What to watch for today
Asian military confab. Defense ministers meet at the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore for three days of talks about cyber-warfare, North Korea and China Sea disputes. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said cyberhacking poses a “quiet, stealthy, insidious” threat.
Xi Jinping’s summer tour. The Chinese president embarks on a diplomatic trip across the Americas, which will include a June 7-8 summit in California with US President Barack Obama.
Patently taking too long. The US International Trade Commission rules on whether Samsung infringed an Apple patent for selecting text on tablets and smartphones. Really, how many ways can there be?
Oil flows in Vienna. OPEC meets in the Austrian capital to set the cartel’s latest output target. Ministers are reportedly planning to keep production constant, but surprises have been known to happen.
Hard data. Canada GDP is expected to have expanded by 0.1% in March.
While you were sleeping
Traffic jams in Frankfurt. The “Blockupy” movement drew thousands of protestors to the European Central Bank to protest how policymakers have handled the European debt crisis. It’s hard to disagree, given that…
Euro zone unemployment hit an all-time high. Joblessness in the 17-nation area stands at 12.2%. Inflation is below the ECB’s target, which makes an excellent case for a new program of quantitative easing.
UK lending sagged. The Bank of England has been trying to boost credit growth, but net lending fell 4% in April. Mortgage approvals were up, but less than expected.
Japan is full of surprises. Industrial growth of 1.7% in April was almost three times higher than analysts expected. But deflation isn’t licked yet—core consumer prices fell 0.4%. Meanwhile, India posted a feeble 4.8% increase in its full-year 2012 GDP.
God’s new banker. Ernst von Freyberg, head of the Vatican bank Institute for the Works of Religion, has his hands full cracking down on money laundering.
Quartz obsession interlude
Simone Foxman on the misconception behind “too big to fail.” “The focus was never on the ‘big’ part; it was on the ‘fail’ part. Dodd-Frank—introduced in late 2009 and passed in 2010–was meant to create a path that would allow banks and other ‘systematically important’ financial institutions of any size to fail—i.e., cease to exist in name—without causing permanent damage to the US financial system. And in fact, these very policies are most cumbersome for the very smallest banks, and encourage them to get bigger.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The immortal loophole. “Check the box” deprives the US Treasury of $10 billion a year, and there’s not much politicians can do about it.
Drones are the only face of US foreign policy in some countries. That has to change.
Women will evolve out of menopause. It’s an evolutionary throwback and no longer relevant.
Hate speech should be allowed on Facebook.
“I was a Nazi, and here’s why.” A letter from a former Hitler Youth to her Jewish best friend.
French wine sale. President François Hollande is selling off 1,200 bottles of wine from the Elysée Palace’s cellar.
The odds of a coin flip aren’t 50-50. How to win a bar bet.
The cronut business has a scaling problem. The economics of New York City’s pastry craze: the lovechild of a croissant and a donut.
A Chinese painter is outselling Picasso. Zhang Daqian made $500 million in 2011.
English à la Brussels. The EU’s vocabulary “differs from that of any recognised form of English.”