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.

Systemic Musings

Chart of the Week: FDI in Financial Centers (IMFBlog)

Foreign direct investment has surged over the last decade or so, but a disproportionate share of that investment (which typically has huge benefits for recipients in the form of technology transfers and productivity gains) has been finding its way to financial centers. [Link]

Fed raising the stakes (barnejek’s blog)

An argument that the Fed has not been missing its inflation target, reflexivity of markets, and a the impact of a higher inflation target. [Link]

Globalisation, inflation & political choices by Duncan Weldon (Medium)

The key question: what drove low and stable inflation in the wake of the 1980s? The traditional explanation is better monetary policy, but globalization may be a better one. [Link]

This Week In History

Bear Stearns Staves Off Collapse of 2 Hedge Funds by Vikas Bajaj and Julie Creswell (NYT)

The Times’ recounting of the events that kicked off the subprime crisis: Bear Stearns’ bailout of two hedge funds deeply invested in mortgage-backed securities. [Link; soft paywall]


Stock Picking Is Dying Because There Are No More Stocks to Pick by Jason Zweig (WSJ)

An argument that fewer listed stocks makes picking the winning ones harder. It should be noted, though, that this appears to be a phenomenon only found among the smallest listed stocks. [Link]

Short-Seller Nailed Home Capital, Then Got Stung by Buffett by Noah Buhayar (Bloomberg)

Marc Cohodes (who we talked to on Bespokecast recently, link) is on the wrong side of Buffett, who has thrown a lifeline to the struggling Home Capital Group. [Link]


Political Divisions in 2016 and Beyond by Lee Durtman (Voter Study Group)

A comprehensive review of attitudes and ideology of 2016 voters, filled with interesting charts and data on the electorate’s views. [Link]

How Tinder Could Take Back the White House by Yara Rodrigues Fowler and Charlotte Goodman (NYT)

A fascinating – and concerning – development from the UK election: chatbots that borrow a Tinder user’s profile (with permission from the Tinder usr) as a way to communicate with potential voters. [Link]

Labor Markets

‘I Need More Mexicans’: A Kansas Farmer’s Message to Trump by Michelle Jamrisko (Bloomberg)

With half of the US agricultural labor force estimated to be undocumented immigrants, farmers are facing an impossible task finding the workers necessary to get crops out of the ground. [Link]

Uber Founder Travis Kalanick Resigns as C.E.O. by Mike Isaac (NYT)

Following a damning report on internal culture from former Attorney General Holder and chaos on the Uber board, the CEO has extended a leave of absence into full departure from management of the ride-sharing behemoth. [Link; soft paywall]

Environmental Activities

The Mammoth Pirates by Amos Chapple (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

A remarkable review of mining for mammoth, a practice which is seeking to meet insatiable demand for ivory without harvesting elephants. The mining does come at a cost though. [Link]

Why the World’s Rivers Are Losing Sediment and Why It Matters by Jim Robbins (Yale Environment 360)

Background on the build-up of sediment behind dams around the world, and its negative consequences for downstream agriculture, buffer areas like wetlands, and other parts of the global ecosystem. [Link]


Obesity rates are skyrocketing, and dietitians say a key factor may be to blame by Erin Browin (Business Insider)

It’s a simple truism that if you surround yourself with junk food, it’ll be hard to resist it. That’s a huge problem for most of the world as cheap, easily accessible processed foods are constantly available and constantly tempting for dieters. [Link]

The Fake Rolex of Canned Foods by Mari Uyehara (Taste)

San Marzano tomatoes are everything in sauces, but most Americans don’t hold them in the same light; one of the reasons is that most San Marzanos are not what they claim to be. [Link]

Media Matters

Media Startups Try a Lower-Cost Model: Unpaid Student Writers by Austen Hufford (WSJ)

The hot new thing in content production: don’t pay people to produce it. [Link; paywall]

New York Times Sends Cease & Desist Letter Over CalPERS’ Massive Copyright Infringement; Potential Damages Eight Figures for Times and WSJ Each; Theft Extends to Virtually Every News Publication in US by Yves Smith (naked capitalism)

Remarkably, CalPERs (California’s pension system) ran a wholly illegal website for disseminating more than 50,000 articles from media organizations via an internal server to 2700 members. [Link]

Devilish Details

Banks to vote on alternative to Libor as new rate benchmark by Karen Brettell (Reuters)

Efforts are underway to pick a new alternative to the panel-submitted LIBOR rate. [Link]

The Snowballing Power of the VIX, Wall Street’s Fear Index by Asjylyn Loder and Gunjan Benerji (WSJ)

We had no idea that the VIX index emerged due to inquiries from Mark Cuban, but that’s a fact. An excellent summary of the VIX index’s history. [Link; paywall]


How to Survive the Retail Crisis: A Master Class from T.J. Maxx by Suzanne Kapner (WSJ)

Off price retailers have been able to generate growth and solid margins despite brutal performance for traditional boutiques, department stores, and other high-dollar retailing operations. [Link; soft paywall]

Amazon Turns to Subscription Boxes to Dominate Clothing Market by Kim Bhasin and Specer Soper (Bloomberg)

Prime Wardrobe allow shoppers to pick 3 or more pieces of clothing, try them for 7 days, and return them, a direct shot at a number of start-ups attempting to groom consumers into similar behavior. [Link; auto-playing video]

America’s Massive Retail Workforce Is Tired of Being Ignored by Sarah Jaffe (Racked)

An update on America’s largest employment sector, massive compared to other groups that get much more political attention, and arguably at much greater economic risk. [Link]

Get Some Rest

Hammocks Over Hikes This Summer by Emily Swanson and Beth J. Harpaz (AP)

Feeling tired, burned out, and in need of a lie-in? You’re not alone. Resting and relaxing is the most important vacation activity on Americans’ minds this summer. [Link]

Weird Market News

The Stock Market Speaks: How Dr. Alchian Learned to Build the Bomb by Joseph Michael Newhard (UGA)

An astounding paper that reveals how an investor identified the secret component of a new US nuclear weapon based on equity prices. [Link; 31 page PDF]

Have a great Sunday!

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