What to watch for today
Ben Bernanke’s last taper. At the current Fed chairman’s last policy meeting, the US central bank is expected to reduce bond-buying by another $10 billion per month, ignoring weak jobs growth in December (which economists think was an anomaly) as well as the emerging-market turmoil.
A US minimum-wage hike. President Barack Obama will raise the minimum wage for federal employees (paywall) by almost 40% in his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening US time—bypassing Congress in order to do so after pushing the issue for more than a year.
Facebook hushes its haters. All eyes will be on Facebook’s earnings after a string of reports suggesting the social media site is on its way out of fashion. The company is expected to post earnings of 27 cents per share on revenue of $2.34 billion, thanks to a boost in advertising over the holidays.
Will South Africa act to save the rand? With the currency trading at five-year lows amid the recent emerging-market selloff, the central bank faces pressure to raise rates at its meeting today. The decision matters, as investors often treat the rand as an overall proxy for emerging-market currencies,
While you were sleeping
The Ukrainian government resigned. Prime minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet handed in their notice amid the continuing anti-government protests. President Viktor Yanukovych is still around, though. Lawmakers agreed to repeal anti-protest laws introduced earlier this month.
The UK kept growing. The economy expanded by 1.9% in 2013—its highest rate since 2007—thanks to the country’s service sector, which constitutes more than three-quarters of GDP and rose by 0.8% in the fourth quarter.
Ford drove up its sales. Ford posted full-year pretax profits of $8.56 billion, one of its highest figures in recent history, and reported global sales growth of 12%, trumping industry leader and its major rival, Toyota. However, investors expressed concerns about Ford’s upcoming expensive year.
Google made Glass look (slightly) more normal. You won’t have to wear that futuristic-looking space band around your forehead any more. The company has unveiled regular frames, including sunglasses and prescription lenses, with the Google Glass face computer clipped on.
Wall Street on Yahoo: Not impressed. Though the company’s quarterly results beat profit forecasts, its shares fell in after-hours trading on a so-so first-quarter outlook. And it didn’t say anything about whether it’s making money from Tumblr, the blogging platform it bought last May.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on how fish oil fashion is sending rare sharks to their death. “Today’s bloodbath bulletin concerns whale sharks, which feed on plankton and can grow up to 40 feet (12 meters)—about the length of four station wagons. The sharks are so vulnerable to extinction that most countries forbid fishermen from catching them. That’s not stopping a factory in China’s Zhejiang province from slaughtering 600 whale sharks per year.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The days of the iPod are numbered. Streaming services—as well as the ever-growing spread of iPhones—are killing Apple’s original music player.
Hamid Karzai is playing a dangerous game. The Afghan president’s digs at the West won’t protect him from a resurgent Taliban when the US pulls out.
War photography has been turned on its head. What used to be a tool to expose cruelty has become a way for perpetrators to document and brag about their violence.
Dungeons & Dragons is perfect management training. Kids who learn to run a “party” of elves, wizards and warriors have all the tools to manage a workplace team.
The war on drugs is more dangerous than drugs themselves. The repercussions of being caught with illegal substances can wreck a person’s future.
Women know remarkably little about fertility. Contrary to common belief, having sex with a pillow under your hips has no effect on getting pregnant.
Germany will win the most medals at the Winter Olympics. So says a prediction based on a little simple math.
A not-so-little piece of Jurassic Park could be yours. The velociraptor cage used in the film is on eBay for $100,000, complete with a full-size velociraptor.
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