Good morning, Quartz readers!
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
The EU votes on reporting rules for conflict minerals. The proposed regulations would require all but the smallest companies (such as dentists) to carry out due diligence for imports of tin, tungsten, and other minerals, including the tantalum often used in cell phones. The idea is to make it harder for militants to profit from the sale of such resources.
Central bank decisions in Switzerland and Britain. The Swiss National Bank could either tighten up its ultra-loose policy or stick with it for now. It will be a big surprise if the Bank of England doesn’t hold steady, as Japan did earlier today.
The US releases fresh economic data. Economists expect that last month’s pace of housing starts slightly increased over January, while building permits fell a bit. Numbers on job openings and labor turnover will also be released (pdf).
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
Dutch voters gave their prime minister a major win over the far right. Mark Rutte is on course to trounce Geert Wilders, to the relief of other EU governments facing a wave of nationalism. Wilders wants the Netherlands to close all mosques and exit the EU. Meanwhile the Green party of 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, highly critical of right-wing populism, will likely quadruple its seats.
The Fed’s rate hike went off without a hitch—until investors examined the fine print. The US central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage point, as expected. But markets lurched—stocks up, bond yields and the dollar down—when investors realized that Fed chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues didn’t come off nearly as hawkish as expected.
Donald 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 Trump 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.
Dozens of cities in China rolled out property curbs. The new regulations tighten lending conditions for homebuyers. The value of new homes sold in China rose 23% in January and Februarycompared with the first two months of last year. Fearful of a bubble popping later, regulators want to counter an influx of speculatorsinflating the market.
The US charged two Russian spies in a major Yahoo hack. The intelligence agents allegedly hired hackers to pilfer 500 million Yahoo user accounts in 2014. The spies used the information to target dissidents, US government officials, and journalists; the hackers used it for spam, phishing attacks, and fraud.
Tesla announced plans to raise more cash. The maker of electric cars will issue $250 million in new shares and $750 million in convertible notes to fund production of its mass-market Model 3 sedan. CEO Elon Musk will himself buy $25 million worth of common stock.
QUARTZ 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.” Read more here.
MATTERS OF DEBATE
Coding is still a man’s world. Despite the 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. It may be because 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 facilitythat is not too picky about stems and leaves.
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