Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Japan inflation, Russia’s debt, Honda forecast, floppy disk Warhols

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Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Ford announces earnings, and probably a leadership change. Analysts will be eager to hear details about a reported leadership transition at the automaker, because rescue-whiz Alan Mulally is expected to retire.

Obama pushes Europe on Russia. The US president is expected to ask European leaders to join the US in imposing new sanctions. Even without their support, the US may impose more restrictions if Russia fails to deescalate the situation in Ukraine.

Mexico’s decision on interest rates. Economists expect the central bank to hold interest rates steady despite signs of an economic slowdown, which have pushed down the peso.

Measuring the mood of US shoppers. The final reading of consumer sentiment in April from the University of Michigan will shed light on whether the mood is improving after a brutal winter. Preliminary readings suggested spending could continue to improve.

While you were sleeping

Standard & Poor’s cut Russia debt to near-junk. S&P gave the debt a rating of BBB-, the lowest investment grade it has. It said the outlook for Russia was negative, and that it might cut its ratings further.

Japan inflation grew. Consumer prices rose 2.7% in April from a year earlier, the largest rise since 1992. The tax increase is named as one reason for the price increase, as well as a year of unprecedented stimulus, which is actually flowing out of the country rather fast (paywall).

Honda gave a low forecast. The automaker predicted a 3.6% rise in net profit in the year to March 2015, much lower than analysts were expecting. In the first quarter of 2014 the company doubled its net profit, but the forecast is conservative due largely to currency issues.

Gazprombank readies itself for sanctions. The bank is a potential target for US sanctions if Russia does not show evidence it is trying to deescalate the Ukraine crisis. Vnesheconombank, another major lender, could also be hit.

Obama said sayonara. The US president departed Japan, where his visit seems to have failed to push trade talks forward. In South Korea, he expressed sorrow for the victims of the recent ferry disaster.

Quartz obsession interlude

Jason Karaian on how pessimism is the secret to German success. “German executives are almost always less confident in the future than they are in the present. Since 2004, the index for future conditions has been lower than the one for current conditions nearly three-quarters of the time. In recent history, only during the darkest days of the global financial crisis did German managers think that conditions tomorrow would be better than today. Pessimism about the future looks like an ingrained personality trait.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Censorship in China works great. You know it is effective when even foreign journalists censor themselves.

Dove thinks women are stupid. The latest advertising campaign is patronizing and manipulative.

More video games should embrace “permadeath.” If the game ends when you die, it encourages caution and patience.

Larry Page is the Steve Jobs of Google. But Google’s investors were right to ignore him early on.

China’s telecom giant doesn’t need the US. Being shut out from a the world’s largest economy hasn’t really hurt Huawei’s bottom line or growth prospects.

Se necesita médicos. The US needs more Hispanic medical students to help serve the country’s largest minority group.

Surprising discoveries

Comcast is a double-dipper. Netflix is accusing the company of charging both its customers and content providers for the same internet.

You will eat your powdered peas. Big food is going gangbusters for plant protein.

The internet is a “CIA project.” That’s what Vladimir Putin thinks anyway.

Don’t throw away those old floppy disks. Researchers have extracted some undiscovered Andy Warhol works from a floppy disk from 1985.

Vietnam is Apple’s hottest market. Sales in the communist Southeast Asian state tripled during the first half of Apple’s fiscal year.

It gets better with time. Men hold on to underwear for an average of seven years.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, dusty floppies, and pea  soup recipes to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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