Improving U.S., rebounding Japan can't stop OECD cutting world growth forecast (Reuters)
The recession-hit euro zone will fall further behind a generally improving United States and a rebounding Japan this year, the OECD said on Wednesday, cutting its global growth forecasts. In its twice-yearly Economic Outlook, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast the world economy would grow 3.1 percent this year before accelerating to 4 percent in 2014. The estimates marked a slightly more pessimistic view after in November the Paris-based think tank forecast global growth of 3.4 percent this year and 4.2 percent next year.
Treasury 10-Year Yields Climb to 13-Month High on Fed Outlook (Bloomberg)
Treasury 10-year yields rose to the highest level in more than 13 months as signs the U.S. economy is recovering fueled speculation the Federal Reserve will trim its debt purchases. ... “If the data continues to be on the strong side, then the sell-off will persist,” said Patrick Jacq, a senior fixed-income strategist at BNP Paribas SA in Paris. “The first step was some comments from Fed members suggesting that they may exit sooner than expected or at least ease quantitative easing. And then there was key economic data that was above expectations.”
Apple's Cook Hints at Wearable Devices (WSJ)
Most of Mr. Cook's speech was dedicated to defending Apple's prowess as a tech trend-setter, amid recent complaints that the Silicon Valley company has failed to introduce any groundbreaking products lately. "We have several more game changers in us" that the company has been "working on for a while," Mr. Cook said at the event. Mr. Cook praised devices such as Nike Inc.'s FuelBand, an activity tracker worn on the wrist. He said such wearable products "could be a profound area for technology," while expressing less excitement about Google Glass, Google Inc.'s high-tech eyeglasses that serve as a kind of heads-up display to view Internet content. He said it's "tough to see" Google's product having mass-market appeal.
Switzerland frees banks to settle U.S. tax evasion cases (Reuters)
The Swiss government agreed on Wednesday to create a legal basis that will allow its banks to settle investigations by U.S. authorities into their role in helping wealthy Americans evade billions of dollars in tax. ... Special permission will be granted to allow banks to turn over new information about the behavior of their staff and clients, although the government said no changes would be made to rules protecting clients' identities.
Liberty Reserve Joe Bogus Account Said to Reflect Evasion (Bloomberg)
Liberty Reserve SA, whose operators are charged with running a scheme that masked more than $6 billion of criminal proceeds, was designed to help users evade scrutiny, U.S. prosecutors said. The digital currency company, unlike traditional banks or legitimate online payment processors, didn’t require users to validate their identity and allowed accounts to be opened under fictitious names such as “Russia Hackers” and “Hacker Account,” according to prosecutors. An undercover agent was able to establish a Liberty Reserve account using the alias “Joe Bogus,” listing his address as “123 Fake Main Street” in “Completely Made Up City, New York,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. He said the prosecution is believed to be the largest money-laundering case brought by the U.S.
Are Canada’s $100 polymer bills really maple-scented? (CTV News)
The penny may be history, but some Canadians suspect the Bank of Canada has been circulating a new scent along with its plastic bank notes. Dozens of people who contacted the bank in the months after the polymer notes first appeared asked about a secret scratch-and-sniff patch that apparently smells like maple syrup. "I would like to know ... once and for all if these bills are in fact scented, as I do detect a hint of maple when smelling the bill," says a typical email from a perplexed citizen. Said another: "They all have a scent which I'd say smells like maple? Please advise if this is normal?" ... For the record, bank official Jeremy Harrison says no scent has been added to any of the new bank notes.
EU eases hard line on austerity (FT)
Brussels will on Wednesday give its clearest signal yet that it is moving away from a crisis response based on austerity, allowing three of the EU’s five largest economies to overshoot budget deficit limits and pushing instead for broader reform. In its annual verdict on national budgets of all 27 EU members France, Spain and the Netherlands will be given a waiver on the annual 3 per cent deficit limit. Brussels will also free Italy from intensive fiscal monitoring despite its new prime minister’s decision to reverse a series of tax increases imposed by his predecessor. The European Commission will make these moves on the condition that national governments embark on stalled labour market reforms.
ECB: Cyprus Shock Caused Deposit Flight (WSJ)
The euro zone's botched bailout of Cyprus caused a mini-run on banks in many of the currency union's 17 members in April, exacerbating the decline in lending to the real economy, data from the European Central Bank showed Wednesday. ... Although European officials rushed to stress that Cyprus's problems were unique, depositors in other countries, most notably in those with stressed banking sectors of their own, appear to have feared that their savings could face similar treatment as the euro zone tries to revive a partly moribund banking system.
Dell Buyout Battle Approaches Heated Phase (WSJ)
Within days, the company and its would-be buyers are expected to be able to contact investors directly to try to persuade them to vote for the deal, which will let them sell their holdings for $13.65 a share. On Tuesday, Dell shares rose two cents to $13.36. The deal has been hotly contested almost since its signing, with a portion of the long-term shareholder base already aligned against it. In the final vote, the outcome could come down to how hedge funds and the company's small shareholders end up voting, say people familiar with such showdowns. "In a close fight, it really gets down to dialing for dollars," said Brad Allen, director of Branav Shareholder Advisory Services Inc.
Smithfield to Be Sold to Shuanghui Group of China (DealBook)
Shuanghui Group of China has agreed to buy the American meat processor Smithfield Foods for around $4.7 billion, the two companies announced Wednesday. Under the terms of the deal, Shuanghui, which is the largest pork processor in China, will pay $34 a share to acquire Smithfield, representing at 31 percent premium on the company’s closing share price on Tuesday.
Where We Stand: The Class of 2013 Senior Survey (Harvard Crimson)
Of those [graduating Harvard seniors] who will be working, the most popular industry is consulting, drawing 16 percent of employed seniors. Another 15 percent will be working in finance, nearly doubling the 9 percent who entered the sector last year but still paling in comparison to 2007, when before the financial crisis, 47 percent of graduating seniors went into finance. ... 16 percent of the class has tried at least one of cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms, LSD, and other illicit substances. Very large majorities of those who have used these drugs first tried them after starting college. 9 percent of the class has used drugs like Adderall and Ritalin ...
Cops testing night vision goggles find crab poachers hiding in the dark (NYP)
Two cops testing night vision goggles from an NYPD helicopter during a routine training exercise stumbled upon a crab-poaching operation Monday night, police said. Officer Lester Sanabria was piloting a helicopter about 500 feet off the ground around 9:45 p.m., when he and his partner Chris Maher spotted several creeping around an abandoned beach in Jamaica Bay in the pitch-black night, cops said. They hovered down to about 200 feet off the ground and their high-tech eyewear revealed Robert Wolter, 28, and Joseph Knauer, 33, loading two vessels with horseshoe crabs, Maher said. The crabs fuel a $60 million-a-year market for pharmaceutical companies that process their copper-based blood to sanitize medical equipment. One quart of the blood can fetch up to $15,000, according to experts.