Week InReview
Friday | May 7, 2021
Back to work, darkly.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Companies are slowly calling staff back to the office. They bring with them the emotional scars of a year filled with fear, isolation and sorrow.

From casual Fridays to after-work drinks, those weekly rituals once taken for granted are returning as Americans head back to the office. And while masks, plexiglass and empty conference rooms will alter the cubescape, employers are nevertheless invested in getting things back to normal — or at least as normal as possible.

But that won’t be easy. Covid-19’s damage may be felt in the workplace long after the disease has receded. That’s thanks to the mental and emotional toll the pandemic has taken on employees. 

— Bloomberg Workplace
let's recap...
Photo: E+/Getty Images
A rising appetite for risk across a variety of asset markets is stretching valuations and creating peril in the U.S. financial system, the Federal Reserve warned. “Vulnerabilities associated with elevated risk appetite are rising,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard, head of the Board’s financial stability committee, said in a statement accompanying the report release Thursday. “The combination of stretched valuations with very high levels of corporate indebtedness bear watching because of the potential to amplify the effects of a re-pricing event,” she said. (Bloomberg Markets | May 6)

The Treasury Department said it will employ measures to avoid an unprecedented default on the national debt this summer, but officials say those measures could be exhausted “much more quickly” than normal given the unusual circumstances of the global pandemic. Treasury officials on Wednesday urged Congress to pass either a new borrowing limit or another suspension of the debt before a July 31 deadline. (Associated Press | May 5)

Forget a Bitcoin ETF. For many Wall Street stock traders the most eagerly awaited exchange-traded funds are just as speculative — and even more controversial. A fresh twist in a legal battle is bringing short-volatility strategies riding calm markets back into the limelight at a time when at least three issuers are trying to launch new funds. (Bloomberg Markets | May 4)

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday afternoon she wasn’t forecasting interest-rate increases to rein in any inflation spurred by the administration's proposed spending, clarifying comments that ruffled financial markets a few hours earlier. “It’s not something I’m predicting or recommending,” Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, said during an online event hosted by the Wall Street Journal. “If anyone appreciates the independence of the Federal Reserve, I think that person is me.” (Bloomberg Economics | May 4)

The Federal Housing Finance Agency published a final rule that requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored enterprises) to develop credible resolution plans, also known as “living wills." These resolution plans would facilitate an orderly resolution of the GSEs should the FHFA be appointed their receiver per the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). (MReport | May 4)
Gensler in the House
SEC chair Gary Gensler testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing.
Screenshot: House Financial Services Committee/YouTube
(May 6) — Below are five key takeaways from Thursday's House Financial Services Committee hearing "Day Trading, Shorts & Social Media”.
  • The main focus of questioning by the U.S. House Financial Services Committee was SEC Chair Gary Gensler, who more than once had to remind lawmakers that he’s only been in the job three weeks.
  • Throughout the hearing, Gensler said he has asked his staff to look into a variety of issues that lawmakers raised, from payment for order flow to short selling disclosures.
  • On the topic of Robinhood, Gensler said “gamification” has permeated many other technologies, such as video streaming services (he’s a rom-com guy). Gensler said he wants to make sure these prompts aren’t pushing investors into bad investment decisions.
  • Gensler expressed concerns over the crypto market, specifically oversight of Bitcoin trading platforms, saying that there are only limited protections for investors.
  • Another theme that frequently came up was how dominant Citadel Securities is as a market maker for retail trades. Gensler said the more concentrated a market, the more fragile, and he’s looking for ways to improve competition.
the cyber cafe
Photo Martin Bureau/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Ransomware poses a threat to national security
Government officials and cybersecurity experts are viewing ransomware as a serious threat to national security. They propose the federal government go after ransomware gangs with the same tools used to prosecute drug cartels and other criminal organizations.

Three new malware families found in global finance phishing campaign
On Tuesday, FireEye's Mandiant cybersecurity team said three malware strains, dubbed Doubledrag, Doubledrop, and Doubleback, were detected in December 2020. The threat actors behind the malware, described as "experienced and well-resourced," are being tracked as UNC2529. Organizations in the U.S., EMEA region, Asia, and Australia have, so far, been targeted in two separate waves. 
— ZDNet

Moving to the cloud? Know who’s got your backup.
As more businesses begin to realize the cost savings and efficiency that can come with migrating data and operations from on-premises servers to the cloud, standard contractual terms used by major cloud services providers are proving to contain shortcomings. What’s the remedy for that? Often it’s not contractual: Instead, plan to keep an array of backup options handy. Companies that rely entirely on a single cloud infrastructure vendor as the foundation of their business continuity and disaster recovery strategy may be surprised to learn that, when it comes to averting an actual crisis, their contract does not promise all that much.
binge reading disorder
Photo: FOX
The 100 best sitcoms of all time
From family stories to band-of-misfits hangouts, classic rom-coms to workplace mockumentaries, cringe comedies to antihero showcases, and some shows that defy definition, these are the hundred series that have made us laugh, think, occasionally cry, and laugh all over again.

'The Fed': Coming soon to Amazon’s IMDb TV
A new Warner Bros. Television production, 'The Fed,’ follows the personal lives and careers of young finance hopefuls beginning an elite fellowship with the Federal Reserve. These young financial geniuses are destined for greatness — provided they don’t screw it all up with secrets, lies, sex, and politics.
— Variety

Exercise and antibodies 
A new study has found that, after a vaccine, you are 50% more likely to have higher antibodies if you are active than somebody who is inactive.
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