Good morning, Q-MHI readers!
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Donald Trump releases his 2018 budget proposal. The president will ask Congress to ramp up spending on defense and law enforcement, while making cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, the National Institutes of Health, foreign aid, and the arts. The proposal is likely to meet strong opposition.
The US releases fresh economic data. Economists expect that last month’s pace of housing starts slightly increased over January, while building permits fell. Numbers on job openings and labor turnover will also be released (pdf).
Adobe Systems presents its first-quarter earnings. Analysts are feeling optimistic after a robust forth quarter in 2016, as the company’s cloud businesses continue to thrive.
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
Dutch voters rejected the far right. With 95% of the votes counted, prime Minister Mark Rutte and his center-right VVD party has triumphed over Freedom Party populist Geert Wilders, who came in second. Other EU governments facing a wave of nationalism were thrilled; Angela Merkel’s chief of staff in Germany tweeted “Oh the Netherlands you are a champion!” European stock markets breathed a sigh of relief and French and Italian bonds got a boost.
Trump’s latest travel ban was blocked. Derrick Watson, a judge for the US District Court in Hawaii, issued a temporary restraining order barring the administration from blocking the US entry of travelers from six majority-Muslim countries. Trump called it a “terrible ruling” and vowed to take the fight to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Lufthansa saw some blue sky. The German flag carrier’s 2016 profit rose 4.6% (paywall) to €1.8 billion ($1.9 billion), thanks largely to its belt-tightening efforts. The group, like all European airlines, faced a glut in airline capacity last year. It also paid €100 million last year to settle a protracted pay dispute with Lufthansa pilots.
The Swiss central bank sat tight. It decided to keep interest rates unchanged at -0.75% for this quarter, noting that the global economy faces “considerable risks” from Brexit and the US’s future economic policy. The Japanese central bank also made no rate adjustments at its meeting.
Rex Tillerson called for a “different approach” to North Korea. The secretary of state didn’t offer any details on what that approach would be during his news conference in Tokyo. He said that 20 years of diplomatic efforts between the US and North Korea had failed. Tillerson is off to South Korea and China next, where he’s expected to press Beijing to fully implement sanctions against North Korea.
Q-MHI OBSESSION INTERLUDE
Echo Huang on the dilemma of China’s “Korean” companies: “Chinese consumers’ love for South Korean products inspired several local companies to provide similar offerings. But as tensions between the two countries heat up over South Korea’s deployment of a US-built antimissile defense system, some Chinese companies are reconsidering the wisdom of that strategy.”
MATTERS OF DEBATE
Coding is still a man’s world. Despite efforts to support diversity, the sexist undertones of Silicon Valley culture persist.
Hollywood has run out of ideas. A reboot of The Matrix after only 18 years is proof that the studios are fatally risk-averse.
Deep state America does not exist. There is no nexus of institutions conspiring to smear the president, Trumpian conspiracy theories notwithstanding.
The CIA trains spies with board games. Officers are encouraged to bend the rules.
There’s only one effective emoji insult. The mental effort of deciphering pictographic curses blunts their impact—except for.
People with children live longer. Kids offer emotional and physical support to their aged parents.
An Oxford comma decided a Maine labor lawsuit. An appeals court ruled that the missing punctuation introduced too much grammatical ambiguity into a state law.
Government marijuana does not look like marijuana. The cannabis used by US medical researchers is grown at a single facility that is not too picky about stems and leaves.