You may not be able to believe your Body Mass Index, but you better believe there are seven and a half things you need to know each day. Here they are:
Thing One: Too Big To Fail, China Edition: What does the premiere of communist China have in common with the conservative president of the Dallas Federal Reserve? Aside from their shared love for the country stylings of Rascal Flatts? Both want to break up ginormous banks.
Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao went all Han Dynasty on the bank's asses in a national radio address yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reports, saying "banks earn profit too easily... because a small number of large banks have a monopoly." The WSJ writes that Wen's diatribe taps rising public frustration with "low interest rates on deposits and indiscriminate levying of fees," along with the banks turning "record profits, even as the economy slows and some companies struggle to access credit."
Gosh, all that sounds familiar, doesn't it? It certainly does to Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, who has been on a crusade to break up massive U.S. banks, which have also been stingy with credit while turning record profits after nearly wrecking the U.S. economy. He's at it again today, with an op-ed written with Harvey Rosenblum in the WSJ, pointing out: "Since the early 1970s, the share of assets controlled by the five largest banking institutions in the U.S. has tripled to 52% from 17%. With size came complexity, magnifying the opportunities for opacity, obfuscation and mismanaged risk."
We're guessing China is going to have better luck breaking up its big banks, alas.
Thing Two: JPMorgan To Get Stinging Wrist Slap: America's very biggest bank, run by America's Greatest Bank Defender Jamie Dimon, will be forced to stay after class and write 1,000 times on the chalkboard: "I Will Not Overextend Credit To A Shaky Client." Or it could just pay $20 million, "a rounding error for a bank as large as JPMorgan," write Ben Protess and Azam Ahmed in The New York Times. This is a result of giving Lehman Brothers way too much rope with which to hang itself back in 2008. Believe it or not, this is "the first federal enforcement case to stem from Lehman’s downfall." Which makes perfect sense, because we could wreck the economy if we cause the poor banks too much trouble. Or at least that's what Jamie Dimon tells us.
Thing Three: The Pain In Spain: Not getting easy credit today is the Kingdom of Spain, which struggled to find buyers at an auction of its bonds this morning, pushing its borrowing costs higher. Bloomberg notes that this is a sign that the cheap cash pumped into the market earlier this year by the European Central Bank, in part to encourage European banks to buy the debt of Spain and other troubled sovereigns, is starting to lose its effectiveness. Not good news. European stocks are lower this morning partly as a result of this.
Thing Four: ECB Easy As One Two Three: It just so happens that the ECB meets this morning to discuss monetary policy, but it is widely expected to make no new moves to help the economy, Reuters writes. Though Spanish and Italian borrowing costs are rising and the European economy is in recession, a tight-fisted Germany is putting pressure on the ECB to stand pat and even start to signal an end to its emergency measures. Which is nuts, but that's Germany for you.
Thing Five: Data Dump, Day Three: It's another big day for U.S. economic data. First thing in the morning we get an estimate of private payroll growth for March from payroll processing firm ADP. Economists are expecting yet another big number, raising hopes for Friday's official jobs report from the government. Later in the morning we get an index of service-sector sentiment from the Institute for Supply Management.
Thing Six: Let's Get Small: Yesterday we got good economic news in the form of fairly strong auto sales for the month of March, which jumped nearly 13 percent from a year ago, writes the Wall Street Journal. The demand comes because rising gasoline prices are pushing people to buy smaller cars, the Washington Post writes. Because public transportation is for communists and New Yorkers.
Thing Seven: Murdoch Loses Another Job: Rupert Murdoch's son James has lost his second job over News Corp.'s hacking/bribery scandal, quitting yesterday as chairman of British pay-TV company BSkyB. Murdoch's resignation could actually help his father buy the rest of BSkyB he doesn't already own, Bloomberg writes. But it may not be enough to put the hacking scandal in the rearview mirror, writes The Guardian's Dan Sabbagh.
Thing Seven And One Half: Palin Goes LameStream: Won't you join us in watching Jon Stewart break down Sarah Palin's Today Show co-hosting gig?
Special Bonus Thing: See that tiny little box over there on the right-hand side of the page? Jammed narrowly between the ad and the "Social News" box? If you enter your email address in that slim box and click the button, nothing horrible will happen to you, unless you consider getting this story in your email inbox every day something horrible. With the imminent launch of this daily email -- coming soon -- we are also adding a couple of new features: a daily calendar, and a small roundup of business-related tweets. Free of charge.
8:15 a.m. ET: ADP employment report for March
10:00 a.m.: ISM service-sector index for March
Corporate Earnings Reports:
Monsanto (time unknown)
Heard On The Tweets:
@BenDWalsh: How can you not think it's amazingly awesome that an 11-year old produced a proposal for Greece to exit the Euro?
@ObsoleteDogma: Me in @TheAtlantic: Let's be real. This 11-year old has the worst—albeit cute—plan to solve the Greek debt crisis.
@felixsalmon: "Call it the Goldman Sachs test," he said. "If this is something Goldman would do to its clients, don't do it."
@ScottMAustin: Who would have thought years ago that H-P/RIM/Yahoo would someday be described as being in a "carcass phase"?
-- Tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.
And follow us on Twitter, why don't you: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja