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.


Big energy’s surprise warning: Trump, slow down deregulation by Amy Harder (Axios)

Counter-intuitively, many in the energy industry are opposed to large-scale rollbacks of existing regulation proposed by the current Administration. [Link]

The Big Green Bang: how renewable energy became unstoppable by Pilita Clark (FT)

Investment in renewable energy has reached a tipping point as electric vehicles, wind, and solar draw an ever-larger share of global R&D and physical capex spending. [Link; paywall]

Weird Nature

Great White Shark v Killer Whale: The two deadliest sea titans are now waging war on each other by Warren Manger (The Mirror)

Pods of orcas are hunting great white sharks, which are bigger, faster, and better at coordinating with each other. [Link]

Interview with the scientist who learned how those Death Valley rocks move by themselves by Mark Frauenfelder (BoingBoing)

Mysteriously, rocks in Death Valley have been moving across the desert floor. Now, scientists have discovered the cause. [Link]

Sweet Treats

The “rose doughnut” from this NYC bakery is the newest Instagram obsession by Will Pulos (TimeOut NY)

The newest craze in confectionary is the “rose donut”, a swirl of pastry deep fried and glazed with flavors that include strawberry, rose, and blood orange. [Link]

Girl Scout Troop Leader Is On the Run with $15,000 Worth of Cookies by Nick Rose (Munchies)

A Kentucky woman has been indicted after stealing a huge load of sweet treats which usually help fund troops around the country. There’s no word on which types were included in the load. [Link]

China’s curious cult of the mango by Benjamin Ramm (BBC Magazine)

After re-gifting crate of mangos from the foreign minister of Pakistan to a group of revolutionary workers that stormed Qinghua University (seriously!), mangos became an object of obsession during China’s Cultural Revolution. [Link]


Who’s at the Controls on KLM? Sometimes, the Dutch King by Austin Ramzy (NYT)

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (on the throne since 2013) has been flying commercial airline flights for the past two decades, usually incognito. [Link; soft paywall]

Who owns the space between reclining airline seats? (The Economist)

Research over who owns the space airline seats recline into shows how endowment effects can sometimes complicate important economic theory. [Link]

State & Local

World’s first light rail on a floating bridge: For I-90, Sound Transit had to invent ‘a brilliant solution’ by Mike Lindblom (Seattle Times)

If you have any interest in infrastructure, this detailed article on the effort to move light rail across Lake Washington in Seattle is a great read. [Link]

Tennessee makes community college free for all adults by Katie Lobosco (CNN)

In an expansion of a 2014 program, Tennessee is going to spend roughly $10mm per year ensuring basic educational programs in the state are free for any state resident who can make a 2.0 GPA, spend enough time in school to qualify as a part-time student, and complete the FAFSA form. [Link; auto-playing video]


My Family’s Slave by Alex Tizon (The Atlantic)

A frankly horrifying story about an American family that kept a slave for over 6 decades. Deeply unsettling to read on every level. [Link]

Editor’s Note: A Reporter’s Final Story by Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic)

Some background about the story linked to above. [Link]

Culture, Haute & Popular

Basquiat Skull Painting Sells for $110.5 Million by Kelly Crow (WSJ)

The work of New York City graffiti artist Basquiat is the hottest in the art world as his 1982 “Untitled” set a price record for an American artist and record for post-1980 artwork this week. [Link; paywall]

The Old Pope by Bryan Curtis (The Ringer)

A history and outlook on Mike Francesa, who has been taking calls and spinning opinion about the sports world for 30 years on WFAN. [Link]

Economic Evidence

Volatility Derivatives in Practice: Activity and Impact by Scott Mixon and Esen Onur (CFTC Office of The Chief Economist)

The CFTC’s chief economist finds that over the 2011-2015 period, changes in flows into and out of VIX futures added 0.5 to 1.0 points to the VIX futures curve; in other words, VIX futures (and by extension VIX ETPs) don’t appear to be distorting the market for volatility significantly. [Link; 52 page PDF]

Why Isn’t Automation Eating Jobs? Greg Ip vs. Ryan Avent by Greg Ip (WSJ)

A wide-ranging conversation on why output per worker hour isn’t rising despite widespread fears of a “rise of the machines”. [Link; paywall]

Benchmarking reflation by Jean Boivin and Rick Rieder (BlackRock)

A very nice piece that argues the current cycle is slow, making it more likely to last a long time; low corporate capex is one factor that plays a role in extending it. [Link; 7 page PDF]


Alex Rubalcava of Stage Venture Partners: Distinguished Thought Leadership Series (Latticework)

An excellent interview with VC and public market equity investor Alex Rubalcava, whose combination of Munger/Buffett approaches to public market value and a technological cycle-focused approach to VC are fascinating. [Link; 19 page PDF]

Media Matters

Why Do the Big Stories Keep Breaking at Night? by Adrienne Lafrance (The Atlantic)

Publication deadlines for the hardcopy paper are the reason that so many recent political stories have broken in the evening. [Link]

Passing On

Former Paramount head Brad Grey has died at 59 from cancer by Mike Fleming Jr (Business Insider/Deadline)

Grey ran Paramount for 12 years, after acting as executive producer for The Sopranos. [Link]


How the FDA Approved a $300,000-a-Year Drug Its Own Experts Didn’t Believe Worked by Susan Pulliam and Brody Mullins (WSJ)

In the battle to gain drug approvals, coordination between patient families and drug companies raises deep questions about the approval process and how companies engage with it. [Link; paywall]

Moar Fyre

Fyre Festival Was Buried Under Millions in Debt Before It Even Began by Polly Mosendz, Kim Bhasin, and Shahien Nasiripour (Bloomberg)

In the last few days before the disastrous Fyre Festival, organizers borrowed millions in a fruitless effort to stave off the inevitable debacle. [Link]


Even The Biggest Scandals Can’t Kill Party Loyalty by Julia Azari, Perry Bacon Jr. and Harry Enten (538)

Prior major political scandals (Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the Clinton impeachment) typically don’t sway the supporters of the embattled political party in question, making high approval ratings from Republicans during recent controversy around the FBI for President Trump a normal occurrence rather than an outlier. [Link]

Have a great Sunday!

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