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.


How Much Americans Could Save by Ridesharing Driverless Cars Over Owning (Insurance Journal)

While self-driving cars are still far from deployment and uptake is likely to be a very, very long and slow process (please see our Industry Insight on the subject, link), they do have the potential to save drivers a huge amount of money over traditional ownership. [Link]

The World Cup, Nationalism, and International Trade by Andrew Bertoli and George Yin (SSRN)

Using data from the group stage of the World Cup from 1930 to 2014 (486 matches), the authors identify a measurable decline in trade between soccer match contestants in time periods close to the games. [Link]


Vanguard Will Let Investors Trade Its Rivals’ Funds Online for Free by Lisa Beilfuss (WSJ)

In order to drive more customer traffic, Vanguard’s rival products will now be commission free for Vanguard investors. [Link; paywall]


PBOC Says China’s Fiscal System Reason Behind Its Leverage Woes (China Banking News)

The head of the PBoC’s research department argued recently that distortions in China’s tax and fiscal systems have created excessive credit problems for the country. [Link]


Americans Are Having Fewer Babies. They Told Us Why. by Claire Cain Miller (NYT)

Using a poll of 20-45 year olds, the Upshot team identifies economic issues as the biggest factors holding back fertility rates among the current cohort in prime parenthood ages. [Link]

The Secret Price of Pets by Peter Haldeman (NYT)

Fake testicles, insurance, plastic surgery, gender reassignment, and obscure hair-dos: these are just some of the obscure services pet owners are purchasing these days. [Link; soft paywall]

Online Dystopia

The nightmare videos of children’s YouTube — and what’s wrong with the internet today by James Bridle (TED)

In our Brunch Reads dated November 17th (link), we included a story about the nightmarish content that finds its way into the YouTube feeds of children via the algorithmic recommendations provided by the service (link). That original piece is now a TED talk. [Link]

“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets by Katrina Brooker (Vanity Fair)

The man most plausibly credited with inventing the internet is deeply troubled with where his work has taken the world, but he has ideas about how to improve things. [Link; soft paywall]

Juggalos Figured Out How To Beat Facial Recognition by Caroline Haskins (The Outline)

Insane Clown Posse fans are an odd bunch, and their trademark clown makeup has inadvertently demonstrated a weapon against facial recognition technology. Can we get a whoop-whoop? [Link]

Real Estate

Tax h(e)aven by Ina Cordle and Katherine Kallergis (The Real Deal)

Responding to new incentives created (intentionally, in an effort to reduce blue state fiscal capacity) by the tax cuts introduced last year, ultra-wealthy buyers are bidding up South Florida real estate. [Link]

Manhattan real estate has worst second quarter since financial crisis by Robert Frank (CNBC)

Not-so-surprisingly based on the prior link, Manhattan high-end real estate has gotten hit hard, with sales down 17% and prices off 5% on average. [Link]

The Death of a Once Great City by Kevin Baker (Harpers)

Development, especially with towering new buildings in central cores, is in this author’s view wrecking the diverse, dynamic tumble that was once the hallmark of American cities. [Link]

Slow Adoption

Even Great Ideas Can Fail At First. Just Look At The Zipper. by Marc Bain (Quartzy)

Americans alone consume 4.5 billion zippers per year, but the story of its development is a very long one with a range of patents running from 1853 to 1917 before a zipper we would recognize today was created. [Link]


Inside Decision 3.0: LeBron James Follows in the Footsteps of Legends by Lee Jenkins (SI)

The story of how Lebron James landed in Los Angeles in a surprise move that capped off weeks of speculation from the sports world about where the best basketball player of his generation (and, probably, ever) would wind up. [Link; auto-playing video]

Nathan’s might go digital after awful hot dog judging flub by Noah Bressner and Chris Perez (NYP)

Judges at the iconic American eating contest on the 4th of July badly flubbed the count as eleven time winner Joey Chestnut set a world record. [Link]


Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening by Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman (NYT)

How the Trump White House worked to convince Justice Kennedy to retire, creating a second vacancy on the Supreme Court for the administration to fill. [Link]

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Have a great Sunday!

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