What to watch for today
Attempts at compromise in Italy. Italy’s deadlocked parliament continues voting for a new president, but it doesn’t look good. Pier Luigi Bersani’s allies torpedoed the vote for Franco Marini, an 80-year-old former trade unionist whom Bersani and Silvio Berlusconi had both agreed to back.
Venezuela swears in its president while votes are still being recounted. After the closest election in 45 years, Venezuela’s newly elected president, Nicolás Maduro, gave in to calls for a recount of the vote. But he’ll still be sworn in today. Expect to hear a lot of banging of pots and pans.
Egypt might ask Russia for a loan. Egyptian officials are reportedly planning to ask their Soviet-era ally for financial help at a meeting. A $4.8 billion loan from the IMF fell through earlier this month, raising worries Egypt will run out of money for needed imports like wheat and fuel.
Canada inflation data. After a 1.2% increase in February, March figures are expected to be much lower.
Earnings watch: McDonald’s, General Electric, Honeywell, United Bancorp, Anglo American, and Royal Caribbean report first quarter earnings.
While you were sleeping
Blackstone dropped its bid for Dell. The private equity firm’s retreat makes it likely CEO Michael Dell will succeed in his attempt to take the firm private.
The FAA is set to clear the 787. Boeing’s Dreamliner jet has been grounded for three months while it proved its redesigned batteries were safe. A decision could come as soon as Friday.
Rescue efforts after an explosion in Texas. Residents searched for survivors of an enormous blast at a fertilizer plant (video) that killed at least five people and injured 160. The incident raises questions about the use of anhydrous ammonia, a cheap but potentially volatile nitrogen-based fertilizer.
Progress in anti-terrorism investigations. The FBI called on the public to help find two men shown in images taken before and after the fatal explosions at the Boston Marathon. They were identified with help from one of the victims. Meanwhile, authorities charged an Elvis impersonator from Mississippi with sending ricin to the White House and the Senate.
Earnest earnings. During Pepsi’s report today, CEO Indra Nooyi hinted she might be willing to separate the company’s not-so-successful beverage business from its snack operations. Troubled renewable energy giant LDK Solar issued grim fourth-quarter warnings, but said everything was going to be all right anyway. Meanwhile, Google hasn’t figured out mobile, and Intel hurts when you buy tablets instead of PCs, but not for the reasons you think. And Microsoft shrugged off the death of the PC, but said its chief financial officer is leaving.
Japan’s inflation begins. A third of Japanese firms are considering raising prices, especially in the materials and wholesale/retail sectors. First mover McDonald’s hiked the price of its hamburgers by 20%.
Ghana seized counterfeit condoms imported from China. Officials have impounded 110 million made-in-China condoms that turned out to be flimsy, full of holes, improperly lubricated, and too small.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gina Chon on why Pepsi might need to give up Pepsi: “Did Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi throw activist investors a bone today? During the call to discuss the company’s latest earnings, Nooyi said Pepsi is exploring “sensible opportunities to unlock incremental value through meaningful structural alternatives.” “Unlocking value” and “structural alternatives” are sometimes the jargon words used when considering a breakup.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
The US housing market can only go up. Société Générale analysts say market has bounced off its bottom.
The way back for a rogue state. North Korea should try to be like Myanmar, a former pariah state that’s now opening up its economy.
Slower Chinese economic growth isn’t happening for the right reasons.
Museums shouldn’t be free. Admission prices are an allocation mechanism that could prevent the Louvre from getting so crowded.
The UN, Harvard Business School, International Olympic Committee, and many other institutions, have never been led by a woman.
Three new planets could host life, scientists announced. “With all of these discoveries we’re finding, Earth is looking less and less like a special place,” one said.
People have strange hobbies. Almost a third of Americans said they like doing their taxes while 5% said they love it.
An MIT student and his girlfriend caught Reinhard and Rogoff’s Excel error. A 28-year-old doctoral student spotted the mistake that undermines Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s famous Harvard paper defending fiscal austerity.
A new use for cheese. One of Britain’s biggest dairy group is using maturing cheese inventories to plug its pension gap.
Correction: Yesterday, we incorrectly said that Chinese president Xi Jinping rode a cab in Beijing. Turns out that we, along with Chinese state media Xinhua, were fooled by a fake report. We apologize for the error.
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