Good morning, and welcome back to work. Here’s what you missed.
1. To markets, which after three months of hijinks to kick off 2016, are now officially back to no-fun-at-all levels. But we have a rising term, “nowcast”, which has been used recently by the likes of Australia’s treasury secretary John Fraser. The fact it exists means economists want to be able to read the pulse of the economy now instead of waiting for hard data in three or six months time. So while US first quarter GDP increased from 1% to 1.4%, the nowcast of US GDP has been downgraded and some folk are pricing in likely downward moves. As a result, US stocks are quiet, the US dollar is down a little and the Aussie’s back up to the mid 75 cent level.
2. It’s cheaper to own a car than use Uber. While Uber CEO Travis Kalanick confirms he’ll hold off on an IPO for his $60 billion company until “as late as possible”, Deutsche Bank crunched the numbers on various configurations of ride-sharing services in the US and found that the average cost was $US1.54 a mile in the top 20 metro areas. When it came to private vehicles, the rate varied wildly, but topped out at $US1.53 per mile in the NYC/Tri-State area, and dropped to $0.67 in other areas. However, Deutsche reckon Uber and Lyft can pull it back to roughly the same cost – by rolling out driverless cars.
3. So go on, splurge. You could do worse than fork out quite a bit north of $100,000 and pick up Volvo’s XC90 T8 Excellence. It’s a rare beast – a concept from last year’s Shanghai auto show that has actually become a reality. It’s also the Swedish brand’s first foray into proper 4WD luxury, which means dumping the seven-seat option for spectacular features like this:
4. You might have missed this yesterday. In December, 34-year-old Newcastle man Ricky Slater was released from jail after successfully appealing against a four-year jail term for aggravated break and enter and fraud offences. Early Saturday, he allegedly broke into a house but found himself “detained” by the owner of the house and another man. Sadly, regardless of his actions and past offences, Slater was taken to John Hunter Hospital and later died of his injuries. One of the men who had held him for police was also treated for facial injuries, while the other, 33-year-old, Benjamin Batterham, has been charged with murder.
5. Video games! No wait, this is important. The Oculus Rift has arrived, and we’ve finally got a full-blown review of the headset you’ll be wearing once you’ve handed over $1000 and another $15000 for a decent PC to run it on, which won’t be a Mac. Steven Tweedie says the finished product is a vast improvement over kits handed out to the press in the past and after rolling through the launch catalogue, says proper VR is off to a fantastic start. And it’s not just about video games, Tweedie reckons.
6. This is all about video games. Especially ones which are played in tournaments worth millions of dollars and where cheating and drugs have become a real problem. Unless it’s the team from Harvard getting caught cheating, and gets kicked out, whereby everyone enjoys it. The final four teams in Blizzard’s “Heroes of the Dorm” play off on April 9 and believe it or not, you can watch it on ESPN.
7. More mud in smart peoples’ eyes from the author of “The Confidence Game”, who found that con artists have an easier time fooling smart people. Ha.
8. “Batman vs Superman” stinks, even by director Zack Snyder’s standards. It’s carrying a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but that hasn’t hurt the box office takings, which just smashed a couple of pre-US summer records. But at least one good thing has come out of the mess – you can explore the Dark Knight’s Batcave on Google Maps. Go on, see if you can find the Batsuit:
9. Here’s the Batman movie Batman deserves. There were many highlights in “The LEGO Movie”, but the standout was Batman’s anguished heavy metal track. It was good enough to get him his own LEGO movie, and here’s a great trailer for it.
10. Game of Thrones isn’t sexist. Daenerys Targaryen says so, and she should know, because she has three dragons for kids and runs an army. Or did. Here’s what she told Entertainment Weekly about the hit show’s feminist controversy. And here are EW’s six covers this month featuring all of GoT’s most dangerous ladies.
Have a great day.
BONUS ITEM: Bert and Ernie, throwin’ things down and messing with chubby beats.