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.

A Billionaire Cosplays

Robert Mercer’s Secret Adventure as a New Mexico Cop by Zachary Mider (Bloomberg)

A billionaire former hedge fund manager and political kingmaker spent time as a reserve deputy in New Mexico, which grants him the ability to carry concealed firearms anywhere in the country. [Link]

Digital Security

A Cyberattack Hobbles Atlanta, and Security Experts Shudder by Alan Blinder and Nicole Perlroth (NYT)

The city of Atlanta suffered a massive ransomware attack last week, with almost every digital corridor of local government locked up by a massive virus incursion. [Link; soft paywall]

Facebook Has Had Countless Privacy Scandals. But This One Is Different. by Carlie Warzel (Buzzfeed)

While there are tempting political narratives and blame games to play with the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook privacy scandal, the broader question of how to manage privacy in an era of big data collection where users are the product suggests it might be around a while. [Link]

Remarkable People

Biography (Stephen Wiltshire)

London-based artist Stephen Wiltshire is able to draw entire cityscapes, accurately and freehand, from a single trip up in a helicopter to see the skyline. He is mute and autistic. [Link]

The Former Khmer Rouge Slave Who Blew the Whistle on Wells Fargo by Emily Flitter (NYT)

Duke Tran fled Vietnam as a teenager, ending up a slave to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Eventually, he made his way to the US, becoming a Wells Fargo debt collection associate and enjoying a happy middle class life. Then, he was fired for refusing to lie to customers about their foreclosures. Since, he’s become a millionaire on the back of massive whistleblower awards courtesy of massive fines levied on the bank. [Link; soft paywall]


Poll: Majority of Americans say they are not seeing change in paychecks due to tax cuts by Rebecca Savransky (The Hill)

While predictable (recent tax cuts were overwhelmingly focused on the upper end of the spectrum with only marginal changes on average for most taxpayers), it’s nonetheless a worrying sign that two months into lower withholding most Americans still haven’t noticed a change in their paycheck thanks to tax cuts. [Link; auto-playing video]


South Sudan Halts Spread of Crippling Guinea Worms by Donald G. McNeil (NYT)

A global campaign led by former President Jimmy Carter has been working to eradicate Guinea worm for more than 30 years. The disease is a parasite found in ponds; with South Sudan eliminating the disease there were only 15 cases in Chad and 15 in Ethiopia, meaning the end of the parasite is nigh.  [Link; soft paywall]

International Economics

Switzerland: Balance of payments by Nadia Gharbi (Pictet Wealth Management)

An explanation for the persistent and massive current account surplus run by Switzerland, despite a strengthening CHF. [Link; 7 page PDF]

Good Eats

Why Some of Queens’ Best Restaurants Are Leaving for Pricier Boroughs by Katie Honan (Eater NY)

As restaurants in Queens get attention, they leverage greater pricing power in other boroughs to raise prices at new locations, often leaving price-sensitive Queens customers behind. [Link]


The Dark Web’s Favorite Currency Is Less Untraceable Than It Seems by Andy Greenberg (Wired)

While Monero was designed to make payment tracing impossible, a new paper suggests that the mixing of payments which is designed to preserve anonymity can still be analyzed to determine where payments come from and go to. [Link]

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Have a great Sunday!

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