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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Stock Drama

BlackRock Starts to Use Voting Power More Aggressively by Dawn Lim (WSJ)

The giant fund company is starting to put its proxy votes where its mouth, with a sharp increase in the number of environmental, social, and governance proposals in the first half of this proxy year versus the prior year when only a tiny fraction of those categories got support from the ubiquitous index fund provider. [Link; paywall]

Berkshire Hathaway’s Stock Price Is Too Much for Computers by Alexander Osipovich (WSJ)

The un-split A-shares of Berkshire have neared a maximum value that NASDAQ’s trading systems can handle, with shares knocking on a magic and unfortunate limit of $429,496.7295 per share. [Link; paywall]

Pandemic Culture

The Hot-Person Vaccine by Kaitlyn Tiffany (The Atlantic)

Tastemakers have landed on the Pfizer jab as the must-have injection of the vaccination season, for reasons that completely escape just about everyone. [Link; soft paywall]

New York City Is Roaring Back to Life, One Year After Its Nadir by Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou (Bloomberg)

With more than half of NYC vaccinated, the subway is going back to 24 hour service, and bars are opening up as the giant metropolis shakes off the past 13 months of cobwebs that made it a shadow of its former self. [Link; soft paywall]

Too Much Zoom

Even the CEO of Zoom Says He Has Zoom Fatigue by Chip Cutter (WSJ)

A never-ending slog of video calls is creating burnout and driving executives to push for a return to the office sooner rather than later, with even the CEO of remote work posterchild Zoom reporting fatigue over video calls. [Link; paywall]

‘I Used to Like School’: An 11-Year-Old’s Struggle With Pandemic Learning by Rukmini Callimachi (NYT)

For students that don’t have access to reliable internet, remote schooling has been an enormous burden, and one that has fallen overwhelmingly on non-white children. [Link; soft paywall]

Big Shifts

A Farmer Moved a 200-Year-Old Stone, and the French-Belgian Border by Anna Schaverian (NYT)

In Belgium, a treaty dating back to a post-Napoleonic years was violated by a farmer moving an inconvenient stone border marker to the edge of his field. [Link; soft paywall]

Microsoft is rolling out a new default font to 1.2 billion Office users after 14 years — and the designer of the old one is surprised by Jordan Novet (CNBC)

Vaunted workhorse of office documents Calibri is taking a back seat, with one of five potential replacements announced this week set to take the crown from the default font of Word, Excel, and other MS Office documents. [Link]

Demography

Births in U.S. Drop to Levels Not Seen Since 1979 by Janet Adamy (WSJ)

The number of American newborns dropped 4% in 2021 as birth rates fell to the lowest levels on record dating to at least the 1930s, with the lowest number of babies since 1979. [Link; paywall]

Renewables

Trends in electricity prices during the transition away from coal by William B. McClain (BLS)

Producer price indices for electricity in regions that use more renewable power have grown less over the long term than those in regions with less renewables generation. [Link]

Hollywood

‘A Quiet Place’ Stars Think Paramount Owes Them Money by Lucas Shaw (Bloomberg)

With studios shifting theatrical releases to streaming networks, actors are scrambling to protect their share of proceeds; contracts typically give huge names a share of box office receipts that are being skimmed off thanks to shorter theater runs. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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