Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Fed guidance, China’s currency woes, MH370 scenarios, Tennessee whiskey feud

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What to watch for today

The US Federal Reserve rethinks its forward guidance. The central bank is expected to leave rates untouched and continue tapering bond purchases, but could tweak its methods for communicating how long interest rates will remain low.

Disney investors storm the Magic Kingdom. Shareholders will vote on a resolution that would give smaller stake owners the right to nominate board members; a similar vote failed last year.

Putin talks about Crimea in a televised address at 11:00 a.m. GMT. He has already notified Russia’s parliament that he intends to make Crimea part of the Russian Federation.

A whiskey feud in Tennessee. State legislators will debate a law that lays down strict restrictions on whiskey manufacturing, in a fight that pits Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman against Diageo, the world’s biggest liquor company.

While you were sleeping

MH370 scenarios didn’t add up. Someone entered a new destination into the missing flight’s computer, bolstering suspicions of foul play. Yet extensive background checks of the passengers and crew have failed to find any “political or criminal motive to crash or hijack the plane,” sources told Reuters.

China’s currency continued to drop… The yuan continued its decline after the government loosened its trading band, nearing the “red line” level of 6.20 to the dollar (paywall) that would trigger major trading losses in China and around the world.

…And property prices slowed for a second straight month. Prices were up only 0.3% in China’s 70 major cities versus January. The government is trying to increase the affordability of homes without decimating real estate firms like Zhejiang Xingrun, which collapsed yesterday. 

Japan sanctioned Russia… Talks on an investment pact between the two countries and relaxed visa requirements were suspended by the Japanese government, which said it does not recognize the referendum in Crimea.

…And annual property prices climbed for the first time in six years. Commercial land in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya rose 1.6% in 2013, and declines in other cities slowed.

Europe’s car sales accelerated. New registrations rose 7.6% in February. Recovering economies were responsible for much of the demand—Portugal alone recorded a 40.2% increase.

GM recalled another 1.5 million vehicles. More than a million SUVs need their side airbags fixed, while overheating brakes on thousands of Cadillac sedans have already caused two fires. Just a month ago, GM recalled 1.6 million cars suffering from a faulty ignition switch.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on the three charts that prove markets don’t really care whether Crimea joins Russia. “To many observers the imposition of sanctions might sound like a worsening of the diplomatic situation. And it is. But markets seem to like the fact that the sanctions spotlighted individuals and largely left companies and payment systems alone. If the Obama administration was really looking to play rough, it could have taken a lot of tougher approaches. (Just look at Iran, for example.)” Read more here.  

Matters of debate

Tech innovation isn’t making us better off.  But it’s preferable to “financial innovation” in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

To get smarter, help others. Giving facilitates learning, and over time earns a wealth of accumulated knowledge.

Facebook is an anomaly. When else in history did everyone socialize in the same place?

iPhone notifications benefit businesses, not users. There’s no easy way to unsubscribe from the pesky pop-ups.

Surprising discoveries

Thank goodness for the €500 note. Without it, the world financial system would’ve been in far more trouble in 2008.

Male babysitters earn more than females. Just 3% of US babysitters are men, but they earn an average of $15 an hour to a woman’s $14.50.

Snail venom is a potent painkiller. Conotoxins are 100 times more powerful than morphine.

A new luxury jet won’t have windows. Instead there are display screens to show the scenery, videos, or even work documents.

Greece is drowning in pharmacists. Per capita, it has 74% more than the runner-up, Bulgaria.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, snail venom, and over-the-top private jet plans to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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