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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COVID

Consumer Appetite for Cars, Homes Bolsters U.S. Economy by Sarah Chaney (WSJ)

Recent data has suggested strong demand for items that are typically financed thanks to rock-bottom interest rates like 30 year mortgages, which fell below 3% for the first time ever this week. [Link; paywall]

As Europe’s Economies Reopen, Consumers Go on a Spending Spree by Liz Alderman (NYT)

Payroll subsidy programs in Europe designed to function similarly to – though typically more comprehensively than – the US PPP program have helped keep consumers primed for a recovery in spending. [Link; soft paywall]

Booze

Teens are dressing up as mask-wearing grandmas to try to score alcohol by Marisa Dellatto (NY Post)

With masks making it harder to identify each other, underage drinkers have kitted themselves out as the elderly in an effort to obtain drink. [Link; auto-playing video]

Diageo to launch Johnnie Walker whisky in paper bottles in 2021 (Reuters)

Paper bags are out, paper bottles are in. Diageo will ship plastic-free whiskey bottles starting next year as the company tries to cut down on plastic waste; the bottles are fully recyclable. [Link]

Media

You’re Doomscrolling Again. Here’s How to Snap Out of It. by Brian X. Chen (NYT)

Bad news related to politics, COVID, or other negative events can be a semi-addictive pursuit, but there are ways to break out of the parade of darkness that so easily dominates social media feeds. [Link; soft paywall]

Newsroom or PAC? Liberal group muddies online information wars by Alex Thompson (Politico)

A new initiative is working to push liberal perspectives into social media feeds via targeted advertising, giving the appearance of being an unbiased news source. [Link]

Amenities

Desperate for a pool? You can now rent a private one by the hour by Diana Olick (CNBC)

A new app offers users the opportunity to rent out backyard pools for a price, giving families the opportunity for a little fun in the sun without laying out five figures to re-make their backyard permanently. [Link]

Connecticut Bet Big on the Suburbs. That Might Finally Pay Off. by Joseph De Avila and Jon Kamp (WSJ)

Connecticut faced years of challenges as residents opted not to live in suburbs near New York, but the COVID shock is putting new life in the leafy greenery of and spacious living that were shirked in the post-crisis years. [Link; paywall]

Regional Affairs

Why North Carolina Is the Most Linguistically Diverse U.S. State by Dan Nosowitz (Pocket/Atlas Obscura)

North Carolina’s geography has driven a unique milieu of regional English dialects which are in the process of flattening towards more standard regional or national accents. [Link]

Chance of big San Andreas earthquake increased by Ridgecrest temblors, study suggests by Rong-Gong Lin II (LAT)

Recent earthquakes in Ridgecrest may be dangerous signs about the chance of further earthquakes around the San Andreas fault, specifically the Garlock fault which runs along the Mojave Desert. [Link]

Investing

The False Bargain of Passive Investing (Applied Finance Capital Management)

An argument that passive indices generate negative alpha compared to other options, which may hold water but ignores the problem of identifying outperformance ex-ante as opposed to via backtest. [Link]

COVID

Universal Masking to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Transmission—The Time Is Now by John T. Brook, Jay C. Butler, and Robert R. Redfield (JAMA Network)

The authors use mask orders for health care workers and later all persons in-hospital to identify changes in transmission rate thanks to masks. Simply put, universal masking makes a huge difference for transmission rates even in environments with high viral load. [Link]

Weird News

155-Acre College Campus (Maltz Auctions)

Ever thought of owning your own college? For the low price of $3mm (minimum bid), you can have a 155 acres in rural Vermont complete with library, solar panels for power, a biofuel heating system, and more! [Link]

Comedy

Desus And Mero Have Conquered Comedy by Carrie Battan (The NYer)

A profile of the dynamic Bronx duo whose unique brand of rapid-fire, familiar, and self-conscious comedy has achieved legendary status. [Link; soft paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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