Bespoke Brunch Reads — Our Favorite Articles from the Past Week — 1/28/18

Below is this week’s Bespoke Brunch Reads linkfest, featuring some of the most interesting articles we read over the past week:

Headline Oddities (Europe Edition)

Nutella ‘riots’ spread across French supermarkets (BBC)

Apparently American Black Friday shoppers aren’t the only ones that are willing to go to extremes in order to get a good deal on a precious commodity. [Link]

Childhood Tragedy

Measles cases rise six-fold in Italy as populists pledge to scrap compulsory vaccines (The Local)

After populist the Five Star Movement (likely to win a plurality in upcoming March elections but not likely to form a government) and center-right Northern League (likely to help form a government) political parties took anti-vaccine stances in response to discredited research claiming (incorrectly) links between vaccines and autism, vaccination rates in Italy fell and long-dead diseases have started to make a comeback. [Link]

Parental Imprisonment and Premature Mortality in Adulthood by Steve G. A. van de Weijer, Holly S. Smallbone, and Valery Bouwman (Journal of Development and Life-Course Criminology)

Research from the Netherlands showing a link between the imprisonment of parents and mortality rates of their children. [Link]


China’s Rise Is Over by Daniel C. Lynch (Stanford University Press)

While there has been a long-held belief in Western circles that China is ascendant, Lynch argues that the more conservative outlook of Chinese policymakers is closer to reality. [Link]


Let Me Tell You Some More About Bitcoin—Hello? Hello? by Kirsten Grind (WSJ)

A catalog of the human toll bitcoin enthusiasm is taking on the relationships of some of its most ardent enthusiasts. [Link; paywall]

The Programmer at the Center of a $100 Billion Crypto Storm by Paul Vigna and Jim Oberman (WSJ)

One of the most-trafficked websites in the world uses algorithms and price feeds from global exchanges to give real-time market caps for the crypto space. It’s run out of an apartment in Brooklyn. [Link; paywall]


The Atlas Of Redistricting by Aaron Bycoffe, Ella Koeze, David Wasserman and Julia Wolfe (538)

A really interesting project that allows you to see maps of the country or a given state under current laws and with a variety of hypothetical redistricting priorities. [Link]

Think your country is crowded? These maps reveal the truth about population density across Europe by Alasdair Roe (The Conversation)

Where do people in Europe actually live? The answer isn’t as simple as a population density calculation, with huge variation of densities within countries or regions. [Link]


The Troubling Origins of the Skeletons In A New York Museum by Daniel A. Gross (NYer)

Museums around the world house human remains, and in some cases their origins or provenance is either disturbing or downright inhumane. [Link]

Happy Birthday!

World’s largest ETF roars past $300bn in assets by John Authers, Joe Rennison, and Robin Wigglesworth (FT)

This year the S&P 500 ETF SPY hit its 25th birthday, buoyed by billions of inflows for index-linked passive products more generally. [Link; paywall]

Health Care

2016 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report (Health Care Cost Institute)

Despite falling utilization of health care services (including a drop of 12.9% for inpatient services from 2012 to 2016), surging prices have driven strong spending gains (in the case of inpatient services, prices are up 24.3% giving an 8.3% total spending growth over those years). A succinct summary of how broken the health care system is for most people. [Link]

Apple, in Sign of Health Ambitions, Adds Medical Records Feature for iPhone by Natasha Singer (NYT)

More evidence that Apple has its eyes on the health care market: the company has introduced a feature that would allow users to import health records to their phones. [Link]


The Follower Factory (New York Times)

A close look at a company that sells social media followers to celebrities, businesses, and anyone else that wants to appear more popular than they really are. [Link]


The Tax Break That Doctors and Plumbers Both Will Miss by Ruth Simon (WSJ)

Trying to figure out what types of business qualify for the new pass-through provisions of the recent tax changes passed at the end of 2017 is an incredibly difficult process, making our complicated tax code that much more byzantine. [Link; paywall]

PR Nightmares

Walnut Hills grad’s post mocking Fox News viewers causes controversy for SCOTTeVEST by Scott Wartman (Cincinnati Enquirer)

In a Facebook post about his business, a vest company CEO made comments about customers he reaches via Fox News that don’t read very well, putting it mildly. [Link]

Read our weekly Bespoke Report newsletter by starting a two-week free trial to one of Bespoke’s premium research offerings.

