What to watch for today
Radioshack provides a check-up. The consumer electronics company has been losing ground to Best Buy and Amazon, and said in March it would close 1,100 stores. Investors hope its first-quarter results will come with some details on how it plans to cut losses and increase sales.
A private explanation of Bergdahl’s release. The US Defense Department’s lawyer will brief the congressional Armed Services Committee about the release of captured Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, whose exchange for five Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo Bay has become the latest Washington controversy. The hearing is a closed session.
Ukraine pays its gas bill. Russia could cut off Ukraine’s gas supply—which would also disrupt delivery to a large chunk of the EU—if Kiev does not pay its $4.5 billion energy bill. Russia extended the payment deadline after Ukraine paid a $786 million installment last week.
Iran, the US, and the EU wrap up nuclear talks. A two-day talk over Iran’s controversial nuclear program ends in Geneva—Tehran has been showing some signs of willingness to cooperate with the UN over military issues of late, and diplomats will be watching the outcome of the talks ahead of a July 20 deadline to reach a final agreement.
A look at the global economy. The World Bank publishes its six-monthly Global Economic Prospects report. January’s uncharacteristically bright expectations were for global improvement throughout 2014—this mid-year follow up confirm whether the recovery remains on track.
Israel votes for a new president. As Shimon Peres’ seven-year term draws to a close, six candidates face the vote and a largely apathetic electorate in a race to succeed him. More than a quarter of Israelis want to see the largely ceremonial—and expensive—position of the presidency abolished.
While you were sleeping
Ukraine ordered an evacuation corridor. President Petro Poroshenko ordered a corridor in eastern Ukraine, to allow citizens to escape fighting even as peace talks with Russia progress. Other regions of country have been ordered to receive evacuees if fighting should break out.
China’s government detailed a reserve ratio cut. The government announced it will cut the reserve ratio for some banks by 0.5%, as part of its plan to get banks lending to first-time home buyers, small businesses, and agriculture. Nearly all rural banks will see their reserve ratio requirements cut while only two-thirds of city banks will.
Euronext’s IPO could be worth $2.4 billion. Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the European stock market operator, said it could be valued at €1.75 billion ($2.4 billion) after an initial public offering—shares will start trading on June 20.
Microsoft will partner with a Chinese IT security firm. Qihoo 360 Technology, which makes security software, will partner with Microsoft to conduct “technology exchanges in artificial intelligence” and other projects. US tech companies, including Microsoft, have been losing business in China recently over cyber-security issues and picking local partners may help alleviate the pressure.
UK industrial output rose for a third month. April saw industrial output increase 0.4% from March and 3% on the year—the biggest increase since 2011. Markit Economics predicted British industry would continue to expand, and that it would grow by 0.8% this quarter. Manufacturing grew 4.4% on the year.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on how non-compete agreements are gaining a chokehold on American business. ”Even in industries where intellectual property matters, non-competes may be bad for the industry as a whole, according to a recent survey of research on the subject by MIT’s Matt Marx and Harvard’s Lee Fleming. Economists thinks that innovation can be spurred by having lots of firms in the same skilled industry working near each other; as workers move from firm to firm and mix with new people, new ideas and firms are created. Non-competes limit their ability to do that—in fact, California law makes most non-compete agreements unenforceable, and other research found that Silicon Valley has an unusually high level of inter-firm mobility for workers.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Cynicism is killing US media. When all journalists say all politicians are crooks, there’s no need to read the news any more.
The US is in a space race with China. When the first American lands on Mars, the Chinese will be there too.
Marketers don’t speak to women properly. And changing this can have a positive impact on our wider society, says Sheryl Sandberg.
Writing about hate isn’t changing anything. On the US racism beat, “you’ll never want for steady work, but a steady mind is not guaranteed” because similar incidents happen again and again.
Japan’s rigorous resume format is hurting its job market. Even basic jobs require a ririkesho that lists your entire education history and the reason you left each previous job.
Retail outlets need to make their websites more like their stores. Too many have great shop windows and lousy online portals.
Doctors in Pittsburgh have started killing their patients. Doctors now drain trauma patients’ blood (paywall) and replace it with cold salt water—killing them—to buy themselves more time to treat wounds, before reviving them later.
Russia has invented the disposable cardboard USB. Single-use reduces the chance of virus transmission, and they look awesome to boot.
America has a bullet-proof blanket for kids. The ProTecht will stop hurricane debris and 9mm bullets.
Seoul loves Broadway shows. Musicals are having successful second lives in South Korea, where ticket sales have multiplied 17-fold since 2000.
The short-pants suit is happening. Retailers like J Crew and Topman are selling $400 versions of Pharrell’s Oscars outfit.
The human jaw has evolved to withstand punches. Millennia of fist fighting have given men more robust faces than women.