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.

See this week’s just-published Bespoke Report newsletter by starting a no-obligation two-week free trial to our premium research platform.


There Is No U.S. Wage Growth Mystery by Adam Ozimek (Economy.com)

While the unemployment rate has not been helpful predicting wage growth over the last couple of decades, when comparing ECI to prime-age employment rates Ozimek finds a very strong relationship. [Link]

Commentary on “Did the Fed’s Founding Improve the Efficiency of the U.S. Payments System?” by John A. James (St. Louis Fed)

A review of the differential between the value of the dollar across the United States prior to the introduction of the Fedwire, which unified the market. [Link; 8 page PDF]

The West Virginia Productivity Miracle. Really! by Tyler Cowen (Bloomberg)

While WV has low per capita income and lots of unemployment, lower cost of living and extremely high productivity from those employed suggest that looking down on the Appalachian state in all respects is a huge mistake. [Link]

The Hartz Myth: A Closer Look At Germany’s Labour Market Reforms by Christian Odendahl (CER)

A review of the impact of major labor market reforms in Germany during the early 2000s, which for both the good and the bad may get too much credit as driving that country’s economic outcomes since. [Link]


A Team of Their Own by Jessica Luther (Bleacher Report)

Profiling a girls-only travel team and the experience of playing against the boys. [Link]

Odd Lots: How a Former Wall Street Trader Cracked the World of Betting on Baseball by Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway (Bloomberg)

How a fund manager turned his book’s promotional budget into a winning strategy for betting in inefficient baseball markets. [Link]

Big Changes

The Decline of Marriage Is Hitting Vegas Hard by Jeanna Smialek (Bloomberg)

With increasing struggles for those in the middle and bottom of the income distribution, trips to Vegas for eloping couples have plunged in recent years. [Link]

ESPN, Broadcasters Are Said to Confront Football Ad Slump by Lucas Shaw (Bloomberg)

The sports ad market has nearly doubled since 2011, but ratings challenges and pullbacks from benchmark ad purchasers mean the NFL may see revenues decline in the coming season. [Link; auto-playing video]

Long After Protests, Students Shun the University of Missouri by Anemona Hartocollis (NYT)

Students seeking a low-stress cultural atmosphere in college have turned away from Missouri, where administration apathy and student protests fueled a confrontational environment that has turned off applicants on both sides of the issues confronted. [Link; soft paywall]

Mall Tour 2017 (Part II) by Harris Kupperman (Adventures In Capitalism)

A review of the plunging demand for anchor tenants in malls and what that could mean for the rest of the retail space. [Link]


If You Fix This, You Fix a Big Piece of the Climate Puzzle by Lisa Freidman (NYT)

What’s the best way to fight climate change? You might be surprised by the answer. [Link; soft paywall]

Long Reads

Racing the Storm: The Story of the Mobile Bay Sailing Disaster by Matthew Teague (Smithsonian Mag)

The grim tale of a yacht race caught in the maw of a brutal Gulf storm in the spring of 2015, filled with tales of harrowing survival and personal bravery. [Link]

The Surprisingly Resilient History of IGA, Which Gave Small Towns Groceries by Ernie Smith (Atlas Obscura)

The history of a national supermarket trail blazer. Given developments like Whole Foods buying Amazon or the entry of German discount chains Adli and Lidl to the US market, more pertinent than ever. [Link]

Boom Shaka Laka by Alex Abnos and Dan Greene (Sports Illustrated)

An oral history of groundbreaking NBA arcade game NBA Jam, a beloved relic of early 1990s sports fandom and video game enthusiasts alike. [Link]

Strange Geopolitics

Full transcript: Defense Secretary James Mattis’ interview with The Islander by Teddy Fischer (Mercer Island High School Islander)

When a Trump administration aide was photographed holding paper that was partially legible, Mercer Island student Teddy Fischer called and texted the number which purported to belong to Washington State native Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The result was a long interview and a memorable scoop for the student. [Link]

The Calibri Font Is Threatening to Bring Down Pakistan’s Government by Omer Benjakob (Haaretz)

Following the Panama Papers leak from law firm Mossack Fonseca, eventually leading to a Pakistani investigation of the Prime Minister’s daughter and a massive controversy based on the fonts used in documentary evidence. [Link]

Tech Behaving Badly

AI Is Making It Extremely Easy For Students To Cheat by Pippa Biddle (Wired)

Math has its own version of Cliff Notes, and the results make homework a lot less relevant in terms of gauging student progress. [Link]

Forget an IPO, Coin Offerings Are New Road to Startup Riches by Paul Vigna (WSJ)

A look at the fraud-ripe world of initial coin offerings, capital raisings which take place on blockchains outside the typical purview of regulation designed to protect investors. [Link; paywall]

Health Care

Senate Delays August Recess as Health Bill’s Fate Hangs in Balance by Kristina Peterson and Richard Rubin (WSJ)

With Republicans having a tough time forming consensus, the Senate effort to corral 50 votes is running out of calendar. [Link; paywall]

CEO’s response to employee taking mental health days triggers national dialogue by Megan Cerullo (NY Daily News)

The story of a woman who took some time off to take care of herself, and got the support of her CEO to do it. While this may seem trivial, it’s a revealing story with respect to how we think about mental health. [Link; auto-playing video]


15 Things Global Macro Investors Should Have Learned From The Great Financial Crisis And Its Aftermath by Mark Dow (Behavioral Macro)

Our first-ever guest on Bespokecast (episode link; 62 minute MP3 file) weighs in on how investors should have evolved thinking over the last 10 years or so. We don’t agree with every point necessarily but Mark writes clearly and has put some excellent thoughts to blog here. [Link]


Introducing Cover, a consumer-centric insurance company by Karn Saroya (Cover)

A new company offers consumers the ability to shop for insurance by quickly walking around their home and letting algorithms detect which property needs protecting. [Link]


This is Your Brain on Shakespeare by Daniel Honan (Big Think)

One of the most prolific and foundational writers of the English language isn’t just entertaining: his works also re-wire your brain. [Link]

Cheers to Whoever Snuck In That Star Trek Reference on Last Night’s Jeopardy by Beth Elderkin (io9)

An excellent – and profoundly important – episode of Star Trek got an oblique reference in an episode of Jeopardy this week which will bring a smile to the face of anyone that’s seen the episode. [Link]

Have a great Sunday!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email