What to watch for today
The great internet land grab begins. Around 1,000 new top-level domain names including .limo, .coffee, 在线, and شبكة. will become available. Will they benefit regular people and small businesses as promised, or just the world’s biggest internet companies?
Toyota steps on the gas. The carmaker is expected to quadruple its quarterly profits. President Aiko Toyoda is under pressure to spend the $40 billion in cash the company has sitting around, or return it to shareholders.
Small steps for an oil giant. BP is set to post a loss in its fourth quarter, although its longer-term outlook isn’t so miserable.
Thailand vote challenged. The opposition Democrat party, which boycotted Sunday’s election, is contesting it by other means: Asking the Thai Constitutional Court to declare the vote invalid. Meanwhile, the street protests that have choked Bangkok for months have eased.
While you were sleeping
Australia kept rates on hold. Despite rising pressure to slice interest rates in the face of slumping sectors outside of mining, the central bank maintained its benchmark interest rate at 2.5%.
HP tallied the cost of a bungled deal. More than a year after writing down $8.8 billion in losses from its purchase of UK software company Autonomy, Hewlett Packard revealed the full extent of the debacle: Autonomy revenues were 54% less and profits 80% less than it claimed.
South Korean prices stagnated. Consumer inflation rose a meager 1.1% in January, well below the central bank’s target of 2.5-3.5%. The bank has pledged to reach its goal by the second half of this year.
Google’s co-founders tightened their grip. The company’s stock split, set to take effect on April 2nd, will create a new class of stock that will cement the voting control of Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
Formula One attracted a bidder. US cable magnate John Malone is in talks with CVC Capital Partners about buying its 35% stake in Formula One racing (paywall)—a move that will surely irritate fellow tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who tried unsuccessfully to buy into F1 three years ago.
Yum! results were meh. The owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell posted a slight drop in profits, but saw international sales rise. Nagging problems in China, where customers are scared of its tarnished chicken, sent profits there down 26%.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on how the US invented the 401(k), its major retirement solution, by accident. ”There’s just one little problem: For all the big changes section that 401(k) wrought on American society, more than half of US retirees’ haven’t saved enough to continue their normal lifestyle when they’re done working, even when with Social Security’s public pension payments.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Banks don’t do much banking anymore… The largest financial institutions treat deposits and loans as an afterthought.
…And the US post office should fill the gap. An inspector general’s report suggests offering services like bill paying, check cashing, and small loans.
The middle class is crumbling. In post-recession America, growth in high-end businesses is outpacing the mass market (paywall).
The Sochi Winter Games are the biggest financial boondoggle in the history of the Olympics, and are a wasteful show of political power.
Upworthy’s success won’t last. The viral news site’s trademark “curiosity-gap” headline is not a good indicator of what people actually want to read.
Democrats have the wealthiest super-PACs. They made around four times as much cash as their Republican counterparts in 2013.
How to pronounce “February.” It’s all about that pesky first “r.”
Marriage increases inequality. People are more likely to marry people of their own wealth and educational level.
It pays to be the king—but not that much. Juan Carlos of Spain will earn €292,752 ($395,918) this year, out of a royal family budget of $10.6 million.
Gunshot wounds healed in 15 seconds. An Oregon startup with funding from the U.S. Army is awaiting FDA approval for its pocket-sized mini-sponge syringe.
Legal weed reduces suicide. States that allow medical marijuana see a significant decline in suicide rates for men.