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.

Federal Debt

Twitter investor says US government is bad at managing its finances by Alexandra Scaggs (FTAV)

A brilliant debunking of the deeply problematic attitude that the US government deficit is effectively an income statement. If you read one thing this weekend, make it this. [Link; registration required]

U.S. readying ‘plans and backup plans’ if debt ceiling isn’t raised soon, Mnuchin says by Damian Paletta (WaPo)

A reminder that the debt ceiling will likely be hit by the end of the summer and that the US Treasury is being forced to check for coins under the couch cushions, rather than issue debt for which the markets have ample appetite. [Link]


The Media Have Been Played by Trump’s Tweets by Bill Murray (Real Clear Politics)

Murray argues that the media is responsible for Trump because they cover his tweets. [Link]

Under Trump, regulation slows to a crawl by Danny Vinik (Politico)

While the lack of new regulations published under the Trump Administration is likely to win cheers from conservatives, it means that the White House is doing very little to alter the course of policy; doing so would require changes to regulations that already exist. [Link]

UK Update

How May’s Sure Thing Became a Political Disaster for the Ages by Tim Ross, Svenja O’Donnell and Alex Morales (Bloomberg)

A brutal tick-tock of the Conservative party reaction to their painful election result Thursday in the UK, which saw their majority in Parliament evaporate in the midst of Brexit negotiations. [Link; auto-playing video]

How Britain Voted by Gregor Aisch, Matthew Bloch, Kenan Davis, Stephen Farrell, Troy Griggs, Rich Harris, and Adam Pearce (NYT)

Less of a read and more of a graphic run-down of the changes in voter preference in the UK this week, with rundowns of the swings in key constituencies, the national swing to Labour, big youth turnout, and a return to dominant position for the two largest parties. [Link]

Britain fears labor shortage as EU workers stay away by Stephen Beard (Marketplace)

With Article 50 triggered and Brexit negotiations underway, the UK’s effort to stem migration via Brexit looks to be creating collateral economic damage already as employers are unable to find workers in several industries. [Link]

All About Amazon

Amazon Introduces Discounted Monthly Prime Offer for Customers Receiving Government Assistance (Amazon)

In an interesting move this week, Amazon has started to segment its Prime customer base by offering consumers receiving government assistance programs (such as SNAP, often referred to as ‘food stamps’) discounted membership. The move speaks to extremely high market penetration among high income consumers and the company’s relentless pursuit to open new markets. [Link]

Some of Amazon’s own brands are becoming super popular online by Jason Del Rey (Recode)

The most popular batteries purchased online, the third-most purchased baby wipe, and a litany of other basic products are all part of Amazon’s private label AmazonBasics. [Link]

Modern Life

Apple is going to let podcast creators — and advertisers — see what listeners actually like by Peter Kafka (Recode)

Up until now, publishers were unable to see how their listeners interacted with podcasts on Apple’s app. Now, that’s changing, creating both opportunity and risk for advertiser-dependent podcasts. [Link]

What are memes — and how do they get kids in trouble? by Elizabeth Weise and Diana Kruzman (USA Today)

A useful background on the evolution of memes, visual in-jokes that communicate ideas quickly and efficiently among digital native young people. [Link]

Your Twitter Outrage May Require Libel Insurance by Polly Mosendz (Bloomberg)

An increasingly popular feature of “umbrella” insurance coverage includes protections against being sued for libel, a risk that had previously only been something journalists were regularly exposed to. [Link]

Long Reads

The Queen Bee of Downtown Durham by Iza Wojciechowska (Bitter Southerner)

Urban beekeeping may seem like a fever dream hatched in the bowels of a Silicon Valley plot line, but the deployment of more than one hundred hives across the Research Triangle Park area by Bee Downtown is a testament to the value of honey pots in cities. [Link]

Take a Look: An Oral History of Reading Rainbow by Jake Rossen (Mental Floss)

A look inside the origins of a fantastic piece of Americana, the PBS program which helped keep kids engaged with books during the summer months. [Link]

The opioid crisis changed how doctors think about pain by Sarah Kliff (Vox)

A deep dive into the sources of the drug epidemic ravaging whole swathes of the country, where pain was swept away with a literal sea of prescription drugs which have now created a huge demand for opioids found in street drugs too. [Link]

He’s heating up, he’s on fire! Klay Thompson and the truth about the hot hand by Tom Haberstroh (ESPN)

An investigation of the folk lore, statistics, and impact of the hot hand in sports, especially professional basketball. [Link]


Elon Musk: The Man, the Myth, the Risk by Charley Grant (WSJ)

A cogent rundown of the reasoning behind Tesla’s investors, who have completely foregone income statements and balance sheets in pursuit of a far grander vision. [Link; paywall]


The law that created the billion-dollar scaffold industry has turned city sidewalks into an obstacle course by Aaron Elstein (Crain’s New York)

Ever wonder why New York City sidewalks are so often framed by metal scaffolding? The explanation is a wave of laws designed to prevent building materials from striking pedestrians. [Link]

The Economy

Anxious About the Economy? It’ll Still Set a Record by Tim Duy (Bloomberg)

There’s ample reason to suspect that while the current economic expansion will inevitably end in recession, that kind of pullback in activity is still a long way off. [Link]


Retirees flock to Latin America to live an upper-class lifestyle on $1,500 a month by Jim Wyss (The Charlotte Observer/Miami Herald)

The Social Security Administration sends checks to around 380,000 seniors living abroad, up about 50% over the last decade, as US retirees seek lower cost of living in a variety of countries across Latin America. [Link]

Have a great Sunday!

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