What to watch for today
The IMF issues its state-of-the-world report. The IMF’s World Economic Outlook could shed light on how global economies have been affected by the US Federal Reserve’s decision to wind down its monthly bond purchases, as well as political tensions in Ukraine.
Europe deals with deflation. With European economies looking a bit more chipper, analysts aren’t expecting the European Central Bank to cut its current key rate of 0.25%; some even expect an increase. But the ECB might introduce other measures to inject cash into the economy, after inflation dropped to a four-year low in March.
Walgreens updates its shareholders. After announcing last week the closure of 76 stores by August, the US drugstore chain publishes a trading update that could reveal further details of its cost-cutting measures. Investors will also be on the lookout for reassurance that Walgreens’ $6.5 billion purchase of Alliance Boots was a good move.
Google’s share price falls by half. A stock split, first planned two years ago and delayed by a shareholder lawsuit, will ensure founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin keep majority control as Google grows and issues new shares. More than 330 million new shares will hit the market, split between two ticker symbols (GOOG and GOOGL).
Iran gets back to the negotiating table. Iran and six world powers regroup in Vienna for another round of nuclear talks. When they last met in March, the talks were called “substantive” and “useful,” after a deal in November to lift some sanctions on Iran in return for it curbing some nuclear activities.
While you were sleeping
Amazon joined the battle for your living room. For $99, Amazon’s new Fire TV, a set-top box that delivers content to your TV from Amazon Prime, Netflix and YouTube, among others, marks the retailer’s noisy entry into the internet-TV market. Here’s how it compares to its competitors.
Turkey’s top court told Erdogan to unblock Twitter. The Turkish government’s Twitter ban is unconstitutional and must be lifted, said the constitutional court, upholding a lower-court ruling. Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the clampdown last month after secret recordings were leaked; it’s not clear if he’ll comply with the ruling.
Germany introduced a minimum wage. Millions of workers who currently earn less than €8.50 ($11.70) an hour will see their pay packets thicken in 2015, after the government approved a minimum wage bill; parliament should approve it later this year.
The US supersized political donations. The US Supreme Court ruled to remove the caps on individual political donations on the grounds that they violated the right to free speech. Here’s what that will mean in one graphic, and here’s a takedown of the court’s tortuous logic.
The Uber of Uber’s competitors got funding. Venture-capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba agreed to inject $250 million into Lyft (paywall), a ride-share app that pits itself as the more casual answer to Uber’s corporate image. This is the latest in a string of US investments by Alibaba, which will float in New York later this year.
Quartz obsession interlude
Heather Timmons on how China’s state media and China’s state censors are at odds with one another. “China’s state media have been openly reporting on recent protests, even as censors have been scrubbing news about them from social media… The situation is a good example of the paradox that the Chinese government faces when it tries to acknowledge citizens’ frustrations with growing concerns like the environment, but still tries to censor what they can say.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Twitter activism doesn’t work. Social media campaigns run the risk of distorted messages and divisive communication between like-minded activists.
President Xi Jinping’s purge of corrupt bigwigs is a risky gamble. It could just as easily outrage the people of China as satisfy them.
The internet will be the death of languages. Fewer than 5% of the 7,000 tongues spoken today will survive the digital age.
The UK should quit the EU. So argued UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage in a fiery TV debate against the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.
Indonesia is the world’s most perplexing e-commerce frontier. Online shopping is done at the office, not at home, and the country’s infrastructure makes delivery difficult.
Japan’s yakuza are doing a corporate rebranding. The Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime syndicate, now has a website and its own corporate theme song with an anti-drug message.
Lego is the work of the devil. Or so claims a Polish priest who thinks evil Lego mini-figures are “cloaking the world in darkness.”
Copenhagen is the most expensive city for hotel room service. Although a can of nuts from a mini-bar in Toronto will set you back, on average, $18.23.
Computers can now teach other computers. Teacher Computer taught Student Computer to play Pac-Man, and the rookie soon surpassed its master.
The best predictors of world events aren’t CIA analysts. They’re just average citizens with access to Google Search.