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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Oversight Needed

The Border Patrol Hits a Breaking Point by Garrett M. Graff (Politico)

Many of the problems faced by CBP are not caused by current political assignments but are the inevitable consequence of years without consistent management, expansion too rapid to handle masses of new recruits, and the theory that money will solve all problems. [Link]

Pentagon fails its first-ever audit, official says by Idrees Ali and Mike Stone (Reuters)

The Department of Defense was given a comprehensive audit by an army of accountants since December. This was the first-ever audit for the Pentagon, despite a 1990 law requiring an audit of all federal agencies. [Link]

Kids These Days

American kids would much rather be YouTubers than astronauts by Eric Berger (Ars Technica)

The latest moral panic over the state of American youths is apparently related to career choice, with a five-choice survey across three countries showing American kids would rather be a “vlogger/YouTuber” than astronaut, the least favored choice. [Link]

Some thoughts on youth sports by Myles Udland (Tumblr)

Myles considers his own struggles and positive experiences with youth sports and the larger incentives that drive children to specialize and hyper-focus on sports at a young age. [Link]


Measuring Labor-Force Participation and the Incidence and Duration of Unemployment by Hie Joo Ahn and James D. Hamilton (NBER Working Papers)

Statistical biases – that are artefacts of consistent survey methodology, not some sort of political pressure – are responsible for presenting a skewed picture of the US labor market. [Link; 51 page PDF]

Infrastructure Costs by Leah Brooks and Zachary Liscow (Brookings)

A new paper seeks to identify the increased construction costs for basic infrastructure like roads. Contrary to popular perception, materials and even labor inflation aren’t the key drivers, but instead that rising “citizens voice” decision-making processes, higher incomes, and higher home prices explain the results. [Link; 88 page PDF]

Not What You Paid For

Safe Deposit Boxes Aren’t Safe by Stacy Cowley (NYT)

Storing valuables is hard even when you outsource it to a location that should be secure: a bank. Cautionary stories on why your safe deposit box isn’t as safe as you think it ought to be. [Link; soft paywall]

Searches for ‘Canceling Amazon Prime’ Spike on Prime Day by Spencer Soper (Bloomberg)

Advertising doesn’t always work the way it’s intended to, and in the case of Amazon Prime paying customers sometimes forget that they’re paying until Prime Day reminds them. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

The women who win hundreds of sweepstakes per year by Zachary Crockett (The Hustle)

A unique online culture features a hunt for the ubiquitous sweepstakes, which can yield tens of thousands of dollars per year in winnings for the most dedicated prize hunters. [Link]


Swedes are getting implants in their hands to replace cash, credit cards by Lee Brown (New York Post)

Small RFID chips are being implanted in Swedes who use them to pay at the store, unlock doors, and monitor health metrics. [Link]

Older Employees Breathe New Life Into Europe’s Labor Market by Tom Fairless (WSJ)

Almost 90% of employment growth in the Eurozone between 2012 and 2018 came from workers aged 55 to 74, a function of both an aging society and rigid labor markets. [Link; paywall]


‘The Town Hall of Hollywood.’ Welcome to the Netflix Lobby. by Brooks Barnes (NYT)

Where can you see Dolly Parton, Leo DiCaprio, John Kerry, Cindy Crawford, David Letterman, Beyoncé, President Obama, Alfonso Cuarón, Jay Leno, or studio heads? Waiting to pitch or be pitched by the biggest content budget in LA. [Link; soft paywall]

IPO Flops

Why Budweiser and Bankers Failed to Sell the King of IPOs by Thomas Buckley, Vinicy Chan, Crystal Tse and Bruce Einhorn (Yahoo!/Bloomberg)

Global brewing behemoth AB-InBev was all set to list its APAC businesses in a massive Hong Kong IPO, but the $10bn listing had to be pulled due to lack of investor interest. [Link]

Laugh More, Live Longer

You’re Not Laughing Enough, and That’s No Joke by Pamela Gerloff (Psychology Today)

Toddlers burst out laughing hundreds of times a day, but adults – especially those later in life – are much less frequent to giggle. But laughter reduces stress hormones and releases endorphins which can improve quality of life. [Link]

Long Reads

Apollo 11 Had a Hidden Hero: Software by Robert Lee Hotz (WSJ)

The story of the code behind the moon landing, and how it helped jump-start the role of computers across industries and applications more broadly. [Link; paywall]

A Carolina Dog by Cy Brown (Bitter Southerner)

The fascinating story of a dog breed which has been wandering around North America with and without human companions for the past 14,000+ years, and has rooted itself in the swamps of the rural south. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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