What to watch for today
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 say 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.
Ongoing Thailand protests. Hoping to derail a snap election prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra scheduled for February 2, anti-government demonstrators are gathering today at a stadium to block candidates from registering for the vote.
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 (PDF) the “index effect” is a myth and joining the S&P doesn’t, on its own, boost a company’s price over the long term.
Possible travel woes in parts of the UK. Travel in Wales and parts of England could be affected ahead of the Christmas holiday, with strong winds and heavy rain predicted today.
Over the weekend
Apple inked its big China Mobile iPhone deal. The long-awaited agreement, which could translate to billions of dollars in new revenue for the tech titan, means it can sell its smartphones through a carrier with some 760 million customers beginning January 17.
Bangladesh factory owners were charged. Police charged thirteen people, including two owners, with “death due to negligence” over the November 2012 fire in Dhaka that killed more than 100.
Khodorkovsky won’t return to Russia. The former oil tycoon, now in Berlin after his unexpected pardon by Russian president Vladimir Putin that ended a decade in jail, said he will devote himself to campaigning for the release of political prisoners in Russia and elsewhere.
The IMF is raising its US growth forecast. The International Monetary Fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, didn’t say how much the group will up its earlier estimate of 2.6% growth in 2014, but cited promising economic data and the US congressional budget deal as positive factors.
Dubai will let landlords hike rental rates. Real estate prices have surged more than 40% this year as the economy grew 4.9% in the first half of 2013, and now the government is giving property owners more latitude to raise rents.
Tiffany & Co. must pay Swatch Group $450 million in damages. The ruling by a Dutch court stems from a dispute over a 2008 agreement to develop watches together under the Tiffany brand.
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
Bring back the WASPs. Sure, the traditional US ruling class had its quirks, but today’s meritocratic leaders lack honor, trust, and character (paywall).
China will eventually abandon North Korea. Beijing cares about its own standing in the international system, and it’s becoming embarrassed by Pyongyang’s dysfunction.
There are too many movies released at Christmas. There are six new films debuting in the US on Dec. 25 alone.
Go ahead and wish people a Merry Christmas. Forget “Happy Holidays”—it’s better to simply call each holiday what it is.
Insects are killing Christmas trees. Canaan and Fraser firs are being eaten to death by the tiny, notorious balsam woolly adelgid.
‘Tis the season to split. The cost of commitment can lead many couples to break up before Christmas.
Scorpion venom could make a great painkiller. Researchers who caught and “milked” 1,500 Australian scorpions say the venom can better help them target human pain receptors.
The Japanese have a term 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, holiday-specific greetings, and economic theories that explain failed relationships to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.