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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Free Trades, Jackpot Dreams Lure Small Investors to Options by Gunjan Banerji and Alexander Osipovich (WSJ)

Inexperienced traders are piling into options as well as single-stock trading, fueled by high volatility and cheap commissions. [Link; paywall]

Announcing STOCKHISTORY by Kaycee Anderson (Microsoft)

The development team behind Microsoft Excel has introduced a new feature which allows users to pull stock price data into spreadsheets using native functions. [Link]


How the Virus Won by Derek Watkins, Josh Holder, James Glanz, Weiyi Cai, Benedict Carey and Jeremy White (NYT)

A breathtaking set of graphics that illustrate the spread of the coronavirus through the United States over the last several months, using viral DNA to track the movement of the virus through space and time. [Link; soft paywall]

Back to School With Covid-19 Rules: Temperature Checks, Few Sports and Lots of Distance by Lucy Craymer and Andrew Jeong (WSJ)

While the US is still amidst summer holidays, other parts of the world have returned to school after COVID-driven closures, and things look nothing like the world that students left behind back in the winter. [Link; paywall]


Vast Federal Aid Has Capped Rise in Poverty, Studies Find by Jason DeParle (NYT)

The enormous wave of stimulus checks and unemployment insurance payments which have kept the economy afloat since COVID hit have had a side-effect: pulling people out of poverty even as unemployment surges. [Link; soft paywall]

Black Lives Matter Protests, Social Distancing, and COVID-19 by Dhaval M. Dave, Andrew I. Friedson, Kyutaro Matsuzawa, Joseph J. Sabia, and Samuel Safford (NBER)

In a remarkable case of unintended consequences, it appears that Black Lives Matter protests didn’t substantially increase transmission of COVID-19 because protestors only slightly increased transmission while non-protestors stayed home, leading to no net increase in infections. [Link]

Why a small town in Washington is printing its own currency during the pandemic (The Hustle)

In an effort to provide liquidity, a small town has started printing its own currency for use inside its local economy, facilitating transactions without incurring outside liabilities. That approach is one that was used widely during the Great Depression. [Link]


NFL To Tarp Off Lower Rows Of Seats, Allow Teams To Sell Signage To Local Sponsors by Ben Fischer (Sports Business Daily)

A new NFL ticketing plan would see lower rows sealed off for fans, with advertising visible to TV viewers replacing that part of the stadium. [Link]


What’s Gotten Into the Price of Cheese? by Matt Phillips (NYT)

COVID has massively disrupted supply chains in the dairy industry and the result has been massive volatility in an obscure corner of the futures market that trades cheese. [Link; soft paywall]

Conspicuous Consumption

A New Card Ties Your Credit to Your Social Media Stats by Arielle Pardes (Wired)

Social media influencers who aren’t able to get enough credit are the target market for the Karat Black Card, which will take into account social media account followers when evaluating credit decisions. [Link]

The Secret Economics Of A VIP Party by Ashley Mears (The Economist 1843)

Bottle service and prime tables can lead to six or seven figure tabs, but the real currency of the high end club scene are the young women who frequent it. [Link]

Tech Wreck

For tech-weary Midwest farmers, 40-year-old tractors now a hot commodity by Adam Belz (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Farmers are opting for used tractors instead of relying on newer models that require a dealer to fix any issue thanks to internet-enabled components. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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