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.  The links are in no particular order.  We hope you enjoy the food for thought as a supplement to the research we provide you during the week.

Why We Think We’re Better Investors Than We Are by Gary Belsky (NYT)

A fascinating look at the behavioral economics behind investing and the dangers that overconfidence have for so many investors. [Link]

Good riddance, gig economy: Uber, Ayn Rand and the awesome collapse of Silicon Valley’s dream of destroying your job by Steven Hill (Salon)

We’ll be the first to admit that both the title and content of this piece are a bit heavy-handed, but we think the general point about the “sharing economy” effort to quantize labor and why it likely won’t work beyond a few specific cases are instructive. [Link]

A $700 Juicer for the Kitchen That Caught Silicon Valley’s Eye by David Gelles (NYT)

If you look to it as a sign of the sorts of bets being placed in the current venture market, this article might be a little bit terrifying for you. The business details and funding size are nothing short of staggering. [Link]

Slack, a Leading Unicorn, Raises $200 Million in New Financing by Mike Isaac (NYT)

We love Slack and it’s become a key tool for Bespoke, so we found this anecdote on the company’s fundraising activity and current business quite interesting. [Link]

Amazon, Alibaba and an Indian Illusion by Andy Mukherjee (Bloomberg Gadfly)

A dive into the Indian market that Amazon serves and the absurd degree of regulation and anti-competitive behavior that dominates the Indian retail market. [Link]

 

Hedge Funds Have a Performance Problem by Nir Kaissar (Bloomberg Gadfly)

A look into recent hedge fund returns which somehow manages to admirably abstain from contextless comparisons of hedge fund profits to the S&P 500. We’re a fan of the rare media take on funds that does not make this frankly horrific rookie error. Correctly, Kaissar does compare risk-adjusted returns of hedge funds to other alternatives like stock indices and bonds. [Link]

Citi: Robo-Advisers Will Never Take the Place of Traditional Investment Managers by Julie Verhage (Bloomberg)

Citi analyst Ronit Ghose argues that robo-advisors (algorithm-driven platforms for low-cost diversified investing) are not going to put a significant dent in the most labor-intensive aspects of asset management. [Link]

A Senator Doesn’t Like It When Companies Lie To The Government by Matt Levine (Bloomberg View)

Should existing regulation (securities law) be used as a method to forward political agendas on other subjects? In this case, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is hoping to punish companies for making different statements to different groups (investors and the government) regarding the proposed fiduciary rule as a way to reduce their opposition to that rule. We broadly agree with his conclusion that this is a slippery slope and probably not the best way to operate government in the general sense. [Link]

Bear Stearns and the Bodyguard of Lies by Roddy Boyd and Teri Buh (Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation)

SIRF does good work as an independent and enthusiastic investigator of all sorts of market miscellany, and while this story is basically old news given how long ago its key events take place, it’s still an instructive piece of insight into what happened during the lead-up to the Global Financial Crisis. [Link]

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by M. Angeles Villarreal and Ian F. Fergusson (Congressional Research Service)

The Congressional Research Service is a nonpartisan body within the Library of Congress that works exclusively for Congress, developing policy and legal analysis at the committee and Member level. They do excellent work on a variety of subjects and this paper on NAFTA is a helpful piece of background given the current “moment” that free trade is enjoying in the spotlight. [Link]

Testing Territorial Limits by Vann R. Newkirk II (The Atlantic)

American territories occupy a unique position within our system of government, and that can create some problematic implications for their citizens and the country at large. [Link]

How to Hack an Election by Jordan Robertson, Michael Riley, and Andrew Willis (Bloomberg Businessweek)

This sweeping narrative investigates the story of a former hacker who claims to have helped throw elections across Latin America while being financed by one of the world’s most powerful political consultants. It has grim implications for the intersection of money, technology, and politics in general as well as the 2016 US political election specifically. [Link]

Another Condo Bust Looms in Miami by Laura Kusisto (WSJ)

As the USD has soared and commodity-driven economies around the world have slowed amidst a price bust, the soaring towers of South Beach and Brickell have run into a ceiling. [Link, paywall]

China’s True Demand For Copper Is Only Half as Much as You Think by Luke Kawa (Bloomberg)

A faintly nerve-wracking analysis of what copper imported to China has actually been used for and why that demand is not likely to be sustainable. [Link]

The Effect of Exchange Rate Shocks on Domestic Prices by Mary Amiti, Olek Itskhoki, and Jozef Konings (NY Fed Liberty Street Economics)

How do changes in the exchange rate translate into domestic prices and how do those effects vary across economies? This excellent blog post endeavors to explain. [Link]

How New York Gets Its Water by Emily S. Rueb (NYT)

A fascinating and digestible look into the colossal logistics of municipal water infrastructure that serves New Yorkers. [Link]

What Happened to Migration in 2014 (2013?)? by Lyman Stone (Medium)

A very cool post that looks at a variety of data sets to assess the recent state of US internal migration.  Full of interesting charts and data nerding. [Link]

Team of Rival Scientists Comes Together to Fight Zika by Amy Harmon (NYT)

We love Twitter and in the case of an effort to map the genome of the mosquito species which carries Zika the platform served as an important catalyst, as did numerous other recent technological developments. [Link]

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