What to watch for today
US-EU trade talks. The ninth round of negotiations over a free-trade pact between the world’s two biggest economic blocs begins in New York. Thousands of people in Germany protested against the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership over the weekend, objecting to a clause that “allows corporations to sue governments in tribunals that are above national law.”
IBM reports its 12th consecutive quarter of lower earnings. Big Blue is attempting a painful shift away from unprofitable hardware services and into cloud computing. Analysts don’t expect much joy in its first-quarter results.
Xi Jinping arrives in Pakistan. The Chinese president will announce $28 billion in energy and infrastructure projects as part of China’s attempt to establish a trade route that includes Pakistan’s Chinese-run Gwadar port. Xi will also meet with Pakistani military officials before traveling to Indonesia on Wednesday.
A big day for marijuana. It’s the unofficial holiday—as expressed by the US dateline of 4/20—celebrating cannabis, which is fast losing its stigma in the United States as more states make it legal. Bloomberg has identified 55 public companies trying to ride the high, while McDonald’s chose the date to launch an all-day breakfast menu for anyone with the munchies in San Diego.
Over the weekend
A boat sank carrying up to 700 Europe-bound migrants. Italian rescuers have retrieved only 28 survivors after a large boat sank off the coast of Libya. The disaster brings the 2015 migrant death toll to nearly 1,500—more than double the same period last year—and puts more pressure on the EU to step up its search and rescue efforts.
China added more stimulus. Its central bank cut the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves by 1%, the most drastic reduction since the 2008 financial crisis, which could free up about 1.3 trillion yuan ($210 billion) for new lending. The move comes after China reported its slowest quarterly GDP growth in six years.
A frozen food buy-out. Nomad Foods is set to announce the purchase of Iglo, the parent company of frozen food maker Bird Eye, for €2.6 billion ($2.8 billion) in cash from private equity group Permira, according to the Financial Times (paywall). Nomad was established last year by two consumer goods tycoons.
The CDC warned of sexually-transmitted Ebola. The US health agency revised its guidelines and warned that Ebola survivors should practice safe sex indefinitely after new evidence that the virus could survive in semen for many months. The World Health Organization and Liberia have issued simliar warnings.
New Zealand recorded its slowest inflation in 15 years. Consumer prices rose 0.1% in the first quarter from a year earlier, mostly because of the low price of oil. The decline raises the likelihood that its central bank will cut its benchmark interest rate this year.
Two Cuban dissidents contested local elections. A member of an outlawed political party and an independent journalist and lawyer are pursuing seats on a local council in Havana. Although their changes are slim, the election may prove to be a litmus test for the country’s political climate as it moves to re-establish ties with the United States..
Quartz obsession interlude
Kabir Chibber on the next generation of global sports royalty. “The oldest son of soccer star David Beckham has been swiftly trying to follow in his father’s footsteps. The younger Beckham, who plays on the right of midfield, was a part of Arsenal’s youth academy in North London, but the 15-year-old is being released at the end of the season after failing to make the grade.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Marrying out of your social class is difficult but not impossible. Cross-class couples have to work extra hard to make marriages work.
Working on the weekend is a waste of time. Once you’ve clocked 50 hours of work in a week, any additional effort is not productive.
The world is unbundling. From cable channels to manufacturers, technology is helping the world understand that smaller is better.
Don’t blame nurses for gallows humor. It’s an essential antidote in an exhausting occupation.
Children shouldn’t be handled with kid gloves. There is a tendency to confuse worrying about danger with being a caring parent.
Norway is abolishing FM radio. In 2017 it will switch to a digital radio standard.
Saturn’s ring is being fed by its ice moon. Cryo-volcanoes on Enceladus spew icy water fragments that end up orbiting Saturn.
Solar power will soon be as cheap as coal. “Grid parity” is rapidly approaching for alternative energy sources.
Internet trolls can be spotted after just five horrible comments. But they should still get “a chance to redeem themselves.”
A former Canadian defense minister says UFOs are as common as airplanes. And he wants governments to stop lying about it.