What to watch for today
The European Central Bank considers more stimulus measures. Mario Draghi could announce drastic action to pump up the euro zone economy. In addition to another interest rate cut, analysts predict the ECB might start buying more government and corporate bonds.
Sunni countries wrap up a show of force in Saudi Arabia. The “Thunder of the North” training exercise will deploy troops from 20 countries including Egypt and Pakistan. Amid rising tension between Saudi Arabia and Shia-dominated Iran, Pakistan is considering (paywall) strengthening military ties with the Saudis.
Dollar General reports its fourth-quarter results. Wall Street is anticipating earnings of $5.3 billion for the latest quarter, compared to $4.9 billion in the fourth quarter last year. The US discount retailer competes with Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree.
While you were sleeping
Brazil’s previous president was indicted. São Paulo state prosecutors charged Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with hiding an ownership interest in a luxury beach apartment. Local media said Lula was accused of money laundering, concealment of assets, and other crimes.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated in Miami. Clinton repeatedly portrayed Sanders as being too far left. Sanders defended his plan to offer free tuition at public colleges, which Clinton said would be too expensive. In a remarkably raw moment, Clinton said, “I am not a natural politician.”
New Zealand’s central bank made a surprise rate cut. Worried about slowing growth in China and challenges in the dairy market, the bank cut the benchmark lending rate by a quarter point to 2.25%. The nation’s currency hit a one-week low.
Kenya Airways’ CEO talked about a turnaround plan. Mbuvi Ngunze said the airline is planning a $690 million restructuring program that will involve reducing the fleet and cutting staff. The airline suffered the largest loss in Kenyan corporate history last year.
Facebook got into the selfie filter business. The social network giant purchased Masquerade, an app that puts special effects onto live videos, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is a reaction to increased competition from Snapchat, which offers popular filters that let users do things like vomit rainbows.
Quartz obsession interlude
Erik German on the human implications of Google’s Go-playing artificial intelligence. “Duels like these don’t come often. That’s because the vast majority of human-versus-machine contests are rarely worth watching at all. But every once in awhile, a technological moment comes when the man-machine match-up gives us a fight worth watching.” Read more here.
Quartz markets haiku
A great galleon
Afloat on a sea of oil
Matters of debate
Google is creating a new type of capitalism based on surveillance. The company profits from monitoring and modifying human behavior.
We’re eating too much to fight climate change. The planet can’t cope with the emissions from food production and eating-related activities.
America’s productivity miracle is over. The labor-driven growth that created one of the world’s most affluent societies is in the past.
Ikea’s frugal founder buys all his clothes at flea markets. “I want to set a good example,” billionaire Ingvar Kamprad told reporters.
Germany’s most popular soda looks like swamp juice. Makers of spezi, a brownish citrus-cola, want to market the drink in other European countries.
An AI can identify terrorists from their V-signs. Hand geometry may be a useful biometric identifier.
Riding side-saddle is coming back in style. It’s less about modesty and more about elegance.
A flower show in China caused a spike in iron ore prices. Steel mills were forced to shut down (paywall) so the gathering would be pollution-free.