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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Policy Proceeds

A lot of people are spending their third stimulus checks on home improvements by Zlati Meyer (Fast Company)

Spending on broken down appliances and other home improvement projects is a popular way to put money from the most recent round of stimulus payments to work. [Link; paywall]

Automatic Aid for the People? How Jobless Benefits Can Fit the Economy. by Neil Irwin (NYT)

While jobless claims surged as a result of the pandemic and covered expenses for millions of Americans, there were massive gaps in coverage as the system to struggled to deal with the wave of cases; ad hoc approaches to boosting benefits didn’t help as states struggled to implement new benefits. [Link; soft paywall]


Biden Targets $41 Billion Tax Break for Rich Real Estate Investors by Emily Cadman (Bloomberg)

The tax provision which allows investors to avoid capital gains when rolling real estate investment from one deal to the next is on the chopping block in Biden administration tax proposals. [Link; soft paywall]

ETFs Stand To Win Big If Biden Raises Capital Gains Taxes, Report Says by Tracey Longo (FA Mag)

ETFs tend not to pass capital gains taxes on to investors, unlike many mutual funds which do so, creating an advantage for the pass-through exchange-traded funds. [Link]

Supply Problems

How blackouts, fires, and a pandemic are driving shortages of pipette tips — and hobbling science by Kate Sheridan (Stat News)

The small, simple plastic devices that facilitate testing and various biological research are in extremely short supply thanks to both disrupted supply chains and exploding demand due to vaccine research. [Link]

Lumber is shockingly expensive. Thanks, Obama. by Ryan Cooper (The Week)

The chaos in lumber markets is a good example of how a huge drop in demand can lead to higher prices than if demand had been preserved in the first place. [Link]


I Think I Found Jamie Dimon’s Secret Instagram Account by Ashley Feinberg (Trashberg)

An investigation into whether the CEO of JP Morgan is lurking on social media. The author manages to locate Twitter and Instagram accounts that are most likely where Dimon scrolls the timeline. [Link]

Startup CEO says he was fired for microdosing LSD at work by Sarah McBride (Fortune)

The head of a marketing startup was fired by the board of his business for taking a small amount of LSD prior to a meeting in 2019. [Link]

Covid Treatments

Brazil health regulator rejects Russia’s Sputnik vaccine by Ricardo Brito (CTV News/Reuters)

While reviewing the Sputnik COVID vaccine (based on an adenovirus vector similar to the Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca jabs), Brazil’s health regulatory discovered that the vaccine’s designers had neglected to delete some of the adenovirus genetic code, meaning the vaccine is effectively a live virus. [Link]

Pfizer is testing a pill that, if successful, could become first-ever home cure for COVID-19 by Paul Nuki (National Post/Telegraph)

A protease inhibitor that works similar to some HIV medication attacks the virus, reducing the severity of infections as soon as signs emerge that they are present. [Link]

Contrarian Signals

One in Four Shares in $12 Billion Bond ETF Are Now Sold Short by Katherine Greifeld (Bloomberg)

25% of the widely-held bond ETF TLT are sold short as investors bet on higher interest rates amidst large outflows. That’s the highest degree of short interest since 2017. [Link; soft paywall]

Pandemic Shifts

Google Is Saving Over $1 Billion a Year by Working From Home by Mark Bergen (Bloomberg)

Activities like travel and entertainment that are no longer a part of the corporate tool kit are saving Google (and other companies) huge sums. [Link; soft paywall]

Golf Resurgence During Covid Boosts Puma as Nike, Adidas Miss Out by Tim Loh (Bloomberg)

Sports that can be played outdoors and alone have seen a massive increase in popularity thanks to COVID, a boon to sportswear brand Puma and a missed opportunity for larger brands like Nike. [Link; soft paywall]

Silly Season

The counterparty puzzle: the curious case of the Miami jewellery designer, the government’s PPE scandal and the lawyer on its trail… by Jonathan Heaf (GQ)

Public contracts for PPE in the UK led to billions in spending on companies that had little to no experience as vendors, including a Miami-based designer. [Link]

The World Knows Her as ‘Disaster Girl.’ She Just Made $500,000 Off the Meme. by Marie Fazio (NYT)

A UNC student made half a million dollars selling an non-fungible token giving the owner rights to 90% of sales related to a meme that came from a photo of her as a four year old outside a house fire in Mebane, NC. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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