paywall]

Trump says American workers are hurt by immigration. But after ICE raided this Texas town, they never showed up. by Nick Miroff (WaPo)

This fascinating article gives an overview of the local economy of the Texas Panhandle. While some of that narrative deals with the Trump Administration’s anti-immigration policies, the scope of the story is much larger and worth reading regardless of the currency policy context. [Link; soft paywall]

How Trump’s Hudson Tunnel Feud Threatens the National Economy by Elise Young and Demetrios Pogaks (Bloomberg)

While this story is a tad dramatic, it does underscore some of the risks to changes in federal policy facing one of the biggest engines of wealth and output in the country. [Link]

Stock Bulls in Trump Country Are Freaking Out Their Brokers by Michelle Davis (Bloomberg)

A frankly terrifying review of market enthusiasm based on Presidential tweets. With the current bull market celebrating its 9th birthday today, relatively elevated valuations, and lots of priced-in optimism about tax benefits and global growth, the extreme sentiment described in this article is concerning to say the least. [Link]

Rigged Games

How Do Pundits Never Get It Wrong? Call a 40% Chance by Rolfe Winkler and Justin Lahart (WSJ)

A rundown of the popular prognostication play which pegs every significant shift at a 40% chance, inflating odds of a major change while carefully hedging towards the baseline outcome. [Link; paywall]

Under Armour Boss’s Alma Mater Wins Shady Hoops Game, Has Folks Wondering If Money Buys Free Throws by Dave McKenna (Deadspin)

The favored charity of Under Armour CEO Kevin Planck received what can only be described as an absurd series of favorable calls during their effort to beat another school’s squad. [Link]

Yale’s Swensen (Mostly) Apologizes for Harsh Words to Students by Janet Lorin (Bloomberg)

In a rather embarrassing turn of events for one of the most revered asset allocators in the world, Yale’s endowment manager got into a very public spat with the school’s newspaper this week. [Link; auto-playing video]


You probably won’t remember this, but the “forgetting curve” theory explains why learning is hard by Nikhil Sonnad (Quartz)

In practice, the challenge of learning isn’t the intake of information, but its retention. This is such a persistent phenomenon, it’s even got a mathematical formula. [Link]

Startup Weekly

12 questions about the future of HQ trivia and its $15M fundraise by Josh Constine (TechCrunch)

All you need to know about HQ, the live trivia game which has driven rabid enthusiasm and huge numbers of persistent trivia players. [Link]

Wall Street Tech Spree: With Kensho Acquisition S&P Global Makes Largest A.I. Deal In History by Steven Bertoni and Antoine Gara (Forbes)

Prayer beads, cast iron tea pots, and Buddhas as decoration: Kensho is ramping up its algorithmic offerings after being purchased by S&P. [Link]

Long Reads

State of the Wine Industry 2018 by Rob McMillan (Silicon Valley Bank)

Chock full of charts and data, this rich, smooth report offers a wealth of tannic observations for the casual drinker and serious oenophile alike. [Link; 45 page PDF]

Jerry and Marge Go Large by Jason Fagone (HuffPo)

The story of a retired couple from Michigan and the numerical assault on the jackpots of lotteries in two different states. [Link]

National “Security”

Geek Squad staff ‘paid by FBI’ to flag illegal imagery (BBC)

A secret deal between Best Buy’s repair division and the FBI led to reporting of imagery related to child abuse; while the goal is laudable, such an arrangement very likely violates 4th Amendment rights and was found by a federal court to be insufficient evidence for a search warrant. [Link]

The Women Who Lived at CIA (CIA News & Information)

The story of a Quaker’s property that became enclosed in the campus of the CIA during the expansion of the new agency. [Link]

Fake News

It’s True: False News Spreads Faster and Wider. And Humans Are to Blame. by Steve Lohr (NYT)

In news that won’t surprise anyone that spends a lot of time on social media, fake stories are spread much more rapidly than real ones. [Link; soft paywall]

Meanwhile, In Canada

Over 500 Canadian doctors protest raises, say they’re being paid too much (yes, too much) by Catherine Clifford (CNBC)

“Who would want to cut their own pay?” is a fun hypothetical, and one which can now be answered: Canadian (specifically, Quebecois) doctors. [Link]


The Literal Translation of Country Names (Open Sea Dragon)

This amazing map presents the name of almost all countries with their original meaning. Spoiler: America’s is by far the least interesting. [Link]

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Have a great Sunday!

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