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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Real Estate

Drug Cop Worth $400 Million After Bets on Brooklyn Real Estate by Sophie Alexander and Tom Maloney (Bloomberg)

Greg O’Connell has a heck of an eye. The former cop turned real estate investor spent decades buying up chunks of Red Hook, Brooklyn, and is now sitting on $400mm worth of property in the rapidly gentrifying area. [Link; soft paywall]

Want a House Like This? Prepare for a Bidding War With Investors by Ben Casselman and Conor Dougherty (NYT)

Following the crisis, a vast infrastructure sprung up to facilitate investor purchases of single family homes. Now, that infrastructure is pushing out traditional buyers, especially in neighborhoods that are gentrifying. [Link; soft paywall]

Investors Are Buying More of the U.S. Housing Market Than Ever Before by Laura Kusisto (WSJ)

The flip side of investor interest in housing is the fact that home flippers are upgrading properties, something homeowners may be either ill-equipped to do or unable to finance. [Link; paywall]


Rays to explore splitting games with Montreal by Jeff Passan (ESPN)

In a non-traditional move, the Tampa Bay franchise is exploring a split between Florida and Quebec. [Link; auto-playing video]

There’s No Good Reason To Believe What The Golden State Warriors’ Doctors Say by Gabe Fernandez (Deadspin)

An investigation into the ethical minefield that team doctors have to navigate, and often don’t even bother trying to think about, when they’re trying to diagnose players and get them back into the game. [Link]


Facebook posts better at predicting diabetes, mental health than demographic info (ScienceDaily)

A UPenn study found that language analysis of Facebook posts can predict psychological and medical conditions, in some cases much better than demographic information alone. [Link]

Bodies In Seats by Casey Newton (The Verge)

Facebook content moderation imposes a horrific cost on workers, with a vendor in Tampa, Florida a particularly egregious example: the office has seen an employee die at his desk, and other workers report psychic tolls from the ocean of violence and child exploitation, often resulting in PTSD. [Link]

Facebook announces Libra cryptocurrency: All you need to know by Josh Constine (TechCrunch)

An overview of the foray the world’s largest social network is taking into the world of blockchain with its participation in the Libra project. [Link]

Facebook’s Libra: blockchain, but without the blocks or chain by Jemima Kelly (FTAV)

A much more skeptical take on Libra, which is not a blockchain, is tied to existing currencies, is not decentralized, and has error-prone smart contracts. All very exciting, and par for the course when it comes to splashy crypto-related roll-outs. [Link; soft paywall]


Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think by Arthur C. Brooks (The Atlantic)

An essay on the psychological burden of moving out of one’s prime, and how that burden can be alleviated. [Link]

State of States

Is West Virginia Constitutional? by Hilary Parkinson (National Archives)

The counter-secession of Appalachian Virginia during the Civil War is debatably legal, although given the extenuating circumstances some grey area is probably understandable. [Link]

Public Health

Meet the New York couple donating millions to the anti-vax movement by Lena H. Sun and Amy Brittain (WaPo)

The story of two wealthy Manhattanites who are the largest funders of vaccine skeptic movements which are helping the spread of diseases once entirely controlled by modern medicine. [Link; soft paywall]

Major study suggests Medicaid work requirements are hurting people without really helping anybody by Dylan Scott (Vox)

An early look at the effects of Arkansas requiring Medicaid recipients to work suggests that thousands of eligible people have been cast off the Medicaid roles despite the fact that they are either employed or qualify for some kind of exemption. Moreover, the uninsured rate has spiked without any observable benefit to employment rates; in fact, despite a 4 percentage point bump in the uninsured rate, employment rates for the group dropped by almost as much. The work requirements have been put on hold by federal court since, after a judge ruled the requirements in that state and Kentucky violated federal law. [Link]

Fed Mandate

The Fed Takes a Second Look at Its Good-News Story on American Jobs by Matthew Boesler (Bloomberg)

The Federal Reserve may be rethinking the way that it approaches its mandate, influenced by persistent shortfalls in labor share of income and a building openness to the idea that inflation pressures are in part determined by class conflict. [Link]


The Surprising Reason that There Are So Many Thai Restaurants in America by Myles Karp (Vice)

While there are millions of Thai immigrants in the United States, they certainly seem to punch above their weight when it comes to availability of cuisine. That’s an intentional ploy on the part of the Thai government, with benefits for adventurous American pallets. [Link]


How 7.4 Tons of Venezuela’s Gold Landed in Africa—and Vanished by Gabriele Steinhauser and Nicholas Bariyo (WSJ)

Aided by a Russian charter flight and a Ugandan refinery, the Maduro regime has been flying gold to Africa and remain solvent. [Link; paywall]


The Greatest Asset Bubble of All Time by Nick Maggiulli (Of Dollars And Data)

An investigation into asset bubbles: new and old, large and small, with all the attendant drama and plenty of charts to go along with the text. [Link]


Is this the birthplace of written Spanish? by Miriam Foley (BBC Travel)

Notes made in the margins of Latin text by monks in 6th-century Rioja help show the evolution of local vulgar Latin into the second-most spoken language in the world. [Link]

Hong Kong

How Hong Kong Got a Million Protesters Out on the Streets by Hannah Dormido, Chloe Whiteaker, Karen Leigh and Cedric Sam (Bloomberg)

A graphic story showing how millions of protestors flooded the streets in protests against a new extradition bill. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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