What to watch for today
Grinding gears. Data on German factory orders and French industrial production will shed some light on how the euro crisis is hampering exports from the continental powers.
China loves Iron Man, but does it still love iron ore? An update on Australia’s trade balance will be parsed for indications of commodity demand from China.
Kerry meets Putin in Moscow. At the confab between the US secretary of state and the Russian president the situation in Syria will be high on the agenda.
The Mouse roars. Entertainment giant Disney reports quarterly results after the close of US trading. Investors will be eager to see whether company cash cows such as ESPN will live up to the performance of the company’s shares, which have risen more than 50% over the last year.
Credit where credit is due. An update is due on US consumer borrowing for March. The last iteration of this report showed car and college loans rising fast.
A North Korea policy. US president Barack Obama and South Korea’s Park Geun-hye, on her first foreign trip as president, discuss their chief matter of mutual concern.
Can you hear them calling? An ABBA museum is set to open in Stockholm.
While you were sleeping
South Africa’s economy continued to struggle. Unemployment climbed above 25%.
Syrian rebels might have used chemical weapons. So a UN human rights investigator told Swiss television, though the UN appeared to be distancing itself from those comments.
Bank of America sorted out a bit more of its subprime mess. The bank agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle a dispute with bond insurer MBIA, which had insured some of BofA’s subprime mortgage deals. The settlement also wards off possible liquidation for MBIA.
Boring software company fetches large sum. Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital agreed to buy struggling tech firm BMC, which makes software for running company networks, for $6.9 billion, making it the third-largest private equity deal of 2013.
Quartz obsession interlude
Lily Kuo on the rise of China’s truly bizarre architectural aesthetic. ”China’s modern architectural sensibility, in some ways, is still in its infancy. The industry has only begun emerging over the past 30 years during the country’s economic reform and opening up, after decades of following Soviet-style city design. Today, there is about one architect for every 40,000 people in China. (In Italy, the proportion is more like 1:400). And the newness of it all, Wu Liangyong, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering said, means the People’s Republic is now seeing a surge of demand for the avant-garde and novel—no matter how tacky.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Rising house prices in the US might not generate as much consumer spending as they once did. The so-called wealth effect has been constrained by a dearth of cash-out refinancing.
Rise of the glassholes. Google Glass is a stalker’s dream and a privacy nightmare.
Patenting human genes isn’t just weird. It inhibits innovation, blocks access to knowledge and may cost lives.
Do the right thing. Jamie Dimon should give up the the chairmanship at JP Morgan.
Private schools coming to their senses. US private colleges and universities offered record price cuts—via grants and scholarships—averaging 45% last autumn, amid worries they’ve become too expensive for students to afford.
Corruption watch. Exports of Swiss watches to China tumbled 23% early this year, amid a Chinese crackdown on “gifts” to public officials.
Porn overload. Some 12% of websites are pornographic (paywall).
Oh, Canada. Sales of new condos in Toronto fell 55% in the first quarter. Canada’s real estate market is slowing sharply after government efforts to deflate what many said was a bubble.
Well played. Al Gore is worth almost as much as Mitt Romney.
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