I #FANG, questi sconosciuti…

Chi e cosa sono i FANG, e perché sono importanti i big data, il vero tesoro della nostra epoca tecnologica?

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Bespoke Brunch Reads + Memorial Day Special

Good Morning,

If you’ve been thinking about starting a Bespoke research subscription, now is the time!  We’re currently running our Memorial Day Summer Special that gets you 3 months of ANY membership level for just $49!  Click here for sign-up details.

Below is our Bespoke Brunch Reads linkfest, featuring some of our favorite articles (both finance and non-finance related) over the past week.

Europe

March of Italy’s mini-BoTs may split the euro by John Dizard (FT)

The populist coalition that’s set to form a government in Italy has proposed a very…”interesting” mechanism for funding public spending increases, and one that has some historical precedent. [Link; paywall]

Germany’s Great European Heist by Adam Tooze and Shahin Vallée (Project Syndicate)

While Germany is perfectly happy to demand a certain two-part fiscal and monetary discipline on the part of the Eurozone, but seems to completely reject that approach when it comes to defense spending. [Link]

Europe’s Data Protection Law Is a Big, Confusing Mess by Allison Cool (NYT)

A review of GDPR, the new EU directive covering the use of personal data by companies and other institutions. While this argument probably goes a bit too far, the broader point that execution has been lacking is worthwhile. [Link; soft paywall]

American Wealth

In the second Gilded Age, the mansions get bigger, and the homeless get closer by Rick Hampson (USA Today)

A survey of one particular consequence of soaring inequality in one particular facet of one particular city’s life: the link between income and wealth disparities on how people live and live with each other in Los Angeles. [Link]

How Much Money Do You Need to Be Wealthy in America? by Suzanne Woolley (Bloomberg)

Americans consider $2.4 million as the cut-off between being “wealthy” and being less than that per a new piece of survey data from Charles Schwab. [Link; soft paywall]

Malfeasance

Drone Maker Accused of Covering Up Bomb in Bag on Flight by Anders Melin and Brandon Kochkodin (Bloomberg)

A short-seller dug up an insistence where a drone company’s employee managed to get a drone equipped with explosives onto a Delta flight from Salt Lake to LA. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

The SEC Has an Opportunity You Won’t Want to Miss: Act Now! (SEC)

In an effort to make the public more aware of scam initial coin offerings (ICOs), the SEC has set up a website that appears to be a promotion of a scam coin. [Link]

Progress

Global surge in air-conditioning set to stoke electricity demand by Ed Crooks (FT)

A new IEA report argues that income growth in large, hot countries will create massive new electricity demand fueled by increasing use of air conditioners. [Link; soft paywall]

Drug target for curing the common cold by Michelle Roberts (BBC)

Researchers in the UK think they may have found a way to boost the body’s immune response as a way to combat the common cold. [Link]

Sports

A New Atlanta, United by Soccer by Ken Belson (NYT)

With enormous crowds and similar on-pitch success, Atlanta United is the most popular soccer team in America, and has risen in a town that seems like the polar opposite of a soccer hotbed. [Link; soft paywall]

Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer long wondered if he’s related to JFK. At 72, he learned the truth. by Dave Sheinin (WaPo)

A baseball legend and the story of a genealogical treasure trove that eventually peeled back the onion of genealogy for the adopted ball player. [Link; soft paywall]

Business Models

How to Lease a $50,000 BMW for Less Than a Subway Pass by Gabrielle Coppola (Bloomberg)

With automakers incentivized by both policy and the need to win the next great automotive arms race, electric vehicles are available on the very, very cheap. [Link; soft paywall]

Inside the business model for botnets (MIT Technology Review)

Botnets are a big risk, but with millions on the line for willing sellers of DDoS attacks, click fraud, or spam, they can generate significant revenues for their operators. [Link]

F-AI-l

I Tried to Get an AI to Write This Story by Paul Ford (Bloomberg)

A lovely personal essay about the trials and tribulations of machine learning, both at the level of coding it and in the world at large. [Link; soft paywall]

