Week InReview
Friday | Dec 4, 2020
Getting it right.
Illustration: Mark Matcho
When millions of office workers were sent home months ago, many of us hastily set up makeshift desks at dining tables, in garages and in childhood bedrooms — and never readjusted. Countless stiff necks, tight hamstrings and tingling wrists later, that show of creative resilience has turned into a physical nightmare. With the pandemic not slowing down and many workplaces shut down for winter, your long-term health may depend on getting your desk set up well.

— The Wall Street Journal
let's recap...
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that their Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology, commonly referred to as FinHub, will become a stand-alone office. This specialized unit will lead the agency's work to identify and analyze emerging financial technologies affecting the future of the securities industry, and engage with market participants, as technologies develop. (SEC | Dec 3)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he has had discussions about possible moves with Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's regulator, but that he's made no decision on actions to free the companies, reiterating that he opposes ending their federal conservatorships until they have “significant” capital buffers to protect against losses. (Bloomberg Politics | Dec 2)

The U.S. economic recovery remained moderate across much of the country, and showed signs of a slowdown in areas where coronavirus cases are particularly high, according to a Federal Reserve report. Most districts characterized the economic expansion as “modest or moderate,” the central bank said in its Beige Book survey released Wednesday in Washington. (Bloomberg Economics | Dec 2)

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has warned the economy remains in a damaged and uncertain state, despite progress made toward coronavirus vaccines. “Recent news on the vaccine front is very positive for the medium term,” Powell said during a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee. Powell also pointed with concern to the resurgence of the virus across the U.S. and around the world. (Bloomberg Economics | Dec 1)

The nation’s system for providing unemployment benefits to jobless workers has consistently produced inaccurate data and lower-than-appropriate payouts to millions of workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government Accountability Office said Monday, warning that the inaccuracies could hinder policy makers’ ability to effectively respond to the economic fallout. (The Wall Street Journal | Nov 30)
FSOC warns of vulnerabilities posed by fund managers
(Dec 3) — The Financial Stability Oversight Council outlined dangerous trends in leveraged lending, short-term funding markets and other corners of finance. In its final annual report released during the current administration, FSOC warned that a surge in coronavirus-driven bankruptcies could jam up the court system so badly that corporations might go into liquidation while they await hearings. Some key details:
  • The annual report said nearly $2 trillion in nonfinancial corporate debt has been downgraded since March, and leveraged loan defaults have spiked.
  • FSOC recommended that regulators keep a close watch on the market to ensure the financial system can handle any distress.
  • The council also highlighted hazards in short-term funding markets that fuel U.S. businesses and the financial system, recommending that regulators review the possibility of “large-scale redemptions” from prime and tax-exempt money market funds.
  • The report also noted the role that leveraged firms such as hedge funds have played in repo markets.
  • If warranted, the council concluded, regulators should “take appropriate measures to mitigate” vulnerabilities posed by fund managers.
  • Other areas that pose potential risks included the nonbank mortgage market, commercial real estate and attacks from computer hackers, the report said.
  • While FSOC generally praised its members’ response to coronavirus, it added that “the global outlook for economic recovery is uncertain, depending on the severity and the duration of the ongoing pandemic.”

Source: Bloomberg Government
SEC to let funds outsource valuations
(Dec 3) — Investment fund boards will be able to use third parties to determine the fair value of their assets under a rule announced by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.
  • Many funds already use third-party pricing services to value thinly traded and complex securities, the SEC said in a statement.
  • In order to be able to designate decisions, the agency said, funds must meet certain requirements and their boards’ “effective oversight” must be active.
  • The changes relate to how funds can satisfy their obligation “to determine fair value in good faith,” the SEC said.
  • The agency says boards remain responsible for the fair value determinations.

Source: Bloomberg Government
the cyber cafe
Magician Nevil Maskelyn & inventor Guglielmo Marconi.
Lessons learned from the first-ever hack
Inventor Guglielmo Marconi, a key contributor to wireless telegraphy, believed his wireless telegraph technology to be completely secure. But in 1903, magician Nevil Maskelyn hacked a wireless telegraph communication. While communication methods and technology have evolved considerably since then, this episode of the ISACA Podcast covers several lessons cybersecurity professionals can learn from Marconi and Maskelyn

Government watchdog cautions on cybersecurity for 5G networks
In a report made public Tuesday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) detailed “capabilities and challenges” involved in the buildout of 5G networks, making a number of recommendations aimed at scaling up cybersecurity, spectrum availability, and consumer data privacy, along with addressing potential consumer health concerns stemming from 5G radio waves.
The Hill

The U.S. is number one for data theft
There have been more than six billion data breach cases in the US in the past seven years. The U.S. is the worst-affected country in the world by data breaches, with four times as many cases as second-place South Korea.
binge reading disorder
Illustration: Ana Galvañ
Pandemic-proof your habits
When there are discrepancies between expectations and reality, all kinds of distress signals go off in the brain. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday ritual or more mundane habit like how you tie your shoes; if you can’t do it the way you normally do it, you’re biologically engineered to get upset.

Gates gives his thoughts on a post-covid world
Bill Gates predicts when the next pandemic will arrive and gives his thoughts on the post-covid world.

How close is too close?
Where is the dividing line between you and the world? You might think that this is a clean-cut question with a simple answeryour skin is the boundary, with the self on one side and the rest of the world on the other. But peripersonal space shows that the division is messy and malleable, and the boundary is blurrier than you might think.
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