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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M&A

A New Era For Blockbuster Bank M&A by Nathan Stovall (S&P Global)

In the wake of the massive BB&T/SunTrust merger, the outlook for bank mega-mergers looks sunnier now than it has for some time. Other recent deals follow a similar theme. [Link]

Economic Background

The Balance of Payments by Claus Vistesen (AlphaSources)

A review of the balance of payments: what they are, where they come from, why they should be taken with a grain of salt, and more. [Link; 18 page PDF]

Birth Control

The first clinical trial of a male contraceptive gel is starting in the UK, and it could mean an alternative to the pill by Lindsay Dodgson (Business Insider)

A drug trial is under way in the UK which offers a male alternative to female-only hormonal birth control. The medication offers an additional or alternative family planning method and has some major advantages over existing treatments as far as reliability goes. [Link]

George Rosenkranz, 102, a Developer of the Birth Control Pill, Is Dead by Robert D. McFadden (NYT)

In 1951, George Rosenkranz synthesized the key ingredient that would become hormonal birth control pills, altering the history of human reproduction in the process. [Link]

Edge of Investing

Yale Enlists Endowment Chief to Help Develop New Asset Managers by Janet Lorin (Bloomberg)

A new one-year program offered by Yale School of Management will feature classes from the legendary manager of the school’s endowment, David Swensen. [Link; soft paywall]

Most Interesting ETF Filing Ever: Libra by David Nadig (ETF.com)

The details of Facebook’s new blockchain product look an awful lot like a very plain vanilla exchange traded fund, although the regulatory status of the instrument is significantly less clear. [Link]

Graft

A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President. by Hiroko Tabuchi and Steve Eder (NYT)

A Minnesota mine project’s approval process was brought back from the dead after the major investor bought a house in DC and rented it to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at a sub-4% cap rate. [Link; soft paywall]

Yesterday, I had a story taken down on Forbes for a post about Jedi DoD by John Furrier (Medium)

The Department of Defense’s massive effort to create a secure cloud is ripe for abuses, and Furrier appears to have stumbled on to one at the hands of Cisco. [Link]

Sports Stories

Megan Rapinoe’s greatest heartbreak, and hope by Gwendolyn Oxenham (ESPN)

While Rapinoe’s on-field successes are a massive contrast to the much darker path her brother has walked: more than half of his adult life has been spent incarcerated, and he’s battled drug addiction and gang violence in his path out of darkness. [Link]

‘What’s a Scarlet Letter?’ The Improbable Reinvention of A-Rod by Ben Reiter (Sports Illustrated)

Starting with the question “what is A-Rod doing at the Oscars?” and ending with a spelling lesson, the improbable propriety of Alex Rodriguez’s post-baseball career. [Link]

Europe

EU closes in on plan for European Commission and ECB top jobs by Alex Barker and Mehreen Khan (FT)

Backroom dealings in Brussels are pushing a possible compromise European Commission presidency headed by a center-left Dutchman, a center-right European Parliament president from Germany, and a French ECB President. [Link]

Strange Marketing

Reservations for Taco Bell’s hotel sell out in 2 minutes by Amelia Lucas (CNBC)

A pop-up hotel in Palm Springs offered by Taco Bell for its superfans sold out its 70-room offering almost immediately. [Link]

Tech Dystopia

Hunched backs and double eyelids: How tech-obsessed humans might look in 2100 by Rachel O’Donoghue (Daily Star)

A hypothetical exercise into the possible implications of extreme technology use, just realistic enough to scare readers but probably not something we’re going to see. [Link]

Mortality

‘It’s totally unfair’: Chicago, where the rich live 30 years longer than the poor by Jamiles Lartey (The Guardian)

Poorer sections of segregated Chicago have a life expectancy almost one-third as long as those of richer, whiter neighborhoods. [Link]

Overdose Deaths Likely to Fall for First Time Since 1990 by Jon Kamp (WSJ)

Early results for 2018 show that fatalities related to drug overdoses likely dropped for the first time since 1990. Experts attribute the decline to wider availability of Narcan (a drug that can stop an opiate overdose in its tracks) and possibly (and more darkly) fewer people susceptible to overdose after years of high death counts. [Link; paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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