Data Security

Digital Photocopiers Loaded With Secrets by Armen Keteyian (CBS)

Unknown to most users, photocopiers contain hard drives which log a copy of every job they process. When improperly disposed, those hard drives are a treasure trove of information like the one CBS found. [Link]

Investing

Jack Bogle’s Battle by Leslie P. Norton (Barron’s)

A long interview with the man who did more to democratize index investing than anyone else, the founder of Vanguard Group. [Link; paywall]

Emerging Markets

Franklin Templeton buys $2.25bn in Argentine bonds by Robin Wigglesworth and Benedict Mander (FT)

A survey of the outlook for Argentina, which is in the midst of its latest meltdown, this time in the form of a run on the currency, a ceiling on USDARS, and an appeal to the IMF. [Link]

Ice History

Rise and fall of Roman Empire exposed in Greenland ice samples by Katie Langin (Science)

Using samples from ice cores in Greenland, researchers have identified a series of economic booms and busts in antiquity that threw lead off into the atmosphere. [Link]

Have a great Sunday!

Bespoke Brunch Reads: 5/13/18

Good Morning,

Below is our Bespoke Brunch Reads linkfest, featuring some of our favorite articles (both finance and non-finance related) over the past week.

Auto Updates

Mercedes Wants to Borrow Money From You. Should You Bite? by Jason Zweig (WSJ)

Mercedes-Benz USA is appealing to customers to borrow, offering short-term notes (which are redeemable) to finance auto loan securitization and diversify funding sources. [Link]

Who’s Winning the Self-Driving Car Race? by David Welch and Elisabeth Behrmann (Bloomberg)

A very helpful summary of the various players and their progress on the effort to bring a totally self-driving car to market. While many companies have made big strides, nobody is even close to a full-blown “Level 5” vehicle (one without a steering wheel). [Link; soft paywall]

AI

Grimes, Elon Musk, and the Supposedly Trauma-Inducing A.I. Theory That Brought Them Together by Alexandra Ossola (Futurism)

Elon Musk and Grimes were apparently brought together by an allegedly horrifying but intellectually interesting scenario called Roco’s Basilisk (background from Slate here). The long and the short of it: don’t ever think about Roco’s Basilisk, or you may live to regret it. [Link]

Google Duplex: An AI System for Accomplishing Real-World Tasks Over the Phone by Yaniv Leviathan (Google AI Blog)

Natural language processing has evolved to the point that Google’s new Duplex system can place natural-sounding calls. Indeed, the calls are so natural sounding that they are indistinguishable from a human being. [Link]

Media

IAB says online advertising grew to $88B last year — more spending than TV by Anthony Ha (TechCrunch)

Online advertising has now surpassed TV ad spend, totaling $88bn in 2017 with an increase of more than 20% over 2016. Mobile add spending is more than half of the total. [Link]

Subscription hell by Danny Crichton (TechCrunch)

Media costs are rising sharply, content is fleeing behind paywalls which add up to unsustainable costs, and the whole space seems unsustainable per Crichton’s analysis. [Link]

Malfeasance

Undercover Cops Busted a Large Lego Crime Ring in Portland by Daniel Oberhaus (Motherboard)

A “fence” for stolen Lego has been busted in Portland, with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of the toy seized as part of a massive crackdown. [Link]

Tidal Accused Of Deliberately Faking Kanye West And Beyoncé Streaming Numbers by Dagens Næringsliv (Music Business Worldwide)

Streaming numbers for recent major releases seem totally unrealistic, including a claim that the most recent Kanye West album was played 8 times per day on average by all of Tidal’s users. [Link]

Equifax’s Statement For The Record Regarding The Extent Of The Cybersecurity Incident Announced On September 7, 2017 (SEC)

Equifax discloses specifics on the absolutely staggering number of consumers whose personal information was exposed in a breach last year. [Link]

Chinese students in Canada are being conned into filming fake hostage videos by Ian Young (Inkstone)

