You need eight ounces to make a cup, but only seven and a half things are necessary for knowing each day. Here's your daily allotment:
Thing One: Swift Justice For Some: If there's one thing we've learned in the past few years, it's that you had better not run a Ponzi scheme around these parts, gosh darn it, because the government will take you downtown, Charlie Brown, quicker than you can raise a baby into its sophomore year in high school. It only took the U.S. government about 15 years from the time it first suspected Allen Stanford was maybe not on the up-and-up until yesterday, when it managed to convict him of running a fraudulent $7 billion empire, the Financial Times reminds us.
Stanford faces 20 years in prison, maybe, Reuters writes, having already served three during his years-long trial.
But, hey, these things take time, as we've seen in the slow and steady march to justice following the financial crisis and with the slow grind toward promised some-day criminal action in the mortgage foreclosure mess. Compare and contrast that with how quickly you will get taken down if you ever dare hack into a company's computer system to look at their emails or write saucy words on their web site.
Thing Two: Get A Job Clue: Can you feel the excitement? Can you smell what the government data analysts are cooking? It's the big February jobs report, coming up on Friday. But like Christmas and the Super Bowl, it's becoming more than just a one-day event. The walk-up to the blessed event starts today, when payroll processing company ADP releases its estimate of private payroll growth for the month. This number is all over the map and does a pretty lousy job of predicting the government's payroll number, which is a crapshoot anyway. But don't bother telling that to Wall Street, which will convince itself that this morning's ADP number, due at 8:15 a.m. ET, is the end-all, be-all. Economists expect to see 218,000 jobs this morning, up from 170,000 in January. Update: The number came in almost exactly as expected, at 216,000 jobs. January's number was revised up by 3,000 jobs.
Thing Three: Dow Down: The ADP report will go a long way toward determining whether the stock market rebounds from its worst selloff the year yesterday. So far, it's looking so good, with European stocks and U.S. stock market futures higher this morning, partly on hopes of a big ADP report.
Thing Four: Eyes On Athens: Another thing the market will be watching is Greece, where the government is trying to convince its bondholders to take ginormous losses on its debt. It will probably not be able to get as many bondholders as it would like to go along with this plan, meaning it will probably have to force some to take ugly haircuts (of the Moe/Pete Rose variety), which will mean that Greece will default, which could mean bad things. Funny thing is, writes Landon Thomas of The New York Times, this approach may be the model for Italy, Spain and other troubled European nations in the months ahead. Good times.
Thing Five: Apple Delivers New Product, Earth Orbits Sun: We don't know much about business or technology or anything else, but we have heard tell that Apple may be about to unveil a new product today! And that it could be a "game changer." Ugh. It's another iPad, is what it is, and it might convince some more people to pay for a wireless plan so they can watch videos. That's the game that perhaps will have been changed by this device, pants Reuters. Jason Gilbert of The Huffington Post runs down some other stuff we can expect from the iPad 3 (or whatever they're going to call it) announcement today.
Thing Six: Drugs In Court: Speaking of the wheels on the justice bus going slowly round and round: India's Supreme Court is set to hear a case pitting Swiss drug giant Novartis against the Indian drug industry, which makes a knock-off version of the cancer treatment Gleevec. The fear here, The New York Times writes, is that a victory for Novartis "could dry up the global supply of inexpensive medicines to treat AIDS, cancer and other diseases."
Thing Seven: Talking Down Oil Prices: President Obama is catching flak about high-ish gasoline prices, which have been driven higher in part by tensions between Iran and pretty much everybody else in the world. So, two birds with one stone, the U.S. and other Western nations are going to re-start talks with Iran about its nuclear program. That will bring more political flak, but hopefully some benefits, too. Like not going to war, maybe. That would be nice. And also, oil prices fell on news of the talks, the Financial Times writes.
Thing Seven And One Half: Run, Batman, Run: What did we do for fun before the Internet? Certainly not make stuff like the new meme '60s Batman Running Away From Sh*t. Turns out 1960s Batman is a bit of a coward, running away from pretty much all kinds of stuff. To me, the look on Robin's face ties the whole thing together nicely. (h/t Uproxx)