Welcome to Bespoke Brunch Reads, our Saturday morning summary of interesting things we’re reading this week. The links are mostly market related, but there will be some other interesting subjects covered as well.  The links are in no particular order.  We hope you enjoy the food for thought as a supplement to the research we provide you during the week.

The Secret World of Gamblers Betting Millions on the 2016 Election by Ben Collins (The Daily Beast)

A fascinating look at the prediction markets that churn through US election results and narratives to arrive at estimates of who will win what. [Link]

China National People’s Congress 2016 (Bloomberg News)

A treasure-trove of 42 different articles covering the annual policy meeting in Beijing; we didn’t read them all and don’t intend to but some fascinating details of last weekend’s conclave. [Link]

Unicorns and Cycles by Zack Mansfield (Medium)

A sober and well-thought look at where we are in the private market tech cycle; things sure aren’t looking apocalyptic and might never end up that way but the easy days of angel rounds are over. [Link]

Wage Growth for Prime-Age Workers Hits Fastest Since 2009: Chart by Matthew Boesler (Bloomberg)

Wages for the same cohort of workers (unlike average hourly earnings, which reflect labor force turnover and demographic dynamics) are accelerating. [Link]

What’s Up with Wage Growth? by Mary C. Daly, Bart Hobijin, and Benjamin Pyle (SF Fed Economic Letters)

Wages number 2 and labor force participation number 1! A data-driven approach to teasing out why wage growth has been soft. As with almost all regional Fed economic research, this is high quality, digestible and worth your time. [Link]

Update: Labor Force Participation by Bill McBride (Calculated Risk)

A very well-done walk-through of the labor force participation rate, whose decline has become the last bastion of economic bears claiming that the economy continues to be weak and that central bank stimulus from the Fed (now being withdrawn) hasn’t been supportive. [Link]

Why I’m No Longer an Economic Bull by Conor Sen (New River Investments)

While we can’t indorse the hyperbole of the headline (Sen is still, like us, optimistic on the economy over the next 18 months at the very least), this is a thoughtful take on the limits of the current business and policy cycle. [Link]

Are we at the start of a major move higher in yields? (Global Macro Trading)

A thought-provoking and well-martialed read from a global macro portfolio manager on where he sees interest rates headed from here. [Link]

Hedge Fund Ramblings On Risk by Mark Dow (Behavioral Macro)

A nice unstructured ramble through the current positioning and outlook for a wide variety of global markets. [Link]

How Long (Will Interest Rates Stay Low)? By Merle Hazard (YouTube)

You caught us, not a “read”. But you are going to be plenty happy listening to the world’s first bluegrass song about monetary policy, we promise. [Link]

Stock Buybacks Demystified (Econompic Data)

An excellent post detailing the reality of buybacks, which are just a different form of equity distribution similar to a dividend. [Link]

Off-Campus College Dorms Now Resemble Spring-Break Hotels by Patrick Clark (Bloomberg)

We were comfortable in college, and thankful for it, but nothing we lived in resembled some of the palaces that have been erected to house students off-campus during college. [Link]

The Folk Theory of business cycles by Noah Smith (Noahpinion)

Most economic commentators badly misunderstand debt dynamics, both with respect to economic growth and its sustainability. Some excellent myth-busting here. [Link]

Total Factor Productivity Growth in Historical Perspective by Robert Shackleton (Congressional Budget Office)

A dry but informative review of total factor productivity growth (growth in output not attributable to increasing levels of capital or higher labor utilization) in the United States since 1870. [Link]

National Accounts articles: the UK flow of funds project: identifying sectoral interconnectedness in the UK economy (UK Office for National Statistics)

More economic nerdery! This excellent project seeks to visualize flows of funds between various sectors of the UK economy. We found it fascinating.  Links to visualizations are provided below.

Overview Link

Sector Balance Sheet Visualization Link

Sector Balance Sheet Intermediation Link

More Street Gangs Turn to Financial Crimes by Nicole Hong (WSJ)

We had a hard time believing it but it turns out credit card fraud is a booming business for criminals who have typically pursued lower value and more traditional forms of law breaking. [Link, paywall]

Justin Trudeau: The Canadian Coming for Dinner by Ethan Bronner and Josh Wingrove (Bloomberg)

Regular readers may have picked up on something of a theme; we’ve linked to several articles on the new Canadian Prime Minister in recent weeks, mostly due to his interest in pursuing fiscal stimulus to jump-start the Canadian economy.  This takes a decidedly more geopolitical angle but was an interesting review of the relationship that defines the world’s longest undefended border. [Link]

The Church Collection Plate Goes Digital by Rebecca Greenfield (Bloomberg)

We shouldn’t be surprised that the humble pile of cash and coin that is passed down the pews is giving way to apps and contactless payment, but we still found this story amusing. [Link]

‘Le burger’ now top selling dish in French restaurants, new study reveals by Henry Samuel (The Telegraph)

While the hamburger may be the ultimate in Americana, it’s also visible on 75% of French menus, a state of affairs that may surprise given the classic French attitude towards food. [Link]

Exclusive: China to ease commercial banks’ bad debt burden via equity swaps – sources (Reuters)

This story was under-covered and very important: China’s fiscal authorities are stepping up support for labor that is being displaced by capacity cuts to industry. If this can be sustained, it’s a profound positive for the country’s imbalanced growth model. [Link]

Bridgewater Hires Ex-Apple Executive Jon Rubinstein as Co-CEO by Bradley Hope and Rob Copeland (WSJ)

Changes are afoot at the world’s largest hedge fund, with a former Apple executive sliding into an executive seat. [Link]

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