What to watch for today
The Bank of England recalibrates. The central bank is set to upgrade its growth projections and downgrade its inflation forecast as the unemployment rate approaches its 7% target for raising interest rates (paywall).
Should Europe run the internet? The European Commission will propose a plan to globalize internet functions that are now contractually linked to the US government, the Wall Street Journal reports, positioning the EU as a broker ahead of negotiations in April.
Life gets more tedious for derivatives traders. Traders in the EU’s $700 trillion derivatives market will have to report all transactions, as part of a move to increase transparency and highlight risk-heavy positions.
Another green tech company bites the dust. Bankrupt hybrid electric carmarker Fisker Automotives will auction off its assets. China’s Wanxiang Group and Hong Kong businessman Richard Li are both expected to wave their cash about.
While you were sleeping
Chinese exports rose sharply—suspiciously so. January exports were up 10.6% from a year ago, well beyond the 2% expected. Analysts were dubious and questioned whether over-invoicing and fake shipments caused the increase, since a recent HSBC index showed a contraction in China’s manufacturing sector.
Janet Yellen toed the Bernanke line. The new top dog at the Federal Reserve was optimistic about the US economy and vowed to continue low interest rates and gradual tapering of monthly bond purchases. But the job market, she said, could use some serious work.
Bitcoin is under siege. A “massive and concerted attack” is underway against the digital currency’s major exchanges, by a shadowy army of software bots.
Microsoft was accused of taking Chinese censorship global. Searching Bing in Chinese returned results that conformed with Beijing’s restrictions—even outside of China. Microsoft blamed “an error in our system.”
India refused to settle with Vodafone and moved to cancel resolution talks with the mobile carrier over a long-running $2.6 billion tax dispute, casting further doubt on the climate for foreign investment (paywall).
Japan saw another slowdown sign. Core machine orders fell by 15.7% in December, the largest drop since 1998 and a further hurdle for prime minister Shinzo Abe in his effort to revive the economy.
A big day for global diplomacy. US president Barack Obama and French president François Hollande stressed their common ground; rebels in South Sudan agreed to reopen peace negotiations with the government, albeit with questionable success; officials from North and South Korea agreed to talk; and Taiwan and China met to discuss improving cross-strait relations.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on what we can learn about world trade from Dov Charney, America’s most controversial clothing CEO. “American Apparel, unlike many of its competitors, makes its products in the US. It’s not because Charney particularly cares about Americans: ‘What we’re trying to do is build a business that’s very futuristic in the sense that we don’t want to rely on these labor inequalities that are not going to be sustainable forever anyway.’ Charney makes a good point: The supply-chain advantage that comes with manufacturing goods in countries with cheap labor costs is both arbitrary and temporary.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The Lego Movie channels the Occupy movement. The story has post-neoliberal undertones: questioning authority, enabling imagination and admitting the possibility of a radically different future.
Nintendo is running out of lives. The former gaming king is losing out where it really matters: software.
The 0.1% are pulling away from the 1%. And the 0.01% are doing even better.
Kazakhstan should change its name. The “land of the Kazakhs” should become “Kazak Yeli,” or country of the Kazakhs.
The US government is pushing pizza. The calorific food is part of a campaign to increase dairy consumption.
If iTunes were its own company, it would still rank in the top Fortune 500. Number 130, to be precise.
Russia hoarded 400,000 tons of snow for the Olympics—from its Cold War-era strategic snow reserves.
The left side is the good side. It’s the more expressive side of your face, and thus more attractive in photos.
The world is nearing its sixth mass extinction. The last one killed off the dinosaurs.
How to alienate female coders. If you’re Goldman Sachs, you hand out free nail files and mirrors.
Brazilians are the biggest consumers of white chocolate. Also, white chocolate isn’t technically chocolate.