Quartz Daily Brief—Europe edition—Ryan’s budget, Rajan’s dilemma, Yellen’s soothing words, Barbie’s insidious influence

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What to watch for today

Raghuram Rajan holds steady. The governor of India’s central bank faces a tough call on whether to leave, lower, or even raise the base interest rate. Rising core inflation points to a rate raise, but both consumer and wholesale prices have been declining. The consensus is Rajan will stick with the current 8%.

Ukraine’s energy bills go up. Russia’s Gazprom is set to raise the price it charges Naftogaz (paywall), Ukraine’s state energy company, from the subsidized $268.50 per thousand cubic meters to $480. Ukraine will pass higher costs on to industry and government bodies today and to domestic consumers on May 1.

Strange goings-on on the internet. Today is April Fool’s Day, and everyone enjoys a spot of mischief. Last year, Google revealed YouTube to be a competition that was coming to an end; Netflix unveiled some unconventional genres; Twitter said it would start charging for consonants; and even The White House got involved.

Paul Ryan unveils an economic miracle. This is not an April Fool: The darling of hardline Republicans will attempt to burnish the party’s image of fiscal responsibility with a plan to eliminate the US government deficit within 10 years. That’ll require deep cuts to social programs at a time of slowing growth and demands for more military spending.

While you were sleeping

Chinese manufacturing hit an eight-month low… The manufacturing PMI from Markit/HSBC dropped to 48.0 in March. The figure has been below 50—indicating contraction—since January, and adds to the chances of further government stimulus measures this year.

… but the Asian Development Bank isn’t worrying. The Manila-based bank said it expects the region—45 countries in Asia-Pacific—to grow by 6.2% this year and 6.4% in 2015. Countries can make preparations for a slowing Chinese economy and will find ways to grow steadily, it said.

US companies are holding record cash. Last week we learned they made record profits; now it appears non-financial businesses were also holding $1.64 trillion at the end of 2013, up 12% from the previous record in 2012. Apple alone holds nearly 10% of it.

Janet Yellen tried to soothe the markets. The chair of the US Federal Reserve said that its stimulus will be needed for “some time” to help the economy, in an apparent attempt to calm concerns after she spoke about an eventual rate rise at the Fed’s last policy meeting.

Pictures of the iPhone 6 leaked. Images allegedly taken at Foxconn and posted to Weibo suggest that the next iPhone will be thinner with rounded edges and have a protruding camera. There’s no way of confirming the pictures, but they do line up with other expectations for the new iPhone design.

Quartz obsession interlude

Matt Phillips on how Michael Lewis’s new book shows the markets are too complex for even the world’s top investors. “The book attempts to lay out how high-frequency trading firms effectively skim pennies off millions of stock trades each day. ’If it wasn’t complicated, it wouldn’t be allowed to happen,’ he says. ‘The complexity disguises what is happening. If it’s so complicated you can’t understand it, then you can’t question it.’ This problem goes beyond stock markets: The US financial system is awash in unnecessary complexity. And the reasons are simple: Complexity is profitable and it keeps regulators at bay.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Russia’s energy leverage in Europe won’t last. The market will soon fix that; oil prices are set to plunge.

The US is heading for a 1% democracy. A Supreme Court ruling could soon lift campaign contribution caps and give the richest even more power (paywall).

Media outlets should use swear words. Their job is to deliver information, not to hide it behind outdated comfort levels.

Rich countries need M-Pesa. The mobile money system developed in Kenya would be a lot better than bitcoin or even a regular bank account for most things.

America’s attitude to clothing is unsustainable. The cheap, unethical clothing may be indirectly costing more than we realize.

Digital advertising needs a major overhaul. Mobile is the future and traditional advertising just won’t cut it.

Surprising discoveries

Women invest less than men, even though they’re better at it. The reason for both is the same: women are more cautious.

The bridges of Paris are at risk from “love locks.” City infrastructure is groaning under the weight of some 700,000 padlocks engraved with lovers’ names.

You can see anyone’s email address on LinkedIn. This plugin scours the web for publicly available information, so you don’t have to.

Samsung’s execs earn more than Apple’s. Samsung reported this information for the first time on the very day that the two companies embarked on another legal battle.

Playing with Barbies is bad for a girl’s career aspirations. The sexualized dolls make young girls think they can’t achieve as much as men.

Changing fonts won’t save the US government millions. The 14-year-old we told you about yesterday who calculated the government’s ink consumption forgot one or two things.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, investment strategies, and love locks to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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