Is This Microsoft's Next CEO? Plus 6 More Things You'll Want to Know Today

Industry Leaders Address 2010 Automotive News World Congress
Industry Leaders Address 2010 Automotive News World Congress

Here's a quick rundown from the world of business and economics this morning: the things you need to know, and some you'll just want to know.

• Ever since Steve Ballmer announced that he'd be leaving his post as CEO of Microsoft (MSFT) within the next year, speculation has been rampant about who will take his place. The early favorite among the chattering class was ex-Nokia chief Stephen Elop, who has a history with Microsoft and is coming back to Redmond thanks to its purchase of Nokia's (NOK) phone business. But recently, Ford (F) CEO Alan Mulally has jumped to the top of the list. Mulally's no tech specialist, but he is a turnaround artist, which is exactly what the stagnant tech giant needs.

• On the potential government shutdown, as of Friday morning, there's no visible movement on either side. The Senate is preparing to pass a stopgap measure that would keep the lights on for another 6 weeks, while House Republicans continue to insist they won't back down on their insistence that Democrats defund the Affordable Care Act. If nobody blinks before Tuesday, the shutdown begins. Stay tuned ...

• One of the things we love about Martha Stewart is that she exemplifies a life most of us can only dream of -- with the perfectly decorated house, the exquisitely crafted meals, etc. Well, in some ways, Martha's just like us. She's been tweeting recently about her travails with a broken iPad. Of course, when it's Martha who has gadget drama, the tweets go viral.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%• Out here in the real economy of the middle class, it sometimes feels like things aren't getting better, or if they are, it's not happening fast enough. We know it. We feel it too. But here's something to cheer you up: 19 charts that will restore your faith in the global economy.

• Nike (NKE) just did it on the earnings front Thursday -- earnings soared by 38 percent last quarter, beating the Street's expectations. The only place where Nike isn't winning? China.

• McDonald's (MCD), where everyone goes for a healthy lunch, says it will now allow customers to replace the fries in their value meals with a side salad, fruit or vegetables. It's a nice gesture, but we're betting that most folks will still opt for those salty, crunchy, greasy, tasty fries.

• Global warming: Yesterday, we were really sure it was caused by humans. Today, we're really, extremely sure. So says the comprehensive 2,000 page report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate activists hope the report might induce the world's governments to get off the stick before Miami's climate becomes Baltimore's, and all of our favorite coastal cities end up partially submerged.