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 Failures

Unemployment filing failures by Ben Zipperer and Elise Gould (EPI)

An analysis of jobless claims data suggests that the extreme volume of new filings is under-reported by as much as 60% thanks to millions of workers who were unable to file or didn’t try to file because of difficulty navigating the system. [Link]

The perils of Hooverism by Ryan Cooper (The Week)

As millions lose their jobs and the unemployment rate soars into the double digits, rhetoric is rapidly shifting from emergency support to brutal austerity, risking the livelihoods and basic security of millions in an incredibly depressing re-run of the initial policy response to the Great Depression almost a century ago. [Link]

Why the US shouldn’t let states go bankrupt by Emily Stewart (Vox)

Many states face very little discretion over budgets when receipts plunge, exacerbating economic downturns with layoffs just when demand is already in its worst shape. [Link]

Thomas Piketty: Willing EU countries should spearhead fiscal union by Jakob Hanke Vela, Marion Solletty and Florian Eder (Politico)

French economist Thomas Piketty argues that joint debt is a necessary evolution of the European Union in response to the COVID-19 crisis. [Link]


We spent the lockdown sorting American voters into 380,000 distinct groups (The Economist)

Using a national data set, The Economist used demographic buckets to more accurately model state-level outcomes than polls which focus on individual states. [Link; registration required]

The unlikely alliance trying to rescue workplace health insurance by Susannah Luthi (Politico)

As millions of workers are removed from company health insurance plans, Democrats are planning to bail out health care insurers who are losing billions in premiums to the labor market collapse. [Link]

Weird Disruptions

Trucks Are Filling a 6,000 Mile Beijing-to-Berlin Supply Gap by Brian Parkin and William Wilkes (Bloomberg)

With airlines not flying, the cargo space which usually serves for just-in-time delivery capacity between China and Europe is being replaced by a massive cobbled together truck daisy chain stretching across Asia. [Link; soft paywall]

Dirty money piling up in L.A. as coronavirus cripples international money laundering by Matthew Ormseth (LAT)

Cash-based businesses are shuttered thanks to coronavirus, and that’s leading to a major pileup of money that typically gets laundered in the city. [Link; soft paywall]


This is how bad things are for museums: They now have a green light to sell off their art by Sebastian Smee (WaPo)

The powerful cartel which dominates norms in the world of art museums is advising members that selling actually makes sense in the current environment. [Link; soft paywall]

Covid-19 and corporate sector liquidity by Ryan Banerjee, Anamaria Illes, Enisse Kharroubi and José-Maria Serena (BIS)

A BIS analysis of 2019 corporate filings suggests the corporate sector does not have cash on hand adequate to cover interest costs, meaning operating losses thanks to COVID in 2020 require new debt issuance to cover, driving up total leverage from already high levels. [Link; 9 page PDF]


U.S. response to virus splinters into acrimony and uncertainty (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Confusion at the top and a wide range of state-level impacts have turned the national response to COVID-19 into an partisan blame-game that does all but ignore public health best practice. [Link]

The Anti-Mask League: lockdown protests draw parallels to 1918 pandemic by Peter Lawrence Kane (The Guardian)

During the 1918 flu pandemic, strict mask-wearing requirements were met with huge hostility and even outright rebellion in San Francisco, even though they sharply curtailed spread of the disease. [Link]

Viral Effects

People Were Leaving New York City Before the Coronavirus. Now What? by Kate King (WSJ)

High costs and little space as well as plentiful jobs elsewhere were pulling residents out of New York City even before the COVID-19 crisis hit; that slow trickle may become a flood. [Link]

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Has Affected Local Businesses Around the Country by Carl Bialik (Yelp)

Yelp data illustrates the shifting interest of the company’s users over the course of the last six weeks, with some huge new interest to go with plunging activity in a range of sectors. [Link; paywall]

‘It Was Just Too Much’: How Remote Learning Is Breaking Parents by Elizabeth A. Harris (NYT)

Parents used to having their children out of the picture during the work day are having to juggle teaching as well as their jobs and the results are painful. [Link; soft paywall]


‘Canine surveillance’: How Labrador retrievers are being trained to sniff out coronavirus cases by Karin Bruilliard (The National Post)

While not all of the potential fixes for the COVID-19 crisis are appealing, it’s hard to come up with a more appealing scenario than an army of friendly canine investigators being used for detection. [Link; auto-playing video]

The Secret Group of Scientists and Billionaires Pushing a Manhattan Project for Covid-19 by Rob Copeland (WSJ)

A secretive group of scientists has come together to argue for unorthodox solutions to the COVID-19 outbreak, including experimental large dose treatments of drugs designed for other diseases, COVID-specific antibody therapies, and vaccines. [Link; paywall]

Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek starts drive-in movies by Brittni Thomason (AZFamily)

An Arizona farm has thrown up a screen and started hosting drive-in movies as a way to make up for missing revenue from weddings and other events. [Link]


Tesla Cybertruck’s engineering and design might be genius — here’s why by Sean Szymkowski (Road Show)

By combining panels and frame, Tesla’s pickup design may be able to save massively on costs relative to the traditional approach to auto manufacturing. [Link]

Labor Markets

Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart Workers Organize a Historic Mass Strike by Lauren Kaori Gurley (Vice)

Gig economy and retail workers are attempting a mass strike and urging customers to boycott companies like Amazon, Instacart, and Target in protest of their handling of the COVID crisis. [Link]


Virtual rate cut forces Nintendo gamers into riskier assets by Leo Lewis and Robin Wigglesworth (FT)

Popular Nintendo game Animal Crossing has in-game currency and interest rates, and the most recent update slashed the rates paid in order to prevent a hack that allowed abuse of the interest system. [Link]

Wi-Fi is getting its biggest upgrade in 20 years by Jacob Kastrenakes (The Verge)

For the first time since 1989, the FCC is allowing unlicensed use of spectrum that opens up more possibilities for ubiquitous WiFi tech. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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