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What to watch for today
The European Central Bank does its best not to spook anyone… The ECB is expected to announce that euro-zone interest rates will remain at a record low of 0.75%, but there are jitters ahead of its meeting. Berlusconi is back, and France and Germany disagree on how strong the euro should be.
…While 28 European leaders try to agree on a budget. After failed talks in November, when Britain and Germany pushed for a cut of about 10% in the EU’s trillion-euro budget for 2014-2020, a fresh two-day summit starts in Brussels today of the 27 EU countries plus Croatia, which joins this summer. Like any good compromise, this week’s meeting, which will probably end with cuts to both agricultural subsidies and growth-enhancing measures, will leave everybody unhappy.
Britain’s new central banker drops by for a chat. Mark Carney, presently governor of the Bank of Canada and due to take over at the Bank of England in July, will appear before Treasury select committee. As the bank takes on its additional role of financial regulator, Carney, the first foreigner to fill the post, will become the most powerful central banker England has ever seen.
We find out how much US consumers borrowed in December. November saw the biggest jump in ten years; was consumer confidence sustained?
What works in Swiss banking? Analysts will be closely watching Credit Suisse’s earnings today to compare against its close rival UBS, which reported losses on Feb. 5. The two banks have followed opposing strategies since the financial crisis, with UBS winding down its riskier fixed-income business while Credit Suisse has kept its going.
While you were sleeping
The Libor scandal got really entertaining. After Royal Bank of Scotland agreed to pay British and American authorities some $610 million to settle charges over manipulation of the London InterBank Offered Rate, a trove of emails between traders scheming to distort Libor was released, and the media pounced. Our favorite part? How they used emoticons.
Japanese stocks continued bouncing around. They’re up, they’re down, they’re up, hey they’re back down again. After hitting dizzying heights yesterday, the Nikkei dipped 1% in early morning trading as traders booked profits and Nikon’s outlook weakened. One analyst thinks the market could climb 10% in the next three months, but it’ll be a bumpy ride.
The American skies got a little friendlier. American Airlines and US Airways, the fourth- and fifth-largest flyers in the US, will merge. With a combined passenger traffic of 170 million, the new entity will be the world’s largest airline.
Rupert Murdoch made lots of money. Despite continuing costs related to the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, an appearance before the Leveson enquiry and the arrest of former journalists, News Corp doubled its year-on-year profits to $2.38 billion in the last quarter of 2012, beating estimates.
Most successful tech company: One you use but may never have heard of. ARM Holdings might not be that big, but it designs the microchips probably used in your smartphone as well as many other things, has seen 20% growth every quarter for years, and is set to become the de facto standard for computing devices the world over.
Quartz obsession interlude
Ritchie King on the drug company that doesn’t worry about patents. “GSK’s Advair inhaler (called Seretide in most of Europe and India)—used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—lost its patent at the end of 2010. Ordinarily, a cheaper, generic version of a patented drug comes out shortly after the patent expires… The reason Advair has been immune to a takeover of generics is that, unlike a basic chemical pill, it’s extremely difficult to mimic.”Read more here.
Matters of debate
Is China is trying to end a conflict in Myanmar so it’s no longer beholden to the US Navy? The Strait of Malacca is the choke point for 80% of China’s imported oil, but if Beijing can just end the standoff between the government and rebels in Myanmar, it can get that oil via a pipeline.
Is it time to puncture the mystique of banking? Regulators treat banks as if they’re special, but they’re just like any other business, argue Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig.
The solution to climate change is European-style vacations. Well, maybe not the flying-off-to-Ibiza part, just the part where everyone works less.
The real threat to your online accounts isn’t Chinese hackers. It’s yoursignificant other.
One third of Indonesians sleep fewer than four hours a night. And a third of Russians don’t watch television, reveals a new poll.
China is wrestling with gay marriage, but not the kind you’re thinking of.A rising tide of “fake” marriages between women and gay Chinese men has led to a lively debate.
The most common job for women in the US is the same one it was in 1950. Back then they were called secretaries—today, administrative assistants.
Are condoms too big for Indian men? That may explain the 1.2 billion people.
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