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.


Measuring Stock Performance Against The Market by Gideon Vigderhous, PhD (Stocks & Commodities)

A summary of partial correlation methods developed by Vigderhous, with Bespoke’s Interactive Earnings Database as source material. [Link; 3 page PDF]

Chinese Financial Markets

Have a Donkey to Trade? China Has an Exchange for That (Bloomberg)

There are greater than 1,000 venues for exchanging financial assets of one kind or another across China, with over 140 regional agricultural exchanges alone, trading a dizzying array of products. [Link]

Will China Succeed in Efforts to Woo Foreigners Into Its Bond Markets? by Peng Qinqin and Dong Tongjian (Caixin)

An interview with Mark Austen, the CEO of the Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association on the problems and possibilities of Chinese interest rates. [Link]


Congress just voted to let internet providers sell your browsing history by Taylor Hatmaker (TechCrunch)

In a vote passed via tie-breaker from Vice President Mike Pence, the Senate passed House legislation that removes restrictions placed on ISPs by the Obama Administration which prevent them from selling user browsing data without consent. In other words, your internet activity can now be sold without your consent. [Link]

This Is What It’s Actually Like To Live In A Surveillance State by Otillia Steadman (Buzzfeed)

A look at the reality of living under an authoritarian regime which spies on its own citizens. For former East Germans, the consequences – not to mention the experience itself – have lasting impact to this day. [Link]


Fracking 2.0: Shale Drillers Pioneer New Ways to Profit in Era of Cheap Oil by Erin Ailworth (WSJ)

Drilling rigs run from iPhones, a former subsidiary of Enron, and the 64 other apps it uses to produce more oil than Exxon Mobil in the continental US. [Link; paywall]

The DNA of oil wells: U.S. shale enlists genetics to boost output by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters)

Apps are one thing but shale producers are also exploiting information signals from the DNA of living organisms which decompose into the valuable oil sought by US shale drillers. [Link]

Coal isn’t dead, but it won’t revive Appalachia, either by Alexandra Scaggs (FT Alphaville)

A series of reasons that the jobs, output, and cultural primacy of coal in the Appalachian mountains is unlikely to return to its much-harkened-to past. [Link; registration required]

Political Research

Creating a National Precinct Map by Ryne Rohla (Decision Desk HQ)

A fascinating effort at data collection that maps (nearly) every precinct in the country and compares them to voting results. The country-level map isn’t terribly different from more common county-level maps, but we highly recommend zooming in to take a look at your area’s results at an extremely granular level. [Link]

Is Europe an optimal political area? by Alberto Alesina, Guido Tabellini, and Francesco Trebbi (Brookings Papers on Economic Activity)

There are limits to the relatively small sample sizes used, but with that caveat we found this paper’s conclusion (that the European Union’s polities are less culturally different than those of the United States) fascinating. [Link; 58 page PDF]

Consumer Banking

Former Citizens Bankers Say They Faked Data for Customer-Meeting Program by Rachel Louise Ensign (WSJ)

In yet another example of an effort by a large bank to drum up business getting gamed, Citizens Financial representatives often invented meeting reports for sit-downs that didn’t even happen. [Link; paywall]

Chase Had Ads on 400,000 Sites. Then on Just 5,000. Same Results. by Sapna Maheshwari (NYT)

It turns out that for online display advertising, algorithms, huge site counts, and other advertising staples are not much better than careful selection of a smaller footprint by human beings. [Link; soft paywall]

Political Headlines

This Is Almost Certainly James Comey’s Twitter Account by Ashley Feinberg (Gizmodo)

The 2017 version of gumshoe reporting appears to require expertise in the Twitter search function and a decent bit of persistence. After reading the story, make sure to check out the response from the alleged account here. [Link]

The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind The Trump Presidency by Jane Mayer (The New Yorker)

The latest in a series of profiles dedicated to the conservative head of Renaissance Technologies, one of the best-performing hedge funds of all time. [Link]

New Transport

The Great Nevada Lithium Rush to Fuel the New Economy by Paul Tullis (Bloomberg)

A new mineral is replacing silver and gold as metallic contributors to the Nevada economy, with global demand surges thanks to the demands of car batteries. [Link]

The 22-Year-Old at the Center of the Self-Driving Car Craze by Alex Webb, Lizette Chapman, and Alex Barinka (Bloomberg)

With billions of dollars of market share at stake, lidar, algorithms, camera sensors, and GPS adaptations are becoming ripe targets for takeovers and industrial espionage. [Link; auto-playing video]

New Diseases

The Trauma of Facing Deportation by Rachel Aviv (The New Yorker)

Hundreds of young people in Sweden have fallen into catatonic, uber-apathetic states when faced with the stress of deportation since the early 2000s. [Link]

City States

Who Is the City-Statey-est Of Them All? by Lyman Stone (In A State of Migration)

A surprisingly large country has earned Stone’s title for the most city-statey-est (not a technical term, as far as we are aware). A fascinating use of data. [Link]


Airlines Make More Money Selling Miles Than Seats by Justin Bachman (Bloomberg)

Airline credit cards are up to 50% of airline income according to new research from Sifel Nicolaus, with 1.5-2.5 cents per dollar spent on cards with their branding flowing through to airline revenue. [Link; auto-playing video]

Southwest Airlines’ Digital Transformation Takes Off by Neal Ungerleider (Fast Company)

On-the-fly migrations between technical patterns are amongst the most complicated challenges businesses face. In this article, we get a peak at Southwest’s efforts in that respect. [Link]

The Future of Investing

BlackRock cuts ranks of stockpicking fund managers by Stephen Foley (FT)

In a strategic shift, one of the world’s largest managers have fired active management portfolio managers to replace them with quantitative strategies. [Link; paywall]

Hedge Funds Are Training Their Computers to Think Like You by Saijel Kishan (Bloomberg)

Efforts to apply deep learning (an approach that works similarly to the way neurons in the human brain do) is being trained on investing, after many previously-hyped strategies basically struck out. [Link]

Dreams From The West Coast

Silicon Valley’s Quest To Live Forever by Tad Friend (The New Yorker)

What do you take when you combine Hollywood stars, venture capitalists, and a bunch of scientists? Why, Goldie Hawn posing questions about mitochondria and glutathione, of course! [Link]

Amazon’s Ambitions Unboxed: Stores for Furniture, Appliances and More by Nick Wingfield (NYT)

Retail stores are dead! Long hail the retail stores! [Link; soft paywall]

Ancient History

Who Killed the Iceman? Clues Emerge in a Very Cold Case by Rob Nordland (NYT)

A forensic investigation of a corpse that has stumped science for a quarter-century. [Link; soft paywall]


A Correction Now Might Not Be So Bad, Some Investors Say by Aaron Kuriloff, Corrie Driebusch, and Akane Otani (WSJ)

With equities ripping after the election, many are loathe to buy the highs until earnings have caught up a bit. But the dip-buyers are waiting. [Link; paywall]

Worthwhile Canadian Intiative

How the Yellen Fed Got Religion Over the Stock Market and Policy by Matthew Boesler (Bloomberg)

The origin story of financial conditions indices, a critical input in modern monetary policymaking. [Link; auto-playing video]

Have a great Sunday!

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