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.

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The Effects of Minimum Wages on Low-Wage Jobs by Doruk Cengiz, Arindrajit Dube, Atilla Lindner, and Ben Zipperer (Dropbox)

This paper does a comprehensive examination of state-level minimum wage changes between 1979 and 2016. The results show across the data set low-wage jobs remain unchanged in the five years following the increase, with wages going up in slightly higher earnings brackets. They argue that substitution to other labor does not explain the lack of job losses, and they find no evidence of less employment thanks to minimum wage increases (though tradable sectors may have some impact). This is a unique study for its breadth and scale and focuses on describing what actually happened instead of creating a model for it. [Link; 128 page PDF]

In Search of Labor Demand by Paul Beaudry, David A. Green, and Ben M. Sand (American Economic Review)

This recent paper seeks to specify a labor demand function and then extrapolate the effects of minimum wages that labor demand function would imply; it predicts sizeable minimum wage effects, in contrast to the observations of the prior paper. [Link; 44 page PDF]


Conflicting Data: How Fast Is the World Losing its Forests? by Fred Pearce (Yale Environment 360)

A discussion of the two different databases which track the loss of forests each year, and how scientists are trying to improve them in order to get a better grip on drivers of and possible responses to deforestation around the world. [Link]

These tree-planting drones are firing seed missiles to restore the world’s forests by Adele Peters (Fast Company)

New tools are being used to improve forest coverage, including drones which can cheaply cover remote areas with seed bundles. [Link]


Dog Runs Grueling Desert Ultramarathon Just For Fun by Patrick Redford (Deadspin)

A Moroccan pooch liked the cut of some ultramarathoners’ jibs and decided to stick around, eventually running over 100 miles and receiving an official finisher’s medal. [Link]

Pit bull grabs baby by diaper, saves her from fire (ABC 13)

While pit bulls that haven’t been properly cared for have very negative reputations and can be dangerous without proper training, the breed’s original use as “nanny dogs” makes a lot more sense after you’ve read this story. [Link; auto-playing video]


Forget real estate — ‘art flipping’ is the latest way rich millennials are building wealth, and it’s an investment baby boomers largely ignored by Hillary Hoffower (Business Insider)

Millennials with high net worth are more apt to invest in art than prior generations and are twice as likely to view art as a financial asset than prior generations. [Link]

College Grads Sell Stakes in Themselves to Wall Street by Claire Boston (Bloomberg)

Instead of fixed-payment debt that amortizes over time, some college grads are selling a percentage of their future earnings to finance their educations. [Link; soft paywall]

Weird Health

Crude oil touted as health cure in Azerbaijan by Andrea Palasciano (AFP/Yahoo!)

People are travelling from all over Central Asia to bathe in crude oil, with spas claiming it has palliative effects for joint pain. [Link]

Astronauts Can Withstand Longer Space Trips, New Study of Twins Finds by Robert Lee Hotz (WSJ)

Astronaut Scott Kelly spent almost an entire year in space, and scientists are now studying differences in his physiology relative to his twin brother Mark in order to tease out the effects of long trips to space. [Link; paywall]

Back In The Day

Failing New York Subway? Not Always — Once There Were Chandeliers by Winnie Hu (NYT)

In 1904, the first New York City subway station featured chandeliers, skylights, high arches, and terra-cotta tiles; while some parts of the transit system are plenty opulent (looking at you, Oculus) it’s a far cry from the modern spartan transit system. [Link; soft paywall]

Edison as I know him by Henry Ford (University of Michigan Digital Collection)

A remarkable anecdote about the encouragement the Model T inventor received from Thomas Edison when he was first showed the internal combustion engine. [Link]

Rabbit Holes

Are we living in a simulation? This MIT scientist says it’s more likely than not by Dyllan Furness (Digital Trends)

Don’t look now, but our collective consciousness may be a figment of a computer program. This interview discusses the theory, or at least, its return to popular focus. [Link]


Civil Rights, the War on Poverty, and Black-White Convergence in Infant Mortality in the Rural South and Mississippi by Douglas Almond, Kenneth Y. Chay, and Michael Greenstone (SSRN)

This study evaluates the impact of forced integration of hospitals in the South (thanks to requirements of the 1964 Civil Rights Act) on child mortality. Effects work out to saving more than 25,000 infants from 1965 to 2002 alone. [Link]


Red Robin’s Lesson: Cut Labor At Your Own Risk by Jonathan Maze (Restaurant Business)

When executives tried slashing staffing at Red Robin, they saved on labor costs…but same store sales started to plunge as consumers shied away from the lower-service offering. [Link]


New species of ancient human discovered in Philippines cave by Hannah Devlin (The Guardian)

This week the broader human family added Home luzonensis, a species dating to 50,000-67,000 years ago. A skeleton was discovered in the Callao cave on Luzon, in the Philippines. [Link]


Congress Is About to Ban the Government From Offering Free Online Tax Filing. Thank TurboTax. by Justin Elliott (ProPublica)

Tax preparation software companies have helped write legislation that would ban the IRS from creating an alternative, free system that would make their business models obsolete. [Link]

‘She lies to everyone’: Feds say Mar-a-Lago intruder had hidden-camera detector in hotel by Jay Weaver, Sarah Blaskey, Caitlin Ostroff, and Nicholas Nehamas (Miami Herald)

This week a federal prosecutor argued a Chinese citizen arrested for trying to enter the President’s private club in Florida had extensive counter-surveillance equipment and a stash of USB drives with malware. [Link]

Gun Violence

“When Does It Get Back To Normal? It Doesn’t”: Columbine’s Former Principal Calls His Peers After School Shootings To Counsel Them by Amber Jamieson (BuzzFeed)

Since mass shootings at schools exploded into the national consciousness following the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, the school’s principal has called the principal of every school impacted by a mass shooting in an effort to help school leaders work through the tragedies. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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