- Eurozone posts Record Jobless Rates for January—A story from the New York Times reported that the 17-member Eurozone hit record joblessness levels, climbing to 11.9% (for comparison, the US unemployment rate for February was 7.7%) with Greece’s 27% and Spain 26.2%. On the low end of the spectrum Austria had the lowest rate at 4.9% and Germany and Luxembourg was at 5.3%. Germany, widely seen as the strongest European economy, posted some improved numbers after a bit of a slump in December.
- Hugo Chavez Passes Away—Controversial President of Venezuela over the past 14 years (reviled by some, admired by others) died after battling cancer for nearly 2 years. His body is planned to be embalmed and placed in a glass case for permanent public display.
- FOX Renews 3 Comedies, 1 Drama—FOX renewed freshmen series The Following and The Mindy Project along with Raising Hope and New Girl for a 4th and 2nd season, respectively.
- At Long Last: Taco Bell releases its Doritos Locos Cool Ranch Taco—Almost a year to the date after Taco Bell introduced its Doritos Locos Nacho Cheese Taco, it released its follow-up: the Doritos Locos Cool Ranch version, expected to hit gangbusters sales.
- Dow Jones Hits Record High—Following recent 14,000 closings, the Dow Jones hit record intraday highs, hitting 14,286, beating its pre-recession high of 14,165 on October 9, 2007, contrasting the sluggish economic recovery outside of Wall St.
- North Korea Threatens Nuclear Strike on US—Following the UN Security Council’s sanctions on luxury goods on North Korea, North Korea threatened nuclear strikes on the US. The sanctions were approved after negotiations between the US and China, who’s had a history of resisting sanctions in fear of a wave of North Koreans crossing the border into its country. Despite a 3rd nuclear test in February, the missiles and nuclear devices need to be further refined (which could take some time) before NK’s threats are deemed viable. South Korea and the US continued military war drills this week, further angering North Korea.
- Facebook to Redesign Site Again—As surely as summer follows spring, facebook will redesign its site (and hoards of angry users will complain). Founder and CEO previewed the new design, referring to it as a “personalized newspaper,” emphasizing it as more visually pleasing.
- Brennan Confirmed as CIA Director Despite Paul’s 13-hr Filibuster—Sen. Rand Paul (KY) attempted to filibuster (hold up) John Brennan’s nomination for CIA Director by speaking for 13 straight hours to protest and increase attention on use of the drone program. Brennan was eventually confirmed as CIA Director.
- February Jobs Numbers Pop—Reflecting numbers unaffected by the sequester, the February Jobs Report showed 236,000 jobs added (compared to the 119,000 in January) during the month and the unemployment rate inching down from 7.9% to 7.7%. These numbers may be further revised in subsequent jobs reports as with January’s numbers being adjusted downwards.
Looking Ahead to this Week:
- The Conclave will meet starting Tuesday March 12th to elect a new Pope. Despite some early prognosticating, its fairly futile to predict who’ll be the new Pope with no early favorite, with some wanting a more managerial Pope to take charge of the Church while others want someone to connect better with the people along the lines of Pope John Paul II. A new Pope is likely to decided before the end of the week as the Conclaves seldom take longer than 5 days, with Benedict’s election taking about a day.
- The NY drink ban, which bans sugary drinks in containers/cups larger than 16 oz (though one could purchase 2 16-oz cups) is set to take effect this week. A backlash from the beverage and restaurant industry along with confusion over where and which stores the law has jurisdiction (Starbucks has said it won’t comply as its drinks are milk-based and customizable) raises doubts about the law’s future.
Update: A judge has already struck down the law, calling it “capricious” and “arbitrary,” and was concerned about it being applicable to one store, but not applicable at another store a block away. NYC Mayor Bloomberg, who spearheaded the law said he will appeal.