North Korea's failed missile launch is expected to generate more than one million male sexual-performance jokes, but there are only seven and one half things you need to know today. Here they are:
Thing: Big Banks Want To Be Less Big: It seems we've misjudged U.S. banks. They aren't too big to fail: They're big-boned.
Of course, we're talking apples and oranges, or Twinkies and Ding Dongs, here. The biggest banks don't want to reduce the size of their assets or their potential to lay waste to the economy. That would be crazy, right? No, they're trying to cut costs, but finding it hard to do so, reports the Wall Street Journal. That could lead to still more bank-sector layoffs. No wonder it's considered a dying industry.
This highlights how banks are struggling to make money in old-fashioned banking, the WSJ writes: "Much of the industry's recent profitability has come from the release of cash that had been set aside to cover bad loans, rather than from business growth." Two of the biggest, and allegedly strongest banks, report earnings this morning, including JPMorgan Chase, a/k/a the Great White Whale, and Wells Fargo. JPMorgan, whose results beat forecasts, has apparently solved the whole no-profit thing by turning its sleepy chief investment office into a massive proprietary trading desk, Bloomberg writes today. What could possibly go wrong?
Thing Two: Not-So-Great Expectations: The stock market is hopping up and down on one leg hoping for the Federal Reserve to load up its money cannon and shoot hundred-dollar bills in the air again, like it has done repeatedly in the past, but economists tell the Wall Street Journal they don't think that's happening. Which means you can take it to the bank: It's happening. A bunch of Fed speakers yesterday didn't go so far as to say that, but they did say they're ready to act if the economy weakens again, Reuters writes.
Thing Three: China OOPS: One reason for yesterday's U.S. stock market rally, the biggest in a month, was a rumor swirling around Wall Street that China was going to report blockbuster first-quarter GDP last night. Not so much. In fact, the People's Republic reported GDP growth of 8.1 percent, below the 8.3 percent economists expected and way, way below the 9 percent that was rumored. Whoopsie. Stocks and commodities and all kinds of other stuff are sliding this morning on the news.
Thing Four: Price Check: We get some very interesting U.S. economic data today, too, including the consumer price index for March, which is expected to show more inflation than in February, and a consumer-sentiment reading from the University of Michigan. That is expected to show consumers' level of sadness has not changed much from March.
Thing Five: No Vote For You! Google last night reported quarterly earnings that beat Wall Street forecasts, a welcome change from a face-plant in the prior quarter. The company also announced a freaky stock split thing that will issue a new class of stock that will have absolutely no voting power, a lower caste of stock if you will. That leaves all of the power in the hands of Sergey Brin and Larry Page forever and ever, amen, writes the Financial Times. Which is just a touch on the unusual side.
Thing Six: More Trouble For Murdoch: Fox News has found its mole, but Rupert Murdoch has bigger worries, Reuters writes: "A British parliamentary report into a phone hacking scandal may lead eventually to News Corp being forced into cutting or selling its stake in the highly profitable pay-TV firm BSkyB, having already dropped its bid to buy it outright last year." Under pressure, Murdoch has responded by having his British tabloids turn on his conservative political buddies, Reuters writes. That will go over well.
Thing Seven: Best Buy Sexy Time: Come on, admit it: You know what you were thinking when you heard that Best Buy had given its CEO the boot for "personal conduct." Well, what you were thinking was apparently what Best Buy was thinking, too, because apparently Best Buy is looking into charges ex-CEO Brian Dunn "misused company assets in the course of an alleged relationship with a female subordinate," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Thing Seven And One Half: What the Fawkes? Happy 442nd birthday, Guy Fawkes. The planner of the England's Gunpowder Plot in 1605, which went over like a North Korean missile launch, his mask has become the iconic face of protest movements and anonymous hackers everywhere. Funny true story, according to ABC's Edward Lovett: The Fawkes mask is licensed by Time Warner, which makes money on every one sold.
Bonus Thing: If you want to get this column in the form of a convenient daily email, simply click here and then sacrifice your email address to the skinny box that will appear, through the magic of the Interwebs, on the right side of the page that pops up.
Calendar Du Jour:
Economic Data Releases:
8:30 a.m. ET: Consumer price index for March
9:55 a.m. ET: U. Michigan consumer sentiment index for April
Corporate Earnings Reports:
7:00 a.m.: JPMorgan Chase: Already out (they beat forecasts)
Before 9:30 a.m.: Wells Fargo
Heard On The Tweets:
@pareene: POLL: All women everywhere now support Romney after successful exploitation of mean thing rando CNN person said
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.
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