Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Credit Suisse grilled, J. Crew IPO, Airbus results, hipster beard transplants

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What to watch for today

Credit Suisse gets grilled on tax evasion. The bank faces US senators to discuss allegations that it helped 22,000 Americans dodge taxes with shredded documents and business deals conducted in secret elevators.

Abercrombie & Fitch dresses up its profits. Investors will be closely examining online sales for the US clothing retailer, which had a better-than-expected holiday season but otherwise a pretty dismal year.

A read on Barnes & Noble’s future. The struggling book retailer posts fourth-quarter results a few days after private equity firm G Asset Management made an offer to buy 51% of the company.

South Africa’s new budget could include a tax hike, as the government is forced to choose between a series of unattractive options during a period of slowing economic growth.

While you were sleeping

Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox was subpoenaed. US prosecutors and Japanese authorities want to know more about the Tokyo-based exchange that crashed this week. Some bitcoin advocates are calling for more regulation.

J. Crew mulls an IPO. The clothing retailer is interviewing banks for an offering that may valued it at up to $5 billion, Bloomberg reports—nearly twice the value of a private equity buyout in 2010.

Hong Kong stays on track… Financial secretary John Tsang said the territory’s growth will be between 3% and 4% this year. He also announced a $2.5 billion fiscal relief package for the city’s working class.

…But the stabbing of a journalist has the city shaken. The ousted editor of an outspoken Hong Kong newspaper was critically injured by unknown assailants, in yet another ominous sign for press freedom in China’s special administrative region.

Airbus ready for takeoff. The European plane maker saw profits rise 21% last year, with earnings predicted to keep rising, as it boosts production of its best-selling single-aisle planes.

Beijing’s smog crisis. The polluted air of China’s capital was unfit to breathe for the sixth straight day, with levels of particulate matter that were nearly 20 times the recommended limit (paywall). Many of the face masks citizens are using don’t do any good at all.

Egypt’s authoritarian stock rally. Shares are up nearly 20% and average volumes have more than doubled in 2014, suggesting that investors favor military-backed rule.

Quartz obsession interlude

Leo Mirani on why there’s no point banning Google Glass in cars—at least, not yet. ”In the coming years, cars are going to change unrecognizably. We will interact with them not through buttons and dials but by waving our hands, talking to them or, with eye-tracking technology, simply by looking around. Legislation is not prepared for that sort of change. Does talking to your car constitute the same sort of distraction as talking to somebody else on a hands-free device? Are larger and larger dashboard display screens the equivalent of looking at a Facebook post? Arguably not, because you’re looking to the screens and talking to your car about road-related things while a Facebook update from your ex-boyfriend might trigger an emotional, and therefore distracting, response.” Read more here

Matters of debate

The Comcast-Netflix deal has nothing to do with net neutrality. Most of the mainstream commentary is ignorant of how the internet actually works.

Higher education’s golden age is over. The failure to adapt has created a big opportunity for online education.

Ghostbusters isn’t really about ghosts. The classic ’80s film is “a Reaganite carnival of ideological triumph.”

We’re managing the internet all wrong. It’s a utility, not a luxury, and should be treated as such.

The worst thing Bill Gross could do is retire. If the investment manager leaves, investments will follow him out the door.

Silicon Valley is the new Wall Street. The center of the financial world is moving west.

Surprising discoveries

Americans are actually getting skinnier. There’s been a 43% drop in obesity among young children in the United States over the past decade. 

The internet of washing machines is upon us. Control all of its functions from your smartphone, for some reason.

Harnessing Tetris’s distractive qualities. Playing the game for just three minutes can reduce the urge to eat, smoke and drink.

Cosmetic surgery for hipsters. The beard trend has led to a rise in facial-hair transplants.

The appeal of a one-handed breakfast. Commuting drivers are the key to Taco Bell’s waffle taco.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Tetris high scores, and fake beards to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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