What to watch for today
Will China’s real trade data please stand up? The numbers have been laughably implausible lately, with reports of outsized “exports” to Hong Kong widely seen as cover for illicit inflows of cash to the mainland. Chinese authorities have recently made noises about cracking down on such shenanigans; another ridiculous set of trade figures could force their hand.
Export engine in the shop. Germany reports industrial production for March. In February output from factories stabilized somewhat, but given that it exports so much to its recession-bound European neighbors, Germany’s prospects don’t look especially strong.
Thank you, Shinzo. Japanese auto giant Toyota Motor reports quarterly and full-year earnings. The shares are up more than 40% so far this year, thanks to optimism over Abenomics.
Buon giorno, Tsipi. US Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to Italy, will meet with Israel’s Tsipi Livni to discuss talks with the Palestinians. They haven’t invited the Palestinians, though.
While you were sleeping
Jamie has a fight on his hands. Influential proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis called for JP Morgan Chase to separate the roles of CEO and chairman, both now held by Jamie Dimon. Another advisory firm, ISS, earlier backed the separation following such missteps as the firm’s loss of $6 billion in the London Whale debacle.
The WTO has a new captain. Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo will be the new director of the World Trade Organization, signaling the rising influence of the South American economic power.
The CIA has a new top spy. But in appointing a head of its clandestine service, the agency passed over a woman who ran secret prisons where water-boarding and other “enhanced interrogation” techniques took place.
Cadillac plant planned for China. GM says it won approval from authorities for a $1.3 billion production facility in Shanghai, as it vies for a larger chunk of the luxury car market there.
Microsoft goes back to the Start. With users widely rejecting its new Windows 8 operating system, the software company will launch a revamped version that restores the much-maligned—but by now very familiar—”Start” button.
Market noses are bleeding. US stocks pushed still higher amid decent earnings and easier money out of the Australia. And Europe is even getting in on the action, with Germany’s DAX touching an all-time high.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on why China’s promise to open up capital flows is a big deal… but don’t hold your breath. “Exchange rate and interest rate repression are so fundamental to China’s economic growth that there is almost nothing that would not be affected by reforms—it’s a Rube Goldberg contraption of financial and political interests, with almost unimaginably large amounts of money and political power held in the balance. That’s why the government has traditionally been extremely opaque about how and when it will implement reforms. That’s not likely to change.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Emerging market cities are miserable. They also risk becoming, literally, uninhabitable.
The wise of hatewit. Twitter is an enabler of hate groups.
Bill Gates vs. the US deficit. The rich should pay more to reduce it, he says.
Unlike MBAs, economics doctorates are not worthless.
Fringe benefit. Turkey is developing a reputation as the mustache transplant capital of the world.
Get me rewrite. US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has tamed his loopy signature for its appearance on the new US dollar.
Timeless social graces. “Spitting” is on a list of “ultra-conserved words” that haven’t changed much in 15,000 years.
Amazing escape. Three women, missing for a decade and long given up for dead, escaped from a house in a working-class neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio.
Guitar heroes. Women find a man sexier when he’s holding a guitar.