What to watch for today
US-EU trade talks. The ninth round of negotiations begins in New York for a free-trade pact between the world’s two biggest economic blocs. Thousands of people in Germany protested against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership over the weekend, objecting to a clause that allows corporations to sue governments before a special tribunal.
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.
Halliburton updates investors. The oil field services giant has already announced 6,000 job cuts due to the low price of oil, but investors will want to know whether more cutbacks could be on the way. They are also awaiting an update on Halliburton’s $35 billion acquisition of its smaller rival, Baker Hughes.
Xi Jinping invests $46 billion in Pakistan. The Chinese president visits Islamabad to announce a huge slate of energy and infrastructure projects to build an “economic corridor” between western China and Pakistan’s Gwadar Port on the Indian Ocean. The route runs through Pakistan’s violent Balochistan province, which will require heavy security to protect Chinese workers.
A big day for marijuana. It’s the unofficial US holiday—as expressed by the dateline 4/20—celebrating cannabis, which is fast losing its stigma 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 smuggler’s boat carrying some 700 Europe-bound migrants sank. 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 ten times the same period last year—and raises the pressure on a divided 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. The move could free up about 1.3 trillion yuan ($210 billion) for new loans—but only if banks are willing to lend.
A frozen food buy-out. Nomad Foods agreed to acquire Iglo, the parent company of frozen food pioneer Birds Eye, for €2.6 billion ($2.8 billion) in cash from private equity group Permira. Nomad was established last year by two consumer goods tycoons.
Germany’s producer price index fell 1.7%. The larger-than-expected decline in factory prices was the 20th consecutive monthly drop. That suggests that the European Central Bank’s €60 billion ($64.5 billion) per month stimulus isn’t yet having much of an effect on business confidence.
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 it discovered 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 only 0.1% in the first quarter from a year earlier, raising the likelihood that the central bank will cut its benchmark interest rate this year.
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
The world is unbundling. From cable channels to manufacturers, technology is helping the world understand that smaller is better.
Kids shouldn’t be handled with kid gloves… Being a good parent doesn’t mean planning for the worst-case scenario.
…And they fare better if they’re spiritual. But that doesn’t mean they necessarily need organized religion to thrive.
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.
Norway is the first country to switch off FM radio. In 2017 it will switch to a digital radio standard.
Saturn’s ring is being fed by its icy moon. Cryo-volcanoes on Enceladus spew frozen water fragments that end up in orbit.
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.