What to watch for today
Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the US Congress. The Israeli prime minister gives a highly polarizing speech at the invitation of Republicans, arguing that a nuclear deal with Iran must not happen. Support for Netanyahu among US citizens has been going up.
Italy contemplates its high-speed future. The government is likely approve a plan to inject €6 billion ($6.7 billion) into replacing copper lines with fiber-optic cables, to create a broadband network that will reach 85% of the country’s population in five years.
A US consumer update. Auto sales are expected to top 16 million in February for the 12th consecutive month. Best Buy is slated to report strong fourth-quarter results after a merry holiday shopping season.
While you were sleeping
Hillary Clinton’s email usage was scrutinized. The New York Times reports that the presumed US presidential candidate exclusively used a personal email account while serving as secretary of state, which may have violated security and record-keeping guidelines. Her office submitted selected emails to the State Department two months ago.
Barclays beat estimates. The British bank reported a pretax profit of £5.5 billion ($8.5 billion) in 2014, up 12% from a year earlier and better than an expected £5.3 billion. That includes setting aside an extra £750 million for potential fines relating to allegations of foreign exchange manipulation—even though the bank could face up to £5.4 billion in fines over the next two years.
Taiwan wrapped Alibaba’s knuckles. Taiwan’s investment commission said the Chinese e-commerce giant broke investment rules by registering in Taiwan under a Singaporean entity, instead of applying for approval as a mainland Chinese businesses. The company has until August to apply formally, or exit the market.
South Korean inflation fell to a more-than 15-year low. Consumer prices rose only 0.5% in February from a year earlier, falling short of an expected 0.7% rise. Low fuel prices and weak consumer demand prompted speculation that the central bank may roll out new stimulus measures at its March 12 meeting.
Sharp is raising funds to withstand a slump. The Japanese electronics manufacturer is seeking assistance from its biggest lenders on the back of poorer-than-expected smartphone sales, according to Reuters. Shares fell almost 10% in morning trading, and Sharp said it would announce a new business plan in May (paywall).
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on China’s latest monetary predicament. “For decades, China has been the global epicenter of cash inflows, thanks to its huge trade surplus and surging foreign investment. No longer. Rapidly slowing inflation is making it harder and harder for Chinese companies to pay down their huge pile of debts. That disinflation is getting creepily close to deflation, when prices start falling. That’s pushing China closer and closer to a liquidity trap.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
It’s time to start worrying about firmware hacks. If manufacturers don’t act, our gadgets could be hardwired for betrayal.
Iran’s biggest threat isn’t nukes. Easing sanctions will help Tehran prop up despots and export terrorism.
Drones will revolutionize Africa. ”Flying donkeys” will be a leap-frog technology similar to mobile phones.
China needs to start thinking about quantitative easing. The central bank needs to take risks to carry out the biggest debt restructuring ever.
American democracy is doomed. The presidential system of governance may be to blame.
ISIL’s antiquities rampage may have mostly destroyed fakes. Most original statues had been moved to Baghdad or western museums.
Medical marijuana will result in stoned rabbits. That’s what a drug enforcement official argued—unsuccessfully—to the Utah legislature.
“Buy-and-hold” investing really works. A fund that hasn’t changed its stock picks since 1935 is outperforming its peers.
Earth has another moon. The near-Earth asteroid 3753 Cruithne completes one horseshoe orbit around us every 800 years.
Warren Buffett eats like a six-year-old. He drinks five cans of Coca-Cola a day and has ice cream for breakfast.
Beer was banned in Iceland until 1989. The country didn’t want to be like its hedonistic neighbors in Denmark.
Correction: In Friday’s surprising discoveries we told you that scientists may have found the gene responsible for conscious thought and language. In fact the gene is thought to be responsible for helping to grow the neocortex, where such activity takes place.
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