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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One of World’s Greatest Hidden Fortunes Is Wiped Out in Days by Katherine Burton and Tom Maloney (Yahoo! Finance)

The family office of a disciple of legendary growth investor Julian Robertson ran a stock portfolio with tens of billions into the ground in the course of just a few short days. [Link]

Credit Suisse Bid for Tidy Archegos Fix Ends With Banks Brawling by Sridhar Natarajan and Donal Griffin (Bloomberg)

As Archegos’ portfolio was melting down, its prime brokers tried to stick together, but several banks started liquidating blocks of stock instead of holding the line, driving the entire group to sell at the worst possible time. [Link; soft paywall]


U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time by Jeffrey M. Jones (Gallup)

For the first time in the history of Gallup’s polling, less than half of Americans report that they are a member of a church, synagogue, or mosque. More than three-quarters did at the end of World War 2, and more than two-thirds did in the mid-2000s. [Link]

Older Millennials Are Closing the Wealth Gap With Their Parents by Rachel Louise Ensign (WSJ)

Recent years have seen the wealth gap between younger Americans and their Baby Boomer parents decline after running dramatically behind for years following the global financial crisis. [Link; paywall]

Strong Economy

America’s Imports Are Stuck on Ships Floating Just Off Los Angeles by Kara Dapena and Dylan Moriarty (WSJ)

While the Ever Given got all the attention in the Suez, the bigger traffic jam is arguably found closer to American shores as dozens of ships wait for LA/Long Beach port capacity to free up. [Link; paywall]

Tilman Fertitta says he’s been surprised by strength of his restaurants and casinos in March by Kevin Stankiewicz (CNBC)

The CEO of the holding company which owns brands like Joe’s Crab Shack, Morton’s Steakhouse, and Golden Nugget casinos reports people “are going out in huge numbers now” or even “blowing numbers away”. [Link]

Pandemic Fails

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is delayed by a U.S. factory mixup. by Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland (NYT)

A confusion over which ingredients were going where led an employee of a subcontractor to use AstraZeneca ingredients in a batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines, ruining as many as 15mm doses of the one-shot vaccine. [Link; soft paywall]

The Pandemic’s Wrongest Man by Derek Thompson (The Atlantic)

At every turn, gadfly Alex Berenson has mislead, confused, and just generally been wrong in his widely-followed analysis of the COVID epidemic; this is at least a start on exhaustively cataloging his litany of errors. [Link]


ARK Innovation ETF’s Approach is Ill-Timed for a Major Twist by Robby Greenwald (Morningstar)

While cost-competitive, ARK Invest’s ETFs are dependent on portfolio manager Cathie Wood and at risk of extreme concentration, while holding very large exposures relative to the size of the companies it invests in that could create major liquidity stress. [Link]

Industry Analysis

Methane pollution soars in US as shale drilling resumes by Justin Jacobs (FT)

With oil prices up after COVID, shale drillers are back in business and with them are methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas which is released as oil is fracked. [Link; paywall]

How HUD and NAHB Created the U.S. Housing Crisis by James A. Schmitz Jr., Arilton Teixeira, and Mark L. J. Wright (Minneapolis Fed Working Paper Slides)

A compelling argument that protectionist efforts by the traditional homebuilding industry to prevent market share gains for much cheaper manufactured housing has had innumerable pernicious effects on the broader US economy. [Link; 80 page PDF]

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Have a great weekend!

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