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  • The video game flick smashed all kinds of records, bringing the industry, overall, closer to pre-pandemic levels — and we're betting that means more video-game-based movies in our future. Not your thing? Send us movie recs.

Today's newsletter is 783 words, 3 minutes.

1 big thing: Pushing China to play ball

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

During COVID, China agreed to a plan to help poor countries that could no longer repay their debts. Now, pressure is building on Beijing to keep its word, Axios' Kate Marino writes.

Driving the news: At this week’s big meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, analysts, investors and governments are looking for progress on stalled talks under the G20's "Common Framework" — a relatively new roadmap for creditors to work out the debt defaults of a growing group of lower-income nations.

  • The key holdout: China.

What they're saying: "Criticism of China's foot-dragging on Common Framework issues will be the talk of the town this week," sovereign debt restructuring veteran Lee Buchheit tells Axios.

Why it matters: China has emerged as a top source of capital for low-income economies in recent years — a venture that's helped expand its global influence.

Yes, but: That now means China has a major role to play as debtor nations restructure — essentially it needs to agree to take some losses on loans that some of these countries are no longer able to repay.

  • So far, China has shown little indication it's willing to accept such losses, leaving countries like Zambia, Ghana and Ethiopia — and millions of people — in economic limbo.

Background: The G20 group of nations created the Common Framework in late 2020. The idea was to bring newer, less-experienced creditors like China to the table with the traditional group of creditor nations — known as the Paris Club — to negotiate restructuring plans with defaulters.

  • Typically, such negotiations involve forgiving enough debt that a country could get back on its feet — with all the various creditors sharing the burden of losses.
  • But the Common Framework has been ineffective so far, in part because of China’s failure to provide any meaningful debt relief, says Martin Mühleisen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and formerly an IMF director.

Case in point: Zambia.

  • It defaulted on its debt over two years ago — and IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva has repeatedly called out China, the biggest holder of its external debt, for refusing to play ball in negotiations.
  • “China has been very slow to recognize that multilateral debt restructuring requires China to play by the rules that are already established,” she told Bloomberg Television on Thursday. “Now is the time for China to demonstrate that.”

The latest: The IMF just released a statement saying that for Zambia to access its next installment of IMF program funds, it "needs official creditors to move forward and reach agreement on a debt treatment in line with the financing assurances they provided in July 2022."

  • Translation: China needs to agree to provide debt relief over the next few weeks, or it will "get the blame for Zambia not moving forward," Mühleisen says.
  • "That would look bad for all sides and will damage China’s standing with the Fund," he adds.

What we're watching: So far, China continues to insist that it wants to be "constructive" in these talks — but at this point, global leaders are looking for more concrete commitments, Buchheit says.

2. Catch up quick

⚠️ Auditors didn't flag risks building up in banks. (WSJ)

🚘 Tesla to build Megafactory in Shanghai. (Axios)

📉 First-quarter profits expected to drop nearly 7%, as earnings season tests stocks. (WSJ)

3. Yields rise on nearly perfect jobs report

Yield on the two-year Treasury note
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Investors are betting that the Fed will keep raising interest rates after jobs data in March showed the economy could very well be on track for a "soft landing," Matt writes.

Driving the news: Yields on short-term Treasury notes, heavily influenced by expectations for what the central bank will do with monetary policy, shot higher after the data was released Friday.

  • The yield on the two-year Treasury rose roughly 0.15 percentage points, another in a string of sizable swings in what's typically a muted market.

Context: With the stock market closed for Good Friday, the bond market was perhaps the main venue for investors to express views on what the report meant. (And it was only open until 12 pm ET in New York.)

The bottom line: Investors in recent weeks had been cutting back on bets that the Fed would keep hiking rates in aftermath of last month's banking panic.

  • But Friday's surge in short-term yields suggests that more are convinced that the economy's strong enough for the Fed to keep on keeping on.

4. A lot of people are working, actually

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

Nearly 81% of Americans in their prime working years are employed, the highest number since May 2001, according to the latest jobs report on Friday, Emily writes.

  • Why it matters: The job market remains hot, and the idea that "people don't want to work these days," doesn't appear to be a thing, as Axios Macro noted.

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Axios Markets is edited by Kate Marino and copy edited by Mickey Meece.