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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State Lines

Escape from New York City by Anne Kadet (WSJ)

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a flight out of the most dense urban area in the country, which has been hardest-hit by the pandemic; of course, only some can afford to run for the suburbs amidst the chaos. [Link; paywall]

Barr Threatens Legal Action Against Governors Over Lockdowns by Chris Strohm (Bloomberg)

In a strange inversion of the traditional ideological alignment over “states’ rights”, the Trump Justice Department is prepared to take governors to court to enforce reopening regardless of the health circumstances. [Link; soft paywall]


Stock Investments Lose Some Luster After COVID-19 Sell-Off by Justin McCarthy (Gallup)

Gallup surveys show a sharp decline in the share of Americans who view stocks as the best long-term investment, while more than one-third (the highest in years) view real estate that way. [Link]

AIMCo’s $3 Billion Volatility Trading Blunder by Leanna Orr (Institutional Investor)

Alberta Investment Management Corp, the pension and sovereign wealth manager for Alberta’s huge provincial public asset pile, has been burned by volatility trades that stemmed from the market blow-up this spring. [Link]


The NCAA saved money in case of a canceled March Madness. Then it spent it. by Will Hobson (WaPo)

A rainy day fund designed to keep college sports’ finances in order in case its hallmark tournament was cancelled got cashed out just a few years ago. [Link]

Social distancing takes a hit as Taiwan baseball teams brawl (AFP/Yahoo)

Given the success Taiwan has had containing its outbreak of COVID-19, the island has been able to keep baseball games going, but onfield brawls aren’t consistent with the need for social distancing. [Link]


Global Economic Effects of COVID-19 (Congressional Research Service)

The CRS is a fantastic public service, producing deeply researched and highly informed analysis for Congressional staffs at their request. This late April report details the likely impact of COVID across the global economy. [Link; 75 page PDF]

Wealth, Race, and Consumption Smoothing of Typical Income Shocks by Peter Ganong, Damon Jones, Pascal Noel, Diana Farrell, Fiona Greig, and Chris Wheat (University of Chicago Booth School of Business)

An analysis identifying worker-level consumption elasticity with respect to income shocks. While all households reduce spending 0.23% for every 1% decline in income, lower-income households reduce it by almost 0.4% for every 1% drop; in short, inequality and economic cyclicality are correlated. [Link; 84 page PDF]

Commodity Contango

Oil world zeroes in on Cushing, Oklahoma by Gregory Meyer (FT)

With the emergence of negative commodity prices, global futures markets are focused on Cushing, Oklahoma, a town with a tiny population and enormous role in global crude flows. [Link; paywall]

Farmers Are Starting to Destroy Their Pigs After Factories Close by Jen Skerritt, Michael Hirtzer, and Isis Almeida (Blooomberg)

Pig farmers from Quebec to Minnesota are euthanizing hogs in order to avoid paying for their upkeep as slaughterhouse capacity has been shuttered thanks to COVID-19 outbreaks in a few of the facilities. [Link; soft paywall]

Viral Update

COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with Air Conditioning in Restaurant, Guangzhou, China, 2020 by Jianyun Lu1, Jieni Gu, Kuibiao Li, Conghui Xu, Wenzhe Su, Zhisheng Lai, Deqian Zhou, Chao Yu, Bin Xu, and Zhicong Yang (CDC)

The flow of air within enclosed spaces appears to be an extremely important factor in mass-spreading events, or spreading events which take place on a somewhat smaller scale like this study of a restaurant in Guangzhou. [Link]

“Human challenge trials,” where healthy volunteers would be exposed to Covid-19, explained by Dylan Matthews (Vox)

Healthy patients who haven’t been exposed to coronavirus may need to be exposed to the virus after receiving potentially useful vaccines as part of a “challenge trial” though the ethics of putting volunteers at risk are dicey ground. [Link]

Controversial idea to speed coronavirus vaccine gains ground by Peter Sullivan (The Hill)

Members of Congress are signing up to the idea that challenge trials may be a useful way to fight COVID-19 and identify the best vaccines. [Link]

Front Line Stories

A New Doctor Faces The Coronavirus In Queens by Rivka Galchen (The New Yorker)

An emergency room doctor at Elmhurst Hospital, a ground zero for the Queens COVID outbreak, shares what the experience has been like and who it has hit the hardest. [Link]

Emergency room doctors facing pay cuts and understaffing during pandemic by Nikki Battiste (CBS Evening News)

Despite surging demand for emergency department resources across the country, ER doctors are taking 40% pay cuts and bearing the brunt of the financial impact. [Link; auto-playing video]

Viral Travels

‘We Needed to Go’: Rich Americans Activate Pandemic Escape Plans by Olivia Carville (Bloomberg)

The combination of wealth and paranoia is being perfectly met by New Zealand, which is a hotbed for survival bunkers which are popular with the wealthiest tier of Americans fleeing the Coronavirus. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

Empty resorts spell long crisis for Caribbean as coronavirus hits (Reuters)

With international travel essentially zeroed out amidst the shutdown of borders, there have been virtually no visitors to Caribbean locales that usually host a bustling trade in tourism. [Link]

Social Shifts

‘Staying Nimble’: How Small Businesses Can, and Do, Shift Gears by Amy Haimerl (NYT)

Plunging demand for sit-down restaurants has opened up niches for alternative forms of small business, even if the overall market has shrunk considerably. [Link; soft paywall]

‘It’s Going to Be a Lot More Lonely.’ A Dramatically Different Ramadan for U.S. Muslims Amid Coronavirus Lockdowns by Sanya Mansoor (Time)

Ramadan, the global month of fasting during daylight observed by more than one billion Muslims around the world, will be a very different affair this time around. [Link]

Three Hours Longer, the Pandemic Workday Has Obliterated Work-Life Balance by Michelle F. Davis and Jeff Green (Bloomberg)

After six weeks of working from home, white-collar workers around the country are getting tired of longer work hours, less continuity, and the burdens of childcare. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]


After He Died Of The Coronavirus, She Opened Up His Phone And Found His Last Words To Her by Julia Reinstein (BuzzFeed)

This story of a man separated from his wife and young daughter forever by COVID-19 brought tears to our eyes, and illustrates the massive danger from the disease even in statistically lower-risk groups. [Link]


You’ve Got (0-click) Mail! (ZeCops)

A flaw in the iOS email app allows an attacker to take control of Apple devices using an email sent to the device in question. [Link]

Media Studies

Misinformation During a Pandemic by Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott (Becker Friedman Institute)

Viewers of Fox News content that expressed an earlier embrace of the dangers of COVID tended to lead to better outcomes related to the disease at the county level. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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