Week InReview
Friday | Dec 11, 2020
Things just ain't the same for Santa.
Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images
It's a tough year for St. Nick. The annual tradition of sitting on Santa’s lap – kids whispering gift wishes to Santa while a photographer takes pictures – has undergone a Covid-era reinvention. Children are worried about Santa's vulnerability to Covid. Precautions include shields and snowglobes as well as virtual and outdoor visits.

— The Wall Street Journal
let's recap...
Fannie Mae's Washington, D.C. headquarters.
Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters
Analysts are combing through a transcript of Wednesday arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court and are parsing comments by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a bid for clues about the future of the government’s control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Bloomberg Business | Dec 10) see also Supreme Court skeptical of Fannie, Freddie investors’ suit (The Wall Street Journal | Dec 9)

The Securities and Exchange Commission approved a plan to beef up public data feeds that broadcast stock prices to investors, broadening access to market information that exchanges sell to professional traders at a premium. Exchange operators had voiced opposition to the plan, saying it is unnecessarily complex and would harm the functioning of the stock market. Nasdaq argued the plan is unconstitutional because it would take the exchanges’ proprietary data without proper compensation. (The Wall Street Journal | Dec 9)

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved regulations for high-frequency trading that exclude a controversial plan that would have increased government access to traders’ computer code. The CFTC regulation will formally require exchanges to take steps aimed at thwarting unintentional disruptions due to algorithmic trading. Instead of targeting code that traders consider to be intellectual property, the CFTC’s “risk principles” aim to codify many practices that are already in place. (Bloomberg Markets | Dec 8)

The pressure on money managers is ramping up as the industry’s record-low fees are set to be squeezed even further in 2021. More than half of asset managers plan to reduce charges next year, according to a survey from Brown Brothers Harriman out Tuesday. (Bloomberg Business | Dec 7)

The more-than-$550 billion market for bonds backed by U.S. commercial mortgages may face losses even after promising Covid-19 vaccines become widespread, as key parts of the real estate market may not return to full strength anytime soon. (Bloomberg Markets | Dec 7)
the cyber cafe
Illustration: Jon Krause/The Wall Street Journal
In battle against hackers, companies try to deceive the deceivers
An increasing number of companies are looking at an innovative approach to deal with hackers that break into their computer networks. They lure cybercriminals into thinking they’re getting close to the good stuff — and then they trap them.

U.S. warns of Russian attacks on VMware devices
Several virtual workspace products from VMware are vulnerable to hackers looking to penetrate networks to issue unrestricted commands, the U.S. National Security Agency said in an alert Monday that urged organizations to apply patches the company issued Friday. VMware said in its own alert that to fully exploit the weaknesses, a hacker would have to have a user’s account credentials. Affected products include identity-management and other remote-work tools. Russian officials have denied hacking activity.

Cyber risk the new threat to financial stability, IMF says
According to the International Monetary Fund, many national financial systems are not yet ready to manage attacks, while international coordination is still weak. In new IMF staff research, they suggest six major strategies that would considerably strengthen cybersecurity and improve financial stability worldwide.
binge reading disorder
Illustration: Mark Matcho/WSJ
Few people report feeling sexy in the pandemic
People have been having less sex since the pandemic began, according to a longitudinal study called Sex and Relationships in the Time of Covid-19 conducted by researchers at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. And the more stressed, disconnected or lonely a person has felt, the greater the negative impact on his or her sex life has been. But there are ways to reignite the spark.

How to make it through winter, Scandinavian style
Seasonal depression affects around 10 million Americans, and winter may be even more difficult to manage for many as the pandemic continues on, and forces us to spend more time at home. We could use some Norwegian advice — "hygge" a culture of coziness that has taken over the self-care space, is Scandinavia’s specialty. They’ve mastered and perfected the art of making winter less miserable.

The dark money secretly bankrolling activist short-sellers — and the insiders trying to expose it 
Institutional Investor interviewed more than a dozen short-sellers in an effort to penetrate this murky terrain. Numerous players and various permutations of the model that may involve the sharing of ideas and research along with either a cut of the gains on the short trade or a set fee. In fact, some short-sellers believe that almost all of the activists have such backing — even those running small hedge funds themselves.
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