Timing & trends

Norway Leads the Pack on Rate Hikes

Norway’s central bank has once again cemented itself as a hawkish outlier in the G10 policymaker arena. Norges Bank is now penciling in its first rate hike in September, and its rate projection indicates that may well be followed by another in December and March of next year. In total there are four hikes in by the end of next year, and another couple by the end of 2024.

In a sense none of this is too surprising. The Norges Bank had already been signaling at least one hike this year, and in effect the latest rate path just adds in one additional hike over what was in the March profile. The bounceback in Norwegian activity, coupled with slightly higher oil prices and a weaker NOK (relative to what the central bank says it would expect given energy price levels), all contributed to the higher rate path.

At this stage, there’s little reason to doubt that these rate hikes will materialize, barring further Covid-19 surprises. But does this tell us much about what other central banks might do? We suspect it doesn’t. Remember back in 2019, the Norges Bank hiked interest rates three times, while the Fed was busy cutting… CLICK for complete article and charts


New York (CNN Business)Peloton users are being warned of a new security threat relating to the touchscreen on their Bike+ that could potentially be controlled by hackers.

In a report released Wednesday, cybersecurity company McAfee discovered a vulnerability that allows hackers to access Peloton’s bike screen and potentially spy on riders using its microphone and camera. However, the threat most likely affects only the $2,495 bike used in public spaces, such as in hotels or gyms, because the hacker needs to physically access the screen using a USB drive containing a malicious code.
According to McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research team, a hacker can discreetly control the stationary bike’s screen remotely and interfere with its operating system. That means hackers could, for example, install apps that look like Netflix or Spotify and steal the users’ log-in information. Perhaps more alarmingly, the cybersecurity team was able spy on users via the camera and microphone, which is normally used for video chats with other users.
“As a result, an unsuspecting gym-goer taking the Peloton Bike+ for a spin could be in danger of having their personal data compromised and their workout unknowingly watched,” the report said. It also warned the hacker could configure this spyware at any point, including during the supply chain or delivery process, without the owner knowing.
Internet-connected devices, whether they are bikes, computers or even refrigerators, are all susceptible to hacks. Cyberattacks have increasingly caught the public’s attention, with high-profile companies including McDonald’s, Microsoft and Electronic Arts publicly revealing recent security breaches.
McAfee said it pored over Peloton’s software with a “critical eye” to find vulnerabilities and warn users. The two companies worked together to “responsibly develop and issue a patch.”

A Meme Stock Is Born: How to Spot the Next Reddit Favorite


(Bloomberg) — Trying to keep up with the frenzied rise of so-called meme stocks might feel a bit like playing a game of whack-a-mole, bewildering analysts and investors alike.

While there’s no steadfast definition of what constitutes a meme stock, one common thread across the many names being pitched on social media is a focus on heavily shorted companies. Shares of Reddit icon GameStop Corp. jumped as much as 2,500% in January after day traders noticed its short interest had ballooned to record levels.

Investors looking for other stocks that might fit that mold will find nearly 230 firms with a market capitalization of at least $100 million and short interest of 15% or more, according to S3 Partners data compiled by Bloomberg. More than 80% of those names have managed positive returns over the last month with the average gain sitting at about 18%, while the S&P 500 Index rose 2.3%.

Among the most heavily shorted stocks are names like Clover Health Investments Corp., Workhorse Group Inc. and Geo Group Inc., which have already caught the attention of retail traders in recent days.

Meanwhile, Bumble Inc. and Petco Health and Wellness Co., both fresh off initial public offerings this year, find themselves on the outside looking in as part of the few companies on the list that haven’t seen outsized gains over the last month. Joining them is ad-tech firm PubMatic Inc., which boasts the highest short interest at 54%, recreational boat retailer MarineMax Inc. and biotech company Black Diamond Therapeutics Inc., which has plunged more than 50% over the last month.

While these sudden rallies can create lucrative returns for investors in the blink of an eye, the extreme volatility that accompanies them can quickly catch traders offside, leaving them holding the bag as shares plunge back to earth.

After opening the week with a 32% gain, Clover Health’s shares jumped by as much as 142% over the next two days. But, by the close of trading Thursday, anyone who had bought and held shares after Monday’s pop was now underwater.

“I can’t imagine this is going to continue in the same form or fashion for much longer,” said Barry Schwartz, chief investment officer at Baskin Wealth Management. “Just because something is shorted doesn’t mean buying it is going to work out for you,” he added. “You’re playing with fire.”

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New York to London in 3.5

New York (CNN Business)United Airlines announced a deal to buy 15 supersonic jets, planning to carry passengers on the ultra-fast planes by 2029.

If the airline can follow through with its plan, these would be the first commercial supersonic flights since the grounding of the Concorde jet in 2003. The economics of that fuel-guzzling supersonic jet and restrictions on flying it over land at speeds that would produce a sonic boom doomed the Concorde. Airlines had to try to fill the plane with passengers willing to pay a substantial premium over a first-class ticket on traditional aircraft.
United is buying the supersonic jet from Boom Supersonic, a privately held upstart aircraft maker based in Denver. The plane, dubbed the “Overture,” is slated to be completed by 2025, start test flights by 2026 and carry passengers by 2029. United has agreed to buy 15 of the jets, with options for 35 more.
The plane is slated to fly at Mach 1.7, or roughly twice as fast as today’s commercial jets. It will be able to fly from United’s hub in Newark, New Jersey, to London in just three-and-a-half hours. It could make the Newark to Frankfurt trip in four hours and San Francisco to Tokyo in just six hours.

Free Guns Are Now a COVID-Vaccine Incentive in the US


Get a shot for a chance to fire a shot—from a brand-new rifle. That’s how West Virginia is trying to boost its lagging vaccination numbers before the start of the summer.

Anyone who gets at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to enter to win one of 10 custom-made rifles and shotguns and a range of other prizes in a drawing on June 20, which is Father’s Day.

“This is for all people that have been vaccinated: If you got vaccinated back in the end of December or the beginning of January, absolutely you are eligible,” Republican Gov. Jim Justice said during his COVID-19 response press briefing Tuesday morning. “Save a life and change your life. The more we can get vaccinated, the faster we’ll get to saving all kinds of additional lives and saving lots of money for the state of West Virginia.”

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