What to watch for today
Signs of a crisis mode in China’s financial system. Propaganda officials have ordered domestic media (paywall) to limit their coverage of an interbank-lending crunch, as the Chinese government has been reluctantly forced to make money available for banks to borrow. Analysts have said bigger banks are probably fine, and the crunch is a symptom of the government’s efforts to wean banks off the easy money it has provided.
Facebook trades as part of the S&P 500. Shares of the social networking company were added to the Standard & Poor’s index after the close of US markets Friday. Facebook shares are already up about 12% since their inclusion was announced earlier in December. Some research suggests the “index effect” is a myth and joining the S&P 500 doesn’t on its own boost a company’s price over the long term.
Over the weekend
Mikhail Khodorkovsky said he wouldn’t return to Russia or go back into business. The former oil tycoon—now in Berlin after his unexpected pardon by Russian president Vladimir Putin following a decade in jail—said he would instead devote himself to campaigning for the release of political prisoners in Russia and elsewhere.
The International Monetary Fund said it would raise its forecast for 2014 US economic growth. Managing director Christine Lagarde didn’t say how much the IMF would up its earlier estimate (paywall) of 2.5%, but cited the congressional budget deal and start of Federal Reserve tapering as factors that would boost investor and business confidence.
Dubai said it would allow landlords to hike rental rates even higher. Real estate prices have surged more than 40% this year, as the economy grew 4.9% in the first half of the year. Now the government is giving property owners more latitude to raise rents.
Tiffany & Co. was condemned to pay Swatch Group 402 million Swiss francs (about $450 million) in damages. The ruling by a Dutch court stems from a dispute over a 2008 agreement to together develop watches under the Tiffany brand.
Rebels seized the capital of a South Sudan state whose oilfields are critical to the country’s economy. Troops supporting former vice president Riek Machar took control of Bentiu, capital of the oil-rich Unity State, as deadly fighting continued.
Quartz obsession interlude
Jason Karaian on how professional soccer clubs are great entertainment, but horrible investments: “Roma, this year’s best performing soccer stock, is unbeaten in the Italian league so far this season. The rapid rise in in its share price, however, comes down mostly to rumors of a takeover by a Chinese billionaire. The second and third-ranked stocks, belonging to Portuguese sides Benfica and Porto, have performed well in 2013 but are still down by more than 50% over the past three years. Supporting a soccer club can be stressful enough; without good timing and even better luck, it’s probably best not to get your brokerage account involved.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
There are troubling parallels between today and the era leading to World War I. Widespread complacency is the worst of them.
Economic theories explain why there’s a surge in couples breaking up before Christmas. The cost of commitment can lead people to break things off.
Hollywood has put too many movies under the Christmas tree. There are six new films debuting in the US on Dec. 25 alone.
Forget Happy Holidays, and just wish people Merry Christmas. It’s better to call each holiday what it is instead of trying to lump Jewish, Christian, and the Kwanzaa rituals together.
Talented and gifted classes don’t provide much extra benefit. Economics researchers came to that conclusion after studying the performance of US middle-school students.
Scorpion venom could be the source of new painkilling compounds. Researchers who caught and “milked” 1,500 Australian scorpions say the venom can better help them target human pain receptors.
Japanese youth have invented an expression for “love that is motivated by job-hunting activities.” Rikurabu (リクラブ), combining words for “recruit” and “love,” is among the fascinating slang to emerge in 2013.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, economic theories that explain failed relationships, and youth slang for work-related love to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.