Quartz Daily Brief—Americas edition—Obama’s budget lands, Chinese execs “retire,” Ryanair climbs, tip creep

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What to watch for today

The US president submits his annual budget to Congress. A new proposed tax on companies’ foreign earnings is expected, as is an increase in military spending.

ExxonMobil talks oil prices. The US oil major reveals fourth-quarter earnings and might drop hints about where it sees energy markets going in the future.

Insights into the future of American food. Sysco, the US food distribution giant, will report fiscal second-quarter profit, but investors will be hoping to hear an update on its potential acquisition of US Foods. The combined company would control over 25% of the US food distribution market.

A US macro-roundup. The Commerce Department is likely to show a small increase in construction spending in December and will also release personal income data for the month. The Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing managers’ index will probably show that factory activity in January expanded at a slower pace than in December.

Over the weekend

America watched a football game. US broadcaster NBC is expected to have made $360 million from ads during the SuperBowl, despite the sport’s falling reputation and declining public participation. One sponsor had both the best and the worst ad in the game.

Ryanair raised its profit forecast. Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers said it expects to make a profit of €840 to €850 million ($950 to $961 million) for the fiscal year ending March, up from a previous forecast of €810 to 830 million. But the Irish budget carrier warned of tougher competition in 2016 as low oil prices force industry ticket prices down.

Lafarge and Holcim cast off $7 billion in assets. Building supplies group CRH agreed to buy the two cement giants’ assets—which they must sell in order to complete a merger—for €6.5 billion ($7.4 billion). That puts a recent resurgence in mega-mergers back on track, even though such deals often flop.

Syriza changed its tune. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras told Bloomberg that Greece will repay its loans to the IMF and ECB. A deal with other euro zone creditors is coming soon, he added. German chancellor Angela Merkel has dismissed the idea of debt relief.

China manufacturing contracted. A private purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China’s small- and medium-sized enterprises hit 49.7 in January, up slightly from December’s 49.6, but still below the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction. The Chinese government’s official index fell below 50 for the first time in almost two and a half years on Sunday.

Chinese execs stepped down. Jin Zhigang, the CEO of struggling Chinese property developer Kaisa Group, resigned to “devote more time to his personal career development,” while Mao Xioafeng left his post as president at China Minsheng Bank, the country’s largest privately-owned lender, for “personal reasons,” amid reports he is caught up in a corruption investigation.

Line got into groceries. The Japanese-based mobile messaging app is rolling out a supermarket delivery service in Thailand. Thailand is already one of Line’s top markets with 36 million users, and the company plans to expand delivery services through Southeast Asia.

Quartz obsession interlude

Svati Kirsten Narula on how Cadbury lost the right to sell its own chocolate in the US. “Considering Hershey has owned the Cadbury brand in the US since 1988, some might say that stateside importers of the British Cadbury chocolates—and their customers—are lucky to have been able to skirt the legal consequences of the official arrangement for as long as they did.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Mitt Romney would have been good for income equality. He was one of the few potential US presidential candidates who discussed it.

Women are getting bad marriage advice. They’re either “too young” or about to be “too old,” but there’s no window in the middle.

We need to rethink “dictators.” Today’s autocrats care more about public opinion than some Western governments do.

Genetic modification is no less natural than traditional farming. That’s because all farming is unnatural.

There is no such thing as Indian food. So says a Jaipur-born, Michelin-starred chef in New York.

Surprising discoveries

Uber drivers can paint their cars yellow and become NYC cabs. The city is trying to win cab drivers back (they still need a cab medallion, though).

An astrophysicist live-tweeted the SuperBowl. Neil deGrasse Tyson mostly dispensed science facts, including information about deflated footballs.

A three-year-old shot both his parents. The US toddler found his mother’s gun while looking for an iPod.

Mobile payment apps encourage “tip creep.” They can guilt you into paying a 50% tip on a coffee.

A bike map of New York for your brain. It pinpoints both relaxing and attention-demanding routes.

Someone published each revised draft of their novel simultaneously. So you can see the writing process from start to finish.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, guilty tips, and virtual bike maps to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.

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