Scammers in China are convincing students to unwittingly aid the extortion of their families by filming fake hostage videos. [Link]

Long Reads

The Weird, Dangerous, Isolated Life of the Saturation Diver by Jen Banbury (Atlas Obscura)

An amazing dive into the world of saturation divers, who live under high pressure for weeks at a time in order to more efficiently dive to work on the sea bed. [Link]

You can always count on an airport bar by Jen Doll (The Week)

An ode to the wonders – and yes, they are wonders – of the airport bar, the transient shelter form the storm of travel and even modern life more generally. [Link]

Currencies

‘World of Warcraft’ Currency Is Now Worth 7 Times as Much as Venezuela’s Cash by Chris Morris (Yahoo/Fortune)

Gold mined in World of Warcraft is used as an in-game currency and can be purchased with real-world currency. The WoW-Bolivar exchange rate has moved from 2:1 to more than 7:1 over the last year. [Link]

Should the Fed Create ‘FedCoin’ to Rival Bitcoin? A Former Top Official Says ‘Maybe’ by Neil Irwin (NYT)

A former Fed official who was under consideration for Fed Chair last year thinks that blockchain may be useful in the US payments system. [Link; soft paywall]

Economics

How Much Should We Trust the Dictator’s GDP Estimates? by Luis R. Martinez (SSRN)

Using tracking of economic activity based on night time illumination, Martinez argues that dictatorships regularly overstate real output by 15-30% of actual. [Link]

AEA Code of Professional Conduct (American Economic Association)

The AEA has introduced a professional code of conduct in a bid to enforce norms around civil discussion, equal opportunity, and representation in the discipline. [Link]

Scarce Life Savers

Final donation for man whose blood helped save 2.4 million babies by Kate Aubusson (Sydney Morning Herald)

A man with a rare concentration of antibodies which are helpful in preventing mothers’ immune systems from attacking the blood cells of their babies has been giving since the 1960s, saving millions of babies in the process. [Link]

The U.S. Is Facing an EpiPen Shortage by Anna Edney (Bloomberg)

Manufacturing delays have made EpiPens hard to come by, creating huge risks for millions who depend on easily available epinephrine in case of allergic reaction. [Link; soft paywall]

Why Monsanto and its rivals are trying to save butterflies by Danielle Wiener-Bronner (CNN)

Heavy use of RoundUp-ready crops mean that US farms have crowded out milkweed, the only plant where Monarch butterflies lay their eggs. Now Monstanto and other agrochemical companies are trying to reverse some of the damage. [Link]

CLICK HERE to start a two-week free trial to Bespoke’s premium stock market research and interactive investing tools.

Have a great Sunday!

Spazio, ultima frontiera…

Non i viaggi dell’Enterprise, ma una breve disamina sulla possibilità di investire nel settore spaziale… prima di altri.

Gli ETF su cui investire nel settore Aerospaziale, oggi disponibili, sono riassunti qui: https://money.usnews.com/investing/slideshows/7-etfs-that-allow-you-to-invest-in-space?slide=2

Il nuovo ETF in corso di completamento è dettagliato in questo articolo: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/final-frontier-for-markets-an-etf-related-to-outer-space-could-blast-off-soon-2018-01-10

Bespoke Brunch Reads: 5/6/18

Good Morning,
Below is our Bespoke Brunch Reads linkfest, featuring some of our favorite articles (both finance and non-finance related) over the past week.

