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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Economic Measurement

On the measuring and mis-measuring of Chinese growth by Hunter Clark, Maxim Pinkovskiy, Xavier Sala-i-Martin (Voxeu)

An effort to gauge Chinese GDP growth based on the amount of light thrown off by cities and towns at night, suggesting that recent activity has been stronger than reported, rather than weaker. [Link]

Goldman Sachs thinks the opioid crisis is so bad it’s affecting the economy by Evelyn Cheng (CNBC)

Spiraling use and abuse of opiods for pain management has created a crisis, with more than 90 Americans killed by overdoses each day. Goldman thinks that is holding down the labor force participation rate. [Link, auto-playing video]

Big Thoughts From Tech

Bill Gates Made These 15 Predictions In 1999 – And It’s Scary How Accurate He Was by Biz Carson (Business Insider)

Payments, shopping, mobile devices, social media…all predicted years before they were deployed. [Link]

The music industry according to super-producer Jimmy Iovine by Matthew Garrahan (FT)

Inside the head of the billionaire founder of Beats, who now directs Apple’s strategy around music. [Link, soft paywall]


Tech Stocks Boom, but Some Stock Pickers Are Wary by Landon Thomas Jr (NYT)

It’s almost impossible to outperform when you’re not at least equal-weight the huge tech giants which have surged to new all-time highs this year. [Link, soft paywall]

A Kansas Investment Firm Spurring Change on Wall Street by Landon Thomas Jr (NYT)

A look at the RIA industry and the new approach it brings to helping Americans manage their assets, including a greater focus on services over products. [Link, soft paywall]

User Error

Finance sites erroneously show Amazon, Apple, other stocks crashing by Mike Murphy (Marketwatch)

Test data from Nasdaq was released into the public stock pricing feeds that power numerous data providers, causing a night of chaos this week. [Link]

Shkreli’s Hedge Fund Went From Success to Bust in 31 Minutes by Patricia Hurtado and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou (Bloomberg)

One investor received two emails a half hour apart showing gains of $135,000 and complete losses after an investment with Martin Shkreli. [Link]


So Long, Hamburger Helper: America’s Venerable Food Brands Are Struggling by Annie Gasparro and Saabira Chaudhuri (WSJ)

Shifting consumer preferences, ineffective marketing strategies, and the falling market share facing big food brands in the grocery aisle. [Link, paywall]


Roman concrete is still standing tall – and now we know why by James Temperton (Wired)

By infusing their staple building material with seawater, Roman architects were able to make it last two millennia and counting. [Link]


Dak Prescott accused of using machine to sign autograph by Darren Rovell (ESPN)

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback has been accused of using a performance enhancing machine to sign cards tirelessly without holding a pen. [Link]


Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science? by Stephen Buranyi (The Guardian)

A deep dive into the world of for-profit scientific journals and the consequences of perverse incentives for that business model as it interfaces with the world of scientific discovery. [Link]

European Banks

Rough policy notes on Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza (V&V) by Jonathan Alger (Medium)

A comprehensive and in-the-weeds look at recent ECB actions to resolve two failing periphery banks. Filled with jargon and impressive detail that probably goes well over the head of the casual reader but a very helpful resource on the complex subject of the ECB’s governance of banks. [Link]


A programmer figured out how to automate his job and work 2 hours a week — but he’s not sure it’s ethical by Julie Bort (Yahoo! Finance/Business Insider)

Maybe slow productivity is being caused by worker deception? We kid, but the ethical dilemma involved with this worker’s efforts to become more efficient is definitely interesting. [Link]

Have a great Sunday!

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