What to watch for today
Slow growth in China. Official data is expected to show that China’s economy grew between 7.0% and 7.2% in the first quarter. Anything less than 7% may mean more stimulus measures, which most economists think will slow economic reform.
Economic tales from around the US. The US Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book, an anecdotal portrait of the state of the US economy based on the Fed’s 12 districts. The US also releases new housing starts and industrial production, among other data.
The stop of tech’s slide. Google and IBM report first-quarter earnings that investors hope will staunch the recent, brutal tech stock sell-off that has only just started to ease. American Express, Tata Consultancy, and BHP Billiton also post results.
Another jab in the ribs for the ECB. New data from the euro zone will likely show that inflation has slowed to its lowest point in four years, supporting arguments that the European Central Bank needs to adopt more radical stimulus measures.
Russia and Georgia think about making nice. The two countries hold talks on the possibility of normalizing diplomatic ties, six years after Russian troops invaded the country. Russia is probably hoping to intimidate Georgia after having taken Crimea from Ukraine, but also wants to forestall an accord Georgia and the EU are due to sign in June,
While you were sleeping
Europe’s banking union was finally born. The European parliament approved laws that make it easier to shut down troubled lenders—the last sticking point in what’s been a long campaign to create a banking union for the 18 countries that use the euro.
Ukrainian troops confronted pro-Russian rebels—maybe. Troops “liberated” an airfield in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, according to authorities, though at least one report questions whether there was anyone there to liberate it from. But there are worries these could be the first shots in a war.
Russia admitted the Crimea affair was hurting it. The country canceled a bond auction, and the finance minister said GDP growth could slow to 0.5% or zero this year, blaming it on capital outflows caused by ”geopolitical uncertainty.”
Coca-Cola got a pop. The soda company reported surprisingly good earnings, with help from sales in emerging markets, especially China, that are making up for a shortfall in soda consumption in the US.
Yahoo and Intel both had some good news. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, in which Yahoo owns 24%, reported a 66% jump in revenue. That suggests a $100 billion valuation may be justified when Alibaba goes public this year, giving Yahoo a big windfall. Intel also reported better earnings, as PC sales stabilized.
India’s Supreme Court got a bit more liberal. Having ruled gay sex illegal in December, the court recognized transgender (hijra) people as a third sex, giving them some legal protection against discrimination.
Quartz obsession interlude
John McDuling on how more Americans may be moving to cities, hastening the death of shopping malls and logo clothing. “Cities have become more attractive places to live. Weakness in the economy could be prompting young families to delay a move to the suburbs. Regardless, the city renaissance could be having knock-on effects across the economy. And in retail, it might already be happening.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The emerging middle class is at risk. A global slowdown and rising inequality could push up to a billion people back below the poverty line (paywall).
Aircraft black boxes should be designed to float. They do on military planes, so why not civilian ones?
Greece’s bonds don’t fix Greece. Its return to international bond markets this month might have been a success, but the economy still has deeper structural problems to resolve.
How to raise children with morals. Praise them for selfless behavior, but don’t reward them for it.
The most famous Thai dish is probably Chinese. Pounded chillies are the only Thai ingredient in pad thai, which was popularized as part of a Thai nation-building campaign.
Is episode VII of Star Wars being shot in Abu Dhabi? Photos show signs of a film set in the desert, including what looks like parts of a spaceship escape pod.
Filing taxes in the US is getting easier. The time it takes to prepare an income tax return has halved since 2006, and for the first time in nine years the instructions have gotten shorter.
Amazon can’t break into Sweden. A 57-year-old woman already owns the domain name amazon.se.
Your veins are as unique as your fingerprint. And a more secure way of paying for things, because you don’t leave veinprints on everything you touch.