Week InReview
Friday | Oct 29, 2021
Biden’s G20 challenge.
A worker looks at the G20 media center at the Palazzo dei Congressi, in the city's EUR district, that will host the G20 summit with heads of state from major nations for a two-day meeting from October 30-31, in Rome, Italy. Photo: Remo Casilli/Reuters
(Oct 27) — U.S. President Joe Biden entered office declaring that “America’s back” and vowing a new era of engagement with the world. He arrives in Rome this week for a meeting of the world’s largest economies facing deep skepticism that he can make good on that promise.

Initial optimism that Biden would undo the former president's go-it-alone approach has faded after a calamitous Afghanistan withdrawal and other early moves that alienated allies. And Biden’s struggle to deliver on his legislative agenda has fueled doubt that the U.S. can lead the world in fighting climate change, the post-pandemic economic recovery or other priorities.

Closing the perception gap between his foreign-policy promises and the reality of his presidency so far is crucial for Biden. That’s particularly true with the Group of 20, which helped the world recover from global economic disaster in the late 1990s and 2000s but whose impact has waned as fractures grow between the U.S., Russia, China and other members.

Source: Bloomberg Government
let's recap...
U.S. President Joe Biden delivered a framework for the latest version of his $1.75 trillion economic agenda to congressional Democrats after delaying a trip to Europe. While drawing widespread praise from within the party, many details are yet to be filled in. A proposal to tax the assets of billionaires was said to have been dropped, along with a plan to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of family leave. (Bloomberg Politics | Oct 28)

The global $1 trillion market for collateralized loan obligations is lagging behind in the transition away from the London interbank offered rate. While some companies, lenders and markets have moved swiftly to adopt a replacement for the scandal-marred interest-rate benchmark, low-rated borrowers have been slower to adapt. That is causing headaches for managers of collateralized loan obligations — pools of low-rated corporate loans bundled together into securities. (The Wall Street Journal | Oct 27)

The nominee to lead the U.S.’s top swaps regulator has a warning for lawmakers: Crypto misconduct the agency has already exposed is “the tip of the iceberg” and it likely needs more authority to police the white-hot market. The explosive growth of digital tokens may mean Congress might have to step in to ensure the watchdog has the tools it needs to crack down. The CFTC has closely scrutinized the industry since green-lighting Bitcoin futures in 2017. But its powers are mostly limited to overseeing derivatives. (Bloomberg Cryptocurrencies | Oct 27)

A generation of new arrivals to the U.S. junk bond market have propelled it to a record size, with debut issuers borrowing cash cheaply from investors eager for yield. A record 149 companies have joined the high-yield bond market this year, where lower-rated, riskier companies borrow money from large asset managers, pension funds and other investors. The companies have extended a trend set in motion by central bankers’ historic response to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when they lowered interest rates and began injecting liquidity into financial markets to ward off a more severe downturn. (Financial Times | Oct 26)

Banks are playing a greater role in propelling the corporate bond market, which has otherwise slowed from last year’s pandemic-induced debt bonanza. Financial institutions are the issuers behind more than a third of U.S. investment-grade debt so far this year, the highest share for any year going back to the dawn of the modern megabank. The record debt sales might seem unnecessary because banks are already up to their eyeballs in cash. The biggest consumer and commercial banks have collected trillions of dollars of deposits since the pandemic started. (The Wall Street Journal | Oct 26)
the cyber cafe
Photo: Jenny Kane/The Associated Press
Suspected Russian hackers use home networks to evade detection
When an elite team of Russian government hackers attempted to break into hundreds of intelligence targets this year, they used a clever tool to cover their tracks: the mobile and home computer networks of unsuspecting Americans. The hackers, who are believed to be working for Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, leveraged what is known as “residential IP proxies” in order to gain access and evade detection, the experts said. 

Ransomware: It's a 'golden era' for cyber criminals — and it could get worse before it gets better
ENISNA, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity, has released the latest edition of the ENISA Threat Landscape (ETL) report, which analyses cyber criminal activity between April 2020 and July 2021. It warns of a surge in cyber criminality, much of it driven by the monetization of ransomware attacks
 — ZDNet

State Department to create cyberspace, digital policy bureau
The State Department plans to create a new bureau of cyberspace and digital policy to confront international cybersecurity challenges such as ransomware and waning global digital freedom to be led by a Senate-confirmed ambassador-at-large and a new, separate special envoy for critical and emerging technology.
binge reading disorder
Kellogg’s sued for not having enough strawberries in its Pop-Tarts
A class-action lawsuit, filed by Anita Harris in the Southern District of Illinois, argues that the Kellogg Sales Company is misleading consumers by promoting the breakfast pastry’s strawberry filling in its labels and marketing, giving an impression that the fruit filling contains "a greater relative and absolute amount of strawberries than it does.” In reality, the company’s “Frosted Strawberry Toaster Pastries” contain 2% or less of “dried strawberries, dried pears, dried apples” and “red 40,” according to its nutrition label. 
— USA Today

What to do when China and Russia jam GPS? Use the earth's magnetic field.
GPS is in trouble. Once a navigational miracle, GPS is now vulnerable to jamming and spoofing. Even civilians can purchase GPS jammers of questionable legality. That’s why the U.S. Navy is looking for a GPS substitute: using the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation.
 — Forbes

3 nearly effortless ways to improve your memory and recall, backed by neuroscience
You have an idea. A great idea. A brilliant idea. A potentially business- or life-changing idea. But then, by the time you get the chance to write it down, you’ve forgotten it. So what can you do if you need to remember something important?
 — Fast Company
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