Week InReview
Friday | Sep 10, 2021
Feel your life is 'condensed into the computer'?
When the eye's not on the prize. One possible symptom of WFH burnout is an increasing sense that you can’t concentrate on your work.
Illustration: John W. Tomac/WSJ
MANY AMERICANS are finding that the dehumanizing aspects of working remotely are taking a toll on their ability to stay focused and productive, no matter how many Post-It notes they stick on their walls.

At first, the work-from-home life had the elemental thrills of a snow day, with its languid commutes from bed to sofa. But with Covid-19 variants snuffing out the light at the end of the tunnel and companies postponing returns to the workplace, WFH is becoming WTF for many.

As we edge toward remote-work burnout, it’s getting harder to stay focused and productive. Even our diversions are digital – “breaks” to play phone games bloat into 30-minute lapses – exacerbating our lack of human connection and our minds’ tendencies to wander.

— The Wall Street Journal
let's recap...
A group of executives and academics that advises the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission wants better SPAC disclosures — the latest sign that tougher rules are coming for booming blank-check companies. The recommendations from the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee will likely help agency staff as they craft new regulations for special purpose acquisition companies, which have drawn bipartisan criticism from lawmakers after attracting a record $80 billion last year. The agency, which is run by Gary Gensler, said in June that it planned to propose rule changes. (Bloomberg Markets | Sep 9)

Warnings are getting louder that the relentless runup in American equity prices is set to falter. Every day seems to bring a new record as equities race to the heavens while the economic picture on the ground looks significantly less cheery. Since late last year when the Dow recovered its pandemic crash losses, records have been broken like clockwork. But every once in awhile, the sound of growling bears echoes through the woods, a sign that some on Wall Street are betting the party is about to end. This is one of those times. (Bloomberg Markets | Sep 8)

The U.S. economy "downshifted slightly" in August as the renewed surge of the coronavirus hit dining, travel and tourism, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday, but the economy overall remained in the throes of a post-pandemic rush of rising prices, labor shortages and stilted hiring. (Reuters | Sep 8) see also Biden has room to reshape the Fed in America's changing image (Bloomberg Law | Sep 9)

Last week, Gary Gensler, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said cryptocurrency trading platforms could not last long outside the U.S. regulatory framework. This week, it became clear that the SEC meant business. (Financial Times | Sep 8) see alsoGamification’ study raises online brokers' reporting risks (Bloomberg Markets | Sep 7)

A U.S. Labor Department interim final rule requiring employers to issue retirement plan participants lifetime income illustrations is adding to concerns in the industry over the contents of the rule itself and the department’s repeatedly changing standards of disclosure. Under the interim regulation that takes effect Sept. 18, plan sponsors must illustrate how participant savings will translate into monthly income later in life, no matter their age or if that money would grow over a career’s worth of saving. (Bloomberg Law | Sep 7)
FHFA requires Fannie, Freddie to submit equitable housing plans
(Sep 7) — The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will each submit by the end of the year a plan aimed at making housing more equitable and sustainable. 
  • Plans will identify and address ways to advance housing equity over the next three years, the FHFA said Tuesday in a statement 
  • “For generations, discriminatory practices like redlining have prevented communities of color from building wealth through homeownership,” said FHFA Acting Director Sandra Thompson. By identifying barriers and goals for addressing them, Fannie and Freddie “can responsibly reduce the racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership and wealth that still exist today," Thompson said in the statement
  • Fannie, Freddie will be required to submit annual progress reports, the FHFA said
FSOC meeting readout
(Sep 9) — On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen presided over a meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council by videoconference.

At the meeting, Yellen briefed the Council on the potential financial stability implications of a failure to increase the debt limit in a timely manner.

The Council then received:
  • an update from Treasury Department staff regarding ongoing interagency efforts to develop the Council report to be issued under the Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk
  • a presentation from staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on commercial real estate, including market trends, current market conditions, the exposures of various financial sectors to commercial real estate, and potential risks, and
  • an initial update on the development of the Council’s 2021 annual report.

In addition, the Council voted to approve its fiscal year 2022 budget and the minutes of its previous meeting on July 16, 2021
the cyber cafe
Users of cybercrime services need almost no technical skill. For that, they rely on the providers.
Photo: Getty Images/Eyeem
The secret vulnerability of cybercriminals: Burnout
For most people involved in cybercrime, it's just a job. Often a boring, low-paid, dead-end job full of frustration that ultimately leads to burnout. Cybercrime has grown into a huge industry increasingly based on division of labor and specialization. The predominant business model is what has become known as cybercrime-as-a-service.

Notorious Russian ransomware group ‘REvil’ returns
The infamous criminal ransomware group has returned to the dark web after vanishing this summer. “REvil,” short for “Ransomware-Evil,” operates from Russia, according to cybersecurity firms and the U.S. government, and is accused of leading a flurry of attacks this year against companies and organizations. REvil runs a website called the “Happy Blog,” where it publicly shames victims by publishing samples of data stolen before locking them out of their own networks. A portal REvil uses to negotiate with victims also came back online yesterday, although the cybergang hasn’t posted any new victims.

After the 9/11 attacks, Wall Street bolstered its defenses
During the past 20 years, advances in technology and broad efforts to bolster U.S. market infrastructure have made such outages rare. Yet some investors and officials worry that financial markets could still be crippled by an attack — one using sophisticated hacking tools rather than physical force.
binge reading disorder
Photo illustration: Sarah Natsumi Moore/WSJ
Lunch fast, stay quiet, wear a mask that fits
For workers heading back to offices this fall, avoiding the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 is likely at the top of their list of priorities. Delta spreads fast among those who are unvaccinated and unmasked, and it is also more transmissible among fully vaccinated people, according to the latest research.

Why you might not be returning to the office until next year
After the Delta variant disrupted plans to reopen after Labor Day, many businesses pushed their targets further out or left them open-ended.

All the biggest environmental risks facing the world's biggest cities
From landslides and extreme heat to insect infestations and airborne diseases, these are the most worrying hazards in urban areas with more than 1 million people.
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