Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Indian inflation drop, German GDP miss, Chinese money surge, marijuana penny stocks

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What to watch for today

Congress grills bank regulators. The US Senate finance committee will press Federal Reserve officials about the risks of banks getting directly involved with commodities, such as owning oil tankers or power plants.

Thailand protesters set a deadline. Hardline anti-government demonstrators threaten to blockade the Bangkok stock market and air traffic control authority if prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra does not step down by 8pm local time. Yingluck has refused to quit or delay next month’s elections.

Good news from Bank of America. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are reporting solid results, so analysts expect similarly good numbers from BofA, whose stock is already up 45% in the past year even though investment banking and home loans are in the doldrums.

While you were sleeping

Burberry boosted by digital sales and Asia. The British clothing firm posted better-than-expected 14% quarterly revenue growth on stronger sales online and in China.

India inflation dropped. Lower vegetable prices pushed monthly price increases to 6.16%, below what analysts predicted, giving the central bank some wiggle room to keep interest rates steady.

German GDP miss. The EU’s linchpin economy grew by a disappointing 0.4% in 2013 due to weaker trading partners in Europe and beyond.

China lending dropped… Banks lent out a less-than-expected 482.5 billion yuan ($79.9 billion) in December, well below the previous month’s 624.6 billion yuan, as the central bank hit the brakes on credit expansion.

But its money supply kept climbing, with the broadest M2 measure up 13.6% in 2013, barely below the previous year’s increase. China has increased its money supply more than 300% since the end of 2006, compared to a mere 55% increase in the United States.

Growth waxes, austerity wanes. The World Bank raised its forecast for global economic growth to 3.2% for 2014, up from 3%, as wealthier countries shift their emphasis toward spending. But it warned that emerging markets could be pinched (paywall) as the US and other countries taper their monetary stimulus.

Horse-trading on Iran sanctions. After US president Barack Obama fought his own party in order to stop harsh new sanctions on Iran, Russia could be undermining negotiations by trading goods for 50% of Iran’s oil output.

Quartz obsession interlude

John McDuling on the hazards of getting high on marijuana stocks. “The sudden explosion of interest in weed stocks even prompted FINRA, Wall Street’s self-regulatory organization, to last week warn investors about the potential for scams and frauds. It noted that some marijuana companies—though it didn’t name them—had been employing well-known tricks used in stock scams, like frequently changing their names and business focus.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Junior bankers should sleep all day. A healthy work-life balance is hopeless, so why not let them work at night when they’re most productive?

Antibiotics should be taxed. Regulatory guidelines are a blunt instrument, whereas taxes would discourage the overuse of antibiotics that carry a cost to society.

Black & Decker’s new logo is a master class in compromise. Picking apart a new brand logo reveals surprising design tradeoffs.

The French care more about sex scandals than they let on. Media reaction to president François Hollande’s reported affair with an actress belies a survey showing that 77% of voters think it should stay private.  

Stop pretending your email address is private. Google+ now makes it easier for strangers to email you, but email stopped being “personal” a long time ago.

Surprising discoveries

Mice can inherit memories. Laboratory animals taught to fear a particular smell passed the aversion down for several generations.

Bananas are actually horrible for monkeys. Scottish zoo announces that it will no longer allow primates to gorge themselves on the unhealthy treats.

Medicare was overcharged for penis pumps. The US government pays double for each device.

Would you let the internet name your daughter? These parents would. The current leading name is Cthulhu All-Spark McLaughlin.

Best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, penis-pump deals and better names than Cthulhu to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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