What to watch for today
Ukraine gets a rescue package. The IMF is set to rush through a $15 million bailout package for Ukraine (paywall), whose foreign exchange reserves are dwindling fast. The deal is contingent on subsidy reform; Ukraine’s interim government agreed to raise domestic gas prices by 50%. Also, the UN General Assembly will hold its first open meeting on the crisis in Ukraine.
GameStop plays on. Analysts expect a good quarter for the video-game retailer, as new console releases late last year are likely to have sent consumers shopping for new games. But used-game sales are central to GameStop’s business, for which it now faces competition from WalMart.
A final reading on the US economy. The unusually nasty weather probably hurt the economy in the first quarter of 2014, so analysts will be looking for an upward revision to 4Q 2013 figures to start the new year on a good footing. They expect it grew 2.7%, up from an initial estimate of 2.4%.
President meets pope. Barack Obama makes his second visit as president to the Vatican, where he and Pope Francis will discuss a range of issues. Might be a delicate encounter: The administration could probably use the church’s support for its social agenda, but they’re clashing on religious issues.
Microsoft brings Office to the iPad. In his first major appearance as Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella will unveil a version of the company’s Office software for iPad. Keeping aloof from Apple products is thought to be costing Microsoft $2.5 billion a year. But is the change too little, too late?
While you were sleeping
Airbus extended its Chinese production deal. The French aviation company bought another decade on Chinese soil, renewing its current contract until 2025; the deal was initially suspended due to a trade row. China also bought 70 new Airbus planes and confirmed a previous order of 27, in a deal worth $10.2 billion.
Investors weren’t too sweet on King’s IPO. Shares in King Entertainment, the maker of Candy Crush Saga, fell more than 15% on their first day of trading after debuting at $22.50. The recent rush of IPO filings is seen as a good thing—but it’s also allowing investors to be picky with what they buy.
Rupert Murdoch primed his successor. The media tycoon appointed his son Lachlan as non-executive co-chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox as well as co-COO of Fox. That may mean Lachlan, rather than his younger brother James, is once again the front-runner to succeed their father.
Bank of America paid up for tricking investors. The bank agreed to pay $25 million to settle charges that it misled investors about its $18.5 billion Merrill Lynch acquisition during the financial crisis. Former BofA chairman Kenneth Lewis will foot $10 million of that bill and be banned from leading a public company for three years.
Russia looked east to annoy the West. Moscow is considering a trade agreement with Egypt as part of a Middle East expansion bid to capitalize on US tensions in the region (paywall). Meanwhile Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who visited Moscow last month, resigned as Egypt’s military chief and announced his candidacy for president.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on why it’s worth spending $1 billion each year to eradicate polio. “While trying to eradicate polio is more expensive up front, trying to merely keep it under control will be more expensive in the long run. Polio affects mainly children and in one in 200 cases, it leads to irreversible paralysis that requires life-long care. Eradicating polio in the US is estimated to have saved some $220 billion since 1955. An economic analysis (pdf) by infectious-disease experts estimated that by preventing some 8 million cases of polio paralysis from 1985 to 2035, the GPEI will create net gains of $40 to $50 billion, mostly in the developing economies.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Smart drugs could be bad for our brains. Prioritizing functionality over creativity and individuality has its downsides.
Oculus shouldn’t have sold out to Facebook. The virtual reality company’s early investors aren’t happy.
The US could use oil prices as a weapon against Russia. It would need Saudi help, but that’s not out of the question.
We’re not in a tech bubble—yet. Crazy as some recent valuations look, the volume of IPOs is a lot smaller than in 1999-2000.
Journalism shouldn’t entertain commercial considerations. So thinks New York Times boss Mark Thompson, who disapproves of Bloomberg’s relationship with China.
Elevator chat is the precursor to Twitter. A bit like how the office water cooler was the precursor to instant messenger.
“Suspended animation” is now a real thing. Doctors are testing a new technique on gunshot victims near death, who are cooled down for surgery, then brought back to life.
Cooking kills 4 billion people a year. Smoke from household stoves takes more lives than pollution from smokestacks.
You can now play post-financial-crisis Monopoly. New “optional rules” from the game’s maker, Hasbro, look remarkably similar to the Fed’s easy-money policy.
Guess where your caffeine’s coming from. In the US, coffee sales have doubled in 15 years, but energy drink sales have grown 5,000%.
North Korean men are living in a hairy dictatorship. Literally: Kim Jong-un said that all male students have to get a haircut like his.
You don’t need a wedding photographer—you need a wedding social media editor. For $3,000, this concierge will live-tweet your big day, as well as updating Vine and Instagram—all with a bespoke hashtag.