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.

Social Science

Is It Better to Be Poor in Bangladesh or the Mississippi Delta? by Annie Lowery (The Atlantic)

An interview with the most recent Nobel laureate in economics, Angus Deaton, dives into some of the complications, contradictions, and tragedies of policy outcomes in the US. [Link]

Quarterly Review, March 2017 (Bank for International Settlements)

A huge compendium of new research from the BIS staff with investigations of risk appetite, global financial flows, consumption, credit loss provisioning, payments, and the use of swaps at the long end of the yield curve. [Link]

A Public-Health Crisis That We Can Fix by David Leonhardt (NYT)

US traffic deaths are surging higher after years of steep declines, thanks to the incessant use of cell phones by drivers who should be watching the road. [Link; soft paywall]

Risk Factors

Cyxtera adds protection against looming U.S. tax changes by Jonathan Schwarzberg and Lynn Adler (Reuters)

Buyers of leveraged loans have a new risk factor to consider when scrutinizing bond documents. Data center operator Cyxtera added language to a new issue that would allow it to call loans in the three-tranche deal in the event legislation removing the tax-deductible status of interest payments is enacted; such language is under consideration for the Republican tax reform package. [Link]


Google’s New Circus Tent Campus Approved, Construction To Begin In April by Jay Barman (SFist)

The newest addition to Google’s Mountain View campus evokes the circus visits of childhood, with expected completion two years from now. [Link]

Transportation Trouble

Waymo Asks Court to Block Uber’s Self-Driving Car Project by Daisuke Wakabayashi (NYT)

In an odd turn of events, a former Google subsidiary is suing a Google Ventures portfolio company over technology allegedly stolen by a former employee. [Link; soft paywall]

Repairing My Tesla Model S Has Been an Utter Nightmare — and It’s Mostly Tesla’s Fault by Evan Niue (The Motley Fool)

Tesla performs repairs on its vehicles, and that’s a problem for this owner who has had a frankly unbearable struggle trying to get his repaired after being rear-ended. [Link]

CIA ‘mission’ on cars shows concern about next-generation vehicles by Alexandria Sage (Yahoo!/Reuters)

One part of the new Wikileaks release of CIA documents shows that the CIA considered a “mission” against connected car technology, prompting concern from manufacturers and watchdogs. [Link]

Update On Asia

Trump Inherits a Secret Cyberwar Against North Korean Missiles by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad (NYT)

A painstakingly researched story about the secret digital tools deployed against North Korea by the Obama Administration, and what that means for the current flare-up in regional tensions. [Link; soft paywall]

Capital controls the talk of China parliamentarians by Emily Feng and Tom Mitchell (FT)

At last week’s annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, concerns and frustration over the ratcheting up of capital controls was a hot topic. [Link; paywall]

Millennial Movers Breathe New Life Into Japanese Mountain Towns by Keik Ujikane and Masahiro Hidaka (Bloomberg)

Rejecting urban intensity as industrial strategy: rural areas in Japan faced with challenging demographics (a rapidly aging population) are trying to draw young white color workers and businesses requiring low-intensity manual labor into the hollowing out interior of some Japanese islands. [Link]


A Single Bitcoin Transaction Takes Thousands of Times More Energy Than a Credit Card Swipe by Christopher Malmo (Motherboard)

Even at the current scale (relatively small), Bitcoin devours energy at a breathtaking pace; the computational needs of the blockchain require enormous amounts of electricity to function properly. [Link]

UK carbon emissions fall to late-19th century levels by Pilita Clark (FT)

Thanks in part to plunging coal consumption, UK CO2 emissions are collapsing on an outright basis, currently at the lowest level since the Great Depression and in about the same place they were in the late 1890s. [Link; paywall]


The Golden Age of Hedge Funds by Ben Carlson (CFA Institute)

Alpha is always scarce, but when thousands of new funds and billions of new AUM start competing for it, its life expectancy goes to almost zero. So it is in the world of hedge funds. [Link]

Individual Investors Wade In as Stocks Soar by Aaron Kuriloff and Daisy Maxey (WSJ)

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, smaller investors were very hesitant to buy into the rising stock market for fear of another crash. Now, with stock valuations elevated and the economic cycle much longer in the tooth, they’re piling in. [Link; paywall]

Regulatory Revision

Gutting Dodd-Frank Is Hard, So Republicans Focus Elsewhere by Elizabeth Dexheimer (Bloomberg)

Banks have seen valuations basically double over the past year as the market bids up prospects of higher net income thanks to deregulation from the new Administration. The reality on the ground, on the other hand, is much different. [Link; auto-playing video]

Clarifying the Choices in Housing Finance Reform by Jim Parrott (Urban Institute)

A fine effort at clarifying competing ideas for how housing finance ought to work, with three different approaches laid out and compared. [Link]


Kony 2017: From Guerrilla Marketing to Guerrilla Warfare by David Gauvey Herbert (Foreign Policy)

After achieving a global viral moment in 2012, nonprofit Invisible Children was widely criticized. Since, its taken a radically different approach to its mission with radically different results. [Link]

Struggling shopping malls let high schools, doctors move in where Penney’s used to be by Tonya Garcia (MarketWatch)

While occupancy rates remain extremely high, mall landlords are being forced to turn to nontraditional renters to keep their square footage filled. [Link]


Men’s & Women’s College Basketball: ESPN Blankets Networks with 24-Hour Tournament Challenge Marathon on March 13-14 by Rachel Margolis Siegal (ESPN MediaZone)

Save a thought for the brutal basketball binge that Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, and Jay Williams will be forced to consume in a 24-hour straight lineup of appearances. [Link]


What writers really do when they write by George Saunders (The Guardian)

Adding context adds humanity and room for understanding; the more specific we are about what we are communicating, the more likely we are for other people to understand the nuance of our words. [Link]

Easy Money

Blank book about Democrats is No. 1 bestseller on Amazon by Yaron Steinuch (NYPost)

A joke book – with all blank pages – purporting to argue good reasons to vote for Democrats is currently the best-selling book online. [Link]

Have a great Sunday!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email