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.

Health Frontiers

Apple’s First CareKit Apps Are Here (Fast Company)

There are high hopes amongst the developer and medical communities that the plethora of data collected by the company’s devices and collated via their CareKit API will yield new and innovative approaches to health apps. [Link]

If cryonics suddenly worked, we’d need to face the fallout by Rachel Nuwer (BBC)

What if tomorrow you could go to sleep and wake up in a hundred years, ready to be cured of impending disease? The ethics of this question are more complex than they might appears. [Link]


The Braves Play Taxpayers Better Than They Play Baseball by Ira Boudway and Kate Smith (Bloomberg)

For those familiar with John Malone’s Liberty complex of businesses, it should come as no surprise that the Atlanta Braves (owned in part by that complex) are masters at tax code manipulation. [Link]

Retail & E-Commerce

‘Free’ Shipping Crowds Out Small Retailers by Laura Stevens (WSJ)

While free shipping may not be impossible for small businesses, it’s certainly a barrier to entry that offers increasing economies of scale to the giants of e-commerce. [Link, paywall]

Buyouts Saddle Stressed Retailers With Debts They Can’t Pay by Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Lindsey Rupp (Bloomberg)

In a “business 101” lesson, a good investigation of how high debt loads aren’t always smart or sustainable, regardless of why they are taken on. [Link]

Department Stores Need to Cull Hundreds of Sites, Study Says by Suzanne Kapner (WSJ)

Retailers have expanded their physical footprints but shrunk their sales since the middle of the last decade; as a result, to reach the same levels of productivity they would need to close hundreds of “anchor” stores that support local malls. [Link , paywall]


End of Golden Era for Investors Spells Troubles for Millennials by Rich Miller (Bloomberg)

Lower returns mean that younger investors need a higher savings rate in order to reach retirement goals; in a recent study, McKinsey quantified some of the implications. [Link]

Artko Capital LP 1Q 2016 Investor Letter by Peter Rabover (Artko Capital)

A look inside the portfolio of Artko, a small value-focused equity hedge fund.  We enjoyed the process Rabover lays out just as much if not more than seeing the positions themselves. [Link]

Opinion: What investors can learn from how investors read the news by Jeremy Olshan (MarketWatch)

A summary of what can be devined from where the clicks go during the course of the trading day. [Link]

Media Matters

What’s Really Killing Digital Media: The Tyranny Of The Impression by Max Willens (Newsweek)

Incentives matter, and the current incentives provided to digital media almost guarantee a race-to-the-bottom for the fastest and largest number of brief views on pages.  But a group of industry leaders are trying to shift that model from a binary one (impressions) to one with more flexibility (time). [Link]


Nike founder Phil Knight worries that nation is losing its entrepreneurial edge by Susan Page (USA Today)

Sports apparel legend Knight is worried that pessimism is holding back entrepreneurs and the economy as a whole. [Link]

Long Term Thinking

No One Believes It, but Inflation Is a Pretty Good Bet by Ken Brown (WSJ)

Markets continue to price extremely low risk premiums which could prove painful if inflation rises by only a small amount. [Link, paywall]

Guest post: Toby Nangle on the end of the “Goldilocks slump” by Toby Nangle (FT Alphaville)

A sweeping analysis of three possible futures designed by the holy trinity, of which the economy must pick two: high corporate profits, high nominal wage growth, and steady inflation. [Link, registration required]

Is ‘Secular Stagnation’ Too Pessimistic? By Jeffrey Sparshott (WSJ Real Time Economics)

A summary of the view that tightening labor markets will end the feared “secular stagnation”; a period of low growth, inflation, and interest rates with slack demand, high savings, and low investment. [Link]

Not So Rich Anymore, Gulf Arabs Enter World of Cuts and Strikes by Zainab Fattah (Bloomberg)

The end of high oil prices mean harder choices for the citizens of the Persian Gulf, including lower wages, fewer benefits, and a completely unsustainable economic model. [Link]


Fear This Man by David Kushner (Foreign Policy)

A fascinating summary of the hacking empire run by David Vincenzetti, an Italian who runs the “Blackwater of surveillance”: selling the ability to hack and spy on electronic devices to the highest bidder, usually national spy agencies. [Link]

A Leak Wounded This Company. Fighting the Feds Finished It Off by Dune Lawrence (Businessweek)

The detailed account of LabMD, which was hacked after an employee downloaded file sharing software. But it was the Federal Trade Commission that dealt the heaviest blows. [Link]

Public Perception

Buying Yahoo Without Coming Off as One by Andy Kessler (WSJ)

A grim run-down of the mess that is Yahoo’s core business along with some strategies that buyers may be able to deploy. [Link, paywall]

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Is A Black Hole, Sucking The Fun Out Of The Universe (Wired)

The case that the pre-eminent public advocate for science is over-playing his hand. For the record, we think more knowledge of science is a good thing, even if it’s delivered in a smug wrapper. [Link]

Central Banking

The Tokyo Whale Is Quietly Buying Up Huge Stakes in Japan Inc. by Yuji Nakamura, Anna Kitanaka, and Nao Sano (Bloomberg)

Due to its purchases of equity ETFs (designed to reduce financial alternatives and goose investment) the Bank of Japan is now a bigger holder of Japanese stocks than either BlackRock or Vanguard. [Link]

The Edinburgh gambler and murderer who bankrupted France (The Scotsman)

A fun romp through the biography of Edinburgh’s John Law who witnessed the founding of the Dutch central bank and introduced paper money to the world; that particular experiment was one that failed miserably at the time. [Link]


The sinister, secret history of a food that everybody loves by Jeff Guo (WaPo)

The type of food a society grows is now being focused on as a key driver of how that society advances, with root vegetables like the potato providing less incentive for the formation of social institutions that can be easily used for conquest or expansion. Thanks to our friend Eddy Elfenbein for passing this one along! [Link, soft paywall]

Start a 14-day no obligation free trial to sample Bespoke’s premium research.  Our Bespoke Report newsletter sent to paid members every Friday is a great read if you’re looking for additional weekend reading.

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