What to watch for today
Thailand emerges from emergency. Eight weeks after declaring a state of emergency, Thailand lifts the decree as anti-government protests wind down. A less strict Internal Security Act will hold until the end of April, allowing the government to impose curfews and restrict protests.
A peek into Chinese regulation and censorship. Chinese online gaming and social-media company Tencent Holdings releases fourth-quarter earnings. Investors will be looking for clarity after China’s central bank suspended Tencent’s virtual credit card last week and deleted dozens of blogs on WeChat (paywall).
Britain unveils its budget. With the economy looking a bit stronger than recently forecast, UK chancellor George Osborne is set to announce a rise in the tax-free allowance and an increase in child support subsidies. He’ll also, as is customary, bump up the taxes on cigarettes and spirits.
The Fed tries a new tack. In the US central bank’s first meeting with Janet Yellen as chair, it’s expected to further cut monthly bond purchases to $55 billion, and tinker with forward guidance, its criteria for raising interest rates. Like Britain’s central bank, it had tied a rise in rates to a fall in unemployment, but is now reconsidering.
While you were sleeping
Russia swallowed Crimea. After the province’s referendum on Sunday, Russian and Crimean leaders signed a treaty marking Europe’s first annexation of another country’s territory since World War II (paywall). Ukraine’s prime minister called it “a robbery on an international scale.” The US promised more sanctions and turned the G8 back into the G7.
Google and Viacom resolved their copyright dispute. Seven years after Viacom sued Google for $1 billion for posting its content to YouTube without permission, the two companies agreed to settle. Although terms were not disclosed, a source close to the deal said that no money changed hands.
Greece bagged its needy a pay day. Greece’s troika of European lenders agreed to release a €10 billion ($13.9 billion) aid package that has been on hold since September, ending months of negotiations and several recent all-nighters. Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras said €500 million will go directly to Greece’s poorest million.
The Bank of England got new staff. BoE governor Mark Carney kicked off his central bank reshuffle in response to several rate manipulation scandals. Nemat Shafik, in charge of markets and banking as of August, will be the monetary policy committee’s first female member since 2010.
Big Data got some big money. Cloudera, which makes a version of Hadoop, the leading software for managing vast collections of data, raised $160 million from a group of public-market investors. Among them is T. Rowe Price, whose participation is often a sign that a firm is headed for an IPO.
Japan’s musical tastes hit a sour note. A 16.7% slump in music sales in Japan dragged down global music revenues by 3.9%, according to a new industry report. Japan has failed to make the jump to digital, and most of its consumers still rely on CDs.
Quartz obsession interlude
John McDuling on Goldman Sachs’s prediction that Elon Musk could be the next Steve Jobs or Henry Ford. “Comparing smartphones to electric cars might seem ridiculous, but Goldman says its analysis has been adjusted to reflect the different life cycles of these two products. And if the sales of Tesla cars were to grow at the same rate as the iPhone, it would be selling 3.1 million units a year by 2025—up from 22,000 last year —which would be 65.5% of all electric vehicles, or about 2.7% of all light vehicle sales, according to the analysis.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The age of robots is already upon us. From sat-navs to ATMs, we rely on robots for a lot of things—we just don’t call them robots.
This is the worst time to launch a new hedge fund. Existing hedge funds are doing just fine, but newcomers might want to hang on a bit.
Nigeria could be Africa’s richest economy. Its GDP data are being reassessed for the first time in two decades—but more and more Nigerians are living in poverty.
The US wouldn’t even know if Putin had American assets. Neither the Russian president nor the US’s financial structure are known for their transparency.
Tech valuations are getting crazy again. Yes, many of the companies look more like real businesses, but their pricing is reminiscent of the last dotcom bubble.
Toxins are killing our intelligence. Lead, mercury and pesticides have knocked 41 million IQ points off Americans.
The Swiss have the highest life satisfaction. They also have the longest life expectancies and the strongest confidence in their government.
Dressing down makes you look more authoritative. It takes a certain amount of confidence to be non-conformist.
Saturated fats might not be that bad for you. Sat fats don’t increase your risk of heart disease—and supposedly healthy fatty acids don’t do much to prevent it.
More than a third of American workers aren’t planning for retirement. And 36% don’t even have $1,000 set aside.
Colombia’s vice president really loves his dog. He turned down the ambassadorship to Brazil because his German Shepherd wouldn’t adapt to the hot weather.