Few people know the true origins of the tradition of getting high at 4:20, but everybody needs to know seven and a half things each day. Here they are:
Thing One: Econoworries: America's economy is bumpier than that traffic circle in front of Union Station that has Thomas Friedman so worried, and not even Michael Bloomberg can help.
There once was a time, let's call it March, when the economic bulls were triumphant, doing economic end-zone dances on the heads of economic bears like the ever-dour Gluskin Sheff economist David Rosenberg. Well, guess who's got the top quote in the top story on the front page of the Wall Street Journal this fine Friday morning? None other than Mr. Rosenberg. The econo-bears are on the rise again, with unemployment claims jumping, factory output slumping and home sales, er, dumping? The economy seems to have gotten itself grooved in Thomas Friedman's traffic circle of doom.
It all feels so very 2011, and also 2010, writes Annie Lowrey on the front page of the other biggest newspaper in America, The New York Times. In those years, too, we saw economic growth surge through the winter and then tucker out in the spring. In each of those years, Europe was a catalyst for a slowdown, Lowrey notes, and Europe's chronic debt problem is indeed flaring again. But the economic data might also be suffering from some strange seasonality effects in recent years, and it is almost certainly behaving as you would expect a post-financial crisis economy to behave: badly, for a annoyingly long time.
Thing Two: G20 To The Rescue: At the very least, we can perhaps stop worrying about Europe forever because the G20 looks ready to bundle up a whole big pile of money, from both developed and developing nations, and ship it to the IMF to help build a firewall around Europe, Reuters writes. What's that you say? Money is flammable? Um, guess we'd better come up with a Plan B. "Europe’s governments were told the onus for fixing their debt woes lies with them as the Group of 20 warned the two-year crisis still threatens global growth," Bloomberg writes.
Thing Three: Speculation Consternation: In a shocking development, Wall Street traders are decidedly unhappy with President Obama's call to crack down on oil-market speculation, Reuters writes. Consulting their Dungeon Master's Regulation Complaint Guide, they pull out the Spell of Vanishing Liquidity and warn that raising margins too high will make the oil market more volatile.
Thing Four: Wall Street Is Just Fine, Sort Of: I know how worried Huffington Post readers are about the health of Wall Street banks, and I just want you all to know that they're doing just fine, according to their latest earnings reports. They're trading bonds, they're making lots of money. Everything's great. Except you just wouldn't want to invest any money in their stocks, because they're totally mysterious black boxes of doom, writes the Wall Street Journal's David Reilly. And credit-rating downgrades are waiting to smash them over the head, write Peter Eavis and Susanne Craig of The New York Times.
Thing Five: Mystery Goldmanite: Elsewhere on Wall Street, Rajat Gupta got fresh ammunition for his defense against insider trading charges with the revelation that there's a fourth, unnamed person at Goldman Sachs under investigation for insider trading, writes Peter Lattman of The New York Times. It could've been that person who gave Raj Rajaratnam insider-trading tips, says Gupta's defense team.
Thing Six: Overdoing Overdraft: The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is kicking off its consumer-protecting with a probe of overdraft-fee practices at nine of the country's biggest banks, reports Bloomberg: "The inquiry focuses on how financial institutions persuade customers to enroll in what they call overdraft protection programs. Examiners are looking at online and mailed marketing material as well as scripts used by the banks’ customer-service representatives to determine whether they could be confusing to consumers, said the people."
Thing Seven: Unhappy Anniversary: Two years ago today a blowout at BP's Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 people and started the worst oil spill in U.S. history. And the risks of deepwater drilling haven't abated, writes the Washington Post:
Thing Seven And One Half: When Cars Fly: We were promised flying cars. Well, now it seems maybe we've got them, according to the LA Times: "At last week's New York International Auto Show, Terrafugia Inc. of Woburn, Mass., unveiled the Transition, a two-seat aircraft with foldable wings. Pending regulatory approvals — which by no means are assured — the company plans to sell the contraption by 2013 for $279,000."
Calendar Du Jour:
None to speak of.
Heard On The Tweets:
@Austan_Goolsbee: Mel Gibson or Ted Nugent? #WhostheBiggerNutjob
@fcn: About the only use Siri gets in my house is when my kids ask inappropriate questions to see how she'll respond.
@justinwolfers: Place your hands together, and pray it's just the Easter seasonals: Initial claims are now at 386k, and last week was revised up to 388k.
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.
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