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.


The Quiet German by George Packer (The New Yorker)

Not a recent story, but given the focus on European politics in 2017 (the ongoing Brexit process, last week’s Dutch elections, French elections in April, and Germany’s own elections this fall) we think this profile of der kanzler. [Link]

EU could sue US over border tax, Germany warns by Guy Chazan (FT)

While international trade law may seem like a trivial matter for the current administration, the use of WTO-sanctioned countervailing tariffs as a possible response to a border-adjusted tax is something worth keeping an eye on. [Link, paywall]

Why Populists Can’t Win in Europe’s Heartland by John Follain and Simon Dawson (Bloomberg)

An anecdotal survey (with less clear conclusions than the rather misleading title) of working people and voters across Europe’s multinational industrial heartland. [Link]

‘London Bridge is down’: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death by Sam Knight (The Guardian)

Morbid though it may be, a fascinating investigation of the public relations and national pride disaster plan that will be deployed when beloved UK monarch Queen Elizabeth II passes. [Link]

Mobile Matters

Do YOU hear ‘phantom phone buzzing’? 80% of college students admit they experience major sign of phone addiction by Daniel J. Kruger (Daily Mail)

One of the symptoms of psychological dependence on our “external brains” (cellphones) is an imagined buzzing notification. [Link]

Health Care

Tanning Salons See Ray of Hope in ACA Tax Repeal by Katy Stech and Richard Rubin (WSJ)

A fascinating example of both obscure passages in large legislation and Pigouvian taxes, the tanning industry is hoping that passage of the AHCA (the House Republicans’ proposed replacement) will end the 10% levy applied to their revenue by the ACA. [Link, paywall]

‘Stunning’ gap: Canadians with cystic fibrosis outlive Americans by a decade by Eric Boodman (Stat News)

One highly specific example of the astounding differences in health care outcomes across countries, which can be driven by numerous factors including but not limited to centralized guidelines for disease treatment, transplant prioritization, access to care and/or medication, demographics, and others. [Link]


Great Groveling, Guys: Counting All the Ways Analysts Fawn Over Management by Jason Zweig (WSJ)

Thanks to the efforts of two Florida International University researchers, we now have quantitative proof that analysts are sycophants. [Link]

Hedge funds close at faster pace in 2016 than 2009 recession by Carleton English (NYP)

Over 1,000 funds closed their doors this year, the most since 2008 (1,471). It wasn’t all bad news, with 729 hedge funds launched, though launches were down from 968 in 2015. [Link]

Homebrew Quanting

Big Data for Little Kids: A New Approach to Coaching Youth Lacrosse by Ryan Floyd and Joe Rosenbaum (Inside Lacrosse)

Some may consider this approach over the top, but it turns out that data digging is making its way into youth sports. The authors’ U-13 lacrosse team was helped by correlations and averages, which they also note helped focus their efforts and reduce micromanagement of their young players. [Link]

“Spreadsheets Are Dope”: The Allure Of DIY College Basketball Fantasy League (Vice Sports)

First off, let’s be clear: we agree spreadsheets are dope, we use them constantly. This is a fun look at the nascent college basketball fantasy world, which relies on similar techniques as the original Rotisserie baseball leagues that were the first iteration of the now enormous fantasy sports world. [Link]

Weird But True

Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why by Sara Chodosh (Popular Science)

We’re either living in one of the Star Trek movies or we don’t understand whale behavior very well. In either case, the super-pods of humpbacks currently frolicking off the coast of South Africa are pretty odd. [Link]

The Extra-Large Omelet of Death… by Brad DeLong (Grasping Reality with All Tentacles)

A French aristocrat found his end during the French revolution thanks to his desire for obscenely large quantities of eggs. [Link]

Portland Anarchists Are Rebelling Against the Lazy Government by Fixing Roads Eve Peyser (Vice)

In a hilariously normcore act of rebellion, anarchists in the admittedly quirky city of Portland have taken to random acts of infrastructure repair. [Link]


Duopoly watch: Google and Facebook gobble up even more ad dollars by Sara Fischer (Axios)

Google and Facebook continue to devour egregious shares of new dollars flowing into digital advertising. [Link]

Rise of the Machines

Rogue factory robot blamed for death of human colleague by Mark Molloy (The Telegraph)

A Michigan woman lost her life in tragic accident at an auto parts factory when an industrial robot strayed into an area it was programmed to avoid. [Link]

Steve Cohen Ramping Up Effort To Replace Idiot Humans With Machines by Bess Levin (Vanity Fair)

Famous for once trading the performance of traders, family office operator Steve Cohen (who will be able to take outside money again at the start of next year) is considering betting on algorithms instead. [Link]

Fast Food

Domino’s Atoned For Its Crimes Against Pizza And Built A $9 Billion Empire by Susan Berfield (Bloomberg)

Mobile ordering has been a key plank in the recovery of ubiquitous pizza chain Domino’s, where menu improvements have also helped fuel huge gains in market share and massive revenue growth. [Link]

U.S. Soldiers Heading to Poland Face a Grim Ordeal: No Burger King by Julian E. Barnes (WSJ)

Did you know the term “expeditionary fast food restaurants” existed? We did not, but they’re apparently a key to morale for service men and women far from home. [Link; paywall]

Have a great Sunday!

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