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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Business Cycle Dating Committee Announcement July 19, 2021 (NBER)

After the longest expansion in modern economic history, the National Bureau of Economic Research has officially declared the shortest recession on record, with the post-COVID trough coming after just two months of economic activity declines. [Link]


A Process for Capturing CO2 from the Atmosphere by David W. Keith, Geoffrey Holmes, David St. Angelo, and Kenton Heidel (Joule)

This 2018 paper from the team at direct air capture start-up Carbon Engineering details a process for removing CO2 from the atmosphere at a cost of $94 to $232 per ton. For reference, a barrel of oil contains 0.43 tons of CO2. [Link]

When a Coal Plant Gets Built on Top of a Highway, What Happens When It Closes? by Nachy Kanfer (RMI)

A FirstEnergy (FE) coal-fired power plant in rural Ohio is an excellent case study for how shifts in power production are making coal uncompetitive on a price basis and will likely lead to further hits to rural economies. [Link]

Startup Claims Breakthrough in Long-Duration Batteries by Russell Gold (WSJ)

While Form Energy’s iron-air batteries won’t be used to power cars or smartphones, they do have potential to discharge at high loads for a prolonged period and are very cheap, which makes them a very attractive candidate for utility-scale storage of wind or solar power produced at low cost. [Link; paywall]

Are Wind Turbines a Danger to Wildlife? Ask the Dogs. by Sarah Zhang (The Atlantic)

Onshore wind turbines kill lots of birds and bats, and figuring out what the numbers look like is a lot easier when dogs get involved in the search for winged victims. [Link]

Labor Markets

Let me work from home, or I will find another job by Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, and Steven J. Davis (Working Paper)

While it’s not clear just how many companies will fully embrace remote work, this paper makes a compelling case that workers vastly prefer “hybrid” arrangements, enough to switch jobs if given the chance. [Link; 8 page PDF]

The Noncompete Clause Gets a Closer Look by Lauren Weber (WSJ)

The Biden Administration has prompted a review of noncompete clauses, which can reduce worker mobility and prevent them from finding higher-wage work at a competitor. [Link; paywall]

Early impacts of the expiration of pandemic unemployment insurance programs (Arindrajit Dube)

An early review of the 25 states which have reduced pandemic unemployment insurance programs suggests that while they have reduced the UI benefit rolls, they have not led to any measurable impact on employment rates. [Link]

Chipotle, Target use TikTok to find the workers they need in tight job market by Susan Caminiti (CNBC)

Major corporations are working with Tiktok Resumes, a new service that allows candidates to submit video resumes rather than the more traditional one-pager. [Link]

Now Hiring: White Castle—Four Years After You Applied by Te-Ping Chen (WSJ)

Companies are reaching deep into their inboxes looking for people to work, in some cases years after the applicants initially reached out. [Link; paywall]

Deutsche Fehler

Deutsche Bank Enabled ‘Massive’ U.S. Ponzi Scheme, Lawsuit Says by Steven Arons (Bloomberg)

A suit alleges that the German lender helped facilitate a Ponzi scheme run out of two Cayman funds which ended up costing investors hundreds of millions. [Link; soft paywall]

The German Experiment That Placed Foster Children With Pedophiles (The New Yorker)

It’s hard to summarize the various strands of post-Nazism national guilt, misguided efforts at liberation, and pedophilic predation that tie this long story together, but the result is both horrifying and enthralling. Content warning: this article discusses child abuse of various types. [Link]

Barmy Britain

Eric Clapton Says He Won’t Play Venues That Require Proof of Vaccination by Ethan Shanfeld (Yahoo!/Variety)

British singer Eric Clapton is so opposed to vaccination that he won’t play at convert venues which require vaccination from attendees. [Link]

Peppa Pig, a Pandemic Favorite, Has American Children Acting British by Preetiuka Rana and Meghan Bobrowsky (WSJ)

American children are watching so much of the popular British cartoon that they’re developing British accents and using British vocabularies. [Link; paywall]


Viral video shows Malaysian police destroying 1,069 bitcoin mining rigs with a steamroller by MacKenzie Sigalos (CNBC)

In Malaysia, a local police department seized over 1,000 bitcoin mining rigs that had been running on stolen electricity. [Link]

Supply Chains

Taco Bell warns of menu disruptions caused by shortage of ingredients by Lexi Lonas (The Hill)

Transportation bottlenecks are fowling the delivery system which makes sure you can get a delicious Crunchwrap Supreme whenever you like. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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