What to watch for today
The Bank of England is due for an upgrade. Issuing its quarterly inflation report today, the central bank is set to upgrade its growth projections, downgrade its inflation forecast and change its forward guidance, thanks to a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.1% for the the three months up to November. That’s approaching its 7% target for raising interest rates (paywall).
North and South Korea plan a family reunion. The two countries will hold their first high-level talks in six years ahead of a planned reunion later this month for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. The talks will take place in a heavily-fortified demilitarized zone in the village of Panmunjom.
Life gets more tedious for Europe’s derivatives traders. As of today, traders in the EU’s $700 trillion derivatives market will have to report all transactions, as part of a move to increase transparency and highlight risk-heavy positions, following the US’s introduction of mandatory reporting in 2012.
Another green tech company bites the dust. Bankrupt Californian carmarker Fisker Automotives—maker of one of the world’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicles—will auction off its assets. China’s Wanxiang Group and Hong Kong businessman Richard Li are both expected to wave their cash about.
While you were sleeping
Yellen towed the Bernanke line. In her first testimony to US Congress as top dog at the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen was optimistic about the US economy and vowed to continue low interest rates and gradual tapering of monthly bond purchases. The job market, she said, could use some serious work.
Honduras put the kibosh on most of its US offices. Its government suspended eight of its 10 consuls in the US—leaving just San Francisco and Washington DC active—following allegations that these offices illegally issued identity papers in exchange for up to $50.
The OECD issued a mea culpa. The international organization admitted to overestimating its growth forecasts for countries around the world between 2007 and 2012, saying it failed to down-revise estimates adequately in the wake of the financial crisis.
It was a good day for global diplomacy. US president Barack Obama and French president François Hollande stressed their common ground; rebels in South Sudan agreed to reopen peace negotiations with the government, albeit with questionable success; officials from North and South Korea agreed to talk; and Taiwan and China met to discuss improving cross-strait relations.
Charter continued salivating over Time Warner. The cable company’s latest move to take control of larger rival Time Warner Cable after last month’s $132.50-per-share bid was rejected, Charter Communications proposed a fresh list of 13 directors (paywall) to replace TWC’s current board.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on what we can learn about world trade from Dov Charney, America’s most controversial clothing CEO. “American Apparel, unlike many of its competitors, makes its products in the US. It’s not because Charney particularly cares about Americans: ‘What we’re trying to do is build a business that’s very futuristic in the sense that we don’t want to rely on these labor inequalities that are not going to be sustainable forever anyway.’ Charney makes a good point: The supply-chain advantage that comes with manufacturing goods in countries with cheap labor costs is both arbitrary and temporary.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
There is no breeding ground for revolution. In the West, bars are too loud and cafes are too quiet. Where are we supposed to foster political change?
The Lego Movie channels the Occupy movement. The story has post-neoliberal undertones: It’s about asking questions, enabling imagination and admitting that there could be a different future.
Mitt Romney’s not so bad, but good thing he’s not president. The new documentary “Mitt” shows a human and wholesome but ultimately empty presidential candidate.
Nintendo is running out of lives. The former gaming king is losing out where it really matters: software.
Stop stigmatizing smokers. It has bad side effects, such as forcing smokers to hide their habits and preventing timely diagnosis of diseases.
The astronomical cost of climate change never gets old. Rising sea levels from global warming could cost $100 trillion a year by 2100—or 9% of the world’s GDP.
The US government is pushing pizza. The calorific food is part of multi-million dollar campaigns to increase dairy consumption.
We usually show the left side of our faces in photos. It’s our more expressive—and more attractive—profile.
The world is approaching its sixth mass extinction. And it’s coming sooner than you might think.
Brazilians are the biggest consumers of white chocolate. Also, white chocolate isn’t technically chocolate.