What to watch for today
Iraq heads to the polls. Commentators expect Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s incumbent prime minister, to secure a third term when the country votes in its first election since the withdrawal of US troops. However, even if Maliki wins the vote, he could have a tricky task ahead in forming a government.
Alstom’s statement on the GE offer. The French rail and turbine company reportedly accepted General Electric’s $10 billion offer last night, and will make a statement regarding the deal this morning, before its shares resume trading. This does not mean Alstom cannot examine unsolicited offers, however.
GlaxoSmithKline’s drugs deal hurts its profits. GSK is set to post a 12% drop in earnings in its first quarter, an uncharacteristic dip after eight consecutive profitable quarters. The decline is likely linked to GSK’s recent $16 billion deal (paywall) with Novartis.
Harsh weather hampers US growth. A brutal winter has taken its toll on the US economy, which is expected to have grown 1% in the first quarter of 2014 (paywall), compared to 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Facebook unveils a mobile ad network. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to explain plans to make more money from the social network’s mobile users at a developer conference. One way may be allowing advertisers to place highly targeted ads on non-Facebook apps using data from Facebook users’ behavior.
While you were sleeping
China reduced its GDP forecast.The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, one of China’s most important think tanks, revised its expectation for 2014 GDP growth to 7.4%, from 7.5%.
The US’s “world’s largest economy” crown is slipping. China may overtake the US to become the largest economy in the world this year, based on purchasing power parity, far quicker than previously expected. China’s economy was 87% of the US in 2011, based on PPP, a World Bank unit said, up from 43% in 2005.
Hong Kong’s pork IPO got canceled. The world’s largest pork company, China’s WH Group, canceled what would have been Hong Kong’s largest IPO in three years. The company said it would return investors’ money after a planned $5.3 billion sale was cut to just $1.9 billion.
Twitter’s user growth was modest. About 255 million people now actively use the social network, up from 241 million at the end of 2013. Revenue beat analyst expectations overall, but the revenue Twitter makes each time a user checks their timeline is actually falling.
Apple kicked off its second bond sale. The iPhone maker has already raked in $40 billion worth of orders (paywall) for the $12 billion worth of bonds it plans to sell to fund its shareholder buyback program. Most of Apple’s cash is held overseas, and taking on more debt is a cheaper option than bringing that money to the US.
Quartz obsession interlude
Lily Kuo on China’s attempts to hide just how bad its income equality has become. “Turns out the gap between wealthy and poor Chinese may be much larger than the government has said and also a good bit wider than that of the US. According to a new study from the University of Michigan, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (NAS), China’s Gini coefficient is now around 0.55. That’s higher than the official released number last year of 0.474 and higher than America’s most recently released number of 0.477. (The coefficient, a common measure of income inequality, ranges from 0 to 1, with 0 representing the most equal society.)” Read more here.
Matters of debate
For capitalism to work, learn accounting. Before we can discuss financial accountability of countries or companies, everyone should know double-entry bookkeeping.
A high number of guards and firefighters is a sign of an unequal society. They’re wasting productive time guarding other people’s wealth.
Robots are coming for your jobs. Our interactive infographic lets you know whether you’re at risk.
A tech-stock crash is a good thing. ”A reduction of euphoria reflects a return to reason.”
Cheerleaders deserve your sympathy. Their pay and work conditions are subpar—especially in a multibillion-dollar industry such as the National Football League.
Android will conquer the US. Now that Apple has taught people how to use smartphones, Android’s trickier customizability is no longer off-putting.
New software will make bitcoin crime even easier. “Dark Wallet” protects user information far more than previous wallets already do, making it great for money laundering.
Heartbleed has been used to hack cyber-criminals. The virus has been used by authorities to investigate secret web forums used by attackers.
How to get ketchup out of the glass bottle. The physics of fluids are complicated but the solution is simple: Give the bottle some hard shakes with the lid still on.
Breast-milk banks are popping up all over the place. There will be 22 in the US and Canada by year end that dole out screened, pasteurized breast milk.