What to watch for today
The EU airs Amazon’s dirty laundry. Antitrust
regulators release the results ( http://
feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews ) of an
investigation into the online retailer’s tax
agreement with Luxembourg, which began
in October ( http://www.marketwatch.com/story/eu-investigating-amazons-tax-agreement-luxembourg-2014-10-07 ) of last year.
The Goldman Sachs report card. Investors are
eager to see how the firm—the fifth largest bank in
the US by assets—performed during the fourth
quarter ( http://www.thestreet.com/story/13011815/1/why-goldman-sachs-is-worth-the-risk-ahead-of-fourth-quarter-earnings.html )
and full year 2014 given that its rivals have taken
quite a haircut ( http://www.ibtimes.com/earnings-preview-jpmorgan-chase-co-jpm-bank-america-corp-bac-goldman-sachs-group-
inc-1780966 ) due to legal fees.
Cuban relations with the US open up. New US
rules to ease travel ( http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/229589-white-house-details-eased-restrictions-on-cuba ) and trade restrictions
between the two countries kick in today. The most
anticipated will allow American travelers who
qualify under a dozen broad authorized categories
to visit the country without a license. And they’ll
be allowed to use their credit and debit cards on
the island with no spending limit. Earlier this week,
Cuba freed the last ( http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/12/americas/cuba-prisoners-release/ ) of 53 political prisoners.
Another try at peace in the Ukraine. A meeting to
revive a shaky ceasefire will be held in Minsk ( http://itar-tass.com/en/world/771240 ) between
representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and
the Organization for Security and Co-operation in
Europe, and the heads of the self-proclaimed
Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republic, after an
attack earlier this week left 12 dead ( http://
checkpoint-28188952 ) .
The credit raters weigh in. Fitch is going
to provide its latest assessments ( http://
jan-10-17.html ) on the sovereign debt of
Germany, Greece; Moody’s is going to rate Ireland;
and DBRS will offer its opinion on the UK.
While you were sleeping
Two died in Belgium after an anti-terrorist raid.
The raid by Belgian police, which took place in
Verviers, a town roughly 70 miles ( http://
terror-operation/ ) from Brussels, left two
suspects dead and a third seriously injured and in
the custody of authorities.
The raid was
reportedly part of an effort ( http://
news&_r=0 ) (paywall) by the Belgian police to
crack down on extremists known to have fought in
Syria. Belgium has also raised its terror threat
level to three out of four ( https://twitter.com/
bbcchrismorris/status/555808126902218752 ) .
Target pulled out of Canada. The big box retailer
will shut down the 133 stores ( http://
+Canadian+Operations/10167208.html ) it has in
the country, after calculating that the venture
wouldn’t be profitable until 2021. The closures will
require letting go of 17,600 employees.
Target’s Canadian launch two years ago led a
pack ( http://news.yahoo.com/target-leaving-canada-shedding-133-stores-17-000-141604039.html ) of US retailers
opening stores there, including Nordstrom, Saks
and J. Crew.
Citigroup and Bank of America’s suffering. Thanks
to restructuring and punishing legal fees,
Citigroup’s $17.81 billion in earnings last quarter
disappointed Wall Street, which expected ( http://
http://www.cnbc.com/id/102338094 ) the bank to rake
in $18.51 billion. Similarly at Bank of
America, revenues fell to $3.1 billion ( http://
revenue-2015-1 ) in 2014’s final quarter, from
$3.4 billion a year ago. It’s the first earnings
season since regulators in the US, UK, and
Switzerland slapped five major banks with $3.4
billion in fines for tampering with foreign exchange
Elon Musk threw $10 million at safeguarding
artificial intelligence. The founder of Tesla and
SpaceX donated $10 million ( http://
way-of-skynet/ ) to address potential ethical and
legal risks of artificial intelligence, as computers
come to rival humans’ cognitive abilities. The
funds will go to the Future of Life Institute, a
research organization focused on the issue.
BP cut hundreds of jobs in the North Sea. The oil
giant said it will axe ( http://www.bbc.com/news/
uk-scotland-scotland-business-30817678 ) 200
jobs and 100 contractor positions in the North
Sea, where it currently employes 3,500 people. It’s
the latest in a series of cuts by energy companies
including ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and Shell, as oil
prices continue to drop while industry costs remain
Quartz obsession interlude
Jason Karaian on the shocking move by
Switzerland’s central bank. “Currencies aren’t
supposed to move like this. Certainly not
currencies like the Swiss franc, long considered a
safe, stable store of value. But a shock move from
the Swiss National Bank today—we’ll explain in a
minute—pushed the franc up, way up, in early
trading today. The knock-on effect is roiling a
wide range of markets.” Read more here ( http://
big-wrench-into-global-financial-markets/ ) .
Matters of debate
Mario Draghi has no more excuses. The president
of the European Central Bank has been given the
green light ( http://www.bloombergview.com/
mario-draghi-to-embrace-qe ) to move forward
with quantitive easing, so when the ECB meets
again next week, QE better be the star of the
It’s time to talk to North Korea about its
nukes. Given that sanctions haven’t mitigated (
ref=opinion&_r=0 ) (paywall) North Korea’s
nuclear ambitions, it’s time to act on its recent
offer to stop testing them on the condition that
the US doesn’t conduct military exercises in South
Obesity and poverty are inherently linked.
Vegetables, nutritional education, and super
foods aren’t within the grasp of the poor ( http://
making-us-obese-97489/ ) .
Tunisia is still on the brink of disaster. High
unemployment and corruption, the same factors
that lead to the country’s Jasmine revolution, are
back, despite reforms ( http://www.aljazeera.com/
brink-2015113113441123913.html ) .
Inactivity is worse for you than obesity. Being thin
and idle doesn’t make you healthier than someone
who’s overweight and active ( http://
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30812439 ) , according to a 12-year study
from the University of Cambridge with over
There’s an underground library in Beijing. The
city is offering citizens ( http://
usa.chinadaily.com.cn/culture/2015-01/14/content_19315601.htm ) on certain subway routes
the option of reading e-books provided by the
National Library by scanning the QR code in the
Social media is a stress reducer for women. Pew
says women who are active users of Twitter, use
email, and share two photos a day are 21% less
stressed out ( http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/01/15/women-
pew-study-finds/ ) than less-connected women.
Smart shoes will soon be a thing. German
researchers have built two wearable electronics (
shoe-energy.cfm ) that can fit in a sneaker and
generate energy from the motion of walking.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send
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Author : Stefan Constantinescu