ECB flexes muscles, US and Canada make methane pledge, and the end of the fat years

The Pierre building is seen through a stairway as customers enter the Apple retail store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York September 20, 2013. Apple Inc's newest smartphone models hit stores on Friday in many countries across the world, including Australia and China. REUTERS/Adrees Latif (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS) - RTX13SIP

The Pierre building is seen through a stairway. Image: REUTERS/Adrees Latif

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The European Central Bank cut interests rates to a new low and expanded quantitative easing as part of a larger than expected package of measures meant to stimulate the eurozone economy. The ECB cut its deposit rate to 0.4 per cent but eased the impact on banks with cheaper short-term loans and longer-term liquidity at negative interest rates — essentially, paying eurozone lenders to increase credit to households and companies.

Mario Draghi, ECB president, hopes the package will quash any scepticism that central banks can only boost asset prices with limited benefit for the wider economy. Here’s how economists reacted and here’s how Deutsche Bank suggested traders react to the various routes the bank could have taken. (FT)

In the news:

The Isis HR department

A cache of 22,000 documents obtained by German authorities provides an unparalleled snapshot into the jihadi group’s recruitment of foreign fighters. The documents include detailed questionnaires filled in by recruits and the names of at least 16 British and four US citizens. (FT)

Typo trips the alarm

One of the most audacious bank raids in history — a $101m cyber heist at the Bangladesh central bank — came to a shuddering halt when a typo in one of the transaction requests raised suspicions and prompted an investigation. (FT)

Ex-Kremlin aide died from ‘blunt force’

A former top Kremlin aide found dead in a Washington DC hotel room died after suffering “blunt force injuries” to the head, a medical report found, fuelling speculation over the nature of his death. (FT)

US and Canada make methane pledge

The two countries announced plans to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by 40-45 per cent. The move was welcomed by environmentalists but criticised by business who warned of its impact on shale. (FT)

Goldman hired daughter of Malaysian PM ally

The bank was seeking to expand its business in the country at the time. It would later win valuable business with the government’s 1MDB investment fund, which is under investigation for allegations of misconduct and misappropriation of state funds. (FT)

China investment in the American heartland

The money Chinese companies have poured into rust belt towns may complicate Donald Trump’s protectionist rhetoric. (FT)

Test your knowledge with the week in news quiz. China’s foreign exchange reserves this week fell to what figure?

It's a big day for:

Japan, which commemorates five years since the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Nearly 165,000 people were evacuated in the wake of the catastrophe and more than 97,000 are still unable to return. The FT’s Robin Harding and Kana Inagaki report from Fukushima. (FT)


The South By Southwest festival — known as “Spring Break for nerds” — kicks off in Austin, Texas. It will feature everyone from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone to JJ Abrams, director of the latest Star Wars movie, to President Barack Obama. (AP)

Food for thought:

Bitcoin loses Midas touch

For technical reasons, the currency is starting to fail. Each block is small, so the system can handle only a few transactions at a time and as more have started to use it, it has grown less reliable. The problem is that coming up with a fix requires political agreement and without a centralised authority, there is no one to impose a mandate. (FT)

Tunisia after the revolution

The African nation has been feted as the only successful democratic transition among the Arab uprisings. But it is under attackfrom Isis and its faltering economy is unable to meet the aspirations of its young people. (FT)

Plastic-eating bacteria

Researchers in Japan have discovered a species of microbe that eats PET, the polymer widely used in food containers, bottles and synthetic fibres. The bacteria could help break down otherwise non-biodegradable debris in landfills or recycling plants. (WSJ)

Lunch with Thaksin Shinawatra

Over a dim sum lunch, the exiled former prime minister of Thailand talks about why he is not trying to take back power. (FT)

The fat years are over

This week saw the seventh anniversary of the S&P 500’s post-Lehman low on March 9, 2009. The rally since then has been remarkable by any standard, writes John Authers, but there is growing evidence that the fat years may now be over. (FT)

Video of the day:

Mumbai’s $1bn makeover

India’s Bohra Muslim community is transforming its old neighbourhood, tearing down decrepit buildings to make way for skyscrapers. The project is touted as a model for other old urban areas, but could it be replicated? Amy Kazmin reports from Mumbai. (FT)

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