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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Real Estate

College Kids Are Living Like Kings in Vancouver’s Empty Mansions by Natalie Wong and Natalie Obiko Pearson (Bloomberg)

A new vacancy tax has dragged some of the highest-end inventory in the housing market into rental status, giving college students a chance to live in the lap of luxury. [Link; soft paywall]

Wealthy Greenwich Home Sellers Give In to Market Realities by Katherine Clark (WSJ)

Extremely high prices, changes in the finance industry, and preference for urban New York have put the Greenwich real estate market into something of a tailspin. [Link; paywall]

Billionaire Whimsy

Why are Silicon Valley billionaires starving themselves? by Ruth Margolis (The Week)

Eating once a day during the week and never on weekends sound good to you? Us neither, but Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is a fan. [Link]

In San Francisco, Making a Living From Your Billionaire Neighbor’s Trash by Thomas Fuller (NYT)

It’s possible to take home over $1200 per month picking through the trash of San Francisco’s elite in order to sort out valuables. [Link; soft paywall]

Social Media

How a Former Vine Comedian and His Frat Brother Created the Ultimate Birthday Wish by Cameron Albert-Dietch (Inc.)

How two Duke University frat brothers came up with a service that connects celebrities and influencers to their fans with short video shout-outs. [Link]

The Influencer’s Dilemma by Nir Kabessa, Noam Levenson, and Vernon Johnson (Hacker Noon)

An investigation of the new world of social capital, quantified and globalized by social media websites and a massive new market for human interaction novel to human history. [Link]


Sears sues former CEO Edward Lampert, claiming he stripped $2 billion in assets as it headed to bankruptcy by Lauren Zumbach (Chicago Tribune)

A new lawsuit alleges that the utterly failed Sears turnaround was an exercise in asset-stripping by Eddie Lampert and his hedge fund. [Link]

The Rise And Fall Of A New York Shock Jock by Nick Paumgarten (The NYer)

Inside the downfall of Craig Carton, who went from the center of New York City’s talk radio universe to federal prison thanks to a gambling addiction and the fraud that funded it. [Link]

The Truth About Dentistry by Ferris Jabr (The Atlantic)

How dentists abuse their expertise in order to conduct unnecessary procedures and pad their income, thanks to low oversight and little understanding from patients. [Link]

Political Economy

If Trump Country Soars, Will the President Glide to a Second Term? by Thomas B. Edsall (NYT)

As the national labor market tightens, smaller and more rural states which tended to support President Trump in 2016 have seen modestly faster payrolls growth and lower unemployment than states won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. [Link; soft paywall]

Our Lady

Four years ago, an art historian used lasers to digitally map Notre Dame Cathedral. His work could help save it by Michelle Lou (CNN)

A miniature lidar system helped Vassar College art professor take an extremely detailed snapshot of the cathedral’s interior; that snapshot may prove extremely helpful in efforts to rebuild. [Link]

We Built an ‘Unbelievable’ (but Legal) Facial Recognition Machine by Sahil Chinoy (NYT)

Using $60 worth of Amazon cloud services, a New York Times team used webcam images and public pictures on employer websites to track pedestrians in the busy crowd around Bryant Park in Manhattan. [Link; soft paywall]

Climate Change

One man’s two-decade quest to suck greenhouse gas out of the sky by James Temple (MIT Technology Review)

The quixotic quest to come up with a scalable way to remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, unwinding the rising CO2 levels that are changing the climate. [Link]


The evolution of financial fragility: A quantile decomposition of firm balance sheets by Leila E. Davis, Joao Paulo A. de Souza, and Gonzalo Hernandez (The Next Recession)

Firms are holding more cash, but a rising share of firms can’t cover debt loads. How is that possible? The authors argue that the attributes of new entrants (changing composition) drive the change; in other words, new firms are entering the market with more cash and less debt, allowing an increase in both cash holdings and inability to cover debt. [Link; 39 page PDF]

Outside The Acela

Bachelorettes, Bibles and Amazon: is Nashville the perfect model for a second-tier city? By Kuhsbu Shah (The Guardian)

Start-ups dedicated to bachelorette parties, jammed bars, and 14 million visitors a year: how Nashville found its niche as a mid-sized metropolis. [Link]

Whiffs & Dingers

The Average Umpire Is Almost 50. The Best Ones Might Be in Their 30s. by Jared Diamond (WSJ)

With a greying force of diamond wardens, MLB needs to face facts that the young guns have the better eye for balls. [Link; paywall]

Gambler who won $1.2 million on Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters victory: “I had never placed a bet on sports in my life” by Stephen Hennessey (Golfworld)

A Wisconsin man walked from casino to casino in Vegas ahead of The Masters, trying to find someone to take action on an $85,000 wager for Tiger to win another green jacket. [Link; paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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