Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
A possible laboratory equipment mega-merger. Thermo Fisher Scientific is nearing a deal to acquire Life Technologies for as much as $13 billion, according to reports. An agreement between the two US biotech supply companies would be one of the largest corporate acquisitions so far this year.
India and the European Union meet on free trade in Brussels. It’s crunch time on trade policy as India approaches election season. As the two sides start their 17th round of negotiations, there’s still a lot to resolve: brain drain and immigration issues, the dairy industry, and auto regulations.
Copper mining concessions. Trading group Glencore’s attempted $32 billion acquisition of miner Xstrata has put China on edge over its copper supply. They’re expected this week to ease Chinese regulators’ concerns so they won’t try to block the deal from going through.
Tax Day in America. The deadline for filing income taxes is today, and the forms have never been more complicated. It’s the only day of the year that reporting to the IRS helps you get free snacks, sex toys, and more. Check out what your tax rate in the US would be this year and for every year since 1913 here.
Over the weekend
Venezuela voted in a referendum on “Chavista politics.” Acting president and Hugo Chavez successor Nicolas Maduro led narrowly just before polls opened Sunday. His opponent Henrique Capriles says he would make Venezuela more like Brazil and cut ties with former allies like Iran. Read about both candidates here.
John Kerry tried to calm North Korea by way of China. The US secretary of state made his first trip to China with a North Korea containment agenda, and discussed the possibility of direct talks with Kim Jong Un. Neighboring countries are on alert amid concerns that the dictator will today celebrate the birthday of his late grandfather, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, with a test missile launch.
The BBC and London School of Economics had their own scuffle over North Korea. The LSE said an undercover BBC reporter who joined a university trip to North Korea last month posing as a doctoral student could have put LSE students at risk. It’s calling on the UK broadcaster to refrain from airing his report.
EU finance ministers met. Among the topics discussed: Cyprus, eliminating tax evasion and tax havens, and Germany’s push to alter the bloc’s bank oversight rules. And don’t forget about Germany’s anti-euro party.
Palestine’s prime minister retired. The PM had clashed with president Mahmoud Abbas, and worked with the US for many years.
Google is preparing to settle with Europe. Under a draft agreement, the US internet company will at least slightly alter the way search results are presented. If the settlement gets finalized, Google will more clearly indicate to consumers when it includes its own services—such as for shopping—in results, and offer links to other search engines as well.
Quartz obsession interlude
Tim Fernholz on the future of finance: “A spate of new analysis of global bank stocks by global banks suggests that their business models are in trouble—and that shareholders might want to break them up for that reason. Not because the banks are too risky, they say, but because regulators aren’t letting them take enough risk. While the average investor seeking to avoid a systemic crisis might consider less risk a good thing, it’s a problem for bank heads who want pre-2008 profits in a post-2008 world….Which might mean that regulation isn’t working. If equity requirements are costing banks so little, it suggests that either critics are right that they are too weak, or that banks are too good at getting around them. Banks are coming up with new trades that allow them to maintain the assets on their books while shifting the risk off the books, reducing the impact of new equity and reserve requirements.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
China will drive the next bitcoin bull market. Six reasons why.
Amazon.com is ready to rule the world.
South Korea is less victim than enabler.
The world’s tops commodity trading firms have pocketed nearly $250 billion in net income over the past decade. That’s more than Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley combined.
Meet Pakistan’s newest presidential candidate. She’s 50, uneducated, and trying to rally the country’s low classes.
“Crocodile Dundee” actor Paul Hogan has $34 million stashed in offshore accounts. And he says he can’t get at it any more.
Parents around the world don’t all describe their kids the same way. See the breakdown.
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