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.

Series Premiers

Inside O.J.: Made In America, ESPN’s best-ever 30 for 30 film by Richard Deitsch (Sports Illustrated)

The first of a five-part documentary under ESPN’s 30 for 30 franchise premiered last night, and the series has big potential. [Link, auto-playing video]

Why We Binge by Carl Quintanilla (Medium)

CNBC unleased a new effort to understand both the media business and the cultural phenomenon of binge watching; Carl introduces it with this essay. [Link]


Are We in a Mattress-Store Bubble? by Stephen J. Dubner (Freakonomics)

Mattress stores are ubiquitous and clustered, but why? And can the industry survive an influx of highly valued online competitors? [Link]

Cadillac Bets on Virtual Dealerships by Christina Rogers, John D. Stoll, and Gautham Nagesh (WSJ)

A huge dealer footprint and excessive inventories have led Cadillac to take an experimental approach to the business of selling cars. [Link, paywall]

Markets Business

The Alchemist Who Turned Toxic Assets Into Gold at Citigroup by Dakin Campbell and Donal Griffin (Bloomberg)

The story of a Citigroup desk that took big bets on CDOs which have paid off, making proprietary bets despite new regulations which are designed to prevent that kind of activity. [Link; auto-playing video]

Credit Suisse Boss Faces Revolt From Bankers Over Strategy Shift by Landon Thomas Jr (NYT Dealbook)

Efforts to revamp Credit Suisse by pulling away from investment banking businesses are not going well, either internally or in the firm’s stock price. [Link]

Kerviel Wins $517,000 as Judge Attacks SocGen Over Firing by Fabio Benedetti Valentini and Gaspard Sebag (Bloomberg)

Former rogue trader Jerome Kerviel has been awarded compensation by a Paris judge after he caused a $5.6 billion (yes, billion) trading loss. [Link]

Cultural Questions

The Strange, True, Tragicomic Story of EGOT by Sophie Gilbert (The Atlantic)

There isn’t a good summary for this off-the-wall story about winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, but it’s a fun diversion through the looking glass that is our popular imagination. [Link]

McDonald’s: you can sneer, but it’s the glue that holds communities together by Chris Arnade (The Guardian)

For much of the country, the humble McDonalds is not just a place to get decent, cheap coffee: it’s also a community hub that plays an important social role. [Link]

Rise of the Machines

How a Supercomputer Is Ready to Mint Money Out of Mexico’s Stock Market by Benjamin Bain and Patricia Laya (Bloomberg)

Emerging markets aren’t just emerging in terms of economic growth and development; in the case of Mexico, algorithmic trading is a decade behind the US and that means opportunity. [Link]

Jobs Threatened by Machines: A Once ‘Stupid’ Concern Gains Respect by Eduardo Porter (NYT)

An overview of universal basic income, a proposal designed to ameliorate the impact of technology stealing existing jobs; that’s all assuming, of course, that this time actually is different. [Link, soft paywall]

Byzantine Bonds

Trail of Defaults Leads to Dark Corner of Tax-Exempt Bond Market by Martin Z. Braun (Bloomberg)

Some municipal lenders use their tax exempt status to borrow on behalf of specific projects which wouldn’t otherwise classify as municipal deals. This article is a good overview of the details and drawbacks of the process. [Link]

The Hardest Part of the ECB’s Bond Buying Could Be Actually Buying the Bonds by Alastair Marsh (Bloomberg)

A summary of the operational details behind the ECB’s Corporate Sector Purchase Program (CSPP); while the nuts and bolts of the bond buying program may not be interesting to everyone, but we aren’t everyone! [Link]

Real Estate

Manhattan Landlords Boost Renter Incentives in Apartment Glut by Oshrat Carmiel (Bloomberg)

As new supply comes online, the typically rabid apartment rental market in Manhattan is showing some cracks for landlords. [Link]

REIT Surprise: How Real Estate Crushed the Stock Pickers by Ken Brown (WSJ)

A short history of one area of the market which has not only outperformed impressively but has largely been ignored by equity investors of all kinds. [Link, paywall]

Silicon Valley

Welcome to Larry Page’s Secret Flying-Car Factories by Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone (Bloomberg)

The co-founder of Google isn’t only focused on moonshots through Alphabet’s “Other Bets” division. He’s also ploughing tens of millions into an effort to build a flying car. [Link]

Traffic-weary homeowners and Waze are at war, again. Guess who’s winning? by Steve Hendrix (WaPo)

Apps like Waze are great for shaving a few minutes off a commute or errand run, but they’re increasingly exposing low-traffic thoroughfares to high traffic volumes, drawing the ire of residents. [Link]


An Ivy League professor explains chaos theory, the prisoner’s dilemma, and why math isn’t really boring by Elena Holodny (Business Insider)

A long but digestible interview of Steven Strogatz, a Cornell Professor of Applied Mathematics, including an overview of our favorite application of game theory, the Prisoner’s Dilemma. [Link]


Why Is Chick-fil-A’s App Number One in the App Store? by Adam Chandler (The Atlantic)

The popular regional chicken chain (which we are fond of ourselves) is known for its simple sandwiches, but managed to teach the tech world a lesson about app popularity this week. [Link]

Orange Juice Costs Most in Four Years as Storm Threatens Florida by Marvin G. Perez (Bloomberg)

Brazilian citrus has already been damaged by rain, and it’s now the turn of the Florida crop, sending OJ futures to the highest in years. [Link]


Firefighters gave a final, farewell salute to this old golden retriever, the last 9/11 rescue dog by Katie Mettler (WaPo)

This was a tear-jerker, no other way to describe it, as the nation has lost its last canine veteran of Ground Zero. [Link]


Islamic State Members From the West Seek Help Getting Home by Maria Abi-Habib (WSJ)

The war isn’t going so well for the Islamic State in eastern Syria and northern Iraq, and that’s leading a number of Western citizens to rescind on their pledge to join the caliphate. [Link, paywall]


Calculating the Return on Incremental Capital Investments by John Huber (Base Hit Investing)

A conceptual overview of incremental return on invested capital, an important concept for understanding forthcoming returns from a business rather than the total return on existing capital. [Link]

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