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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Russia’s underperforming military capability may be key to its downfall by Jack Watling (The Guardian)
A comprehensive framework for understanding why the much larger, more expensive, and ostensibly more capable Russian military is underperforming so dramatically versus Ukraine. [Link]
Russia to conscript 1.2 million people (Meduza)
Dissident Russian outlet Meduza reports that the “partial mobilization” announced this week plans to intake more than 1mm soldiers, though the Russian Defense Ministry later denied the reporting. [Link]
‘They Are Watching’: Inside Russia’s Vast Surveillance State by Paul Mozur, Adam Satariano, Aaron Krolik and Aliza Aufrichtig (NYT)
A massive leak of detailed documents casts a light on the bureaucracy that manages the Russian populace’s social media censorship. [Link; soft paywall]
U.S. Return-to-Office Rates Hit Pandemic High as More Employers Get Tougher by Peter Grant (WSJ)
Office use for a sample of 10 major metros was back to just below half of 2020 levels, the highest level since late-March 2020 as managers demand more time at the office and the population moves on from the pandemic. [Link; paywall]
Can You Actually Ditch Your Car for an E-Bike? Maybe by Brigid Mander (WSJ)
Surging e-bike adoption is helping more Americans go from car to bike, putting more range in the pedals of commuters and errand-runners alike. [Link; paywall]
Potential home buyers and sellers continue to hesitate, prices continue to soften (August 2022 Market Report) (Zillow)
Zillow’s data shows the largest monthly price drop since 2011 as affordability concerns amidst high mortgage rates hamper demand and drive up time on market. [Link]
Does the UK need an emergency rate hike? by Louis Ashworth (FTAV)
Collapsing sterling and soaring rates has the market wondering if the BoE can or maybe needs to raise rates on an emergency basis. [Link; reservation required]
The Fed Is Getting Even Tougher on Inflation. Here’s What To Watch First. by Christopher Leonard (Politico)
A long-form thesis arguing that the Federal Reserve actually faces a much tougher set of trade-offs than the ones faced by the famed Volcker Fed which today’s FOMC is trying to emulate. [Link]
‘The Chaos Machine’ author on celebrity hacks and how social media threatens IT security by Eoin Higgins (IT Brew)
An interview of a Max Fisher, NYT reporter and author of a book that delves into the darkest recesses of social media business models as well as the catastrophic externalities that support them. [Link]
Ford’s Latest Supply-Chain Snarl: Not Enough Blue Oval Badges by Nora Eckert (WSJ)
Even the iconic Blue Oval badges which denote a Ford have disappeared from inventories, a relatively simple and straightforward part that has still run into a wall amidst disruptions to value chains throughout the auto industry. [Link; paywall]
‘Crippling’ Energy Bills Force Europe’s Factories to Go Dark by Liz Alderman (NYT)
It’s hard to melt glass to manufacture tableware when you don’t have enough natural gas, or run steel blast furnaces, smelt aluminum, or produce zinc. [Link; soft paywall]
High Natural-Gas Prices Push European Manufacturers to Shift to the U.S. by David Uberti (WSJ)
As factories and smelters shut down in Europe due to energy constraints, companies are looking to the US with cheap and reliable energy supplies being the primary attraction. [Link; paywall]
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Have a great weekend!