Economic Research

Income inequality in the United States: it’s flatter than you probably realize by Phillip W. Magness

A new data set suggests that previous claims about the extreme level of inequality were exaggerated by methodological issues in the ubiquitous Capital In The 21st Century. [Link]

Religious Competition And Reallocation: The Political Economy Of Secularization In The Protestant Reformation by Davide Cantoni, Jeremiah Dittmar, and Noam Yuchtman

The authors of this working paper convincingly argue that the Reformation created competition between religious elites, allowing non-religious (secular) elites to fill the gap, therefore tilting Europe towards secularization on a permanent basis. [Link; 74 page PDF]

Can an Emerging Economy Get Into Financial Trouble by Holding Too Many Foreign Assets? by Brad W. Setser (Council on Foreign Relations)

Usually, emerging markets run in to problems because they don’t have enough foreign currency-denominated assets. Taiwan may have managed to gobble down too much of a good thing. [Link]

Financial Developments

How Five Robots Replaced Seven Employees at a Swiss Bank by Stephan Kahl (Bloomberg)

A Swiss bank used a software-based solution instead of human beings to conduct a specific task; in many ways, this is what IT departments have been doing for a long time. [Link; soft paywall, auto-playing video]

Does the VIX Need Fixing? Sure Looks That Way by John M. Griffin (Bloomberg)

Deviations between the monthly settlement prices and opening prices a few seconds later suggest that the VIX is being manipulated, but the owner of the index claims the process is normal. [Link; soft paywall]

Why Americans Are Getting Paid to Invest Abroad by Mike Bird (WSJ)

High hedging costs for European and Japanese investors who want to own USD bonds mean US-based investors can earn a high return by taking the other side of the trade. [Link; paywall]

Retail

The Return of the Brick-and-Mortar Store by Conor Sen (Bloomberg)

The costs of operating an online-only retail businesses (ads, mostly) are rising, just as the costs of operating brick-and-mortar retail businesses (rent) are falling. [Link]

Nike

At Nike, Revolt Led by Women Leads to Exodus of Male Executives by Julie Creswell, Kevin Draper and Rachel Abrams (NYT)

Fed up with mistreatment and a lack of career opportunity, women at Nike conducted an anonymous survey to establish a pattern of abuse from male executives. The result was a rash of departures as the company purged offenders. [Link; soft paywall]

Emotion

Can You Overdose on Happiness? by Lone Frank (Nautilus)

Given that technology now exists to directly stimulate the human brain and produce happiness (albeit at great cost and typically only in situations where there’s a therapeutic need), we need to start thinking about what the upper limit of “healthy” happiness is. [Link]

A Bit Much

They’re now making vodka from San Francisco fog by Charles Passy (MarketWatch)

A distillery (which actually does quite a good job in their typical offerings, from what we’ve tasted) in San Francisco is now using the city’s famous fog to create vodka that is the essence of San Francisco. [Link]

Derby Days

The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code by Kit Chellel (Bloomberg)

A dive inside the shadowy world of professional horse race gambling, including the story of the men tha correctly predicted a trifecta (the top three finishers, in order) in three consecutive races. [Link; soft paywall]

Alphabet

Evolution of the English Alphabet by Matt Baker (Useful Charts)

A set of charts designed to show how the earliest written alphabets slowly evolved into the modern English alphabet. [Link]
CLICK HERE to start a two-week free trial to Bespoke’s premium stock market research and interactive investing tools.

Have a great Sunday!

Bespoke Brunch Reads: 4/29/18

Good Morning,

Below is our Bespoke Brunch Reads linkfest, featuring some of our favorite articles (both finance and non-finance related) over the past week.

Brave New World

You could be flirting on dating apps with paid impersonators by Chloe Rose Stuart-Ulin (Quartz)

A look inside the world of freelance virtual dating assistance, who flirt on behalf of clients on apps like Tinder; with one in three heterosexual Americans meeting their future spouse online these days, questions loom about the line between assistant and scam artist. [Link]

We’re underestimating the mind-warping potential of fake video by Brian Resnick (Vox)

Higher quality computer techniques are helping blend the line between the real and the imagined, and the implications for our society are staggering. [Link]

Amazon’s new Alexa-powered Dot encourages kids to use the word ‘please’ by Jason Del Rey (Recode)

One of the features in the new kids-and-family targeted Echo Dot encourages pint-sized users to use “please” when communicating with Alexa. [Link]

Took an ancestry DNA test? You might be a ‘genetic informant’ unleashing secrets about your relatives by Ashley May (USA Today)

