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

Want to Make Millions and Pay No Taxes? Try Real Estate by Patrick Clark and Benjamin Stupples (Bloomberg)

Financial records from the divorce of New York City real estate developer Harry Macklowe give us a view into the world of real estate taxation, where prolific deductions have allowed the billionaire to (legally) avoid paying income taxes since the 1980s! [Link; soft paywall]

Trump’s Housing Agency Cracks Down on Zero-Down Home Loans by Prashant Gopal (Bloomberg)

FHA-backed loans that give borrowers without a down payment access to the housing market have been targeted as a risk due to their high delinquency rates. [Link; soft paywall]

Renters Are Mad. Presidential Candidates Have Noticed. by Emily Badger (NYT)

With homeownership rates only barely above multi-decade lows, renters are an increasingly large bloc of the electorate, and one that Democrats see as a natural interest group to appeal to. [Link; soft paywall]

Fake News

How 11 People Are Trying to Stop Fake News in the World’s Largest Election by Saritha Rai (Bloomberg)

In many developing countries, WhatsApp is a more critical information source than traditional social networks or the formal news media. That creates fertile ground for the spread of misinformation, especially in India during the world’s largest elections. [Link; soft paywall]

Rise of the Machines

Google Spinoff’s Drone Delivery Business First to Get FAA Approval by Alan Levin (Bloomberg)

Wing Aviation, formerly a division of Google, has received the same certification as small airlines. It plans to deliver packages to rural communities in Virginia starting this year. [Link; soft paywall]

This YouTube Channel Streams AI-Generated Death Metal 24/7 by Rob Dozier (Motherboard)

A machine learning algorithm is streaming live death metal on YouTube. While we’re not huge fans of the genre, the results are actually pretty good. [Link]


The United States of Mexican Food by Gustavo Arellano (Eater)

A summary of the massive catalogue of stories on Eater about the bounty of cuisine in the United States that ultimately originates south of the border. Mexican sushi, pea guacamole, debates over authenticity, tater tots, Punjabi-Mexican cuisine, the power of tortillas, panaderías, Yakima Valley tacos, masa, and more. [Link]

Leaked documents show that McDonald’s is adding international hits to its American menu, including the Spanish Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger and the Dutch Stroopwafel McFlurry by Kate Taylor (BI)

This year McDonalds will be rolling out a number of popular menu items from around the world: a mozzarella chicken sandwich, a burger with bacon sauce, gouda, and onions, and a waffle cookie ice cream treat are all due to become available to American fast food consumers. [Link]

Local Government

Lobbyist’s crusade to change Title IX in Missouri stems from his son’s expulsion by Edward McKinley (KC Star)

A Missouri lobbyist’s son was expelled from Washington University via a process involving Title IX, so the lobbyist has natural gone on a crusade to change the rules that ban sexual discrimination in education. [Link]

Chalking tires to enforce parking rules is unconstitutional, court finds by Alex Johnson (NBC)

A woman issued 15 parking tickets over a three year span in Michigan brought suit, arguing that chalking car tires to track how long they’ve been in a spot is a search and therefore a violation of the 4th Amendment. [Link]

Boston-area judge charged with helping undocumented immigrant escape courthouse to elude ICE by Tom Winter, Adiel Kaplan, and Rich Schapiro (NBC)

After a plainclothes ICE representative identified himself to a Massachusetts district court judge before detaining a defendant in the court, the judge permitted the defendant to leave via the back of the courthouse. The judge and a court officer are facing multiple charges as a result. [Link]


Women Did Everything Right. Then Work Got ‘Greedy.’ by Claire Cain Miller (NYT)

A professional culture that values work hours uber alles means that women who provide child care are unable to advance in their careers, presenting a tradeoff that men do not face. To quote: “the nature of work has changed in ways that push couples who have equal career potential to take on unequal roles”. [Link; soft paywall]


The Man Who Solved ‘Jeopardy!’ by Oliver Roeder (538)

Through April 26th, James Holzhauer has won 16 straight Jeopardy games, with winnings in excess of $1mm. In addition to strong buzzer work, Holzhauer has pursued a unique strategy that focuses on locking down Daily Doubles and takes big risks with the money he has already racked up in that round. [Link]

Fund Flows

‘Boom, Another Billion’: Muni Funds Land a Year’s Worth of Cash in Four Months by Danielle Moran (Bloomberg)

Since January, mutual funds focused on municipal bonds have hauled in more than $30bn, a massive haul larger than good years experienced in the past. [Link; soft paywall]


The NFL Draft’s Most Frugal Player by Rachel Bachman (WSJ)

Former Clemson defensive tackle and top draft pick for the Miami Dolphins is an epically frugal spender, piling up $15k in savings during his time at Clemson thanks to an eclectic desire to spend as little as possible; resources available to college football players made this possible, along with avoiding a car and using his family’s phone plan and accepting federal Pell Grants available to low-income students. [Link; paywall]

Economic Research

The Macroeconomic Effects Of Student Debt Cancellation by Scott Fullwiler, Stephanie Kelton, Catherine Ruetschlin, and Marshall Steinbaum (Levy Economics Institute)

A comprehensive analysis of what would happen if the federal government were to cancel all outstanding student loan debt, with implications for consumer spending, overall growth, employment, and inflation. [Link; 68 page PDF]


The Fantastically Strange Origin of Most Coal on Earth by Robert Krulwich (National Geographic)

Where does coal come from? 90 percent of the coal extracted today comes from trees that were never broken down by microorganisms because they hadn’t evolved yet. [Link]

Driverless Kids

Driving? The Kids Are So Over It by Adrienne Roberts (WSJ)

Fewer teens have a driver’s license, thanks to more restrictive licensing laws as well as less need for cars thanks to ride-sharing, a preference for denser cities a bit later in their life, and the cost of car ownership. [Link; paywall]

Venture Capital

How the Kleiner Perkins Empire Fell by Polina Marinova (Fortune)

How one of the most successful venture capital firms fell behind: personality clashes, internal dissent, and chasing returns. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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