Quartz Daily Brief—Americas Edition—Mexico GDP, Thai growth, selling Britain, Hitler v. Frankenstein

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What to watch for today

The new Brazil? Forecasters expect Mexico’s GDP, to be announced today, to have grown 3.55% in the fourth quarter of 2012, exceeding Brazil’s rate of growth for a third straight year. Carlos Slim’s Teléfonos de México also announces Q4 results today.

Brits and French scrap over Indian jet contract. David Cameron takes a trade delegation to India for a three day visit. Dave says he’s bullish about his ability to handle some hot curries since his family has “had a Nepalese nanny for three years.” Others hope that firm constitution will help him push for a UK-backed Eurofighter jet or the expansion of Tesco in India. The visit comes days after François Hollande arrived in India to negotiate for a $12 billion Dassault contract which has not yet been signed.

Armenia elects a president. A dramatic contest for the post of president of Romania, including an attempted assassination of one of the candidates, is about to come to an end. The incumbent leader Serge Sarkisian is expected to win easily in voting today.

Promises for tax cuts in Italy. Ahead of Italy’s general election on Feb. 24-25, the four leading candidates make last ditch appeals to voters, which should include pledges to cut taxes and a lot of tough talk on the European Union.

Many American workplaces take a day off. It’s Presidents’ Day. US markets are closed. So are Canada’s, for Family Day.

Over the weekend

The yen tested the G20′s resolve to avoid currency wars. In its weekend meeting, the conference of finance officials denounced “competitive” devaluations while leaving Japan free to weaken its yen in the name of domestic economic stimulus. But as the yen falls further, will other countries be able to resist?

Cypriots voted, no one won. Conservative pro-bailout Nicos Anastasiades and Communist-backed Stavros Malas will face-off in a run-off next week. The new president’s first task will be to finalize ongoing euro-zone bailout talks.

Ecuadorean presidential election held no surprises. Incumbent president Rafael Correa won easily. With Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro in the twilight of their power, Correa is now Latin America’s leading left-wing populist and incipient autocrat.

A White House immigration plan was leaked. President Obama’s plan contains few surprises but emerges in the middle of bi-partisan Senate negotiations on immigration. Republican senators said the president’s plan might upset progress made in the current talks.

ConocoPhilips was cleared to go back to work in China. The American energy company, which ceased operation after two oil spills in 2011, can resume. Conoco and Chinese companies responsible for the spill paid $161 million in settlements before being allowed to resume activities.

Thailand grew at 18.9%. Strong year-on-year fourth-quarter figures reflect an economy recovering from calamitous flooding the previous year but at 3.6% over Q3, the growth is impressive nonetheless.   

Quartz obsession interlude

Jacob Albert on how enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, though aggressive, tends to be concentrated around a small number of core cases. “It’s therefore hard to know whether crooked companies that aren’t connected to these big, core cases run a significantly greater risk of falling prey to FCPA enforcement than they did before. What’s clear is that the small number of companies that do get caught end up paying more dearly for it, with more lawsuits and heftier fines.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

What if we got smashed by a meteor because we just weren’t looking up?

Apparently, currency wars don’t have to be zero-sum.

What’s John Kerry got to do to make Asia fall in love with him?

Only one in three UK citizens wants to stay in the European Union.

Surprising discoveries

Next time you’re single on Valentine’s Day, try a romantic meal with Ramen and your iPhone.

Land, ho! Homecoming is less than ideal for Carnival cruise ship passengers who got off a feces-infested cruise ship right onto a broken-down bus.

But for one German polar bear, coming home means eternal celebrity.

The meteor crushed my homework: a legitimate excuse.

In a vote between Hitler and Frankenstein, whom would you pick? It’s not a hypothetical question.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, polar bear sightings, unfortunate names and nanny tales to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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