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.

A Place To Stay

America’s New Small Towns: Housing Developments That Recreate Village Life by Amy Gameran (WSJ)

Newly built, exclusive, and intimate small towns are being marketed as a modern version of the bucolic America of yester-year. [Link; paywall]

Forget the athletes’ village, we’re staying on a CRUISE LINER! Team USA basketball millionaires reject shared bedrooms for luxury life with spa, shops… and 7ft beds by Shkehar Bhatia and Louse Cheer (Daily Mail)

Forgive the hyperbolic title, but this story is frankly hilarious. When NBA stars got worried about the quality of accommodations for the Olympic Games in Rio, Cisco stepped in to rent them floating quarters. [Link]

I lived like a hermit for a week — and it revealed a scary reality about life in 2016 by Kate Taylor (Business Insider)

How to live at home with all the goods and services you need….without ever leaving your apartment. We’re skeptical that most could afford the price tag, but a fun look at the on-demand economy. [Link]


How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers by Rukmini Callimachi (NYT)

A trip inside the effort by ISIS to penetrate European society and attack civilians. [Link; soft paywall]

New Economic Angles

Buddhist Economics: How to Start Prioritizing People Over Products and Creativity Over Consumption by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)

A critical look at some of the basic tenants which underpin both our economic model and the public policy which underpins it. [Link]

A lesson from history: the safety of government debt depends on private sector liquidity by Carolyn Sissoko (Synthetic Assets)

A turn through the looking glass around the discussion of a “safe asset shortage”; the problem may be a lack of private sector supply rather than a lack of government-issued supply. [Link]

Education, Participation, And The Revival Of US Economic Growth by Dale W. Jorgenson, Mun S. Ho, and Jon D. Samuels (NBER Working Papers)

In an interesting twist, the authors forecast a significant rise in US economic growth thanks to a run up in the hours worked by Americans that had previously left the labor force. [Link; 56 page PDF]


Failed Systems

The Soviet Union: Achieving full employment by Artir (Nintil)

While the Soviet system was a terrible one in too many respects to list here, it did have the odd artifact of extremely high employment rates. This is a fascinating historical quirk. [Link]

Through the Venezuelan Looking Glass by Ricardo Hausmann (Project Syndicate)

A summary of the disaster that is Venezuelan public policy, from a former member of the Venezuelan government. [Link]

Mouths Only

Restaurant Recession? Pizza Party! by Shelly Banjo (Bloomberg)

Amidst disappointing earnings, Domino’s Pizza stands out as a star performer. [Link]

Flossing is a complete waste of time (AP/NY Post)

We’re glad to hear that our oft-neglected flossing efforts are not, in fact, going to be a problem. [Link]

Weird Science

Archaeologists have uncovered a massive palace at the legendary birthplace of King Arthur by Bec Crew (Science Alert)

A dig at the location that was the mythical seat of King Arthur has revealed a massive palace; no word on whether any swords have been found in stone or at the bottom of a lake yet. [Link]

Humpback whales around the globe are mysteriously rescuing animals from orcas by Bryan Nelson (Mother Nature Network)

In an apparent act of inter-species trolling, humpback whales are intervening to protect the prey of their more vicious cousins, orcas. [Link]

The Folly of Youth

How Helicopter Parenting Can Cause Binge Drinking by Caitlin Flanagan (The Atlantic)

A deep dive into the unintended consequences of aggressive, outcome-based parenting techniques and some of the havoc that they rain on teenagers. [Link]

‘Massive’ breach exposes hundreds of questions for upcoming SAT exams by Renee Dudley (Reuters)

Who watches the testers? Hundred of SAT questions were easily obtainable by Reuters, indicating that it’s imminently possible that the materials had been leaked elsewhere. [Link]


A Guide To Catching Up On China’s Politics And Military by Peter Mattis (War On The Rocks)

A comprehensive, link-stuffed rundown on the institutional happenings inside China.We highly recommend this background given the evolution of stresses in the South China Sea. [Link]


When is a “Value” Company not a Value? by Christopher Meredith (Investing Resarch)

An overview of why changes in management behavior may have made one of the most important valuation metrics investors use much less relevant. [Link]


Which Households Have Negative Wealth? by Olivier Armantier, Luis Armona, Giacomo De Giorgi, and Wilbert van der Klaauw (NY Fed Liberty Street Economics)

An excellent analysis of what drives negative net wealth: student loans. While negative net wealth households tend to have low assets, by far the biggest factor in their total position is variation in student loan balances. [Link].

Media Business

Snapchat Used to Spook Advertisers. Not Anymore. by Katie Benner and Michael J. de la Merced (NYT)

New ad formats, a huge user base, and a hot demographic have all made Snapchat much more attractive to advertisers over the last year. [Link; soft paywall]

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