What to watch for today
Will North Korea test a nuclear missile? The country may mark the birth of Kim Il-Sung, who would have been 101 today, with a test. It rebuffed an overture for dialogue from South Korea, but China said it would help defuse tensions when US secretary of state John Kerry visited Beijing at the weekend. In Tokyo, Kerry promised to defend Japan while offering Pyongyang another chance to come to the negotiating table.
A possible laboratory equipment mega-merger. Thermo Fisher Scientific is reportedly nearing a deal to acquire Life Technologies for as much as $13 billion. An agreement between the two US biotech supply companies would be one of the largest corporate acquisitions so far this year.
India and the European Union meet on free trade in Brussels. It’s crunch time on trade policy as India approaches election season. As the two sides start their 17th round of negotiations, there’s still a lot to resolve: brain drain and immigration issues, the dairy industry, and auto regulations.
Tax Day in America. The deadline for filing income taxes is today, and the forms have never been more complicated. It’s the only day of the year that reporting to the IRS helps you get free snacks, sex toys, and more. Check out what your tax rate in the US is this year and for every year since 1913 here.
Over the weekend
China’s growth slowed. GDP increased at an annualized 7.7% for the first quarter, down from 7.9% the quarter before and below expectations, on the back of weak industrial output. Stocks and commodities dropped on news of the surprise stumble.
Indian inflation dipped to a 40-month low. Wholesale prices in India fell to under 6% in March, down from 6.84% the previous month, spurring hopes of another policy-rate cut by the central bank early next month. Meanwhile in Brazil, the soaring price of tomatoes (paywall) threatens to send President Dilma Rousseff’s popularity crashing down to earth.
Chinese bird flu continued to spread. The total number of reported cases of H7N9 rose to 60 and, worryingly, spread beyond the eastern coast to central and northern China.
Hugo Chávez’s anointed successor won the election. Acting president Nicolás Maduro defeated Henrique Capriles by a margin of less than 2% in Sunday’s Venezuelan presidential race. Maduro said he would allow an audit of the vote to mollify opponents.
EU finance ministers met. Among the topics discussed: Cyprus, eliminating tax evasion (paywall) and tax havens, and Germany’s push to alter the bloc’s bank oversight rules. And don’t forget about Germany’s anti-euro party.
Palestine’s prime minister resigned. PM Salam Fayyad, a technocratic reformer popular with the US and Europe, had long-running tensions with president Mahmoud Abbas and his clique.
Google is preparing to settle with Europe. Under a draft agreement with antitrust regulators, the US internet company will at least slightly alter its search results, marking its own services—such as for shopping—more clearly, and linking to more of its competitors’ services.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on banks’ latest complaints about excessive regulation: “A spate of new analysis of global bank stocks by global banks suggests that their business models are in trouble—and that shareholders might want to break them up for that reason. Not because the banks are too risky, they say, but because regulators aren’t letting them take enough risk. While the average investor seeking to avoid a systemic crisis might consider less risk a good thing, it’s a problem for bank heads who want pre-2008 profits in a post-2008 world.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
China will drive the next bitcoin bull market. Six reasons why.
Amazon.com is ready to rule the world.
South Korea is less victim than enabler.
The world’s tops commodity trading firms have pocketed nearly $250 billion in profit over the past decade. That’s more than Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley combined (paywall).
Meet Pakistan’s newest presidential candidate. She’s 50, uneducated, and trying to rally the country’s underclass.
“Crocodile Dundee” actor Paul Hogan has $34 million stashed in offshore accounts. And he says he can’t get at it any more.
European kids are “happy” or “easy”; American ones “ask questions.” Some surprising differences in how parents describe, and raise, their children.
Guess what does well when the economy is sluggish? Musicals.
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