The end of LIBOR to be anything but simple

Link: https://www.pionline.com/investing/end-libor-be-anything-simple

Graphic:

Excerpt:

LIBOR, which has been plagued by cases of bank manipulation, is set at different currencies, including the U.S. dollar, British pound sterling and euro. New LIBOR-based contracts will cease at the end of 2021, but in November, the Intercontinental Exchange Inc. announced that the ICE Benchmark Administration, which administers LIBOR, would explore ceasing the most utilized U.S. dollar LIBOR tenors in June 2023 instead of late 2021. On March 5, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority confirmed the 2021 and 2023 cessation dates for LIBOR, although it retains the option for a synthetic calculation if needed.

The extension to June 2023 would allow more time for outstanding contracts to mature, thereby reducing the chance of potential disruptions, U.S. regulators said in a December statement.

But the majority of contracts extend beyond mid-2023.

Author(s): Brian Croce

Publication Date: 8 March 2021

Publication Site: Pensions & Investments

National Security Risks of Late-Stage Capitalism

Excerpt:

There are two problems to solve. The first is information asymmetry: buyers can’t adequately judge the security of software products or company practices. The second is a perverse incentive structure: the market encourages companies to make decisions in their private interest, even if that imperils the broader interests of society. Together these two problems result in companies that save money by taking on greater risk and then pass off that risk to the rest of us, as individuals and as a nation.

The only way to force companies to provide safety and security features for customers and users is with government intervention. Companies need to pay the true costs of their insecurities, through a combination of laws, regulations, and legal liability. Governments routinely legislate safety — pollution standards, automobile seat belts, lead-free gasoline, food service regulations. We need to do the same with cybersecurity: the federal government should set minimum security standards for software and software development.

Author(s): Bruce Schneier

Publication Date: 1 March 2021

Publication Site: Schneier on Security

The U.S. Grid Isn’t Ready For A Major Shift To Renewables

Link: https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-US-Grid-Isnt-Ready-For-A-Major-Shift-To-Renewables.html

Excerpt:

This is one massive system, and the sources that feed it electricity have become increasingly diversified. And while the shortage of natural gas was a big reason for the power outages in Texas, it was certainly not a shortage of gas that caused the blackouts in California last summer during a heatwave. Grid reliability has come to the fore because the decarbonization of electricity generation is not all fun, games, and zero-emission power.

The U.S. grid, as it is now, cannot support the massive shift to low-carbon power generation, Westhaven Power says. Operators need better control of regional grids to be able to anticipate dangerous situations like the ones in Texas and California, but obtaining it would become trickier with more intermittent wind and solar feeding the grid, the utility explains.

“What events in Texas and California demonstrate is the shortcomings of having highly-centralised power systems and the true value of resilience and flexibility in our energy grids, a value that is going to become even more vital as we continue to transition to renewable energy,” says Dr. Toby Gill, the chief executive of UK-based climate tech startup Intelligent Power Generation.

Author(s): Irina Slav

Publication Date: 3 March 2021

Publication Site: Oil Price

The Biggest Business Fails of All Time

Link: https://moneywise.com/a/the-biggest-business-fails-of-all-time

Excerpt:

3. Spreadsheet error costs JPMorgan $3.1 billion

You might recall the “London Whale” incident in 2012, when notorious trader Bruno Iksil — whose other monikers include the White Whale and even Voldemort — conducted a series of credit default swaps that cost JPMorgan Chase $6.2 billion.

What you might not know, however, is that half the loss was incurred by a simple Excel spreadsheet error.

Bloomberg reports that the Excel model, which relied heavily on copy and pasting of information, accidentally “underestimated risk by half.”

Author(s): Serah Louis

Publication Date: 1 March 2021

Publication Site: MoneyWise

Unemployment Scammer Spills Secrets: Illinois Easy Target Because ‘They Don’t Verify Anything’

Excerpt:

“Over 50% of the claims that we receive in our office are fraudulent claims,” Eckstein said. Before the pandemic he said it was “Less than 1%.”

The bogus claims Eckstein sees are just a fraction of the fraud. The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported, between March 2020 and January 2021, it had stopped close to one million fraudulent claims.

Author(s): Dorothy Tucker and Carol Thompson

Date Accessed: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: CBS Chicago

SEC Sues Morningstar’s Former Credit Ratings Agency

Link: https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/02/17/sec-sues-morningstars-former-credit-ratings-agency/

Excerpt:

In a rebuke to the SEC lawsuit, Morningstar issued a press release on Feb. 17, saying that MCR “complied with the regulatory requirements in question” while the SEC’s position is “inconsistent with its own rules and … policies” and that the agency has “overstepped its regulatory limitations by imposing requirements that would regulate the substance of credit rating methodologies.”

In an accompanying position paper, Morningstar said that by questioning MCR’s use of qualitative factors in its legacy CMBS ratings model, the SEC is “attempting to dictate the substance of MCR’s rating methodology,” which it is prohibited to do by law. “If the SEC believes additional rules are required — consistent with the analytical independence of a credit rating agency — the agency should go through the rule-making process, not file an action against MCR.”

