What to watch for today
A nice day for a hike. The US Federal Reserve holds a two-day policy meeting, its last of the year, and virtually all experts think higher rates are coming. Fed chair Janet Yellen has said that would be a “testament” to the recovery since the 2008 recession.
The WTO meets in Nairobi. Attendees at the bi-annual conference in Nairobi are under pressure to reach a deal—any deal. A consensus would help re-establish the World Trade Organization in the face of new regional trade deals like the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Pakistan’s PM visits China. Nawaz Sharif will head a Pakistan delegation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit; Pakistan, along with India, is expected to become a full member of the nine-member organization this year. Sharif will also meet with Chinese premier Li Keqiang today to discuss “issues of mutual interest.”
Mexico announces winners of an onshore oil auction. Nearly 80 companies will bid for the rights to develop new oil fields, even though the country is suffering from a surge in pipeline theft. The state oil company reported 3,600 illegal taps on pipelines last year, up 40% from a year earlier, resulting in nearly $800 million in losses.
Marine Le Pen faces a hate speech verdict. The National Front leader, reeling from a painful sweep in regional elections yesterday, has been charged with inciting hatred against Muslims. She compared Muslim street prayers to the Nazi occupation—ironic since many of her party’s founders were enthusiastic Nazi collaborators.
While you were sleeping
Angela Merkel stood her ground on refugees. In a highly anticipated speech at her annual party conference, Merkel called the refugee crisis “a historic test” for Europe. She rejected calls for a cap on entrants but also laid out steps to reduce the record flow, and said she would deport (with a “friendly face”) those who did not qualify for asylum.
China’s sovereign wealth fund is moving to the US. The $747 billion China Investment Corp. is moving its North American headquarters from Toronto to New York as it prepares for more US investments and broader global expansion, Reuters reported. CIC’s investments in Canadian commodities have taken a beating in recent years.
Hoverboards are exploding left and right. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating 11 reports of fire in the self-balancing scooters, which are widely seen as the hottest gift of the holiday season. Amazon also pulled a huge number of hoverboards from its US and UK sites, requiring them to prove they were compliant with safety standards.
A missing Chinese tycoon reappeared. Fosun chairman Guo Guangchang resurfaced at his company’s annual meeting, and the company said he was helping police with a probe related to personal matters, rather than company business. Several high-profile Chinese businessmen have disappeared this year amid a government crackdown on the financial sector.
Newell Rubbermaid and Jarden joined forces. A newly announced $13 billion cash-and-stock merger would combine all of these products under one corporate umbrella: Sharpie markers, Graco baby strollers, Calphalon cookware, Elmer’s glue, Ball mason jars, Crock-pots, and more than 100 others.
Quartz markets haiku
Spilled oil shockingly buoyant
Gas is all hot air
Quartz obsession interlude
Josh Mitnick on Israel’s potentially wasted offshore gas bonanza. “If the gas from Leviathan stays in the ground, the government could lose up to $2.4 billion in tax revenue by 2022, according to an estimate by the finance ministry. There’s also the problem of energy security: Israel would have to find a source for imports instead of relying solely on the Tamar field, which currently supplies half of Israel’s energy.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
“Hate search” has deadly consequences. Googling for “kill Muslims” is correlated with more hate crimes.
The Texas of the north has a suicide problem. Alberta’s struggling oil industry is reeling from a mental health crisis.
Evangelical Christians will save America from Donald Trump. They are poised to deliver a pivotal state to his biggest rival, Ted Cruz.
An Indian woman named her baby “Uber.” He was born in an Uber vehicle en route to the hospital, after his mom couldn’t hail a cab.
A Texas plumber sued after his truck was used by ISIL. He says a local dealership broke its promise to remove his company’s decal from the vehicle.
South Africa uses cheetahs to guard airbases. They chase off smaller creatures that could endanger airplanes.
Your TV may be giving you “empathetic stress.” Characters in distress can be hazardous to your health.
Miami Beach real estate is a terrible long-term investment. Climate scientists say it may be gone in less than 50 years.