Week InReview
Friday | May 7, 2019
Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

"Cryptocurrency pioneer Justin Sun bid a record $4.57 million to have lunch with Warren Buffett, who famously referred to Bitcoin as ' probably rat poison squared .'

"Sun launched Tronix, also known as Tron or TRX token, in 2017. It’s valued at $2.56 billion and is the 10th largest cryptocurrency in the world, according to data provider CoinMarketCap.com. The 28-year-old Chinese entrepreneur said he hopes to educate the Oracle of Omaha on cryptocurrency and the underlying technology, called blockchain.

“'It is very common in investment circles that people will change their minds,' Sun said in a telephone interview. 'Investment opportunities are best when lots of people are underestimating the technology.'"

in case you missed it...
The SEC approved a new rule under which brokers will have more responsibility to act in the best interest of investors. The Regulation Best Interest rule, passed by a 3-1 vote Tuesday, requires stockbrokers to tell investors about conflicts of interest that can skew advice. The Securities and Exchange Commission said it raises the bar from the current standard. A stricter rule from the Obama administration sparked an industry backlash and was struck down in court. But Congressional Democrats criticized the rule, which becomes enforceable in one year. The measure is unlikely to quell complaints from consumer groups that regulations don't protect households from biased advice. (The Wall Street Journal | Jun 5)

Economies aren’t like cars. They don’t just wear down and peter out after running for several years. Something needs to happen to knock them off course. Experts see the US continuing to grow, but looming risks include trade wars, interest-rate mistakes and the ballooning budget deficit. (The Wall Street Journal | Jun 3)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s watchdog has a vision for ending US control of the mortgage giants that hinges on the companies holding more capital. But that dream could run into a cold political reality of making home loans more expensive. (Bloomberg Politics | Jun 3)

The Federal Reserve seeks to alter margin rules for over-the-counter swaps to clarify that they don't apply to contracts being changed to replace Libor with another interest-rate benchmark, Randal Quarles, the Fed's vice chair for supervision, said at the New York Fed's Alternative Reference Rates Committee Roundtable on Monday. The central bank is collaborating with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and other regulators to draft changes, Quarles said. (MLex | Jun 3)

Fourteen financial firms, including UBS, State Street and BNY Mellon, aim to harness blockchain technology to create a digital token, the utility settlement coin, for settling cross-border trades. The consortium has invested £50 million in the venture, Fnality International, which the firms say will cut costs and settlement times once approved by regulators. (The Wall Street Journal | Jun 3)
NY Fed's Williams: Doesn't bother him if market, Fed view differ
(Jun 6) — Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, said policy makers have their own views and it doesn’t bother him if they’re different from those in markets.

  • Williams made the comment when asked about financial-market expectations that the central bank will cut interest rates in coming months.

  • Asked about New York Fed’s indicator showing inverted yield curve foreshadowing a recession, Williams said it strongly signals that markets expect lower interest rates, and he takes the signal seriously, but he doesn’t see the yield curve as the single “oracle” that a downturn is coming.

  • Said he understands market views given developments on trade, other issues.

  • Still sees U.S. economic growth as above trend but notes different indicators are giving mixed signals as consumer spending good, business investment weakening; said he won’t put a lot of conviction on the above-trend forecast.

  • Said “we’re at neutral” on interest rates today.

the cyber cafe
With a worm looming, the Bluekeep bug isn't getting patched fast enough
Two weeks have passed since  Microsoft warned users about a critical vulnerability  in a common Windows protocol that could enable a hacker to remotely take over machines without even a click from their owners. That bug might be fading from the headlines, but it still lingers in at least 900,000 computers. And that vulnerable herd is getting Microsoft's patch at a glacial pace — as a wave of contagion that will likely soon hit all of them looms.
—  Wired   

NSA warns of Windows vulnerabilities
The National Security Agency is warning users of older versions of Microsoft Windows that they are at risk of malware due to a flaw known as BlueKeep, which exists in Windows 7 and previous versions.
—  BBC  

Goldman, CIA veteran to advise SEC's Clayton on cybersecurity
A Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive who spent 30 years at the CIA has a new job assisting SEC Chair Jay Clayton with cyber issues. Kevin Zerrusen will be Clayton’s senior adviser for cybersecurity policy after working as a Goldman managing director for five years, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday.
binge reading disorder
The natural genius of ants is helping us build better algorithms
A single ant isn't very smart. But huge colonies of ants are capable of complex feats of organization and it's all thanks to their clever biological algorithms.
—  Wired

A set of guidelines for personal happiness
' The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning ' is a distillation of a set of precepts for how to live life well. Money matters, but only up to a point. Work may be hard but the more you apply yourself, the better you will be at your job. We tend to like what we are good at.

Venture bearding
“Another strategy, one we term ‘ manclusion ,’ involves including men in meetings simply to induce better behavior from the men on the other side of the table.”