Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Militias provoke Ukraine, London real estate, Diageo’s India bid, evangelical marijuana

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What to watch for today

Americans stress out over taxes… Many will be scrambling to file their tax returns on time by the end of the day. The good news for filers: budget cuts mean the chances of an audit are the lowest in years—plus Arby’s is offering free curly fries.

…But don’t stress over inflation. The US consumer price index is expected to have edged up by only 0.1% in March.

Good news from Yahoo, for once. The tech giant’s earnings are expected to be bolstered by a blockbuster performance from Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba, of which Yahoo owns 24%. But Alibaba’s IPO later this year will leave CEO Marissa Mayer with some important decisions.

Good news from Intel, perhaps. The chip maker’s reliance on the waning PC industry had observers worried, but there are signs it’s making headway with mobile devices—though the fruits of that labor may not yet show up in this quarter’s earnings. 

While you were sleeping

Pro-Russian forces pushed further into Ukraine. Militants seized another town in the country’s east, after Ukraine’s president made an ineffectual plea for UN peacekeepers. Ukraine’s central bank jacked up the benchmark interest rate, from 6.5% to 9.5%, in an attempt to defend its currency, the hryvnia, which has lost 40% of its value this year.

London’s real estate surge acceleratedHouse prices rose a staggering 17.7% in the year to February, and overall UK house prices were up 9.1%, versus 6.1% in the year to January. Meanwhile, consumer prices rose 1.6% in the year to March, the lowest rate in more than four years, easing pressure on consumers—unless they’re in the market for a new house.

Diageo bid again for India’s United Spirits, offering $1.9 billion to raise its stake in India’s biggest sprits maker to 55%, after falling short in several previous attempts.

Nestlé sales slipped. First quarter sales fell by 5%, to 20.8 billion francs ($23.6 billion), thanks to currency effects, a cold winter in the US keeping shoppers indoors, and cost-conscious European consumers.

Power shortages hit Egypt. To conserve energy, air conditioning units that can go below 20°C (68°F) were placed on no-import lists, and AC usage in mosques was restricted. Meanwhile, a bomb in central Cairo injured two policemen.

China credit growth slowed. The amount of aggregate financing—including so-called “shadow banking”—was 2.07 trillion yuan ($333 billion) in March, down 19% from a year ago, as the government tries to clamp down on levels of debt in the economy.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on the European Central Bank’s €1 trillion bazooka. “Ever since former US treasury secretary Hank Paulson described America’s economic bailout strategy as akin to packing a financial ‘bazooka,’ analysts have questioned whether Europe can muster similar firepower. The ECB has reportedly readied a plan to bombard the euro zone with some €1 trillion ($1.38 trillion) in newly created money, but nobody is sure whether it would ever be willing to put it into action.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Higher food prices reduce poverty. That’s because the world’s poor are still mostly farmers (pdf).

“The Grapes of Wrath” is more relevant than ever. As Steinbeck’s novel turns 75, migrant workers are still being exploited by the rich and powerful.

Economists are terrible at predicting recessions. To fail a few times may be misfortune, but to fail nearly every time looks like carelessness.

Russia has a secret economic weapon. Along with South Africa, Russia dominates the world supply of palladium—and South Africa’s miners are on strike.

Surprising discoveries

Asian pollution causes stronger Pacific storms. Particles of pollution interact with water droplets, causing denser clouds and resulting in more intense weather.

A Chinese company 3-D printed 10 houses in a day. Well, it printed out the flat-pack parts, at least.

Hail marijuana full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Five pot-farming brothers are convincing evangelicals in Colorado to embrace legal weed.

What it’s like to fly on Air Force One. Not that different from a commercial flight, but with more food and real towels.

The Quartz haroset recipe. If you’re not too picky about keeping kosher, try our news editor’s bourbon-infused variation for the second day of Passover.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, tax tips, and nouveau haroset recipies  to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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