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.  Starting this week, we’ve organized the links loosely by subject.  We hope you enjoy the food for thought as a supplement to the research we provide you during the week.

Good News

America’s astounding progress in ending overfishing by Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator (NOAA)

An excellent overview of the partnership between legislators, private citizens, and the executive branch that has made American fisheries sustainable for the long term. This rare bit of massive environmental (and, from a certain angle, economic) progress is heartening. [Link]

Polio cases could be wiped out within 12 months, says World Health Organisation by Lis O’Carroll (The Guardian)

The countdown to the end of polio amongst human beings is on thanks to global efforts to vaccinate and contain the disease. [Link]

Bad News

Dispatcher Playing With Cellphone Is Faulted in German Train Crash by Alison Smale (NYT)

When scrolling through Twitter or playing Candy Crush has deadly consequences: charges are likely to be leveled against the German train operator whose distraction led to deaths in a recent rail accident. [Link, soft paywall]

For Generation Z, Email Has Become a Rite of Passage by Christopher Mims (WSJ)

Children and teens communicate by text, messenger apps, and social media. But adults use email, and its rise in share of daily activity marks a critical transition for young people. [Link, paywall]

Why Are All These Superyachts Catching on Fire? by Polly Mosendz (Bloomberg)

Boats on fire makes for an interesting (if unfortunate) story, especially when it costs millions and involves the wealthiest members of the world’s mariners. [Link]

European Eccentricity

There’s An Election To Parliament That Only Three People Can Vote In by Jim Waterson (Buzzfeed UK)

A rump of the UK’s hereditary House of Lords contingent remains, and with the death of the 4th Baron Avebury earlier this year a seat is open. With apologies to our friends across the Atlantic and great affection: the UK is a silly country. [Link]

What You Need to Know About Carbonaragate, the Pasta Scandal That’s Rocking Europe by Chris Crowley (NYMag Grub Street)

There’s really nothing as hilarious as a European food controversy, and in this edition we bring you a French take on carbonara that’s got Italians all worked up…especially since it was sponsored by an Italian company. [Link]

Italy’s Bank Plan: Atlas Fudged by Duncan Mavin (Bloomberg Gadfly)

This week Italy unveiled a program to strip nonperforming loans from the balance sheets of large lenders in the country. It got mixed reviews. [Link]


Taco Bell’s Incredible Two-Year Quest to Melt Cheese by Leslie Patton (Bloomberg)

Melting cheese isn’t as simple as it looks, especially when your effort to manage consumer expectations for said cheese involves more than a dozen social media managers and a 24 month R&D schedule. [Link]

Media Matters

Mike Francesa, King of New York Sports Radio for 30 Years, Prepares to Abdicate His Throne by Scott Feinberg (The Hollywood Reporter)

A romp through the world of Mike “Franceser” Francesa, who we at Bespoke will miss fondly when he retires; his show is a regular background for our team, which skews towards the Mets and Jets over Yankees and Giants. [Link]

Facebook Wanted A Fight Against Fake News. It Got One. by Alex Kantrowitz (Buzzfeed)

An in-depth dive into the algorithim tweaking that combats salacious and untrue stories posted, as well as the business models for small companies which try and make a buck off gullible sharing of untrue “news”. [Link]

Taxes and Tax Breaks

Homeownership No Longer Has Tax Savings by John Burns (John Burns Real Estate Consulting)

Larger standard deductions over the years and lower interest rates (hence lower tax shield on mortgage interest deductions) means that the mortgage interest tax deduction is no longer providing an incentive to own a home. [Link]

Gaps and holes: How the Swiss cheese was made by Dan Davies (Crooked Timber)

An excellent oral history of the geopolitical and societal forces that created the leaky ship that is our global tax system. Excellent context for the Panama Papers and ongoing discussions of taxation. [Link]


What might Donald Trump’s remittances plan do to the trade balance? by Matt Klein (FT Alphaville)

In a sublime bit of accounting work, Klein demonstrates that banning remittances (a component of the current account) would be extremely likely to widen the trade balance. Allow us to say it: balance of payments mechanics are, well, hard. [Link, registration required]

Seriously, What “Giant Sucking Sound”? by Scott Lincicome (Cato At Liberty)

Unaddressed in the current political obsession over trade from both sides of the aisle in the US Presidential primaries: the US receives massive net foreign direct investment inflows that represent bets on production inside the US vastly outweigh those on production outside the US. [Link]


Private Investment: What’s The Holdup (IMF World Economic Outlook)

A long and detailed investigation into the slow investment pace of the private sector across the global economy following the 2008 recession. Long, technical, but worthwhile. [Link]

Just Released: Introducing the FRBNY Nowcast by Grant Aarons, Daniele Caratelli, Matthew Cocci, Domenico Giannone, Argia Sbordone, and Andrea Tambalotti (NY Fed Liberty Street Economics)

We ran through this new GDP tracking estimate in The Closer last Tuesday (available here) but the full explanatory blog post from the FRBNY is worth reading as well. [Link]

Recession Risk and the Excess Bond Premium by Giovanni Favara, Simon Gilchrist, Kurt F. Lewis, and Egon Zakrajšek (Federal Reserve Economic Research & Data Notes)

In this recent effort, several members of the Fed economic staff develop and discuss a model for measuring risk premiums – rather than simple credit spreads – in the corporate bond market. [Link]


Volatility is a value factor by Ehren Stanhope, CFA (Factor Investor)

An excellent tear-down of what drives volatility, which has been a key attribute allowing for outperformance in recent years. [Link]

Australia’s Housing Market Cracks by David Fickling (Bloomberg Gadfly)

A quick overview of the Australian housing market and the companies that could suffer the most under a significant pullback in prices. [Link]

Wall of silence over ‘indefensible’ research costs by Dave Baxter and Julia Faurschou (FT Adviser)

With looming implementation of MFID II, a regulatory rule that mandates separation of research and trading costs, fund managers (the primary consumers of research) are mum on their plans to disclose costs. [Link]

Texas Tea

The Invisible Money Makers Who Thrived During 2015 Oil Slump by Javier Blas, Andy Hoffman, and Laura Hurst (Bloomberg)

In commodity markets, geographic and time-based trades can make huge profits even if benchmark prices are plunging.  That was the case in 2015 as traders helped balance supply and demand shifts around the world amidst a glut of oil inventories. [Link]

Band plays on, as global oil glut leaves supertankers in a huge jam by Keith Wallis and Henning Gloystein (Reuters)

More on geographic arbitrage and the rising costs of purchasing storage amidst a massive backlog at global ports. [Story link; graphics link]

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