What to watch for today
Lots of Japanese economic indicators. Data on industrial production, inflation, retail sales, and household spending will be published today. They’ll provide the starting point for incoming prime minister Shinzo Abe, who has promised to revitalize the economy through more activist monetary and fiscal policy.
The largest Indian IPO in two years goes live. Shares of Bharti Infratel, the tower unit of telecom giant Bharti Airtel, will be listed on the Bombay and National Stock Exchanges. The company is seeking to raise up to $832 million, and the IPO is fully subscribed. Experts expect that the company’s 160.6 million shares will begin trading at around 200 rupees ($3.64) per share.
Fiscal cliff crunch time. President Barack Obama is expected to meet with Congressional leaders of both parties to push his deal for avoiding the fiscal cliff. His proposal involves extending most tax breaks, except those for the wealthy, and deferring scheduled spending cuts. The action is now focused on the Senate, where a dozen Republican members have expressed a willingness to allow higher taxes on the wealthy. But it’s not clear their leaders will allow such a bill to come to the floor without a filibuster. If the Senate does pass a plan, Republican Speaker John Boehner has called the House back into session on Dec. 30 to vote on it. But the odds of going over the fiscal cliff are rising.
Signs of South Korean slowdown? We’ll get our latest read on the country’s economic health today when industrial production data come out. Although South Korea has seen some of the strongest, most sustainable economic growth during the last few years, the country’s finance ministry just revised down projections for economic growth for next year from 4.3% to 3.0%.
While you were sleeping
A Spanish bank in a big capital hole. Spain’s bank-rescue fund, FROB, told Bankia, the country’s most troubled bank, that it had a negative value of €4.15 billion ($5.19 billion). Its parent, Banco Financiero y de Ahorros (BFA), was even worse, at negative €10.4 billion. BFA will receive €13.5 billion to recapitalize in order to prevent it from failing.
America’s environmental watchdog resigns. US Environmental Protection Agency director Lisa Jackson will step down from her post after a rocky tenure, which saw battles fought against both Republicans and Democrats as she attempted to push stronger air and fuel regulations. She says she will leave after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which is in late January.
SeaWorld will go public. Private equity giant Blackstone will take the Disney-inspired aquatic theme park public, hoping to raise $100 million. The aging brand faces new work standards legislation that could detract from the park’s initial appeal: humans swimming with marine animals, particularly killer whales.
Quartz obsession interlude
Ritchie King on why 2012 will end up one of the world’s warmest years on record—yet again. “Barring a deep freeze in the next couple of days, 2012 will go down as the warmest year on record in the United States. And worldwide, it will break into the top 10, likely coming in as the 8th or 9th warmest year since record-keeping began in 1880. Such a distinction is all too common: Of the past 35 years, only 2011 was not among the globe’s 10 hottest at the time.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
What will 2013 bring? Experts from the Council on Foreign Relations weigh in on the risks ahead for the global economy.
Government spending beats venture capital. Why the US needs “big government”—not venture capital—to invest in its economy.
The China of Xi Jinping. How China’s new leaders will attempt to shape cyberspace, international relations, its domestic economy, and more.
Dolphins like giving people gifts. Dolphins were observed on 23 documented occasions over the last few years giving humans at the Tangalooma Island Resort in Australia gifts like fish, eel, squid, tuna, and an octopus.
The White House must now seriously consider building a Death Star. A petition calling for the US government to build a giant, moon-like war machine like that featured in the film franchise “Star Wars” garnered 25,000 votes. In theory this means the administration is obliged to study the issue and provide a formal response. It could just point to a calculation showing that the steel alone would cost 13,000 times the world’s annual GDP. (Meanwhile, the petition to have British CNN anchor Piers Morgan deported for his anti-gun views is approaching 85,000 signatures.)
All the new regulations the US added this year will cost $215 billion to comply with. And other factoids in the year’s round-up of graphs from our friends at Wonkblog.