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.


Spurious correlations are kryptonite of Wall St’s AI rush by Robin Wigglesworth (FT)

When you run enough data sets through regressions, you will inevitably find some correlations. The question is, are they spurious and fleeting, or helpful in identifying forward returns? [Link; paywall]

Hedge Funds That Use AI Just Had Their Worst Month Ever by Dani Burger (Bloomberg)

While hedge funds that invest based on algorithms are still very small in AUM terms, they still get a lot of attention and it’s worth remembering they’re anything but bulletproof. [Link; auto-playing video]

What’s the Biggest Trade on the New York Stock Exchange? The Last One by Corrie Driebusch, Alexander Osipovich and Gregory Zuckerman (WSJ)

With an increasing share of investing being done through various types of passive vehicles, the end-of-day NYSE auction has grown in importance. [Link; paywall]


Forming an Alliance With U.S. Allies Against Bad Chinese Trade Practices Won’t Be Enough to Bring the Trade Deficit Down by Brad W. Setser (Council on Foreign Relations)

A dense 1300 words on the drivers of the US trade deficit, which are only partly related to China. A host of other countries have much larger current account surpluses versus their economies’ size and pursue much more aggressive policy to protect those surpluses. [Link]

Tracking the international footprints of global firms by Stefan Avdjiev, Mary Everett, Philip R. Lane, and Hyun Song Shin (BIS Quarterly Review)

As companies’ ownership structures have shifted into complex global networks of financing, concepts like the current account balance haven’t kept up in keeping track of international economic activity. [Link, 20 page PDF]

Will Employment Keep Growing? Disabled Workers Offer a Clue by Ernie Tedeeschi (NYT)

The population of workers not in the labor force due to illness or disability are declining as the economy continues to churn out job creation, suggesting there’s still slack left in the labor market. [Link; soft paywall]

The Kingdom

Saudis Said to Use Coercion and Abuse to Seize Billions by Ben Hubbard, David D. Kirkpatrick, Kate Kelly, and Mark Mazetti (NYT)

An accounting of the “anti-corruption campaign” that was really more like the consolidation of assets within a crime family, conducted using ankle monitors and luxury hotel imprisonment rather than cement galoshes. [Link; soft paywall]

Lighter Fare

This Woman Wrote Her Novel At A Tire Store And Now They Are Her Biggest Fans by Farrah Penn (BuzzFeed)

A woman struggling with writers block found her most productive penning would happen at the tire store. She is now the small shop’s Writer In Residence. [Link]

This Company Will 3-D Print You in Action-Figure Form by Kevin J. Ryan, Jardley Jean-Louis and Chris Beier (Inc)

Ever wanted to immortalize yourself in toy form? This company gives you the chance to do just that. [Link]

Dark Days

She found a dating app on her boyfriend’s phone. Then she bought a samurai sword. by Kyle Swenson (WaPo)

Between the colorful headline and the details of this story, we don’t want to wreck it with a wordy description, but luckily nobody was killed despite the best efforts at first degree murder. [Link]

Hundreds of Missouri’s 15-year-old brides may have married their rapists by Eric Adler (The Kansas City Star)

Missouri’s lax laws around teenage marriage make it a safe haven for perpetrators of statutory rape and their accomplices, who marry victims in order to avoid jail time. [Link]

Long Reads

Why Wikipedia Works by Brian Feldman (NY Mag)

Immensely profitable companies, casual researchers, and everyone in between rely on Wikipedia for quick, reliable information about the world. How did it become so dominant and ubiquitous, and how does it stay that way? [Link]

Vanilla valuation by Julie Van Rosendaal (Globe & Mail)

All you need to know about vanilla. The flavor is found in places you might not expect it (chocolate, for instance), is highly labor intensive and weather-sensitive, and is grown in relatively few places. [Link; soft paywall]


Behind the Breakneck Unraveling of Toys ‘R’ Us by Eliza Ronalds-Hannon, Matthew Townsend, and Lauren Coleman-Lochner (Bloomberg)

How a beloved brand collapsed into bankruptcy. [Link; auto-playing video]


United Flies Dog To Japan By Mistake (CBS Chicago/AP)

In addition to killing a dog by stuffing it into an overhead compartment this week, United also apparently sent a canine passenger across the Pacific in error. [Link; auto-playing video]


The Loneliness of the American Paralympics Reporter by Ben Shpigel (NYT)

The New York Times is one of only two outlets to send correspondents for coverage of the Winter Paralympic Games; this summary is insightful into what that process is like, and how little interest is expressed towards the impaired athletes’ pursuit of excellence. [Link; soft paywall]


I’d Be an ‘A’ Student if I Could Just Read My Notes by Melissa Korn (WSJ)

Modern college students are under-practiced at writing with pen and paper, and the results show when they encounter professors who ban laptops in class. [Link; paywall]

Read Bespoke’s most actionable market research by starting a two-week free trial today!  Get started here.

Have a great Sunday!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email