France, Germany and Italy will join a China-led international development bank despite US pressure for them to stay out of it. They follow in the footsteps of Britain, which announced last week that it would join the $50bn Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, prompting the Obama administration to accuse it of "constant accommodation" of China. (FT)

Gideon Rachman reckons this is turning into a diplomatic debacle for the US: "By setting up and then losing a power struggle with China, Washington has sent an unintended signal about the drift of power and influence in the 21st century." (FT)

In the news

Markets ride monetary easing wave Chinese stocks hit a seven-year high and Japanese equities reached a 15-year peak after the German Dax yesterday broke through and closed above the 12,000 barrier for the first time. (FT)

Putin's reappearance The Russian president tried to brush aside rumours that he was seriously ill — "Life would be boring without gossip" — but questions linger over his long, unexplained absence. (FT)

Treasurer of Rousseff's party charged Joao Vaccari was charged with soliciting donations from Petrobras's former director of services. The link to the corruption scandal delivers a blow to President Dilma Rousseff just a day after anti-government protests swept the country. (FT)

Apple will launch online TV It struck a deal with HBO to bring its on-demand app to Apple TV and cut the price of its set-top box from $99 to $69. Now it's in talks with US broadcasters, including Fox and ABC, to launch a subscription streaming service. (FT)

Valeant raises offer for Salix The race for pharma deals continues. Valeant raised its offer for the bowel medicine maker by $1bn, putting a $15.8bn price tag on it and thwarting an offer from Endo, a Dublin-based drugmaker. (FT)

It's a big day for

Israel It's the general election today and Benjamin Netanyahu, the country's longest-serving leader since David Ben-Gurion, could see his reign draw to a close. "King Bibi" ended his campaign lobbying heavily for rightwing votes, saying he would not allow a Palestinian state to be established if he were elected. The vote will be close and there may not be a clear result for a while but here are the possible scenarios for the next governing coalition. (FT)

The US Federal Reserve The Federal Open Market Committee is not expected to raise rates but the policy meeting, which starts today, will be closely watched for indications of how rapidly rates will be raised and where the official rate will end up in a couple of years' time. (FT)

Food for thought

Life on the lam Li Dongzhe was accused of masterminding a $113m embezzlement and had fled to Canada to avoid prison or a death sentence. The WSJ looks at what pulled Li into the Vancouver consulate three years ago to ask for a deal, and at Beijing's determination to pursue illicit wealth amassed by as many as 18,000 economic fugitives. The man who leads China's anti-corruption drive will be heading to the US soon as part of a drive to extradite corrupt officials. (WSJ$, FT)

The macroeconomic version of #thedress It's a chart showing inflation in the UK, eurozone and US. Analysts see either an oil price-driven boost to real incomes or the start of a worrying slide into deflation. Duncan Weldon examines each argument and says the big question in the coming months is whether the positive effect of lower commodity prices is enough to boost demand and turn round the disinflationary trend. (Medium)

Currency "Wimps" Countries Without International Monetary Power lack the ability to conduct economic policy without immediate regard to external constraints because they use key currencies such as the dollar and the euro to manage liquidity and maintain stability. Ousmene Mandeng, a senior fellow at the Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee, argues that only the diversification of key currencies would bring about permanent relief to this problem. The Upshot explains how the rising dollar is trouble for emerging market companies. (FT, NYT$)

Hiding the age of whiskey Bourbon has grown in popularity but the shortage of new American oak barrels and the time needed to age it means the high-end stuff is in short supply. Distillers are trying new tricks to accelerate the maturation process so it takes months rather than years to get it to market but it still suffers from a "raw" taste. (Nautilus)

Craft vs Kraft Big US food groups missed a shift in the nation's taste buds — younger generations and immigrant populations are seeking fresher fare and more exotic flavours. Now they are struggling to find the "bliss point" again to woo consumers back. (FT)

Video of the day

Lionel Barber on Tony Blair The FT editor talks to foreign editor Roula Khalaf about whether Tony Blair is being pushed out of his role as Middle East peace envoy.

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