Have a great Sunday!


Bespoke Brunch Reads — 12/31/17

Happy New Years from Bespoke!

Below is this week’s Bespoke Brunch Reads linkfest, featuring some of the most interesting articles we read over the past week:

The Big Apple

The Most Expensive Mile of Subway Track on Earth by Brian M. Rosenthal (NYT)

Massive cost inflation on capital projects related to New York City transit is driven more by rampant fraud and excess than the admittedly significant challenges inherent to construction in the dense urban environment. [Link; soft paywall]

Crime in New York City Plunges to a Level Not Seen Since the 1950s by Ashley Southall (NYT)

Murders in the country’s largest city have fallen by nearly 90% since 1990 and are at a record low for periods with reliable data. The decline has been consistent for 27 years straight. [Link; soft paywall]


Crispr Isn’t Enough Any More. Get Ready For Gene Editing 2.0 by Megan Molteni (Wired)

5000 papers in 5 years have mentioned Crispr, the gene editing protocol discovered in 2012. Here’s a rundown of the next wave of techniques that will be used for gene editing. [Link; auto-playing video]

As World Eats More Meat, U.S. Soy Is Losing the Battle to Feed Animals by Jeff Wilson and Tatiana Freitas (Bloomberg)

The US soybean crop’s protein yield fell to 34.1% this year, a tie with 2008 for the lowest since at least 1986, putting US farmers at a disadvantage when it comes to international sales of the harvest. [Link]


Freed From the iPhone, the Apple Watch Finds a Medical Purpose by Daisuke Wakabayashi (NYT)

With the ability to receive data connections thanks to wireless transmitting capability, the Apple Watch is starting to fulfill the medical promise of the device. [Link, soft paywall]

Blockchain Pumping New Life Into Old-School Companies Like IBM by Olga Kharif (Bloomberg)

If the hype around the adoption of blockchain technology for a myriad of roles is to be believed, IBM is in an excellent position to benefit. [Link; auto-playing video]

Emerging Markets

Emerging Markets: Growing in Maturity? by Richard Barley (WSJ)

The MSCI EM stock index turned 30 this week, and over those three decades lots has changed. Now, with constituent countries at 35% of the global economy, the index looks totally different from its origins. [Link; paywall]


Ten Economic Questions for 2018 by Bill McBride (Calculated Risk)

Bill’s always excellent blog always features this annual outlook piece which sits the stage for the coming year of data. [Link]

Best Schematic Ever: Financial Frictions in Macro/Finance by Menzie Chinn (Econbrowser)

An amazing run-down of literature that details the frictions in financial and real markets which can inhibit efficiency and curtails the benefits of the construct. [Link]


Goodbye, George Bailey: Decline of Rural Lending Crimps Small-Town Business by Ruth Simon and Coulter Jones (WSJ)

Almost one-third of local rural counties have no local bank, versus less than 15% in the mid-1990s. The trend is part of a larger wave of consolidation in banking across the economy but is crimping rural communities to an especially large degree. [Link; paywall]

Long Reads

Minecraft (Alice Maz)

A fascinating read on the economy of a Minecraft server, with remarkable similarities and differences to and from the real-world version. [Link]

The Secret History Of The Russian Consulate In San Francisco by Zach Dorfman (Foreign Policy)

An almost impossible to believe story of soft espionage conducted against Silicon Valley and the US more generally from the foggy hills of San Francisco. [Link; soft paywall]

Have a great Sunday and a Happy New Year! (And don’t forget to read our 2018 outlook report!)