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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Negative Rates

Depositors Are Next as Nordic Banks Buckle Under Negative Rates by Kati Pohjanpalo and Frances Schwartzkopff (Yahoo!/Bloomberg)

Banks in areas where policy rates are negative have so far avoided charging negative rates to depositors but that may start to change as other fees fail to support the profit drag of negative funding rates. [Link]

A Danish bank is offering mortgages at a 0.5% negative interest rate — meaning it is basically paying people to borrow money by Will Martin (Business Insider)

While depositors may end up being charged for holding money in their accounts, borrowers in Denmark are getting the chance to borrow at sub-zero rates. [Link]

Investors Ponder Negative Bond Yields in the U.S. by Sam Goldfarb and Daniel Kruger (WSJ)

A survey of speculation on what future interest rate policy could bring to the US bond market, including the possibility of borrowers getting paid to take loans. [Link; paywall]

We Not Working

WeWork Officially Files To Be The Last IPO by Thornton McEnery (Dealbreaker)

A deeply sarcastic look at this week’s WeWork IPO filing, filled with self-dealing, dubious terminology, massive losses, complex corporate structures, concentrated ownership, and all manner of other foibles. [Link]

WeWork’s S-1: some quick observations by Jamie Powell (FT Alphaville)

More detail on WeWork and it’s massive, can-you-believe-they’re-actually-trying-to-get-away-with-this IPO filing. [Link; registration required]

Tech Dystopia

Three Years Of Misery Inside Google, The Happiest Company In Tech by Nitasha Tiku (Wired)

A massive read on the internal mess at Google, catalyzed by the election of President Trump but a long time coming in many other respects. [Link; soft paywall]

I Tried Hiding From Silicon Valley in a Pile of Privacy Gadgets by Joel Stein (Bloomberg)

Getting rid of the sometimes-accidental, sometimes-intentional surveillance apparatus of Silicon Valley can be incredibly difficult. [Link; soft paywall]

The Techlash Has Come to Stanford by April Glaser (Slate)

Similar to the financial industry’s fall from grace as a destination for graduates after the financial crisis, big tech is losing – or more properly, has lost – its cache as a place for Stanford students to work after their schooling is complete. [Link]

Google’s hate speech-detecting AI appears to be racially biased by Donna Lu (New Scientist)

A new study finds that the algorithm used by Google to identify hate speech appears to have a racial bias, focusing on language used by blacks more than whites. [Link; soft paywall]

At The Vanguard

How to Profit in Space: A Visual Guide by Robert Wall, Yaryna Serkez and Joel Eastwood (WSJ)

An amazing visual guide to the massive array of useful and junk objects in orbit around our planet, as well as a dive into the improving economics of launches. [Link; paywall]

A clean energy breakthrough could be buried deep beneath rural Utah by Sammy Roth (LAT)

One potential solution to the problem of storing energy produced by renewables is to push air underground into a massive salt cavern, then extract it as needed, matching supply and demand. [Link]

ClimaCell weather app alerts when it’s about to rain, down to the minute, all around the world by Jason Samenow (LMT Online/WaPo)

A new Boston-based company claims the ability to predict minute-to-minute weather forecasts at the street level in 50 countries. [Link]

Investing & Personal Finance

Bankruptcy filings rising across the country and it could get worse by John Aidan Byrne (New York Post)

Bankruptcy filings are up 3% YoY through July, which isn’t a very large spike given the low aggregate level, but deterioration is something to keep an eye on. [Link]

New To Investing? You May Be Better Off Picking Stocks At Random, Study Finds by Ben Renner (Study Finds)

While a few losses can be useful learning experiences, amateur investors are actually worse than random picks of stocks when they start investing. [Link]

The longevity of the world’s largest ETF rests on the lives of 11 U.S. millennials by Rachel Evans, Vildana Hajric, and Tracy Alloway (LAT/Bloomberg)

The story of SPY’s limited life tied to the longevity of 11 individuals born between 1990 and 1993; their deaths would trigger the wind-down of the biggest ETF in the world. [Link]


The Trendiest Fitness Class Now: Working Out Alone at Home by Hilary Potkewitz (WSJ)

Streaming services that run from simple phone apps to complex exercise equipment wired to on-demand services are gaining popularity. [Link; paywall]


Huawei Technicians Helped African Governments Spy on Political Opponents by Joe Parkinson, Nicholas Bariyo and Josh Chin (WSJ)

An investigation by the Journal shows that Huawei worked with governments in Africa to help suppress opposition groups via its technology embedded in wireless networks. [Link; paywall]

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Have a great weekend!

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