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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The Fortune Global 500 is now more Chinese than American by Alan Murray and David Meyer (Fortune)
Th newly updated Fortune 500 list of the 500 largest companies by revenue has more companies from China and Hong Kong than the US, a first. Back in 1990, when the list was first published, there were no Chinese firms tallied. [Link]
China’s Days as World’s Factory Are Over, IPhone Maker Says by Debby Wu (Bloomberg)
Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry (aka Foxconn) is planning on splitting its supply lines between China and the rest of the world; it’s already shifted about 5% of production capacity outside of mainland China over the past year. [Link]
The Visa Back to Business Study (Visa)
A long report discussing a survey and internal data from Visa focused on small businesses. Contactless payments, a focus on revenues, and digital commerce driving growth are all key takeaways. [Link; 25 page PDF]
Amazon and Mall Operator Look at Turning Sears, J.C. Penney Stores Into Fulfillment Centers by Esther Fung and Sebastian Herrera (WSJ)
Simon Property Group, the largest mall operator in the US, has been in talks with Amazon to turn anchor spaces that used to be filled with department stores into small distribution hubs that could serve as warehouses for “the everything store”. [Link; paywall]
After Chicago Looting and Coronavirus, Businesses Consider Closing Shop by Joe Barrett (WSJ)
Chicago businesses are struggling to manage both the slowdown in traffic driven by COVID and the impact of looting in recent weeks. [Link; paywall]
Retail Chains Abandon Manhattan: ‘It’s Unsustainable’ by Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan (NYT)
With foot traffic all but gone, what was once some of the most valuable retail real estate in the country has collapsed into a quagmire of unprofitable stores and empty restaurants. [Link; soft paywall]
City Fiscal Conditions 2020 (National League of Cities)
A brutal report on the outlook for city finances, wrecked by an unprecedented shift in economic activity that has destroyed revenue models based on property and sales taxes alike. [Link; 28 page PDF]
This Investment Burned Almost Everyone by Spencer Jakab (WSJ)
An exchange-traded note that theoretically moves inverse to natural gas sky-rocketed after its issuer (Credit Suisse) halted issuing new shares; the notes traded from $400 to nearly $25,000 before a subsequent retirement of the shares at face value. [Link; paywall]
Software firm MicroStrategy makes a massive bet on Bitcoin with a $250 million purchase by Jeff John Roberts (Fortune)
A small software firm in Virginia has converted its corporate cash holdings into Bitcoin, in some unique blend of risky speculation and publicity stunt. [Link]
A Cheap, Simple Way to Control the Coronavirus by Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Michael Mina (NYT)
Tests that use a simple piece of paper and the subject’s spit will soon be available and are vastly cheaper than lab-based testing, which opens up the possibility individuals will know much sooner if they’ve been exposed to COVID. [Link; soft paywall]
Futility For Utilities
Amid power outages, CEO of generator maker anticipates ‘massive change’ coming to the grid by Tyler Clifford (CNBC)
With hurricanes and major storms increasingly threatening the aging electrical grid, small generators like those sold by Generac are getting more attractive for consumers that want permanent access to power. [Link]
1986-87 Fleer Basketball Case Sells for Record-Breaking $1.78 Million by Darren Rovell (Action Network)
A 35 year-old case of basketball cards which contains over 400 packs of cards (and likely at least 36 Michael Jordan rookie cards valued at $80,000 or more) has sold for $1.8mm. [Link]
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Have a great weekend!