Week InReview
Friday | Aug 7, 2020
Not all face masks are created equal.
Face masks are a simple way to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 through talking, coughing or sneezing. But they need to be worn properly. While some types of masks are more effective than others, any face covering — even a bandana — is better than nothing. Here’s how different types of masks stack up, and how they are meant to be used.

— The Wall Street Journal
let's recap...
File photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
The Federal Reserve has abandoned reluctance to be the world's source of emergency capital, making a series of cash injections domestically and overseas. As a result, the central bank has greatly expanded its influence, prompting former Fed economist Nathan Sheets to say, "The Fed has vigorously embraced its role as a global lender of last resort in this episode." (The Wall Street Journal | Aug 3) 

A decline in U.S. Treasury yields over recent weeks has investors eyeing the approach of an unusual phenomenon - the entire U.S. yield curve sinking below 1%. Policymakers are looking to position the country to recover once the Covid-19 pandemic eases and allows the Fed to raise interest rates again. But those steps look a long way off as the virus continues to spread and talks on a new aid bill in Washington drag out. (Reuters | Aug 3)

A Commodity Futures Trading Commission plan to revise U.S. rules for block trades in swaps – which includes modifications to the thresholds for eligibility for an exemption from real-time reporting and harmonization of the delay in reporting requirements – has drawn a cool response from the industry, with participants at an advisory committee providing feedback that undermines some of the justification for the proposal. (Risk | Aug 3)
Wanted: Quants for surveillance teams as traders spew more data
Photographer: Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images
(Aug 3) — Trading quants may soon meet their match: surveillance quants.

Fixed income, currencies, and commodities markets are producing ever more data, from transaction logs to possibly distorted information on social media. Even automated market surveillance tools are struggling to keep up, according to the FICC Markets Standards Board, a panel set up at the urging of the U.K. government that provides advice and standards to the industry.

“In building sophistication and innovation into the trading and investment side of the business, it’s just as vital that they continue to invest in monitoring and surveillance," Martin Pluves, chief executive officer of the FMSB, said in an interview.

Machine-learning technology can sift huge quantities of disparate data to find suspicious moves and alert compliance staff, the board said in a paper scheduled to be released on Monday. The rapid shift to home working during the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need to monitor dispersed teams and information, it said.

“Ten years down the line this type of technology will be pervasive,” Pluves said.

Source: Silla Brush, Bloomberg
Wall Street sees Treasury cash hoard overshooting target again
Photo: RiverNorthPhotography/Getty Images
(Aug 4) — The Treasury’s estimates of how much it needs to borrow in the second half of the year to support the economy through the pandemic came in higher than much of Wall Street expected, and Treasury’s cash balance may well overshoot its target again.
  • The projected funding need of $2.163 trillion is almost $350bn above Goldman’s forecast. Strategist Praveen Korapaty notes that stimulus expenditures have been lagging well behind the Treasury’s estimates; under its current issuance plan – $947b this quarter – he sees the cash pile ending September “only modestly below” the current $1.76 trillion, versus the Treasury’s $800b target
  • Treasury overshot the $800b target by a similar amount in the May-July period
  • Treasury hasn’t changed its target for the next two quarter ends, but senior Treasury officials said Monday there’s no change in the department’s cash balance policy to cover “five days of projected expenditure”
  • That said, any increase in front-end rates is likely to be muted, Korapaty reckons, as Treasury is widely expected to skew borrowing to the long-end of the curve in Wednesday’s refunding announcement, at 8:30 a.m. ET
  • Korapaty sees a small reversal in the recent narrowing trend in T-bills versus the risk free rate; but only 3-5bps of widening in the three-month maturity
  • “Of course, the big variable here is the size of the fiscal package currently being negotiated — the larger the package, the closer Treasury’s estimates will be to matching the eventual true realization of expenditures”

Source: Emily Barrett, Bloomberg Government
the cyber cafe
Interpol reveals 'alarming rate' of cyberattacks during Covid-19
Interpol warns that a further increase in cybercrime is highly likely in the near future, citing vulnerabilities related to working from home.
— Interpol

Ransomware: 5 signs you’re about to be attacked
Attackers use legitimate admin tools to set the stage for ransomware attacks. Without knowing what tools administrators normally use on their machines, one could easily overlook this data. In hindsight, these five indicators represent investigative red flags.

Beware email purporting to be from Amazon or Google
Amazon and Google tied for first place as the most-imitated brand in phishing attacks in 2020’s second quarter. The rest of the top 10 are WhatsApp, Facebook, Microsoft, Outlook, Netflix, Apple, Huawei and PayPal, according to research from cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. Technology, banking and social networking are the sectors most often spoofed.
binge reading disorder
Illustration: James Steinberg
All assumptions about airfares have changed
Airline prices are usually predictive and based on historical data. But with no precedent for the pandemic's impact on the global travel industry, many airlines are left with pricing systems that are basically useless.

A cocktail to get you through Covid
“It’s like a Manhattan but better,” the bartender said. It was a chilly fall night at a New Hampshire inn, and a drink called the Northern Standard caught my eye, a concoction of Knob Creek Rye, sweet vermouth, and a trio of bitters — the differentiator from a Manhattan. A plump maraschino cherry dangled on a toothpick like a tightrope walker, dripping juice onto the bottom of the chilled coupe glass. Smooth and strong, filled to the brim.

The pandemic workday is 48 minutes longer and has more meetings.
From New York City to Tel Aviv, the telecommuting revolution has meant a lot more work, according to a study of 3.1 million people at more than 21,000 companies across 16 cities in North America, Europe and the Middle East.
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