What to watch for today
Bernankean smoke signals. The Federal Reserve chairman testifies before Congress the same day the Fed releases minutes of its most recent meeting. Investors will be looking for more hints of how soon Bernanke will scale back quantitative easing.
The EU summit. Cracking down on tax havens and tax-dodging multinationals are top of the agenda, along with a push on renewable energy to offset increasing imports from Russia.
Osborne braces for a beating. The austerity soap opera rolls on in the United Kingdom, where the International Monetary Fund will critique Chancellor George Osborne’s economic plans as growth-hindering.
Bank of Japan stays the course. The bank concludes its two-day meeting and is expected to maintain its monetary easing policy. Earlier on Wednesday, Japan’s trade deficit unexpectedly worsened despite a weaker yen.
More bad news for PCs? Hewlett-Packard reports earnings today, along with US retailers Lowe’s and Target.
While you were sleeping
Jamie Dimon stayed whole. A shareholder vote to strip the JP Morgan CEO of his chairmanship failed at the company’s annual meeting. The bank’s shareholders were vocal in their criticism, and the lead independent director hinted that there would be changes to the board’s structure.
The taxman cometh not for Apple. Apple CEO Tim Cook ably defended Apple’s tax strategy during testimony before the US Congress. The US Senate had accused Apple of using overseas operations to avoid $9 billion in taxes last year; Cook countered that US corporate tax needs reforming.
A US immigration bill advanced. A Senate panel voted 13-5 to advance the measure, setting it up for a full debate next month. If it passes, 11 million undocumented residents will be one step closer to a path to citizenship.
Iran barred two strong contenders. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a reformist former president, and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a protege of incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, won’t be allowed to run in next month’s presidential election, clearing the field for a conservative close to the ruling clergy.
The Xbox One emerged. Microsoft unveiled its new gaming console in its continuing quest to become king of the living room. With more storage, a faster processor and more powerful graphics, the Xbox could be an Apple killer.
Quartz obsession interlude
Christopher Mims on the future of food. ”Anjan Contractor’s 3D food printer just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer … Contractor envisions a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store.” Read more.
Matters of debate
Greece isn’t turning the corner. Don’t believe all the hype.
The new Xbox is an Apple killer. At least in the living room.
Anti-Americanism on the rise in Russia. The latest spy scandal is proof.
Satirist Bassem Youssef is the most important man in Egypt.
Autism as a job requirement. German software firm SAP wants people with autism to account for about 1% of it workforce because of their high scores for intelligence and concentration.
China’s bear bile IPO: A pharmaceutical firm that “milks” bile from captive bears was foiled by China’s nascent animal rights movement.
Tornadoes never strike twice. Unless you live in Moore, Oklahoma, in which case the last time was 1999.
Solar storms also pack a punch. If they hit in just the right way, they could knock out power grids.
Pedal-powered pubs. Riding a quadracycle and drinking alcohol is the new new thing at bachelorette parties.
Toothbrush rush. Colgate-Palmolive applied for a patent that infuses caffeine into a patch attached to a toothbrush.
Dolphins training to find mines discovered a 19th century torpedo instead.
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