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.

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Papers

The 15-Hour Week: Keynes’s Prediction Revisited by Nicholas Crafts (Warwick Economics Research Papers)

Longer life expectancy in retirement and longer retirement periods mean that non-work hours have risen 60% over the last 90 years or so, meaning Keynes was right about his prediction for less work but wrong about the distribution of when that time would be enjoyed. [Link; 17 page PDF]

School Reopenings, Mobility, and COVID-19 Spread: Evidence from Texas by Charles J. Courtemanche, Anh H. Le, Aaron Yelowitz & Ron Zimmer (NBER)

A new paper argues that reopenings of Texas schools drove 43,000 new COVID-19 cases and 800 deaths in the first two months of reopening for districts, with changes in adult behavior that school reopenings allowed playing significant contributing role in the overall increase. [Link]

Defense Contracts

Luxury jet makers battle over lucrative spy plane niche by Allison Lampert and Tim Hepher (Reuters)

Lower operating costs make Gulfstreams popular platforms for militaries operating intelligence-gathering platforms that sniff around foreign radar and communications networks looking for signals intelligence. [Link]

The Pentagon Inches Toward Letting AI Control Weapons by Will Knight (Wired)

US military leadership is currently considering if they should allow machines to decide whether weapons are used and what they’re aimed at. [Link; soft paywall]

Post Pandemic

Many Vaccinated Americans Are Still Uncomfortable Returning to Public Activities. The U.S. Economy Needs Them by Alex Silverman (Morning Consult)

People who have received a vaccine are at lower risk than their peers, but are still less likely to eat in a restaurant, travel abroad, or go to the gym as concerns that lead them to seek vaccination aren’t totally solved by the dose. [Link]

The people who want to keep masking: ‘It’s like an invisibility cloak’ by Julia Carrie Wong (The Guardian)

Masking has been a necessary step to preventing the spread of COVID, but has also served to keep people anonymous and discrete, which for some holds an appeal that will last long past the pandemic. [Link]

Risk Appetite

New Amazon bond rivals yield on US Treasuries in record-breaking sale by Joe Rennison, Dave Lee and Camilla Hodgson (FT)

Amazon borrowed at a record low spread to Treasuries this week, part of a staggering decline in the risk premiums offered to investors in the US corporate bond market. [Link; paywall]

What Happens to Stocks and Cryptocurrencies When the Fed Stops Raining Money? by Greg Ip (WSJ)

The latest in a long line of opinion columns asking the question “is the Fed entirely responsible for elevated asset prices across financial markets”. [Link; paywall]

From Dutch Tulips to Internet Stocks, How to Spot a Financial Bubble by Jon Hilsenrath (WSJ)

The soaring prices of extremely speculative assets in 2020 and 2021 bear much in common with similarly speculative manias of the past. [Link; paywall]

Malfeasance

Colonial Hacker Group Seeks to Shift Blame for Ransomware by Alyza Sebenius and Ryan Gallagher (Bloomberg)

The hack which has left much of the US Southeast without gasoline may have been conducted by an affiliate group of the hackers whose software was used to execute the attack. [Link; soft paywall]

Crypto Fraudsters Made a Big Bet on Dogecoin, New York Claims by Olga Kharif (Bloomberg)

An NYAG suit alleges a crypto trading platform misused funds by betting the house on Dogecoin, a crypto that started as a joke and has since exploded higher. [Link; soft paywall]

Semiconductors

Your Car, Toaster, Even Washing Machine, Can’t Work Without Them. And There’s a Global Shortage. by Alex T. Williams (NYT)

A detailed look at the global semiconductors shortage and some policy proscriptions for how it might be fixed longer-term. [Link; soft paywall]

Middle East

The War That Shouldn’t Have Been by Neri Zilber (Newlines)

An insightful look at the roots of the most recent flare-up of violence in Israel and Palestine: internal political realignments within both Gazan and Israeli politics have seeded and exacerbated the conflict. [Link]

Education

Catholic Schools Are Losing Students at Record Rates, and Hundreds Are Closing by Ian Lovett (WSJ)

The United States had almost 6,000 Catholic schools before the pandemic, but hundreds have closed and enrollment is falling, with urban dioceses especially pressured by a declining prevalence of Catholicism nationally and difficulties among parents meeting the cost of an education within the faith. [Link; paywall]

Natural World

Groundbreaking effort launched to decode whale language by Craig Welch (National Geographic)

Whales have a language, but knowing it exists and translating it into something that humans can understand (let alone speak back) is a massive challenge for scientists. [Link; soft paywall]

Are These Two Men Going After the Holy Grail of Himalayan Climbing? (Climbing)

There’s speculation brewing that two of the most accomplished climbers in the world are considering a double-ascent of Everest and nearby peak Lhotse in one climb. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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