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.

Brave New World

You could be flirting on dating apps with paid impersonators by Chloe Rose Stuart-Ulin (Quartz)

A look inside the world of freelance virtual dating assistance, who flirt on behalf of clients on apps like Tinder; with one in three heterosexual Americans meeting their future spouse online these days, questions loom about the line between assistant and scam artist. [Link]

We’re underestimating the mind-warping potential of fake video by Brian Resnick (Vox)

Higher quality computer techniques are helping blend the line between the real and the imagined, and the implications for our society are staggering. [Link]

Amazon’s new Alexa-powered Dot encourages kids to use the word ‘please’ by Jason Del Rey (Recode)

One of the features in the new kids-and-family targeted Echo Dot encourages pint-sized users to use “please” when communicating with Alexa. [Link]

Took an ancestry DNA test? You might be a ‘genetic informant’ unleashing secrets about your relatives by Ashley May (USA Today)

Investigators in Sacramento used DNA from a crime scene to compare versus genealogical websites and identify the killer. We would not be surprised to see this end up as a Supreme Court case. [Link]

Labor Markets

High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University by Ashley Gross and Jon Marcus (NPR)

High schoolers have had the mantra “go to college” drummed into them repeatedly, but that means that many high-paying blue collar jobs are going wanting as students forego opportunities in pursuit of a college degree. [Link]

Why Working on the Railroad Comes With a $25,000 Signing Bonus by Paul Ziobro (WSJ)

Strong freight volumes, low unemployment, and a dearth of willing workers mean big incentives are being dangled infront of workers to start a career on the railroad. [Link; paywall]

The Call for Jobs for All by Matthew C. Klein (Barron’s)

A background explainer on the idea of a jobs guarantee, proposed recently by a number of Senators and backed by modern monetary theory. [Link; paywall]

Crypto

Crypto World Gains Even More Options: Five New Fundstrat Indexes by Janine Wolf (Bloomberg)

Fundstrat, an independent research shop, has introduced 5 different price indices based on the typo of crypto asset; the five indices comprise 75% of existing crypto market cap. [Link]

Bitcoin is the greatest scam in history by Bill Harris (Recode)

The founding CEO of PayPal thinks that bitcoin – and, by implication, other crypto assets – is a scam, because its only useful application is in criminal activity. [Link]

Investing

Being Short and Right Can Be Bad by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

How do you make a put option work when the underlying can’t trade? This is the question behind Longfin, a blockchain fraud stock which has been suspended due to an SEC investigation. [Link]

Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen’s venture capital group is on a fintech tear by Liz Moyer (CNBC)

The venture arm of former hedge fund operator turned family office investor (as a result of an insider trading investigation) has been throwing gobs of cash at financial technology startups. [Link]

Automobiles

Ford to stop selling every car in North America but the Mustang and Focus Active by Matt Burns (Techcrunch)

Amidst an over-saturated market for sedans, Ford is discontinuing virtually all car sales in the United States to focus on trucks, SUVs, and its commercial offerings. [Link]

Electric Buses Are Hurting the Oil Industry by Jeremy Hodges (Bloomberg)

17% of China’s buses are electric, accounting for 99% of total global deployment of the technology. The result is 279,000 barrels of oil per day not used, a non-trivial and rising share of global demand. [Link; auto-playing video]

Google

Google and Facebook Likely to Benefit From Europe’s Privacy Crackdown by Sam Schechner and Nick Kostov (WSJ)

New privacy regulations in Europe could result in burdens smaller firms are unable to meet, creating a competitive advantage for larger players. [Link; paywall]

Think macro: record actions in Google Sheets to skip repetitive work by Ryan Weber (Google)

In its bid to replace Excel, Google Sheets has introduced functionality designed to replicate VBA macros which are often used as a time saving device in the Microsoft program. [Link]

Health Care

Medicare will require hospitals to post prices online by Ricardo Alkonso-Zaldivar (MSN/AP)

The government agency responsible for overseeing Medicare and Medicaid will now require hospitals to post prices online, in an effort to improve competition via greater transparency. [Link]

Student Loans

Drew Cloud Is a Well-Known Expert on Student Loans. One Problem: He’s Not Real. by Dan Bauman and Chris Quintana (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Numerous media sources have been citing an “expert” on student loans that was actually an invented persona speaking on behalf of a student loan refinancing company. [Link]

Baseball

Mickey Mantle baseball card sells for $2.8 million at auction by Chris Perez (NYPost)

The latest in a long saga of “seriously?” prices for rare objects, a Micky Mantle baseball card has set a record for post-WW2 era cards (it’s the second-highest price paid for any card). [Link]

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Have a great Sunday!

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