Two things you don't really need to know are that Axl Rose and Lana Del Ray are now a thing that is happening, as are Kim and Kanye. There are still seven and a half things you really do need to know, and here they are:
Thing One: Buffett House Rules: The most hated man in America right now may be Warren Buffett, at least if you measure the hate by the amount of dollars owned by the people doing the hating.
That is because Buffett, a champion dollar-owner in his own right, is the primary water-carrier for President Obama's notion that rich people should have to pay maybe a little more in taxes than they have for the past decade or so. In fact, he likes the idea so much they put his name on it. Obama this morning rolled out what will be a week-long campaign, starting with a speech in swing-state Florida and culminating in what will likely be a failed vote in the Senate next Monday, to tout the "Buffett Rule," requiring millionaires to pay at least 30 percent in taxes.
The Wall Street Journal (the actual news side, not the op-ed side) is not impressed with the Buffett Rule, declaring up front that "most economic analysts say the measure would do little to dent deficits or boost the economy." But then that is not the point, is it now, WSJ? The point is at least partly to draw a sharp contrast between Obama and the other millionaire running against him for president, who will probably be Mittens Romney, notes the Financial Times. And purely from a deficit-reduction standpoint, every little bit of extra revenue helps, notes Ezra Klein of the Washington Post.
Thing Two: Instacash: There are a handful more millionaires in the country right now, thanks to Facebook's decision to pay a cool one billion dollars to buy Instagram, which is a smartphone app that lets you put a goofy filter on the goofy pictures you take and share them with your friends. That's it. That's the whole app. One billion freaking dollars. As The Huffington Post's Bianca Bosker notes, photo-sharing plays a huge role in Facebook's ability to murder the hours you are allotted on this mortal coil. But one billion dollars? The company was valued at roughly $500 million just last month, notes the Wall Street Journal. Now co-founder Mike Systrom is going to take home nearly that amount, $400 million, reports Wired. If you need me, I'm going to be off developing apps.
Thing Three: You've Got Patents: Facebook wasn't the only tech company out spending a billion dollars yesterday: Microsoft bought more than a billion dollars' worth of patents from Huffington Post parent company AOL, the latest and perhaps splashiest salvo in what The New York Times calls the Patent Wars, which is also the name of America's least-loved science fiction series. The wars have arisen because tech companies are "jockeying to gain legal leverage as they fight for bigger shares of mobile and Internet markets," write Shira Ovide and John Letzing in the Wall Street Journal.
Thing Four: Bernanke Wants Bigger Bank Buffer: In a speech in Atlanta last night, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called for a bigger capital buffer for U.S. banks to protect them against the next financial crisis. Banks, meanwhile, cried and cried and cried, Reuters reports: "Bernanke made the comments the same day that an international bank lobby group, the Institute of International Finance, urged policymakers to pause in regulating the industry."
Thing Five: Conservative Dislikes Thing Obama Does: This is hardly what we'd call a "shocker" around here, but the Washington Post reported it like it was big news, and now everybody's in a tizzy about it, so you might as well know about it, too: A conservative economist has run his own special budget analysis of the Obama health-care plan and determined that it adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the federal budget. Gasp! Carry on.
Thing Six: Companies Making Money On Uncle Sam: If Warren Buffett thinks rich people are under-taxed, wait until he gets a load of rich companies: Twenty-six Fortune 500 companies actually made money after taxes between 2008 and 2011, according to a new study by consumer advocacy group Citizens for Tax Justice.
Thing Seven: China's Trade Surprise: There was some welcome good news this morning out of China, which reported an unexpected trade surplus in March. That's a hopeful sign for the global economy and could mean China's economy is not yet screaming in for a hard landing. Of course, it's just one month's data point.
Thing Seven And One Half: Unhappy Anniversary: One hundred years ago today, the RMS Titanic left Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage.
10:00 am. ET: Wholesale inventories for February
Before 9:30 a.m.: SUPERVALU Inc.
After 4:00 p.m.: Alcoa Inc.
Heard On The Tweets:
@LaMonicaBuzz: $FB buying Instagram for $1B means Pinterest is worth like $15B or something, right? Paging Mr. Greenspan. Irrational exuberance on line 1.
@ReformedBroker: God what are they going to do with Instagram? Pop ads at me? Geolocate my children? Worst news of the year. $FB
@dkberman: Remember this day. 551-day-old Instagram is worth $1 billion. 116-year-old New York Times Co.: $967 million.
@TheStalwart: The best things in the world are always underrated/underpaid.
@zerohedge: Will Facebook buy Myspace next?
@danprimack: Difference between being acquired by Facebook and winning Megamillions: With Facebook, you still need to go to work the next day.
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.
And follow us on Twitter: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja