What to watch for today
Steady as she goes in Japan. Central-bank watchers aren’t expecting an interest-rate cut at the bank’s monthly policy meeting, but will look out for hints of future changes, after the bank yesterday decided to keep its hefty monetary stimulus going and to downgrade its exports outlook due to waning foreign demand.
A rate cut in Thailand. This could be the month that Thai policymakers cut rates to 2% from the current 2.25%, to juice an economy unsettled by months of political unrest. But the central bank is notoriously unpredictable; it cut the rate in November when anti-government protests began and kept it unchanged at last month’s meeting.
Krispy Kreme’s sticky growth. Analysts expect the US donut company to post fourth-quarter earnings-per-share of $0.13, up from $0.11 year-on-year. Investors will be watching the donut company’s plans, including an update on when its K-Cup coffee packs will hit the market.
Israel’s army turns more religious. Israeli parliamentarians vote on the controversial Equal Service bill, which would draft more ultra-religious Haredi men into the army. Haredim have up to now been exempt from the draft, leading to growing friction with the rest of the Jewish population.
The US extends a hand to Ukraine. Ukraine’s interim president Arseniy Yatsenyuk meets with US president Barack Obama at the White House, in a show of American support for Ukraine against Russia. The two leaders will discuss US financial aid and Ukraine’s recent plea for Western military help.
While you were sleeping
A clothing retailer went shopping. After months of rival takeover bids, Men’s Wearhouse agreed to buy smaller rival Jos. A. Bank for $1.8 billion. The all-cash deal will combine the two largest independent men’s clothing retailers in the US, although neither unveiled plans to close stores or change their names.
A big deal off of YouTube. Disney reportedly may buy Maker Studios, a YouTube network aimed at young adults, for $500 million, giving Disney a big foothold in online video. Maker already counts Time Warner and Elisabeth Murdoch among its investors and a funding round last summer valued it at $300 million.
Big moves afoot in Hollywood. In more Disney news, the company said Anne Sweeney, head of its TV division and sometimes called the most powerful woman in Hollywood, will step down in January. That rules her out as a replacement for Disney CEO Bob Iger in 2016. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is a rumored contender.
Pimco’s Bill Gross had another bad day. William J. Popejoy, a trustee of the giant money manager for 23 years, said Pimco founder Bill Gross didn’t deserve his reported $200 million salary. Gross’s reputation has taken hits thanks to recent weak earnings at Pimco and an unflattering article (paywall) or two.
Italy’s biggest bank posted a record loss. UniCredit, Italy’s biggest bank by assets, said it would have to cut 8,500 jobs—or 6% of its workforce—by 2018 after a record annual loss of €14 billion ($19 billion). The bank took a €13.7 billion writedown in 2013 to cover losses from bad loans.
Dubai’s first IPO in five years. Emirates Real-Estate Investment Trust will seek at least 500 million dirhams ($136 million) in Dubai, where home prices are expected to rise 40% this year—a risky rate, some say. Another IPO, for Marka, a retailer, is expected soon.
Gwynn Guilford on how a male youth boom could rattle emerging markets. “When there aren’t enough jobs to employ the supply of young men, that can galvanize conflict, argue the analysts—as can stagflation, rising income inequality, unaffordable property, and other problems facing emerging markets. Particularly if they’re unmarried, these young men have less to lose by banding together and committing crimes, unrest or violence. The latter point is a particular concern in China and India, where a cultural preference for boy children has led to sex selection of infants that now means there are tens of millions more young men than young women.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Ted Cruz is the real-life Frank Underwood. The Texas senator is the most shamelessly Machiavellian player in Washington.
Spritz, the speed-reading app, isn’t for books. Why would you want to rush a novel? It’s for skimming obligatory information, like emails and work documents.
Gentrification is good for London’s startup district. Its opponents just don’t want to be out-gentrified themselves.
Netflix is exaggerating its rivalry with HBO. It plays into Americans’ “love-to-hate” attitude to cable providers.
Men’s clothing is a faster-growing industry than women’s. Euromonitor calls it “the global menaissance.”
Be careful what you say around universities. Some have trademarked phrases including “fast-track MBA,” “first-year experience” and even “student life.”
Don’t look for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 on Google Maps. Google had to remind users that the images could be months old.
The Kremlin’s US PR firm billed it $1.5 million in the second half of 2013. It doesn’t seem to be paying off.
Blue Moon consumption in the US has doubled since 2008. America has been cutting down on beer since the early 1990s, but this one’s bucking the trend.