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.

Food And Drink

The Most Exclusive Restaurant In America by Nick Paumgarten (The New Yorker)

Locally sourced. Artfully prepared. Creatively plated. But are the numbers legitimate? A review of the upstate New York restaurant that may be the most difficult place to get a table in the world. [Link]

Gatorade Goes Organic as PepsiCo Joins Natural-Product Push by Jennifer Kaplan (Bloomberg)

Strawberry, lemon, and mixed berry organic Gatorade has hit the shelves at Kroher supermarkets, costing only 50 cents more than traditional, non-organic thirst quencher. [Link]

In Search of Ragu by Matt Goulding (Roads And Kingdoms)

There is nothing – nothing – as satisfying as a rich, hearty, flavorful ragu, and this oral journey will definitely stoke your craving for the meaty, melty sauce. [Link]

Media Matters

Wolff: The looming shakeout in digital media by Michael Wolff (USA Today)

Another year, another prediction for the demise of unprofitable and amply funded efforts to crack the code that is making money in digital media. [Link]

Twitter will now share video revenue with individual content creators by Julia Boorstin (CNBC)

So far, social media companies have not had to pay for the content their users generate: tweets, status posts, pictures, links, and the like. But what if competition for user time changes that model? [Link; auto-playing video]

Endorsed on Instagram by a Kardashian, but Is It Love or Just an Ad? by Sapna Maheshwari (NYT)

With sponsored placement of products on celebrities social media feeds becoming increasingly common, questions linger over the ground rules for what can be said in the ads. [Link; paywall]

Baseball Bats

A Bug That Eats Baseball Bats (NYT Sunday Review)

Invasive species are a menace to both ecosystems and economies. While this particular issue isn’t likely to devastate the massive and Manhattan-oriented NY economy, the loss of ash trees to borers is no less painful. [Link; paywall]

Report: Russians buy tons of baseball bats and almost no balls by Ted Berg (USA Today)

What are Russians doing with half a million baseball bats and only one ball and one glove? [Link]


The Race For A Zika Vaccine by Siddhartha Mukherjee (The New Yorker)

A tiny team of scientists took the virus ravaging South America and created a vaccine – through three different methods – in less than half a year. [Link]


Uzbekistan’s president may be dying. Here is all my research on Uzbekistan. (Sarah Kendizor)

Anthropology PhD and Uzbek expert Kendizor has a timely round-up of stories and research on the country with its only President since the fall of the Soviet Union in the hospital and a power transition looming. [Link]


Can A Canadian Prime Minister Be An Action Hero? Marvel Comics Thinks So by Jackie Northam (NPR)

Global media and culture have been warmly receptive to recently elected Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau (son of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, one of the country’s most famous Prime Ministers). That now includes, amusingly, the comic book industry. [Link]

Trump’s Top Fundraiser Eyes the Deal of a Lifetime by Max Abelson and Zachary Mider (Bloomberg)

The populist slant to the GOP nominee’s campaign does not include his national finance chairman who is as much a part of the pedigreed Wall Street establishment as any son of a Goldman Sachs partner can possibly be. [Link]


Should You Get a Money Manager Who Was Born Poor? by Daniel Akst (WSJ)

New research suggests that advisors who hail from a modest background outperform those who grew up amongst the well-off. [Link; paywall]

Employers Find ‘Soft Skills’ Like Critical Thinking in Short Supply by Kate Davidson (WSJ)

Communication, critical thinking, creativity, and coworker cooperation are all in short supply and great demand in the US labor market. [Link; paywall]

Hedge Funds

Ken Griffin’s Citadel Securities Is Muscling Into Credit Derivatives by Katie Linsell (Bloomberg)

With banks reducing the amount of capital they make available to market-making activities, intermediary-intensive products are seeing liquidity provision from hedge funds. [Link]

Bridgewater just released a series of videos that looks like something Facebook or Google would produce by Richard Feloni (Business Insider)

With half of employees not making it through the first year and a half on the job, the world’s largest hedge fund is being forced to cast more light on its secretive operations in the hopes of attracting the talent it needs. [Link]

Corporate Government

The CIA’s Venture-Capital Firm, Like Its Sponsor, Operates in the Shadows by Damian Paletta (WSJ)

CIA funds back In-Q-Tel, a firm that invests in tech start-ups focusing on technology of interest to the agency which may not have commercial appeal; however, conflicts of interest appear rampant amongst the company’s investments and board. [Link; paywall]

Obama Finds an Ally in Wal-Mart, Whose Stores He Once Shunned by Toluse Olorunnipa and Shannon Pettypiece (Bloomberg)

Despite hostility towards the retailer as a Senator, President Obama has found a very close ally in Bentonville, Arkansas, an arrangement which benefits both in terms of both PR and policy choice. [Link]

The Dark Side

Why They Did It: Madoff and Enron’s Fastow Explain the Biggest Frauds in U.S. History by Paul Barrett (Bloomberg)

An investigation of what drives white collar criminals to commit the crimes which seem to offer so little yet cost so much. [Link]

Aurora massacre survivors sued. How did some end up owing the theater $700,000? by Nigel Duara (LA Times)

Survivors and the families of victims from the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting were stymied in court; that puts them on the hook for the theater company’s massive legal bill. As a happy note, this story was later updated to note Cinemark would not pursue the families for the costs of its defense. That’s a welcome outcome given the extremely unfortunate circumstances. [Link]


Looking beyond GDP when measuring welfare by Nick Bunker (Equitable Growth)

It’s often forgotten that GDP is simply an accounting system, and one that very intentionally overlooks certain kinds of activity. There may be downsides to that approach. [Link]

Is Fischer ‘Stan the Man’ or the ‘Odd Stan Out’ on Rate Hikes? by Luke Kawa (Bloomberg)

How much attention should we be paying to the Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve? [Link; auto-playing video]

Regional Whimsy

Techies Priced Out of Palo Alto as Studios List for $1.3 Million by Alison Vekshin (Bloomberg)

With housing costs exploding across the Bay Area, a small but growing number of families are hanging up their artisanal toast spurs in favor of Midwestern mortgage payments. [Link]

Massachusetts Could Swap Time Zones for Later Winter Sunsets by Tom Moroney and Anne Mostue (Bloomberg)

Locals worry prospective college students will head for sunnier latitudes, so why not ensure that Boston’s sun doesn’t set only 22 minutes before the last daylight in the Yukon? [Link]

Consumer Tech

Nintendo’s New NX Console to Go Retro With Videogame Cartridges by Takashi Mochizuki (WSJ)

With Nintendo working away on its newest generation of video console, the company is reportedly considering a very retro storage medium. [Link]

RBC: This Survey Data Makes Netflix a ‘#1 Buy’ by Julie Verhage (Bloomberg)

Increasing subscriber penetration and less focus on 2016 price hikes appear to be boosting user growth for Netflix. [Link]

Will Amazon Kill FedEx? by David Leonard (Bloomberg)

Amazon has steamrolled almost every industry it’s touched, and as the massive operation’s logistics continue to grow it’s now exploring an in-sourcing of the delivery and routing services it currently purchases from UPS, FedEx, and the USPS. [Link]


SolarCity adviser Lazard made mistake in Tesla deal analysis by Liana B. Baker (Reuters)

Double-counting of indebtedness reduced the fair value estimate for SolarCity shares when the company was bought out by Tesla; that said, the mistake probably wasn’t material to the final offer for the company. [Link]

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