10 Sunday Reads

Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption and policy failures:

Google reneged on the monopolistic bargain: A funny thing happened on the way to the enshittocene: Google – which astonished the world when it reinvented search, blowing Altavista and Yahoo out of the water with a search tool that seemed magic – suddenly turned into a pile of shit. Google’s search results are terrible. The top of the page is dominated by spam, scams, and ads. A surprising number of those ads are scams. Sometimes, these are high-stakes scams played out by well-resourced adversaries who stand to make a fortune by tricking Google: (Pluralistic)

The Return Grift Is Over. As it turns out, there are a lot of online shoppers who return things almost as frequently as they place orders. And online retailers, many that built free returns into their business strategy, finally seem to be reaching their limit. Which makes sense: In 2023 alone, people returned $743 billion worth of merchandise. (The Cut)

The Hot New Luxury Good for the Rich: Air The wealthy have different houses, different cars, different lifestyles from the rest of us. These days, they also want to breathe different air. (TNR)

The cruelty of crypto: Selling itself as the new American dream, crypto exposes the vulnerable to fraud and scams, and loads risk onto the poor. (Aeon)

Private Equity Payouts at Major Firms Plummet 49% in Two Years Distributions to fund investors falling amid deal drought Fund investors zeroing in on a new metric for PE investments. (Bloomberg)

‘AI Girlfriends’ Are a Privacy Nightmare: Romantic chatbots collect huge amounts of data, provide vague information about how they use it, use weak password protections, and aren’t transparent, new research from Mozilla says. (Wired)

No focus, no fights, and a bad back – 16 ways technology has ruined my life: While some technological advances are nothing short of miraculous, there are plenty of downsides, too … (The Guardian)

A loophole got him a free New York hotel stay for five years. Then he claimed to own the building: For five years, a New York City man managed to live rent-free in a landmark Manhattan hotel by exploiting an obscure local housing law. But prosecutors this week said Mickey Barreto went too far when he filed paperwork claiming ownership of the entire New Yorker Hotel building — and tried to charge another tenant rent. (AP)

Trump’s G.O.P. Is a Confederacy of Fakers: They are all trapped in a performative doom loop that has nothing to do with acting on our real interests. It’s only about performing for Trump and for his base to get more clicks, to get more donations, to get more votes, to get elected and then perform again for more clicks. Rinse and repeat — the actual world be damned. It is all fake. Only our enemies are not fake. (New York Times) see also 10 Republicans who treated the Biden bribery claim like gospel: While some of them might be faulted for repeatedly airing an unsubstantiated claim, others went quite a bit further. Below are 10 examples, in reverse order of brazenness.  (Washington Post)

Trump’s hubris has brought about the downfall of his family’s business empire: Even the giant fortune Trump inherited from his father did not stop him from steering the family’s dynasty on to the rocks (The Guardian)

Be sure to check out our Masters in Business this week with Andrew Slimmon, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, where he leads the Applied Equity Advisors team. His Slimmon’s TAKE is a popular and widely read commentary among Morgan Stanley advisors and on The Street as well. He also serves as Senior Portfolio Manager for all long equity strategies and is a member of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s Global Investment Committee.


Share of private consumption spent on services is still 2%-points below its pre-pandemic level

Source: Torsten Slok, Apollo


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