What to watch for today
The unknown is still unknown in Italy. Politicians try to figure out what next after comedian Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement refused to back either the leftist coalition of Pier Luigi Bersani (whom Grillo dismissed as a “dead man talking”) or the rightists under Silvio Berlusconi (a “political stalker”).
Does Monti have any ideas? The political crisis has already increased borrowing costs for Italy and could affect the rest of Europe. Outgoing prime minister Mario Monti is scheduled to give the keynote speech today at the European Competition Forum.
What austerity looks like in India. The finance minister, P. Chidambaram, presents a budget that will attempt to tame a ballooning deficit. India’s credit rating and Chidambaram’s prime-ministerial prospects depend on this budget—and they pull in opposite directions.
A small but significant election in Britain. The Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats are allied in government but bitter rivals out in Eastleigh. A by-election there has turned into a vote on the popularity of the Conservatives, who fear an embarrassing defeat. Neither the Elvis Loves Pets Party nor the Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party are expected to make much of a dent.
Peace out from the Pope. It’s Pope Benedict XVI’s last day at work. The pontiff gave an emotional farewell speech yesterday in which he talked about the joys of the papacy. He also alluded to the scandals that have hit the church, saying “there were also moments in which the waters were agitated and the wind contrary.”
Troubled retailers report earnings. Barnes & Noble and Best Buy, which are both facing management-led buyouts, report income. Also reporting: Deutsche Telekom, which is trying to merge T-Mobile with Metro PCS.
While you were sleeping
So long, masters of the universe. Bankers in Europe will wave goodbye to fat bonuses. The European Parliament approved a compulsory cap on bonuses at 100% of annual salary. That could rise to twice annual salary but only with shareholder approval.
Groupon shares took a nosedive on disappointing results. The daily-deal website lost $81 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, down from a $65 million loss the previous year. It’s stock value quickly plunged by over 24%.
Kuroda was nominated as BoJ head. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, nominated Asian Development Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda as the next central bank head of Japan. He also nominated Kikuo Iwata, an academic, and Hiroshi Nakaso, already with the central bank, as deputy governors. The nominees must now be confirmed by parliament.
Jack Lew was confirmed as Treasury secretary. The US senate voted 71-26 in favor of appointing Lew. His first job: find a way to deal with $85 billion in budget cuts that kick in tomorrow.
Ben Bernanke spoke; markets rejoiced. The Fed chairman testified before a US House committee after making a similar appearance the day before at the Senate. Despite worries about sequestration and the crisis in Italy, Bernanke mainly presented good news on the economic recovery and housing market. US stocks liked the housing data too, rising for a second day after Monday’s Italy-related slump.
Apple’s Tim Cook said Einhorn is still silly. The Apple CEO said at the annual meeting that the company was in active discussions about returning cash to shareholders, while dismissing hedge fund manager David Einhorn’s campaign to make it do just that as “silly”. The markets didn’t seem totally convinced.
Quartz obsession interlude
Ritchie King on what Apple and Google’s planned new headquarters say about them. “Last week, Google released an illustration of its next corporate campus, a complex of nine rectangular buildings, mostly adorned with green roofs, and all connected by a series of elevated walkways…. [Apple's] design couldn’t be more different. It’s a single, circular structure that people have described as a doughnut or the touchwheel of an iPod and that Steve Jobs once likened to a spaceship.” You can look at them here.
Matters of debate
Americans aren’t at the center of the universe. But they may be the weirdest people in it.
To save the world, work for Wall Street rather than a charity.
And if you go to Wall Street, be reckless. The system rewards risk and doesn’t punish failure.
Shrinking population is actually great news.
What on earth is indie capitalism? A “post-global, local economic phenom“, apparently. Sounds awkward.
The US is just as responsible for international crime, so stop blaming others.
Scientists measure how fast a supermassive black hole spins for the first time, explaining how it got so big.
It’s easier to be a single parent on the island of Pohnpei than in the Western world.
Physicist creates Oreo cookie separator, as part of “Cookies vs. Creme” campaign.
Dog-bites-man stories are so last season. Instead: dog shoots owner; the canine goes free.
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