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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Green Energy

Longi brings forward manufacturing capacity plans by a year by Max Hall (PV Magazine)

Chinese solar wafer giant Longi now expects to produce 65 gigawatts worth of wafers by the end of 2020, 12 months faster than had previously been estimated and a sign of how rapidly solar technology is scaling. [Link]

Is this Australia’s first utility to acknowledge death by solar? by Michael Mazengarb (Renew Economy)

The utility owned by Australia’s Northern Territory government reports it faces an “existential risk” thanks to consumer solar energy deployment. The company says the cost of producing solar power is below the marginal cost of producing power from natural gas at the company’s plants. [Link]

This Week In Tech

Google’s quantum bet on the future of AI—and what it means for humanity by Katrina Brooker (Fast Company)

The story of how one of the largest tech companies in the world is deploying billions in pursuit of artificial intelligence which may challenge the human brain’s capacity. [Link]

Amazon Changed Search Algorithm in Ways That Boost Its Own Products by Dana Mattioli (WSJ)

Searches for specific products on Amazon have been tweaked to more prominently feature the company’s own-brand products, a practice unlikely to be welcomed by US anti-trust regulators. [Link; paywall]


American Migration Patterns Should Terrify the GOP by Derek Thompson (The Atlantic)

Hundreds of Americans are flowing out of large, blue states and into the metropolitan areas which dominate traditional red states, potentially accelerating a shift in demographics which is already tilting the tables against a GOP in national contests. [Link]

This drawing explains a surprising amount about your political views by Matt Yglesias (Vox)

An abstract piece of modern art is a better predictive variable for how voters think about the President than other metrics, including the impact of whether or not a voter holds a college degree. [Link]

Labor Markets

The Labor Market Effects of Legal Restrictions on Worker Mobility by Matthew S. Johnson, Kurt Lavetti, Michael Lipsitz (SSRN)

An increase in enforceability of noncompete agreements from the 10th to the 90th percentile lowered annual earnings by 3-4% and resulted in a 9% decline in the likelihood a worker would change jobs. [Link]

Army meets recruiting goal for 2019 after revamping how it attracts prospective soldiers by Corey Dickstein (Stars & Stripes)

After lower its recruiting target, the Army was able to hit its number this year, adding over 68,000 enlistees to active duty this year. [Link]


Pizza Hut debuts a gigantic Cheez-It stuffed with even more cheese by Megan Lavey-Heaton (The Oregonian)

Do you like Cheez-Its? Head over to pizza hut for a bite of a jumbo homage to the snack food stuffed with delicious cheese and even pepperoni. [Link]


Wroxeter ‘pendants’ turn out to be Roman make-up tools (BBC)

Roman artefacts uncovered recently in the UK suggest that ancient Roman Britons were fond of makeup, using specialized tools to prepare and apply the cosmetics. [Link]


The fake French minister in a silicone mask who stole millions by Hugh Schofield (BBC)

Using a silicon mask and a Skype account, a fraudster was able to convince marks to wire millions of dollars to his accounts, putatively to support anti-terrorism activities. [Link]

Carcinogens Have Infiltrated the Generic Drug Supply in the U.S. by Anna Edney, Susan Berfield, and Evelyn Yu (Bloomberg)

Obscure chemicals that can cause cancer have made their way into the US drug supply, a byproduct of the processes used to make drugs and lax quality assurance. [Link; soft paywall]

Beer Money

‘Beer money’ sign still chugging along for charity by Tom Vanhaaren (ESPN)

A gag sign asking viewers to send a college football fan beer money ended up with tens of thousands in donations via Venmo; the proceeds are being passed on to charity. [Link]

Long Reads

Complication and Complexity: Need They Be Feared? by Dr Ewan Kirk (Cantab Capital)

Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, but the author argues that complicated and complex are not the same thing; the risks of complexity are emergent, unlike those of complicated systems. [Link]

How Adam Neumann’s Over-the-Top Style Built WeWork. ‘This Is Not the Way Everybody Behaves.’ by Eliot Brown (WSJ)

A large read on the zany founder of WeWork, which pushed off its IPO to October or possibly later this week. [Link; paywall]

Tide’s Going Out

One in Four of New York’s New Luxury Apartments Is Unsold by Stefanos Chen (NYT)

The high end of the New York real estate market is in deep trouble, with more than 4000 apartments among the 16,000 built in new buildings since 2013 unsold. [Link; soft paywall]

Boston Fed’s Rosengren: Lower rates could expose co-working companies like WeWork by Brian Cheung (Yahoo!)

One of the hawkish dissenters from the most recent FOMC meeting thinks that highly speculative business models like WeWork could proliferate further in a world with lower rates. [Link]

Lim Chow Kiat, one of the world’s top investors, rings the alarm, again by David Ramli (Business Standard)

The head of Singapore’s massive sovereign wealth funds is worried about the stability of financial markets, economic growth, and the global political framework that is showing signs of stress. [Link]

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Have a great weekend!

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