What to watch for today
Europe’s €550 billion injection. European Central Bank head Mario Draghi is expected to announce the start of quantitative easing that many think is long overdue and perhaps too little to kick-start the continent’s lagging economy. Leaks say the plan is to buy €50 billion ($58 billion) of government bonds per month for at least one year (paywall).
US-Cuba talks continue. The highest-ranking US delegation to Cuba in 35 years spends a second day in Havana, discussing the opening of diplomatic ties. President Barack Obama asked Congress to lift the 53-year-old trade embargo in yesterday’s State of the Union address, but that’ll be a longer struggle.
The Dollar Wars come to an end. After nearly a year of jostling between US discount supermarket chains Dollar Tree and Dollar General to buy Family Dollar, shareholders of the latter will vote on an acquisition bid, closing a saga that we’ve argued embodies everything wrong with American capitalism.
If you’re not at Davos, maybe you’re at Sundance? There’s at least as much snow in Park City, Utah, where one of the world’s largest festivals of independent film starts today. And if you’re not one of the 50,000 visitors, here are some events you can watch online.
Data, data, data. Capital One, Hyundai, Starbucks, and Verizon are reporting financial results, as are several US airlines (look for clues on fuel costs). And on the economic calendar: Spanish unemployment data and US weekly initial jobless claims.
While you were sleeping
eBay announced 2,400 job cuts. Rumors said around 3,000 job losses were planned, but that won’t be much comfort to those getting the sack. The company also announced revenue and profit pretty much in line with expectations. Further, Carl Icahn—eBay’s largest active shareholder—got his wish of putting one of his own on the board.
France put more money into counter-terrorism. Following the Paris attacks, France will dedicate €425 million ($490 million) to bolster intelligence-gathering, creating 2,680 new jobs. Officials said there are 3,000 people in France who have been or are planning to go to Syria and Iraq to train with terrorists.
There was a bus stabbing in Tel Aviv. A West Bank man stabbed 11 or 12 people, according to reports, in a city that has generally escaped terrorist attacks of late. Three of the injured are in serious condition; police shot the man in the leg and arrested him.
The Bank of Canada pulled a Swiss surprise. Well, not quite on the scale of revaluing the currency, but it did stun markets by cutting its key interest rate for the first time in over four years, in an attempt to cushion its economy from the oil price collapse.
Microsoft didn’t quite manage to look like Apple. It unveiled the snazzy-looking Windows 10, which will be free for one year after its launch later in 2015; and Cortana, its voice-enabled digital assistant, is a lot like Apple’s Siri. But the new HoloLens virtual-reality headset, while technically impressive, is really ugly.
Darren Wilson probably won’t be charged. The police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last summer probably won’t face (paywall) federal civil rights charges. A county grand jury also declined to indict Wilson in November.
Quartz obsession interlude
Bobby Ghosh shines a flashlight on Iran’s dark side. “On the same day that US president Barack Obama warned Congress not to push for more sanctions against Iran, the regime in Tehran demonstrated why its threat to the world is not limited to nuclear weapons. The Houthi insurgents who have run amok in the Yemeni capital Sana’a have been backed with weapons, money, and training by Iran.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Obama’s Russia strategy is a sham. The US is still trading with Russia, and the sanctions are not really working.
Feminism has failed. Armies of female nannies, cleaners, and cooks are tending to the needs of the wealthy while “feminists” are busy trying to get boardroom quotas.
The ECB is implementing the wrong type of QE. Buying bonds will flatten long-term bond yields, making banks incredibly hesitant to lend money.
North Korea will be a better place to live in 2015. It’ll still be terrible compared to the rest of the world, but new rules on farming are increasing food yields (paywall).
We can now make water-repellent metal. Tiny grooves make it more slippery than Teflon, which could be useful for creating hygienic or self-cleaning surfaces.
There could be two Earth-sized planets hiding in our solar system. If so, they’re among the asteroids beyond Pluto—where scientists thought planets couldn’t be.
Chimpanzees talk more than we thought. Their calls to one another include information about their favorite fruits and where the trees that bear them are.
There’s gold in them thar feces. The sewage system of a city with one million residents can produce $13 million in metals every year—$2.6 million from gold and silver alone.
A drink a day keeps the doctor away. Consuming 14 grams of alcohol (half a pint of beer) every day cuts the risk of a heart attack by up to 20%.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, planet sightings, and lager to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.