Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Malaysian Airlines confusion, China’s slowdown worsens, SXSW auto mayhem, five-second rule confirmed

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What to watch for today

The Malaysian Airlines disappearance gets even weirder. The plane flew an additional four hours from its last confirmed location, according to data automatically transmitted by its engines. US counterterrorism officials are investigating whether someone “diverted it toward an undisclosed location.”

American spending is back in the black. Analysts expect retail sales to have grown 0.1% last month, after contracting by 0.4% in January. As 70% of GDP is driven by consumer spending, that would be happy news for the US economy.

The pope’s anniversary. It’s one year since white smoke billowed out of the Sistine Chapel’s chimney. Pope Francis will be marking the occasion with a spiritual retreat.

While you were sleeping

China’s economic benchmarks hit multi-year lows. Retail sales for January and February rose 11.8% year-on-year, which doesn’t sound terrible but is actually the slowest growth for that period since 2004. Industrial output rose 8.6%, the weakest since 2009.

New Zealand raised interest rates, from 2.5% to to 2.75%, making it the first developed country to raise its benchmark rate since the financial crisis. The Kiwi economy has been booming and its housing market is growing a bit overheated.

A driver crashed into the SXSW crowds. A car fleeing a police alcohol checkpoint in Austin, Texas, killed two people and injured at least 21 after barreling into a street full of people attending the popular music and technology conference.

Infosys sees more trouble ahead. The bellwether Indian IT company warned that its profits would fall short of expectations due in part to weakness in the US and emerging markets.

Australia added 80,500 full-time jobs. But February’s month-on-month increase did nothing to reduce the unemployment rate, which held steady at 6%.

Allianz sees new risks for shipping. Super-sized ships, newly-thawed Arctic routes, and the use of new fuels are making the insurer nervous.

Panasonic unveiled a smog bonus. The Japanese firm said it would pay a premium to workers it sends to China (paywall), due to the hazardously high levels of pollution there that can increase the risk of asthma, cancer, and heart problems.

Quartz obsession interlude 

Leo Mirani on what the future of in-car navigation will look like. “Carmakers have been experimenting with head-up displays (HUD) in cars since the late 1990s. But early efforts have been cautious, displaying only speed and other basic information near the bottom of the windscreen. New technologies allow them to be bolder: the authors see HUD, long used by fighter pilots, as becoming a natural part of looking through the windshield, and, in some cases, being embedded on real-world objects such as the road or buildings. It is Borges’s 1:1 map come to life.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

The pope’s second year will be no easy endeavor. Like a rock band’s second album, following up from a strong debut is tough.

We talk about too many things in economic terms. That leads to paternalism, erodes morality, and diminishes personal autonomy.

Conference panels boring? Blame the moderator. Panelists should be left to duke it out among themselves.

In defense of the Indian male. A survey purporting to show that Indian men don’t do housework missed a whole lot of cultural factors.

A falling yuan explains pretty much everything weird going on in China. A forced devaluation by the central bank is making the whole economy freak out.

Surprising discoveries

The five-second rule exists—sort of. It’s better if your food lands on the carpet.

The post-millennial generation needs a name. Suggestions include iGen, the swipe generation and Gen 2K.

“Mor” is literature’s most evil syllable. Voldemort, Mordor, Moriarty, Morbius, the Morlocks… need we go on?

Dating app Tinder plans to verify its celebrity users. Now you’ll know for sure if it’s Lindsay Lohan flirting with you.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, Tinder celebrities, and generational monikers to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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