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Quartz Daily Brief—Americas editin—Euro zone unemployment, China’s slowdown, India holds steady, Barbie’s insidious influence

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

What to watch for today

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 a subsidized $268.50 per thousand cubic meters to $480. Ukraine will pass higher costs on to industry and government agencies immediately and to domestic consumers on May 1.

NATO’s foreign ministers discuss Russia. The first meeting of ministers from all 28 states since Russia took over Crimea takes place in Brussels. The group will talk over how to help Ukraine and reassure Russia’s neighbors.

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 tries to balance the budget. 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, in part by making deep cuts to social programs.

While you were sleeping

Euro zone manufacturing growth cooled… The Markit Purchasing Manager’s Index for March was 53—the ninth consecutive month in which manufacturing in the euro zone expanded, though down a notch from 53.2 in February. Britain’s PMI came in at 55.3, down from 56.9 the previous month.

…And unemployment dipped very slightly. Eurostat said 18.97 million people were unemployed in March, a decrease of about 35,000, as the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 11.9%.

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 ADB expects the 45 Asia-Pacific countries to grow by 6.2% this year and 6.4% in 2015, despite a slowing China.

Hong Kong joined the global FX investigation. The city’s Monetary Authority—its de facto central bank—announced it has required several banks to conduct independent investigations into their foreign exchange trading operations. New Zealand is also investigating.

Raghuram Rajan held steady. The governor of India’s central bank maintained the country’s benchmark interest rate at 8%, after facing a tough call on whether to leave, lower, or raise the rate in the face of low growth and rising core inflation.

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 levels of propriety.

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. Fast, cheap, unethical clothing may cost more than we realize.

Digital advertising needs a major overhaul. Mobile is the future and traditional online 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.” The city’s 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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