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 unvaccinated and the orphans they leave behind by Renée Graham (Boston Globe)

With hundreds of thousands of Americans dying from the COVID pandemic, more than 100,000 children have been orphaned or lost at least one caregiver. [Link; soft paywall]

New Orleans Saints Covid-19 Cases Will Test NFL’s Pandemic Strategy by Andrew Beaton (WSJ)

Hoping that widespread vaccinations would reduce spread risk, NFL teams are required to test personnel weekly rather than daily. But that allows clusters of breakthrough cases (like the New Orleans Saints saw this week) to create a mess if they gain momentum. [Link; paywall]


Colleges Have a Guy Problem by Derek Thompson (The Atlantic)

Men dramatically outnumber women on college campuses…but why? This effort to dig into the causes, and concludes that it’s unlikely down to a single factor but a mix of cultural, historical, and economic forces. [Link; soft paywall]

College students reported record-high marijuana use and record-low drinking in 2020, study says by María Luisa Paúl (WaPo)

Time was that college meant binge drinking, and a lot of it. But many college kids are pivoting towards marijuana use instead, with nearly half of college-aged Americans reporting use last year. That’s about twice as large a share as those reporting binge drinking. [Link; soft paywall]

Real Estate

Rust Belt City’s Pitch for a Hot Housing Market: Free Homes by Ben Eisen (WSJ)

A struggling small town in Pennsylvania is hoping desperation among home buyers will make a pretty good deal seem irresistible: agree to fix up a house, and you get it for free. [Link; paywall]

Newsom signs long-awaited bills to increase housing density in California by Alexei Koseff (San Francisco Chronicle)

In addition to staving off a recall attempt this week, Governor Newsom also made it legal to build a duplex on any property zoned for single family housing statewide. The hope is that modest increases in density will free up housing supply in the famously challenged state. [Link; soft paywall]


Polling error: How one survey changed the Newsom recall campaign by Ben Christopher (CalMatters)

In late July, Democrats in one of the country’s bluest states started to worry their reasonably popular governor would get recalled. One poll specifically spurred a frantic effort to turn out voters, and appears to have led almost directly to the strong results for Newsom in the race, a fascinating example of electoral reflexivity. [Link]


Die, Beautiful Spotted Lanternfly, Die by Ginia Bellafante (NYT)

The northeast is facing an invasion from gorgeous bugs called spotted lanternflies, putting at risk grape crops and trees across the region. The solution? Put the boot to them. [Link; soft paywall]

Personal Finance

How You Feel About Money by Michael Batnick (The Irrelevant Investor)

A thoughtful review of how our personal experience drives us to think about money, both for good and ill, but in ways that need to be acknowledged and understood. [Link]


ETF Taxation In The Crosshairs (NASDAQ)

Democrats are considering removing some of the tax benefits of ETFs, making the funds less likely to track their benchmark and creating tax liabilities for some investors. We note that this is only at the proposal stage and formal language has not even been circulated. [Link]

Fast Food

Taco Bell tests 30-day taco subscription to drive more frequent visits by Amelia Lucas (CNBC)

YUM is testing a program that would let users pick up a daily taco every day for 30 days at a cost of $5 to $10 per month, hoping that the loss leader will drive more frequent visits and purchases of other items. [Link]


Beijing to release state crude reserves by auctions to ease feedstock costs (S&P Global/Platts)

In an effort to alleviate tight crude supplies, China’s strategic oil reserve will release tens of millions of barrels and cap imports, in a major shift for short-term global crude demand. [Link]

Labor Markets

Spillover Effects from Voluntary Employer Minimum Wages by Ellora Derenoncourt, Clemens Noelke, and David Weil (SSRN)

When Amazon raises wages for its distribution centers, other local employers are forced to bump up pay as well to continue attracting workers. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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