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.


City of spies: how the battle for Catalonia divided Barcelona by Michael Stothard (FT)

An incredible piece of investigative reporting that dives into the secret police operations conducted by both sides of the Catalonian independence debates. [Link; paywall]

Two big UK banks shift some euro clearing from London to Frankfurt by Philip Stafford (FT)

In a move that signals the impact of Brexit on the City of London’s mammoth financial industry, two major banks are shifting some clearing of euro-based derivatives to Frankfurt-based Deutsche Börse. [Link; paywall]


The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel (Collaborative Fund)

A list of 20 different behavioral mistakes investors (and people more generally) make when dealing with money. Extremely helpful as a way to evaluate your own approach to financial health. [Link]


Birth Rates Dropped Most in Counties Where Home Values Grew Most by Jeff Tucker (Zillow Research)

Zillow finds that while effects are inconsistent, fertility rates fell by about 1.5% for 25-29 year old women per 10% increase in home prices. [Link]

Time To Not Freak Out About Debt Again by Urban Carmel (The Fat Pitch)

An excellent demolition of the market meme that debt (federal, corporate, household, or whatever seems scariest at the time) is going to destroy the economy or the country as a whole. [Link]


Plume is turning home Wi-Fi into a subscription service by Jacob Kastrenakes (The Verge)

Businesses are obsessing about turning one-time sales into subscription models, with everything from clothes and groceries to dog toys and…wifi routers? [Link]

The product economy is over. Here’s how to survive in the subscription economy. by Tien Tzuo and Gabe Weisert (LinkedIn)

A more positive view of the concept of subscriptions (and their recurring revenue) which are starting to proliferate to the point of ubiquity. [Link]


Boris Becker claims CAR diplomatic immunity in bankruptcy case (BBC)

The three time Wimbledon champ declared bankruptcy, but is now claiming he’s got diplomatic immunity to avoid claims by creditors, because he has been made a sport and culture attaché to the EU on the nation’s behalf. [Link]

‘What a dream come true:’ NHL ref and cancer survivor makes his U.S. Open debut (AP/Golf.com)

A real heartwarmer: Garrett Rank is an NHL referee, a testicular cancer survivor, and is playing in the US open after working his way to qualifying. [Link]

Justify a deserving Triple Crown winner – but the in-race shenanigans were real by Pat Forde (Yahoo!)

When a trainer has multiple horses in a high-stakes race, significant shenanigans sometimes result, and that appears to have been what happened in the Belmont Stakes race that earned Justify a Triple Crown. [Link; auto-playing video]

Trade Wars

O Canada by Brad W. Setser (Council on Foreign Relations)

Even if you take as a given that the US should be introducing tariffs to reduce its trade deficits versus other countries, Canada makes an odd choice to target. [Link]

NAFTA la vista, baby by Jamie Powell (FTAV)

Drawing heavily on an analysis from ETM Analytics analyst Horacio Coutinho [note: keep an eye out for our Bespokecast conversation with Horacio due out next week], the clock looks to be running out when it comes to NAFTA re-negotiations. [Link; registration required]


DeepMind’s AI can ‘imagine’ a world based on a single picture by Chelsea Whyte (New Scientist)

Using a single two-dimensional picture, a new application of neural networks renders an entire three-dimensional construction of the space pictured. [Link]

Citi Wants Analysts to Add Python to List of Languages on Resume by Jennifer Surane (Bloomberg)

In order to become an investment banking analyst at Citi, you’ll now need to be familiar with Python. Don’t worry, though: incoming analysts will get an overview via summer training classes. [Link; soft paywall]

Uber applies for patent to spot drunk passengers (BBC)

In order to prevent clashes between inebriated passengers and their drivers, Uber wants to use machine learning to keep its patrons from hailing when they’ve had too much to drink. [Link]

Delusions of Grandeur

Instagram’s Wannabe-Stars Are Driving Luxury Hotels Crazy by Taylor Lorenz (The Atlantic)

In a bid to earn free hotel stays at some of the swankiest resorts in the world, Instagram “influencers” are offering promotions. Sometimes, the difference between working with a hotel and getting ignored is how professional the pitch being made to add value is. [Link]

The Balloonfest That Went Horribly Wrong by Nathan Truesdell (The Atlantic)

A brilliant cut-up of local news clips which document a stunt involving the release of millions of balloons, with some unfortunate consequences. [Link]


Tether Used to Manipulate Price of Bitcoin During 2017 Peak: New Study by Matt Robinson and Matthew Leisig (Bloomberg)

University of Texas finance professor John Griffin has identified a series of extremely suspicious transactions between Bitcoin and Tether which suggest a pattern of price manipulation. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]


AP World History gets a makeover, and high school teachers rebel by Benjamin Wermund (Politico)

The Advanced Placement standard has decided to move to a much shorter time-frame and much narrower scope when it comes to the history of the world. [Link]


How Reuters reported the AT&T-Time Warner ruling first (Reuters)

Some inside baseball on how Thomson-Reuters managed to get the scoop (by all of 10 seconds) on the biggest story in M&A. [Link]

Netflix and Alphabet will need to become ISPs, fast by Danny Crichton (TechCrunch)

The combination of the AT&T/Time Warner merger with the repeal of net neutrality rules suggests that companies that rely on content (or services like search) will soon be at a disadvantage if they can’t use their own pipes to deliver it. [Link]

US podcast ad revenues hit record $314 million in 2017 by Sarah Perez (TechCrunch)

The nascent podcast industry is starting to pull in real money as well as real attention from listeners, with revenues almost doubling from 2016 to 2017. [Link]


Rocks Under I-95 Present Odd, and Scary, Threat to Power Grid by Brian K Sullivan (Bloomberg)

A specific blend of 300 million-year-old rock that lies beneath the surface of the eastern seaboard doesn’t allow solar radiation to pass through it, meaning major sun storm could lead to big problems for the electrical grid. [Link; soft paywall]

Document Recovery

Meet the guys who tape Trump’s papers back together by Annie Karni (Politico)

Because the President has an odd habit of tearing up paper he is finished with and a legal requirement to archive documents used in his office, a government employee is responsible for putting back together the bits with Scotch tape before archiving them. [Link]


The strange appeal of Toto’s Africa – and why it’s cover-proof by Michael Hann (FT)

Why is it that “Africa” (what should a forgettable bit of the 1980s) is so enduring? An investigation. Bonus content: this dog dancing to Africa is going to make you smile. [Link; paywall]

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Have a great Sunday!

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