Week InReview
Friday | Feb 5, 2021
If it looks like a bubble... ?
Much of the market looks like it’s in a bubble and valuations look stretched, but the worrying behavior has mostly been contained to a handful of individual stocks, not larger indexes. In addition, interest rates remain low, further stimulus is expected and in many cases earnings have held up or been robust, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, investors are trying to identify what could cause bubbles among individual stocks to pop and whether any of the bursts will spread to the wider market. This week, investors will get fresh data on the manufacturing sector, earnings from Amazon and Google parent Alphabet, and the January employment report. Silver prices rallied to start the trading week, fueled by a wave of fresh enthusiasm from online traders.
let's recap...
The Las Vegas Strip devoid of crowds in March; the Biden administration sees the coronavirus as the biggest economic risk of all. 
Photo: John Locher/Associated Press
Driving down unemployment has become the overriding economic goal of top U.S. policy makers, an imperative that will shape many of the big decisions being made in Washington in the months ahead. Before the pandemic, low joblessness boosted prosperity without overheating the economy. Getting back there is the top economic aim of the Fed and White House. | (The Wall Street Journal | Feb 4)

Yellen meets financial regulators over market tumult
Thursday's meeting of regulators overseen by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to discuss the recent market volatility driven by retail investors is seen as a test on how the new administration will deal with consumer and investor protection issues. While the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is already probing social media and online message boards for signs of collusion and lawmakers in Washington have moved to hold hearings on the issue, there is little to suggest that today's meeting will lead to any concrete action. Shares in GameStop Corp., which have been the poster child for the recent volatility, are slightly higher in premarket trading this morning. (Feb 4)

U.S. financial regulators determined that the infrastructure of stock and commodity markets remained “resilient” during the volatility in trading seen in recent weeks. “The regulators believe the core infrastructure was resilient during high volatility and heavy trading volume,” according to a statement issued by the Treasury Department following a meeting Thursday convened by Secretary Janet Yellen. Officials also agreed that the Securities and Exchange Commission should issue a “timely study of the events.” (Bloomberg Markets | Feb 4)

Jerome Powell doesn’t want to talk about scaling back massive Federal Reserve asset purchases – at least not yet – but it’s only a question of time before the discussion resumes and that might not be a bad thing. The Fed chair told reporters on Jan. 27 that “the whole focus on exit is premature” — a clear call to his colleagues to focus on the economic damage in front of them rather than the forecast for a recovery. (Bloomberg Markets | Feb 2)

The U.S. economy is expected to expand more rapidly in 2021 than officials projected in July, but it will take several years for output to reach its full potential and for the number of employed workers to return to its pre-pandemic peak, according to new economic projections released Monday. (The Wall Street Journal | Feb 1) see also Vaccination delays put global rebound at risk (The Wall Street Journal | Jan 31)
the cyber cafe
Trickbot is back again — with fresh phishing and malware attacks
Trickbot malware is back with a new campaign — just a few months after its operations were disrupted by a coalition of cybersecurity and technology companies. Initially starting life as a banking trojan, Trickbot evolved to become a highly popular form of malware among cyber criminals, particularly because its modular nature allowed for it to be used in many different kinds of attacks.
— ZDNet

Hackers lurked in SolarWinds email system for at least 9 months, CEO says
The hackers had accessed at least one of the company’s Office 365 accounts by December 2019, and then leapfrogged to other Office 365 accounts used by the company, Sudhakar Ramakrishna said in an interview Tuesday.

House Armed Services adds new cyber subcommittee
The House Armed Services Committee announced the creation of a seventh new subcommittee focused on cybersecurity called Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems. The subcommittee jurisdictions include cybersecurity operations, IT systems, science and technology programs, artificial intelligence policy, electromagnetic spectrum policy, electronic warfare policy and computer software acquisition policy.
— The Hill
binge reading disorder
Illustration: Dina Litovsky’s ‘Dark City 2020’ series
Alone together: friendship in a pandemic
Our relationships have been tested by Covid-19. But they have taken on new forms and sustained us in new ways. Friendships are a certainty that is easy to undo. What proof do we have that anyone is really our friend? Do texts count? A sufficient call log? Birthday cards?

Brace yourself: Long-haul travel may not get going until 2023
As coronavirus vaccines started rolling out late last year, there was a palpable sense of excitement. People began browsing travel websites and airlines grew optimistic about flying again. One airline even launched a “Jab & Go” campaign alongside images of 20-somethings on holiday, drinks in hand. It’s not working out that way.

Where can I take my kids over spring break?
The WSJ found five trips that take some of the stress out of the equation: domestic destinations, all but one driveable, with a focus on the outdoors and activities for everyone in the family. Be sure to read the fine print before booking, in case the world changes (again). If you’re not ready to make the leap, that’s OK — there’s always next year.
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