Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Scotland’s bluff, Fisker’s assets, Danone’s double-dip, Kerouac’s trip

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What to watch for today

The Bank of England recalibrates. The central bank is set to upgrade its growth projections and downgrade its inflation forecast, as UK unemployment approaches the bank’s 7% target (paywall) for raising interest rates.

Should the US run the internet? In the wake of the leaks from Edward Snowden about US surveillance, the European Commission will propose a plan to globalize (paywall) various internet governance functions that are now contractually linked to the US government.

Britain calls Scotland’s bluff. MPs will discuss what currency Scotland should use if it leaves the UK. The likely verdict of UK chancellor George Osborne, who is hammering out a coalition position, is that Scotland will have to ditch the British pound.

Fisker auctions off its assets. The hybrid electric carmarker, once seen as a possible competitor to Tesla, will sell off what’s left of it after declaring bankruptcy in November. China’s Wanxiang Group and Hong Kong businessman Richard Li have both been waving their cash about.

Pax barrels down on the American south. A colossal winter storm is due to strike the south and southeast today, particularly Georgia and the Carolinas, bringing waves of severe snow, ice and likely power outages.. The National Weather Service is calling Storm Pax a potential “catastrophic event.

While you were sleeping

Another massive Toyota recall arrived. Toyota plans to recall around 1.9 million third-generation Priuses—almost half of the hybrid cars ever sold—to fix a software glitch that can overheat the vehicle or bring it to a full stop. Last week, Toyota moved close to finalizing (paywall) a $1 billion settlement of a US probe into its vehicle disclosures, which prompted a million-car recall in 2010.

Thailand’s political limbo lengthened. An election commission set the next round of national elections for April 20th, leaving the caretaker government, limited in its authority and shaken by protests, to hobble on for two more months. Retail and tourism are beginning to feel the pinch.

Danone double-dipped in China. The world’s largest yogurt manufacturer will spend €486 million ($665 million) to more than double its stake in Mengniu, China’s top dairy company. One estimate sees China’s appetite for dairy products nearly doubling from 2012 to 2017.

Australia prepared to sell some family silver. In a bid to fill its budget shortfall, the conservative government is planning to put A$130 billion (US$117.5 billion) in assets up for sale to private investors (paywall). It has moved to sell off the state-owned health insurer, and is also considering an airport and other utilities.

Chinese exports rose sharply—suspiciously so. January exports were up 10.6% from a year ago, though economists predicted just 0.1%. Analysts suspect over-invoicing and fake shipments caused the increase, since a recent HSBC index showed a contraction in China’s manufacturing sector.

H&M eyed the subcontinent. The Swedish clothing chain, which operates in 53 countries, will add India to the list this year, with an initial plan to invest €100 million on 50 stores in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Quartz obsession interlude

Tim Fernholz on what we can learn about world trade from Dov Charney, America’s most controversial clothing CEO. “American Apparel, unlike many of its competitors, makes its products in the US. It’s not because Charney particularly cares about Americans: ‘What we’re trying to do is build a business that’s very futuristic in the sense that we don’t want to rely on these labor inequalities that are not going to be sustainable forever anyway.’ Charney makes a good point: The supply-chain advantage that comes with manufacturing goods in countries with cheap labor costs is both arbitrary and temporary.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The Lego Movie channels the Occupy movement. The story has post-neoliberal undertones: questioning authority, enabling imagination and admitting the possibility of a radically different future.

Nintendo is running out of lives. The former gaming king is losing out where it really matters: software.

Regulators shouldn’t lose sleep over high-frequency traders. Associated costs mean the nanosecond gamblers will end up just competing with each other.

Alibaba is pushing the limits of non-bank banking. It’s only a matter of time before regulators start treating it like a bank.

Yes, Kazakhstan should change its name. Why the president’s proposal to rename it “Kazakh Yeli” is more than just a way to avoid being lumped in with other “stans.”

Surprising discoveries

Airport security is hackable. A cyber-attack could allow a gun to slip past the x-ray machine.

If iTunes were its own company, it would still rank in the top Fortune 500. Number 130, to be precise.

Russia hoarded 400,000 tons of snow for the Olympics. Here’s how you create a strategic snow reserve.

The world is nearing its sixth mass extinction. The last one killed off the dinosaurs.

How to alienate female programmers. If you’re Goldman Sachs, you hand out free nail files and mirrors.

An e-book lets you re-trace every step of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road trip. Mescaline not included.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, airport security hacks, and mescaline to

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