Eight, eight, I forget what eight was for, but I remember that you only need to know seven and a half things each day. Here's your daily dose:
Thing One: BP's Big Day: So today is a great day for BP. The mammoth British oil company's stock is up 3 percent this morning, its biggest one-day gain in a month, after this weekend's $7.8 billion settlement deal with private plaintiffs who said their lives and businesses were ruined by BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill a couple of years back. The deal was smaller than the $14 billion many had expected, Bloomberg writes, and the oil company already had $20 billion set aside to cover damages. It still may be on the hook for nearly $18 billion in government fines, but, hey, BP makes $25 billion per year in profit.
So life goes on as if nothing happened. For BP, anyway, and for the rest of the oil industry. Deepwater drilling of the sort that caused the horrific oil spill is going stronger than ever, the New York Times writes: "After a yearlong drilling moratorium, BP and other oil companies are intensifying their exploration and production in the gulf, which will soon surpass the levels attained before the accident. Drilling in the area is about to be expanded in Mexican and Cuban waters, beyond most American controls, even though any accident would almost inevitably affect the United States shoreline."
And, oh, all those fish and shrimp and stuff? They'll be fine. Surely. Just fine.
Thing Two: Nat-Gas Pickups: General Motors and Chrysler this week plan to introduce pickup trucks that run on natural gas, The Wall Street Journal reports. With oil prices skyrocketing ($106 a barrel on the Nymex this morning) and gas prices pushing $4 a gallon in the U.S., but natural gas prices near historic lows, consumers (and, ahem, natural-gas producers) have been clamoring for this. GM will introduce natural-gas-powered GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado trucks on Monday, and Chrysler will introduce a gas-powered Ram truck on Tuesday.
Thing Three: Lower Bar For China: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday delivered his yearly friendly suggestion as to the desired annual growth rate of the glorious people's economy of China. With one foot out the door on his way to retirement, he even made the growth target a little easier this year. He expects China's GDP to grow at 7.5 percent this year, compared with 8 percent in past years. China almost always hurdles over this annual target, but the slightly lower forecast for this year shows the impact of a slower global economy and the government's efforts to keep inflation under control.
Thing Four: Greece, Again: If it's March, this must be another make-or-break week for Greece. Sure enough, this is the week Europe finally, once and for all, they really mean it this time, decides whether to give Greece its latest loan package. You might be thinking, wait, didn't they already agree to do this? Yes, many, many times. But nothing is ever really settled in Europe, and this week Greece has to get a bunch of its private bondholders to agree to take massive losses on their bonds or else they won't get their bailout loan after all, and they can finally default already, and we can all move on with our lives. Or watch the global economy crumble. Who knows?
Thing Five: Data Deluge: A ginormous week for U.S economic data, highlighted by Friday's jobs report for February, kicks off on Monday with a report on January factory orders and service-sector business sentiment in February. Both numbers are expected to fall a bit. Economists will keep a close eye on that sentiment survey's employment reading for clues about how big Friday's jobs number will be.
Thing Six: The Boys Club: There are at least two places on earth where you won't find a lot of women hanging around: The Rush Limbaugh Fan Clubhouse and the board of directors of any random public corporation on earth. The European Union wants to change this, proposing that European public companies be required to have women make up at least 40 percent of their boards. Spluttering and red-faced, these companies -- who currently have boards that are less than 14 percent composed of women -- protest that such a quota would be horrible for business and make the ghost of Adam Smith cry, or something. National governments are on the side of the companies, shockingly, so this may never actually come to pass, the Financial Times writes.
Thing Seven: Leaving Limbaugh: Speaking of institutions that are unfriendly to women, Rush Limbaugh's radio clown show is taking a beating from advertisers, who realize that women typically buy 50 percent or more of their products and may not take kindly to being called "sluts" and "prostitutes" because they favor the availability of contraception, the New York Times writes. The advertiser strike even forced Limbaugh to make a rare apology. But don't worry, just like BP, which also produces a lot of gas and toxins, Rush will be just fine, making $50 million a year.
Thing Seven And One Half: Watching The Billionaires: Because what the world really needs is a way to further glorify the accumulation of sickening amounts of unspeakable wealth, Bloomberg has introduced a daily tally of the world's richest humans. Now you can track wealthy people like others track stock prices or baseball standings. Oh, lookee there, world's richest man Carlos Slim Helu's net worth is down nearly $480 million today. Let's ask the ghost of Adam Smith how he feels about this.
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