Week InReview
Friday | Dec 10, 2021
Travel in the time of Covid.
Travel experts say the rapid reaction of various governments to the Omicron variant increases the risk of getting stuck in another country. A family waits to travel to the U.S. from Toronto. Photo: Nathan Denette/Associated Press
THERE'S A NEW variant affecting travel: Rapid government restrictions resulting from news of any new emerging health scare. It’s a change travelers are going to have to get used to.

Uncertainty always depresses international travel, and many travelers are likely to postpone trips, choose domestic destinations or just find other activities or ways to conduct business. The emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 prompted quick changes to requirements for entry into countries and even border closures in some cases.

Some travel experts say this represents a watershed moment for travel. Going forward, travel is seen as a spreader of disease, one that must be curtailed at the first sign of trouble.

That creates the possibility of serious disruption for travelers, perhaps akin to hurricanes or even terrorism attacks that lock down flights, strand travelers and prompt people to stay home.

That’s a risk we will all have to take into account when we travel in the future.

— The Wall Street Journal
let's recap...
For those who opt in, a new system at Accenture accessible via an internal app in development can help employees find their colleagues who may be seated on other floors. Photo: Hechler Photographers/WSJ
The office is back open. The new challenge is convincing more people to use it. Companies that reopened spaces on a voluntary basis in recent months say they have often found the in-person experiences to be underwhelming. Some bosses observed that staffers spent much of their days hunched over laptops wearing headphones on video calls. Other workers arrived only to discover most of their colleagues were still at home, or on alternating hybrid schedules. The spontaneous collaboration offices once provided often didn’t occur, executives say, and some workers who tried returning to offices quickly gave up and settled back into a routine of working at home. (The Wall Street Journal | Dec 9)

Labor union leaders representing 8.5 million U.S. workers are calling for stricter rules for the fast-growing private-equity industry. In a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler, unions acting on behalf of teachers and state employees said they want more transparency from private equity, as well as tougher consequences when firms break the rules. Pension funds for public sector workers are among the industry’s largest investors and union members often sit on fund boards where they have a vote on how assets are invested. (Bloomberg Law | Dec 8)

The Treasury Department proposed new corporate-reporting rules meant to help unmask criminals, terrorists and others who use opaque ownership structures to hide money laundering and other illicit activities. Under the proposed rules, companies will be required to provide personal identification information on the primary owners and the people who register the companies, Treasury officials said. (The Wall Street Journal | Dec 7)

The corporate bond market has long been dominated by the sort of old-fashioned trading and large egos that were once made famous by the writers Tom Wolfe and Michael Lewis. But DCI is one of a new breed of money managers hoping to shake up the market by using processing power, models, algorithms and big data to systematically wring money out of pricing anomalies. (Financial Times | Dec 7)

Bank-like rules are needed to stop investment funds from destabilizing finance in market crises, the Bank for International Settlements said on Monday, adding fuel to an already heated debate over the fast growing sector. The BIS, a Swiss-based forum for central banks, said in its quarterly review that policymakers risk falling behind the curve in regulating "non-banks", which comprise hedge funds, mutual funds, money market funds, pension funds, and insurance companies, collectively accounting for half of global financial activity. (Reuters | Dec 6)
U.S. to crack down on cryptocurrency crimes to combat corruption
Department of Justice. Photo: Bloomberg
(Dec 7) — The administration is focused on policing cryptocurrency crimes to combat corruption globally and is taking advantage of a newly formed Department of Justice task force, according to an anti-graft report released Monday. 

The focus will be on crimes committed by virtual currency exchanges, mixing and tumbling services – platforms that obscure owners and recipients in Bitcoin transactions – and bad actors who facilitate money laundering, according to the report from U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption, which includes the State Department, Treasury and Justice Department. 

The Department of Justice task force, the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, was announced in October and reports to Kenneth A. Polite Jr., assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division. 

Law enforcement and financial regulators have repeatedly raised concerns that the burgeoning asset class is a means for bad actors to launder criminal proceeds. Regulators have expressed concerns about the lack of investor protections and possible risks to financial stability as the market has ballooned to more than $2 trillion.

Source: Matt Robinson/Bloomberg Government
the cyber cafe
Photo: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
Russia must act against ransomware, U.S. official says
The Russian government has a “responsibility to act” against ransomware hackers inside its borders, including bringing to justice a Russian hacker accused of launching high-profile cyberattacks against major companies, a senior U.S. official said. “If the Russian government will not take action, we’re not going to sit around and be waiting,” Robert Silvers, the under secretary for strategy, policy and plans at the Department of Homeland Security, said. “We’re going to take action.”

Microsoft seizes domains used by a Chinese hacking group
Microsoft said it has seized control of servers that a China-based hacking group was using to compromise targets that align with that country’s geopolitical interests. The move delivers a blow to the hackers behind sophisticated attacks on government agencies, think tanks, and other organizations.
— Wired

Criminal hackers are now going after phone lines, too
Criminal groups have been sending threatening messages in the past couple of months to companies that manage broadband phone services all over the world, promising they'll flood the digital phone lines with traffic and take them offline unless the targets pay a ransom.
— NPR
binge reading disorder
Outage sparks anger as fridges stop, people locked out
The outage at Amazon’s cloud-computing arm left thousands of people in the U.S. without working fridges, roombas and doorbells, highlighting just how reliant people have become on the company as the Internet of Things proliferates across homes. The disruption, which began at about 10 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday, upended package deliveries, took down major streaming services, and prevented people from getting into Walt Disney’s parks. 

Wall Street wants to sell a special index, just for you
It’s the existential challenge faced by asset managers all over Wall Street: Surrender to the fee-killing exchange-traded fund boom — or keep bleeding assets and risk extinction. Now they’ve hit on a way to fight back.

Remote working jobs: 5 problems we need to solve in 2022
It's coming up to two years since a global pandemic tore up the traditional model of work, and many of us are still getting used to it. One thing that's clear as we head towards 2022 is that nobody has all this figured out yet. Remote working, flexible working and hybrid working are all here to stay. We've demonstrated that they can work — the task now is to make sure they do.
 — ZDNet
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