What to watch for today
The last day of voting in India. More than 90% of the country has already voted, but that doesn’t mean a BJP victory is secure, since India’s exit polls have a history of getting it wrong. That didn’t stop Indian equity markets from hitting record highs, driven mostly by foreign buyers, on hopes that Narendra Modi’s policies would boost the economy.
Detroit’s bankruptcy vote begins. The city’s 170,000 creditors will receive information about its plan to eliminate $18 billion of debt and reinvest $1.4 billion in services over the next decade. Creditors have two months to return their ballots.
The TV industry gets a check-up. It’s “upfronts” week, when US networks unveil their primetime line-ups and book billions of dollars in advance ad sales. This could be the fourth straight year that upfront ad commitments stay flat or fall.
Iran prepares for a nuclear agreement. Unofficial talks in begin Vienna, ahead of a meeting later this week to draft a final agreement. Meanwhile, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Western calls for Iran to curb its missile development program were “stupid and idiotic.”
Over the weekend
Russia backed Ukrainian separatist votes. Pro-Moscow groups said residents overwhelmingly backed calls for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to secede. Russia said it respects the referendums and called for a “civilized implementation” of the results. Separately, the European Union may expand sanctions, possibly targeting 14 Russian individuals and two Crimean companies.
The Murdochs made another run at pan-European pay-TV. BSkyB confirmed it is talking to 21st Century Fox about buying its European sister companies, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, uniting Rupert Murdoch’s European satellite holdings.
Japan’s weak exports became a serious drag. The country’s current account surplus dropped more than four-foldto a less-than-expected 116.4 billion yen ($1.14 billion) in March, hampering the recovery of the world’s third-largest economy. Still, some of Japan’s biggest companies are planning big spending boosts (paywall) for the year ahead.
China said slow growth is the new growth… President Xi Jinping encouraged his compatriots to stay “cool-minded” and “adapt to a new normal” of slower economic expansion, as policymakers struggle to meet a 7.5% growth target for the year.
…And a waste plant protest turned ugly. Dozens were injured after a protest against an incinerator turned into a riot in Hangzhou. The incident follows last month’s protest against a plant in southern China that residents believed would be a heavy polluter.
Britain is probing Barclays’ “corrupt dealings” with Qatar. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office will question Bob Diamond and senior Barclays executives (paywall) ”under caution,” suggesting it has reasonable grounds to suspect them of a crime, as part of an investigation into payments made to the bank’s Qatari investors.
The ranks of the UK’s richest swelled. The Sunday Times rich list found 104 billionaires in the UK—up from 88 last year—with a combined net worth of £301 billion ($507 billion). That’s more billionaires per capita than any other country.
Quartz obsession interlude
John McDuling on how soccer has finally found a home in the American psyche. “Nine of the 10 most watched Premier League games ever took place during the current season, and matches have, on average, drawn 440,000 viewers each, compared to 221,000 last year. This Sunday (May 11), for the season finale, NBC will air all 10 matches live across its various channels. Let’s stop to reflect on this. A foreign game, a foreign league, is being aired on US television, and people are actually watching it.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
European governments should stop meddling in mergers. If they don’t, investors will opt for freer countries.
Apple is having a mid-life crisis. Buying Beats is a classic example of opening one’s wallet to keep up with the kids.
Your mobile phone bill should be going down. But it isn’t, because consumers aren’t reaping the benefits of wireless technology.
The City is losing to Wall Street. Barclays’ downsizing has taken British investment banking back 20 years (paywall).
Asians are less self-centered because of rice. Rice farming breeds a more collective society than wheat farming.
Air travel just got safer. Inmarsat, the company that traced the missing Malaysia Airlines jet to the Indian Ocean, will offer a free basic tracking program to every airline in the world, most of which already use its satellite equipment.
Vladimir Putin is a demon on the ice. He scored six goals and five assists in a televised hockey game.
There’s an apparent relationship between Maine divorces and margarine consumption. And dozens of other spurious correlation charts.
Parents are happier, after all. But only because non-parents are more miserable than they used to be.
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