Author(s): Bernice Napach

Publication Date: 17 February 2021

Publication Site: Think Advisor

Recovering from the SolarWinds hack could take 18 months

Link: https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/03/02/1020166/solarwinds-brandon-wales-hack-recovery-18-months/

Excerpt:

Brandon Wales, the acting director of CISA, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, says that it will be well into 2022 before officials have fully secured the government networks compromised by Russian hackers. The list includes at least nine federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. Even fully understanding the extent of the damage will take months.

“I wouldn’t call this simple,” Wales says. “There are two phases for response to this incident. There is the short-term remediation effort, where we look to remove the adversary from the network, shutting down accounts they control, and shutting down entry points the adversary used to access networks. But given the amount of time they were inside these networks—months—strategic recovery will take time.”

Author(s): Patrick Howell O’Neill

Publication Date: 2 March 2021

Publication Site: MIT Technology Review

Covid-19 Vaccine ‘Passports’ Raise Ethics Concerns, Logistical Hurdles

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-vaccine-passports-raise-ethics-concerns-logistical-hurdles-11614335403

Excerpt:

In Israel, a vaccine passport was launched last week allowing those who are inoculated to go to hotels and gyms. Saudi Arabia now issues an app-based health passport for those inoculated, while Iceland’s government is doling out vaccine passports to facilitate foreign travel. Last month, President Biden issued executive orders asking government agencies to assess the feasibility of creating digital Covid-19 vaccination certificates.

Proponents of the plans say they will enable battered economies to reopen, even as vaccines are still being rolled out, allowing people to enjoy leisure activities and go to work safe in the knowledge they aren’t harming others or at risk themselves. It could also act as an incentive for people to get the shot.

The concept is potentially fraught with pitfalls. It could discriminate against minority communities, who are less likely to accept the vaccines, according to national surveys, or young people, who are less likely to be given priority to receive them.There are questions about the ethics of granting businesses access to peoples’ health records.

Author(s): Max Colchester, Felicia Schwartz

Publication Date: 26 February 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

State’s Vaccine Plan Failed, Causing Disorder and Mistrust

Link: https://www.governing.com/next/States-Vaccine-Plan-Failed-Causing-Disorder-and-Mistrust.html

Excerpt:

In the months leading up to the first COVID-19 vaccine shipments, Washington state health officials agonized over which residents should be vaccinated before others. They surveyed 18,000 people and convened focus groups, debating race, age and essential occupations.

But unlike some other states, the state Department of Health (DOH) neglected to plan for basic logistics that would have allowed for quick vaccination of those most vulnerable to the disease.

They didn’t enlist the National Guard. They didn’t centralize vaccine appointments. Key scheduling and reporting software arrived late. Providers were given vials but no strategy to process patients.

Author(s): MIKE REICHER, THE SEATTLE TIMES

Publication Date: 16 February 2021

Publication Site: Governing

GameStop Craze Puts Holders of Retail ETF on Wild Ride

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/gamestop-craze-puts-holders-of-retail-etf-on-wild-ride-11613923200

Excerpt:

GameStop mania has spilled over into a popular exchange-traded fund, as the WallStreetBets craze reaches beyond shares favored on social media.

The fund, State Street ’s SPDR S&P Retail ETF, was created in 2006 to give investors broad exposure to mall-store firms. Its shares have surged 23% this year, far outstripping a 4% gain in the S&P 500, despite the uncertain outlook for retail. Behind those gains are the traders who congregate on social-media platforms such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum and whose enthusiasm has turned this mundane investment into a roller coaster.

On Jan. 27, GameStop soared 135%, driven by events such as Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeting “Gamestonk.” The State Street fund jumped 42% the same day. The next day, GameStop shares tumbled 44% and the fund, known by its ticker XRT, dropped about 9%.

Author(s): Michael Wursthorn

Publication Date: 21 February 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Former SolarWinds CEO blames intern for ‘solarwinds123’ password leak

Link: https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/26/politics/solarwinds123-password-intern/index.html

Excerpt:

Current and former top executives at SolarWinds are blaming a company intern for a critical lapse in password security that apparently went undiagnosed for years.

The password in question, “solarwinds123,” was discovered in 2019 on the public internet by an independent security researcher who warned the company that the leak had exposed a SolarWinds file server.

Several US lawmakers ripped into SolarWinds for the password issue Friday, in a joint hearing by the House Oversight and Homeland Security committees.

“I’ve got a stronger password than ‘solarwinds123’ to stop my kids from watching too much YouTube on their iPad,” said Rep. Katie Porter. “You and your company were supposed to be preventing the Russians from reading Defense Department emails!”

Author(s): Brian Fung and Geneva Sands

Publication Date: 26 February 2021

Publication Site: CNN

The R Inferno

Link: https://www.burns-stat.com/pages/Tutor/R_inferno.pdf

Graphic:

Abstract: If you are using R and you think you’re in hell, this is a map for
you.

Excerpt:

I wandered through
http://www.r-project.org.

To state the good I found there, I’ll also say what else I saw.

Having abandoned the true way, I fell into a deep sleep and awoke in a deep dark wood. I set out to escape the wood, but my path was blocked by a lion. As I fled to lower ground, a figure appeared before me. “Have mercy on me, whatever you are,” I cried, “whether shade or living human.”

Author(s): Patrick Burns

Publication Date: 30 April 2011

Publication Site: Burns Statistics