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.


Will Italian banks spark another financial crisis? by Jeffrey Moore (Global Risk Insights)

While our position would be a decisive “no”, the dire picture of Italy’s financial system painted in this 2016 overview is worth keeping in mind. One especially interesting tidbit is the differing geography of NPL concentration between north and south. [Link]

Second thoughts on miniBOTs by Toby Nangle (Principles and Interest)

Why the so-called “mini-BOT” instruments proposed by the platform of Italy’s new populist government are an ineffective tool, even leaving aside their negative impact on Italy’s other forms of sovereign debt and market access. [Link]


A crypto stunt gone tragically wrong by Jemima Kelly and Alexandra Scaggs (FTAV)

A publicity stunt by Ukraine-based ASKfm to plant a hard drive full of tokens at the summit of Mount Everest resulted in the emergency evacuation of the team and the death of a Sherpa assisting them. [Link; registration required]

U.S. Launches Criminal Probe into Bitcoin Price Manipulation by Matt Robinson and Tom Schoenberg (Bloomberg)

With bitcoin now a reference for multiple futures contracts, US regulators are starting an investigation of price manipulation in spot markets, including spoofing. [Link; auto-playing video, soft paywall]

Trump Tweets

Judge Rules Trump Can’t Block People on Twitter by Chris Dolmetsch and Patricia Hurtado (Bloomberg)

Because the President is a public official, his account is considered a “public forum” and therefore cannot simply block users according to a federal court ruling this week. [Link; auto-playing video, soft paywall]

Inside the Trump Tweet Machine: Staff-written posts, bad grammar (on purpose), and delight in the chaos by Annie Linskey (Boston Globe)

The grammatically destitute state of the President’s Twitter feed is often the result of specific choices by a team of staffers who send out tweets in his voice. [Link]


Blocking 500 Million Users Easier Than Complying With GDPR by Nate Lanxon (Bloomberg)

Compliance with the sweeping new privacy regulation in Europe is a thorny thicket, so much so that a big chunk of the American media landscape simply cuts off access to their sites from the entire EU as a temporary measure to remain compliant. [Link]

Amazon Pushes Facial Recognition to Police. Critics See Surveillance Risk. by Nick Wingfield (NYT)

Since 2016 Amazon has been hawking a service that helps identify people based on their facial features, with law enforcement agencies a major customer. Now, the ACLU and other civil rights organizations are concerned about the implications, especially for non-criminals that law enforcement may decide to track anyways. [Link; soft paywall]


Era of ‘lower for longer’ oil prices is dead by Amrita Sen and Yasser Elguindi (FT)

With oil markets tightening up despite a best-effort showing by the shale patch to ramp up supply as fast as possible, Energy Aspects analysts argue that oil prices are sustainable at current levels and headed higher. [Link; paywall]

The links between stagnating wages and buyer power in U.S. supply chains by Nathan Wilmers (Washington Center for Equitable Growth)

One possible explanation for wage growth is growing monopsony (single-buyer) power for large firms, which pressures wages lower among suppliers. [Link]

Long Reads

Burying NYC’s Forgotten Dead at Hart Island by Bess Lovejoy (JSTOR)

Since 1869, New York City’s municipal cemetery has been on Hart Island, a little stretch of terra firma a few miles west of Pelham Bay Park in Long Island Sound. Over the years, more than a million souls have found their final resting place on the island. [Link]

Death of a Biohacker by Jonah Engel Bromwich (NYT)

A secretive and frankly sketchy leader in the community of entrepreneurs and experimenters who look to modify the human body in myriad ways mysteriously died in a sensory deprivation tank. [Link]

Big Trades

Bond Trader Reaps 2,000% Profit by Just Trusting the Fed by Edward Bolingbroke (Bloomberg)

A bet that the Fed would simply do what it was forecasting it would do (combined with the leverage of options on already extremely leveraged Eurodollar futures) delivered some pretty fantastic returns for on bond market player. [Link; auto-playing video, soft paywall]

Dan Loeb wants to raise $400M to target fintech by Carleton English (NYP)

The latest in a string of capital raises targeted at financial technology is Third Point, which has set up an acquisition company to begin investing in the space at scale. [Link]


With Recipes, the Key to Making Millions Is Not About the Food by Kate Krader (Bloomberg)

Recipes are not open for copyright, and that creates some unique incentives for the intellectual property of creating new culinary concoctions. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great Sunday!

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