What to watch for today
Venezuela tries to make it, post-Chavez. Last week’s election and the violence that followed made for a poor start to Nicolas Maduro’s presidency. On Sunday Maduro replaced Finance Minister Jorge “The Monk” Giordani, the architect of Venezuela’s controversial price and currency controls, with the more pragmatic central bank boss Nelson Merentes.
Pakistan struggles with pre-election violence. Ahead of voting on May 11, the Pakistani Taliban is intent on disrupting the secular Awami National Party’s success.
A legal battle begins in Boston. Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains in the hospital, unable to speak after a possibly self-inflicted gunshot wound to the neck. Questions are brewing over his trial and civil liberties. The London Marathon, under heightened security, paid tribute to the Boston victims on Sunday.
Economic indicators this week: US growth may have improved thanks to higher consumer spending in the first quarter. Earnings season continues with question marks about Apple, which reports on Tuesday. Halliburton, US Airways, and industrial bellwether Caterpillar are among those reporting earnings today.
Over the weekend
Japan joined trade-bloc talks. Japan became the 12th nation—others include the US, Canada, Singapore, and Mexico—in discussions over the nascent Trans-Pacific-Partnership (paywall). The nations account for over 40% of global economic output, making the TPP a potentially massive new trade bloc.
Disaster in China. An earthquake struck the southwest province of Sichuan on Saturday, killing 184 people and injuring as many as 1,000—the worst Chinese quake in three years. Sichuan-based industry recovered quickly (paywall), but the human toll could grow worse.
Paraguay voted—and a newbie won. Horacio Cartes, a millionaire from the center-right party, triumphed over veteran politician Efrain Alegre. In a nation plagued by poverty and political instability, the election results will impact the nation’s trade agenda and domestic agrarian reform.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on why passing immigration reform could reduce US debt. “With the debt now not due to start growing again for the next five years—and with so much uncertainty about how big deficits will be—the US Congress is more focused on other debates. Gun safety and, more feasibly, immigration reform seem more immediate and worthwhile than bridging a perhaps insurmountable gap between Democrats and Republicans on budget issues. That doesn’t mean, however, that working on border reform is putting off fiscal adjustment…More immigrants means a growing workforce that pays more taxes and creates more jobs, relieving some of the financing burdens that come with America’s aging population.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The contagious debt fallacy. The Reinhart/Rogoff assumption that high debt kills growth has seeped into more corners of economic policy than we knew.
How to save print media: Get an ideological financial backer (or two) on your side.
Religion makes human trafficking worse. Leave the saving to the secularists.
How Big Data can make you a parent before you’ve even conceived.
China is so over Hollywood. Ticket sales for American-made movies have plunged by a third.
Sushi and gay marriage. People who won’t try sushi and people who don’t approve of gay marriage match up almost perfectly.
It’s not easy growing green. The pot industry is not as profitable as you might think.
Failed Olympic cities: What happens to metropoles that don’t win the bid.
Fewer new hedge funds. Why it’s getting harder to break into the business.