Investigators in Sacramento used DNA from a crime scene to compare versus genealogical websites and identify the killer. We would not be surprised to see this end up as a Supreme Court case. [Link]

Labor Markets

High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University by Ashley Gross and Jon Marcus (NPR)

High schoolers have had the mantra “go to college” drummed into them repeatedly, but that means that many high-paying blue collar jobs are going wanting as students forego opportunities in pursuit of a college degree. [Link]

Why Working on the Railroad Comes With a $25,000 Signing Bonus by Paul Ziobro (WSJ)

Strong freight volumes, low unemployment, and a dearth of willing workers mean big incentives are being dangled infront of workers to start a career on the railroad. [Link; paywall]

The Call for Jobs for All by Matthew C. Klein (Barron’s)

A background explainer on the idea of a jobs guarantee, proposed recently by a number of Senators and backed by modern monetary theory. [Link; paywall]

Crypto

Crypto World Gains Even More Options: Five New Fundstrat Indexes by Janine Wolf (Bloomberg)

Fundstrat, an independent research shop, has introduced 5 different price indices based on the typo of crypto asset; the five indices comprise 75% of existing crypto market cap. [Link]

Bitcoin is the greatest scam in history by Bill Harris (Recode)

The founding CEO of PayPal thinks that bitcoin – and, by implication, other crypto assets – is a scam, because its only useful application is in criminal activity. [Link]

Investing

Being Short and Right Can Be Bad by Matt Levine (Bloomberg)

How do you make a put option work when the underlying can’t trade? This is the question behind Longfin, a blockchain fraud stock which has been suspended due to an SEC investigation. [Link]

Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen’s venture capital group is on a fintech tear by Liz Moyer (CNBC)

The venture arm of former hedge fund operator turned family office investor (as a result of an insider trading investigation) has been throwing gobs of cash at financial technology startups. [Link]

Automobiles

Ford to stop selling every car in North America but the Mustang and Focus Active by Matt Burns (Techcrunch)

Amidst an over-saturated market for sedans, Ford is discontinuing virtually all car sales in the United States to focus on trucks, SUVs, and its commercial offerings. [Link]

Electric Buses Are Hurting the Oil Industry by Jeremy Hodges (Bloomberg)

17% of China’s buses are electric, accounting for 99% of total global deployment of the technology. The result is 279,000 barrels of oil per day not used, a non-trivial and rising share of global demand. [Link; auto-playing video]

Google

Google and Facebook Likely to Benefit From Europe’s Privacy Crackdown by Sam Schechner and Nick Kostov (WSJ)

New privacy regulations in Europe could result in burdens smaller firms are unable to meet, creating a competitive advantage for larger players. [Link; paywall]

Think macro: record actions in Google Sheets to skip repetitive work by Ryan Weber (Google)

In its bid to replace Excel, Google Sheets has introduced functionality designed to replicate VBA macros which are often used as a time saving device in the Microsoft program. [Link]

Health Care

Medicare will require hospitals to post prices online by Ricardo Alkonso-Zaldivar (MSN/AP)

The government agency responsible for overseeing Medicare and Medicaid will now require hospitals to post prices online, in an effort to improve competition via greater transparency. [Link]

Student Loans

Drew Cloud Is a Well-Known Expert on Student Loans. One Problem: He’s Not Real. by Dan Bauman and Chris Quintana (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Numerous media sources have been citing an “expert” on student loans that was actually an invented persona speaking on behalf of a student loan refinancing company. [Link]

Baseball

Mickey Mantle baseball card sells for $2.8 million at auction by Chris Perez (NYPost)

The latest in a long saga of “seriously?” prices for rare objects, a Micky Mantle baseball card has set a record for post-WW2 era cards (it’s the second-highest price paid for any card). [Link]

CLICK HERE to start a two-week free trial to Bespoke’s premium stock market research and interactive investing tools.

Have a great Sunday!

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CWS Market Review – April 27, 2018