What to watch for today
Cyprus continues to dominate the headlines. Cyprus’s parliament will vote this afternoon on the controversial proposal to impose levies on every bank account to help bail out the country’s banks, though smaller depositors may be exempt. A former governor of the central bank warned that if parliament rejects the bill, “Cyprus will turn into Libya.” The banks will remain closed until Thursday to prevent what might otherwise be a massive bank run.
Episode CCLXVI: A new Pope. In a galaxy far, far away—otherwise known as the Vatican—Pope Francis will be inaugurated and hold his first mass. Guests will include US Vice President Joe Biden and—why not?—Robert Mugabe.
Is America building yet? Data on new construction in the US (housing starts) will be released—last month saw a drop of 8.5%.
India’s central bank leaps into action. After the weakest economic growth in a decade, the Reserve Bank of India will probably cut rates by 25 basis points.
While you were sleeping
Signs of optimism in China. Foreign direct investment to China climbed to $8.21 billion in February, up 6.3% from last year. This is the first time in nine months that numbers have gone up, suggesting renewed faith in China’s growth.
Syria’s first prime-minister-in-exile is… American. Ghassan Hitto, a naturalized US citizen, was elected prime minister by opposition parties who met in Beirut. Hitto and his government hope to emerge as an alternative if Bashar Assad falls. Meanwhile, New York might get its first Asian-American mayor after John Liu—named for John F Kennedy—threw his hat into the ring.
First they came for the bankers… Yesterday’s revelation of an EU proposal to cap fund managers’ bonuses has triggered fears that a regulation-happy EU, having also just imposed caps on bankers, could push for much wider executive pay limits. The European Parliament votes on the proposal on Thursday. Over in America, eBay CEO John Donahoe saw an 80% jump in pay to $29.7 million, largely in the form of stock.
Citi settled a massive class-action suit. Citigroup agreed to pay $730 million to shareholders and creditors affected by the bank’s precarious position during the financial crisis. They accused the bank of lying about the value of its mortgage-bond portfolio, which pushed its share price down.
SimCity boss kicked out. John Riccitiello, head of games company Electronic Arts, says his resignation is all about “my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year.” Continued glitches in EA’s multiplayer version of its flagship SimCity game may just have been the last straw.
The Washington Post went the way of the New York Times. The paper will erect a porous paywall this summer, charging users for access to more than 20 stories a month.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gina Chon on how bankers will deal with pay cuts: Get a more normal life. ”A managing director at one bank said he’ll use the pay cuts as an excuse to work less and spend more time with his family. He traveled more than 310 days last year, which paid off in business, and his bank was on a lot of deals in his sector. But because of problems with other parts of the bank, his compensation was still cut, so now he questions whether it’s worth it. “We’re not getting rewarded for the work we do,” he said. “Instead, we’re actually being punished. So what’s the point in killing myself for my job?”” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Now is the time to buy US stocks. One-time bear Meredith Whitney declares herself the most bullish she has ever been in her career.
Is de-extinction a good idea? When we wipe out species, we’re only human, but when we try to revive them, are we playing God?
Even German austerity hawks think the Cyprus bailout was a mistake.Bankruptcy is one thing, but taking money from grandmothers doesn’t satisfy even the staunchest critics of bailouts.
The Middle East has had a lost decade. And it’s mostly America’s fault.
The new way to commute in Rio de Janeiro. Just plummet between the buildings.
The ideal praise-to-criticism ratio. For best results from both your colleagues and your spouse, compliment them about five times as often as you tell them off.
Fairness is in our genes. Monkeys reject food from humans who behave selfishly, suggesting the desire to ostracize cheaters goes back millions of years.