Good morning, Quartz readers!
What to watch for today
Russian financial regulators cut interest rates. When the ruble started spiraling out of control last year, regulators bumped up borrowing costs to an astonishing 17%. It’s since been lowered to 15%, but now there’s room to trim it even further.
Aldermore lands on the London Stock Exchange. The UK lender wants to claw its way into the British banking sector, currently dominated by four players. Its raised 226 million pounds ($340 million) and is finally going public after delaying its initial plan.
Greece’s poorest citizens are on the agenda in Brussels. Humanitarian aid is needed for the many Greeks hanging by a thread. Prime minister Alexis Tsipras is will discuss it with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
Ukraine talks debt. The country needs to figure out how to pay its creditors without plunging into chaos. Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund extended a $17.5 billion olive branch. But new projections show the local economy will contract by 5.5% this year.
SXSW Interactive kicks off in Austin, Texas. The large technology conference was long ago co-opted by marketers but is still sometimes known for launching startups. It’s also known for tacos and the music festival that follows it.
While you were sleeping
Intel failed to see PC demand bounce back. The chip maker cut its revenue forecast for the current quarter by $1 billion (paywall), citing lower-than-expected interest in personal computers that use Intel chips.
French yogurt companies were caught price fixing. Nearly a dozen of the country’s top yogurt makers—collectively responsible for 90% of France’s supply—are being slapped with a 192 million euro ($204 million) fine for fixing prices between 2006 and 2012. Since Yoplait reported the collusion, it’s avoiding punishment. Lactalis received the largest fine of all the companies: 56.1 million euros ($59.6 million).
Xiaomi said it will open 100 stores in India. China’s biggest smartphone vendor will use the stores to show off the “experience” of its products, rather than sell them directly. The low-cost producer entered India in July, selling its wares mostly through online retailer Flipkart. The first stores are expected to open next month in India’s major cities.
Ireland’s economy grew nearly 5% last year. That makes it the fastest-growing country in the euro zone. The acceleration in economic activity is thanks to recovering domestic demand by consumers and strong performance by the country’s multinational corporations. The country still has to contend with a sky-high debt-to-GDP ratio of 115% and a double-digit unemployment rate.
Commerzbank settled allegations of sanctions violations for $1.45 billion. The German bank, accused in the US of helping sanctioned clients from Iran and Sudan, has a chance of staving off criminal charges if it brings its compliance standards up to code. The company also agreed to let go of several executives involved in the scandal.
Quartz obsession interlude
Gwynn Guilford on the afterlife. “Tibetans believe that when a Dalai Lama—their preeminent political and spiritual leader—dies, his spirit reincarnates in a newborn’s body, carrying on the lineage. But the 79-year-old current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, has long said the line could end with him. The Chinese government disagrees.” Read more here.
Matters of debate
Europe is going to lose Greece to Russia. Putin knows how deep of a hole Greece is in, and the Greeks know how much Putin want to push Europe around.
Climate change needs to stop being a political issue. We need to stop treating every single weather anomaly as a chance to debate the science.
Putin doesn’t stutter. His message is very clear: If you oppose me, I will use my fiercest supporters to take you down.
A European army isn’t going to happen. The head of the European Commission has his heart in the right place, but his plan is impossible to execute.
America needs to fix its railroads. Because trains are how oil gets transported, and a recent uptick in accidents due to crumbling infrastructure (paywall) is to blame.
Soccer fans can also appreciate culture. The mayors of Rome and Florence are allowing patrons to use their match tickets to get into museums for free.
Pretzels are an old invention. Archeologists in Germany have dug up a 250-year-old pretzel that was believed to have been thrown out because it was overcooked.
Elephants have a keen sense of smell. In South Africa, they’re being trained to detect explosives.
Don’t fool your local cashier. In Northern Ireland, someone paid for their fast food using a 100 euro note from a toy set.