What to watch for today
Cypriot banks remain closed. For ordinary citizens, most banking transactions remain impossible, and as of last night, it’s not even possible to withdraw more than €260 a day from Cyprus Popular Bank ATMs. Euro zone finance ministers will continue their negotiations.
Apple, Adobe and Microsoft have some explaining to do. All three firms must go before the Australian government to explain why their products are so expensive there. Individual songs for download, for example, cost 70% more in Australia than in the US.
Mission to Burma: Eric Schmidt edition. Schmidt, Google’s CEO, is in Myanmar, where a censorious internet is slowly giving way to the kind of free-information utopia Google likes to advertise against—if it can only get more people online first. Schmidt brought gifts: the country will get a localized Google search and the Android app store.
To arm the Syrian rebels, or not? EU countries will battle over this issue, with Britain and France virtually the only voices in favor.
Dell will go private or get bought. Friday night (US time) is the deadline for offers for Dell. Blackstone, the private-equity giant, is reportedly considering teaming up with rival TPG to get in a superior bid for the whole enchilada, or teaming up with GE for just Dell’s financial services business (paywall).
While you were sleeping
The ECB gives Cyprus an ultimatum. Cyprus has until Monday to find a way out, which might mean the country exits the euro. Paul Krugman suggested the country “do an Iceland,” and let pretty much all the big creditors—including presumably Russia—go hang. Globally, stocks finally started reacting to the threat: A flight to safety sent US Treasurys up.
An end to fighting in Turkish Kurdistan. The imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, called on his fighters to withdraw from Turkey as part of a peace process, raising hopes that a three-decade long conflict might be closing, and removing a key obstacle to Turkey’s EU membership. If only the same could be said of Israel-Palestine, where Barack Obama appealed to Israeli students to be the engine of a peace process.
Fraud runs in the family? The brother of imprisoned hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam was indicted.
The “Whale” trade was a bet, not a hedge. And as we know by now, it paid off—just not for JP Morgan (paywall).
Nike took a running jump. The sportswear maker’s profits rose 55%, beating expectations—with an especially big rise in orders, interestingly, in North America.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jeremy Neuner on why 40% of Americans will be freelance by 2020. “In 2006, the last time the federal government counted, the number of independent and contingent workers—contractors, temps, and the self-employed—stood at 42.6 million, or about 30% of the workforce… Following the recent economic downturn, the employment rate has recovered at a frustratingly slowly pace, except in one area: temporary, contingent, and independent workers. Between 2009 and 2012, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of temporary employees rose by 29%.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Global economies are entering the age of deflation. Disinflation (declining inflation) has prevailed so long, what’s to stop prices from actually dropping?
Obamacare is a bonanza for startups. But do they realize it?
The case for making marriage temporary. Unions of limited duration are surprisingly common throughout history.
Trauma over sports losses cost the US stock market 41 basis points. They don’t call it March Madness for nothing.
The malware used to cyber-attack South Korea was called Dark Seoul. Of course.
Apple banned yet another human rights-themed game. This one is called Sweatshop HD.
Captain Kirk’s birthday is today. Have you seen the preview for the new movie starring this beloved Star Trek character? Because it is off the chain.