Science has determined that people need to know 7.5 things per day, on average, about the world of business. You can't argue with science. Lucky for you, The Huffington Post has an email newsletter, delivered first thing every weekday morning, boiling down the day's biggest business news into the 7.5 things you absolutely need to know. And we're giving it away free, because we love you, and also science. Here you go:
Thing One: Happy Sequester Day: Congratulations, America. Today is the day you bring home a bouncing baby sequester. You may feel a mixture of conflicting emotions: joy, excitement, confusion, fear. Here's a quick guide to help you understand what comes next.
First, the Mommy and Daddy of the sequester -- let's call them "Congress" and "the President" -- will hold a pointless meeting this morning for some reason, maybe to give the appearance of working together, Bloomberg reports. But nothing will be accomplished because John Boehner has decided to shut down negotiations to avert the sequester, according to the New York Times, because that is what makes Mommy (Congressional Republicans) happy. Then they will retire to their separate corners to sulk and not talk to each other for the rest of the day. The only one who might continue to prattle on is the sequester's doula, Bob Woodward, a/k/a "DerpThroat."
And then, some time before midnight, the magic starts to happen: Daddy (President Obama) will take out his pen, maybe a gift from Baby-Sequesters-R-Us, and order the government to start making across-the-board budget cuts. Nothing will happen at first, it will seem. You might even start to wonder whether your new sequester is healthy. But already magical things are starting to happen to your baby sequester that will produce big changes very shortly. As Michael Shear writes in this very helpful New York Times explainer, government computer geeks will pull their systems offline to reset everything to lower budget numbers. Then, slowly, you'll start to see longer lines at the airport, lower unemployment benefit checks, worker furloughs -- all of the fun things you've come to expect from a sequester.
Then, before you know it, your economy will be in full-fledged austerity mode, just like the United Kingdom's economy, which this morning found out that it is on the verge of its third recession in four years, Reuters writes. Of course, the UK also lost its AAA credit rating recently. But keep up the austerity, UK, we're sure it will pay off in an economic boom any day now!
Same thing in the U.S.: We've already been slashing the government budget for the past two years, resulting in an anemic economy that grew a whopping 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, according to revised data released yesterday. And maybe if we keep churning out these little austerity babies, we can be just like the UK and keep having recessions again and again. Enjoy, America.
Thing Two: Back To Borrowing: But the economic news is not all terrible: At least Americans have resumed loading themselves up with debt. The New York Fed yesterday reported that Americans added 0.3 percent to their debt load in the fourth quarter of 2012, the first quarter of rising debt in four years. That suggests consumers are feeling frisky enough again to take some chances, make some mistakes, writes Neil Shah of the Wall Street Journal. And in another good sign, those mistakes are fewer and farther between, with lower delinquencies -- except for student loans.
Thing Three: A Bonus To Pick With You: The earth is still trembling with the repercussions of the European Union's decision to cap banker bonuses. Bankers are naturally wracked with worry, the Financial Times writes -- not for themselves, of course, but for Europe's economy, which will surely suffer from this Marxist plot. But the bonus cap is actually not all that big of a deal, writes the NYT, as banks have already curbed pay and found ways around the new restrictions. They just like to whine, is all.
Thing Four: Groupon, Groupoff: Andrew Mason, founder of the struggling daily-deal site Groupon, was ousted yesterday after years of poor results and stock-market losses. Mason's personality was better suited to founding a company than to running one, the New York Times writes. His last note to his employees gave a sampling of his general style, which apparently doesn't work so well in the boardroom. "After four and a half intense and wonderful years as C.E.O. of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family," he wrote. "Just kidding – I was fired today."
Thing Five: More Foreclosure Problems, But Who's Counting? During the recent troubled process of reviewing banks' questionable foreclosure practices, which was eventually shut down in favor of a $9.3 billion settlement because MATH IS HARD, banks found way more foreclosure errors than regulators told the public, the WSJ reports. This, of course, raises all kinds of questions. May we suggest a review of the review? Nah, probably too hard.
Thing Six: No Buy For Best Buy: Speaking of struggling companies, Best Buy has ended talks about possibly being bought out by its founder Richard Schulze. The electronics retailer, which has in recent years become a chain of big, expensive showrooms for equipment that will later be purchased on Amazon, claims it is finally moving in the right direction under the guidance of new CEO Hubert Joly.
Thing Seven: Glencore In Hot Water: Ginormous Anglo-Swiss metal company Glencore sold tons of alumina to an Iranian aluminum maker with ties to the Iranian nuclear program, Reuters reports, citing intelligence and diplomatic sources. Glencore admitted to the deal, but said it was legal and that it has cut off any further dealings with its Iranian customer, Reuters writes.
Thing Seven And One Half: A Big Excuse To Say Awful Things: Because why not, here via Splitsider is the annotated wisdom of Louis C.K.
Now Arriving By Email: If you'd like this newsletter delivered daily to your email inbox, then please just feed your email address to the thin box over on the right side of this page, wedged narrowly between the ad and all the social-media buttons. OR, if you are logged into a HuffPost account, you could simply click on this link and tick the box labeled "7.5 Things" (and any other kind of news alert you'd like to get). Nothing bad will happen to you if you do, unless you consider getting this newsletter delivered daily to your email inbox a bad thing.
Calendar Du Jour:
8:30 a.m. ET: Personal Income and Spending for January
9:55 a.m. ET: University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for February
10:00 a.m. ET: ISM Manufacturing Index for February
10:00 a.m. ET: Construction Spending for January
All Day: Car and Truck Sales for February
Heard On The Tweets:
I brought a dozen donuts to share with my 18 coworkers. It's gonna be a bloodbath.
— Misha BBQJones (@mishakey) February 28, 2013
The watching paint dry metaphor has now been replaced by watching Popes retire.
— Janie Haddad(@janiehaddad) February 28, 2013
Life is popeless.
— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) February 28, 2013
Girls Gone Wild files for bankruptcy. Finally, Joe Francis loses HIS shirt.
— Shira(@shiraselko) February 28, 2013
THERE ARE GIRLS GOING WILD RIGHT NOW AND NO ONE IS THERE TO DOCUMENT IT!!!
— Warren Holstein (@WarrenHolstein) February 28, 2013
— John Moe (@johnmoe) February 28, 2013
-- Calendar and Tweets rounded up by Alexis Kleinman